Updated: Oct 4, 2022
FORTROSE -- Duncan Gill, 46, of Anderson Drive, revealed to us that he recently witnessed a miracle in a local pub.
"Aye, I was mindin me own business," he said, "at The Royal [re-named The Anderson in 2004] when it happened."
Gill, a part-time fencemaker and familiar face at area drinking holes, went on to describe the event at great length, detailing a domestic disagreement that eventually drove him to the pub on the fateful day.
"Aye, I just needed to be in a place where everybody knows your name," he said, in an unwitting paraphrase of a well-known television theme song. "I was sittin in my usual seat at the end of the bar, you know, havin a quiet pint, like."
He went on to describe how he may have accidentally disturbed a picture hanging on the wall which subsequently fell down to reveal a hidden sign. But not everyone in attendance remembers it that way.
"Oh Geez," recalls bartender and self-employed nail technician, Ellie Patience, 37, of Avoch. "Duncan's the kind of customer you're always glad to see. The back of, that is. I was working that day. He come in all gurney, like, and plops down real hard on his stool and gives his head a good clankie on the wall. You could tell he'd already had a skinful down The Plough [Inn, in Rosemarkie] and now himself was gonna grace us with his presence."
She went on to detail Duncan's poor behaviour and drunken lurching that lead to the picture ultimately being dislodged. "He stared at the wall for a while, she said. "And then he turned around, sort of half-fell off his stool and started raging about something, I dunno know what. So I took his pint away and showed him the door."
When asked exactly what was revealed on the wall, Gill was only too happy to comply. "Aye, so I hear the picture fall and turn around to see what the craic was. And there I saw it: a perfect outline of [the USA state of] California. I couldnae believe my eyes -- it was a real miracle."
We pressed Gill for details. "I've always wanted to go there," he said. "You know, hire a convertible and drive along Route 66, like." But what particular aspects of his faith would result in such divine intervention? "Och, you're doin me heid in with all that religious mumbo-jumbo. Cannae ya just see it's a sign that I should go to California?"
For some, that trip couldn't come too soon. "Aye, the quicker the better," said Patience, "cos the only miracle I can see is him ever getting served here again."
This article contains additional reporting by Jess Anderson