FORTROSE -- Stuart Menzies, 73, of Precincts Lane, has contacted us to express his disgust at offensive comments he read online.
"There comes a time," said the grandfather of seven, "when a man has to stand up for what he thinks, regardless of the consequences." He was referring to a review of a spare room in Iris Massie's house on Station Crescent, a room that she that she now offers for let on AirBnB.
"I don't want to have a falling out with Iris. We've known each other for donkeys," he reflected, with a slight glaze coming to his eyes. "In fact, I remember we were just bairns at Fortrose's 500th Anniversary when our parents left us past midnight in the [Fortrose] Cathedral grounds while they had a wee swallie at the Royal [Hotel]. "They were home and in their bed before they realised that they'd forgot us. Aye, that was some day."
When asked about the offensive content, Menzies snapped back to the present. "But there are some things that I just canna mind." When pressed for details, Menzies, himself a former barman at the Royal Hotel, explained. "Everything was going fine. I'd had a good sleep, woke up, had a shower and a shave. Nothing like the first shave with a new blade." Menzies continued, "I made a cup of tea and got myself a biscuit. That's me every morning for twenty years now, ever since my [wife] Angie died."
Menzies went on to reveal that one of the other tasks on the day's "to-do list" was to inspect recent online reviews of Fortrose accommodation. That's when he came upon the offensive content. "So, I was looking at Iris's reviews on AirBnB, like, when I saw one written by a gentleman from Canada." After trying to list with great difficulty the numerous places he had visited on his two trips to Canada as a young man, Menzies finally returned to the issue at hand. "And right there, in black and white, the Canadian said that Iris had served him a breakfast of Kipper and Poached Eggs. I like to fell off my chair when I read that."
According to Menzies, the smoked herring, called a 'kipper,' and a popular breakfast item in Scotland, "should never, NEVER, EVER share the plate with anything else. A kipper is a kipper and any heathen that tries to tart it up with eggs or black pudding or a fried tomato should be showed the door. Frankly, I am ashamed of Iris."
We contacted Mrs Massie for comment. "I just made the man what he asked for," she said, as she wiped a streak of gull stuff from the Black Isle Needs a Pool sticker in her sitting-room window. "If it were up to me, I wouldna cook breakfast at all, it would save me running back and forth to the Co-Op. But it's in the name, AirBnB, Bed and Breakfast, so there you go. I canna mind what they mean by 'Air' except maybe you get bed and breakfast plus air for one price, but that seems a bit daft, like, because I don't know any B&B who charges extra for air."
Our efforts to mediate a resolution between Menzies and Massie were unsuccessful. "A falling out with Stuart? I've seen hide nor hair of him for 20 years except that time he fell asleep drunk in Cathedral Square and the lads covered him in treacle and flour and kicked him down the High Street." As for Menzies, he was willing to take the risk that Massie's "blasphemous breakfast" might put a permanent strain on their lifelong relationship. Refusing any direct contact, he instead appealed to us to pass along a message to her. "If you ever make me a kipper, Iris Massie, there'd better be hee-haw but a dead fish on that plate or there's going to be trouble in Paradise. Except, maybe, a muckle knob of butter. Oh, and a slice of brown toast, I do like a kipper with a nice slice of brown toast."
This article contains additional reporting by Jess Anderson