The Angry Corrie 52: Dec 2001 - Feb 2002
The First Salvationist
In the darkness one can hear Knockin' on Heaven's Door being sung. The lights come on to reveal a clergyman lying on a bier. He rises in some confusion, equipped with an alpenstock, with which he knocks forcefully on a closed door. The door opens and St Peter emerges.
St Peter Who are you and what do you want making that infernal racket?
Clergyman I'm Robertson. Who are you, you impertinent fellow?
St Peter I'm St Peter. I decide who gets in here.
Clergyman Oh well, you can't have been properly informed. I'm Archibald Eneas Robertson. [Smugly] I think you are expecting me.
St Peter [looking up a ledger]
We get a lot of Robertsons coming up here ... can't expect me to remember every Tom, Dick and Harry.
AER Hurry up my good fellow. I'm AER, minister of the Church of Scotland and a former President of the Scottish Mountaineering Club. You must have my details there. Get a move on and take me to my quarters.
St Peter Ah yes, here we have your file. Quite a thick one as well... [He holds up a copy of The First Munroist, and reads] Born 1870 ... died 1958 ... and the questionnaire here to complete.
AER Questionnaire, what the Devil - pardon me - nonsense is that?
St Peter There are a few outstanding questions here to be settled, regarding your moral fitness to enter this establishment. We can't just let anybody come in.
AER Well, I suppose you have to do this with everybody, but do hurry up - it's freezing standing here.
St Peter Aye, well, maybe you'll be getting a heat soon enough. But first of all there is a weighty list of accusations which could bar you from entry. Unless you can clear them up, you'll have as much chance of getting in here as a non-SMC member has of getting into the CIC hut on Ben Nevis. And you will know all about that, eh?
AER [embarrassed] You are referring to a slight misunderstanding there. Those two fellows who had had an accident, and who arrived when we were opening the CIC hut in 1929, it was merely out of curiosity that we asked if they were SMC members when they pleaded for help and shelter. And since they were not - I mean since only one had life-threatening injuries - we sent them on their way.
St Peter Oh, aye. Well, you'll not mind settling my curiosity about a few matters? Let's start with the heinous crime of Sabbath Breaking. On Sunday the 29th May 1898 you did climb A'Mhaighdean in pursuit of your Munros. The good Lord in his infinite wisdom and mercy struck your mother down dead as a warning shortly after, but you persisted and did it twice more. We have your log book, quoted in The First Munroist, as proof.
AER These charges I cannot deny, but it was all in a good cause of being first to complete the Munros. Otherwise, just imagine, an Englishman might have done them first - you know how they muscle in on everything in Scotland. And surely that is but a small sin?
St Peter Guilty. And big or small, they all add up, they all add up... Let's move on to the next sin, that of fornication.
AER Fornication? Never! I've been a twice happily married man...
St Peter Aye, but did you or did you not go to McCook's cottage at Ben Alder with a certain Kate McFarlan in 1899, and there co-habit with the said woman for a space of two weeks...?
AER [outraged] But she was my wife!
St Peter Not at that time she wasn't - you were only engaged. And why, when you were renowned as being tight with money, did you give McCook two pounds for your board? Was this to keep him quiet about your lechery?
AER I swear that nothing passed between us that while. Every night my alpenstock lay stiffly between us. Kate repeatedly asked if it was my ice-axe or was I just pleased to see her. But you know how the lower classes will talk, so I thought it wise to reward McCook for his hospitality in case he was inclined to spread rumours.
St Peter Hold on then, I'll phone a friend. [He produces a mobile and dials but initially fails to get through] You can never get Him in when you need Him. [Engages in telephone talk] Apparently not even here in Heaven can we ask a wife to testify against her husband, so my Superior tells me. We'll do you a Not Proven one on that... [Pockets phone and returns to ledger] But last and certainly not least, levelled against you is the crime of having borne false witness...
AER [interrupting] I know what's coming, it's that old chestnut about Ben Wyvis and not getting to the top. But I tell you it was zero visibility, there was no way I could possibly find the top, there were lots of different cairns and it was impossible to say which was the summit...
St Peter Ben Wyvis is an old chestnut maybe, but here is a newer one. [Reading] "Down to the bealach between Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin and, skirting the cliffs I climbed well up the ridge but not quite to the top." [He closes The First Munroist triumphantly] "Not quite to the top", written in your own hand in the entries for 1893. You never completed your Munros, you never did Stuc a'Chroin, you lied out of sinful pride and desire for fame. Ten years later the Lord struck you with a thunderbolt on Ben Nevis, noting that you persisted in your false claims, but again you heeded not this warning.
AER But I had only bought a day return ticket, and I would have missed the last train back to Edinburgh if I'd gone to the summit of Stuc a'Chroin. Think of the extra expense involved...
St Peter And there's many miss the last train to heaven as well. Guilty as charged on the third count, making two Guilty and one Not Proven, enough to condemn you to...
AER [babbling] Not, not ... the fires of Hell? I can't stand heat. My wives would never have the fire on, even in winter, at home in Edinburgh.
St Peter No, you are condemned to something much, much worse.
AER Not reading the Collected Works of Cameron McNeish for all eternity...?
St Peter No, we could never be that cruel. For all these sins you are condemned to wander A'Bhuidheanach Bheag and the rest of the Dreary Drumochters for evermore. Just hold on and I'll send someone to take you there ... your navigation never was up to much.
[He slams the door, leaving AER alone...]