Devastating news. Someone with an enormous amount of nasal hair reliably informs me that the clothes of poor Theosyphillis Neill have been found on the beach at Palnackie, alongside his crutches, which had been inserted into the sand like a giant V sign pointing at the heavens.
There are few outward signs of grief and mourning in Drumsleet as yet, however, not least because this is not the first time that Neill has attempted to escape his many creditors by feigning death, notably when he claimed that his head had exploded at high altitude during a walk in the Lowther Hills. The man is incorrigible and I am confident he will re-appear, as he always does, on the day my salary enters the bank, the comforting click of whatever surgical appliance is currently supporting him echoing, like Blind Pugh's limp, along the High Street.
Neill's death does not augur well for the proposed weekend I am supposed to take later in the year with him and MacDuff. To be honest a hill walking weekend in the company of one man who can't walk and another with chronic vertigo never seemed a particularly viable prospect. I recall the last time I accepted an invitation to a trip away in the company of a regular drinker from the Tartan Bunnet, the famous Eric Moodiecliffe (he of beloved memory). We were driving past Loch Lomond, Eric at the wheel, when we narrowly avoided a head on collision with a giant milk tanker. Swerving into a ditch, Moodiecliffe turned to me with a beatific grin on his face. "That was close" he said, "Thank **** I woke up up in time."