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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 4th March 2000
Issue No169

The Beast of Boleskine

A Highland video and film company has agreed a BBC millennium deal to run the first ever documentary on the legendary "Beast of Boleskine" - Aleister Crowley.

More than three years after the project was first launched, Inverness based Celtic Broadcasting says it will be screened this month as part of the BBC's EX:S art and popular culture series. It was reported in October 1996 that a television production company called Factual Films was in the early stages of the documentary on Satanist Crowley who once lived at Boleskine House near Foyers beside Loch Ness. Factual Films was a working name used by Celtic Broadcasting which now has 80% of the film in the can and has just announced the agreement with the BBC. It will be shown 100 years after Crowley first moved into Boleskine. The Mystery of Boleskine will be an academic look at the truth behind novelist Crowley - dubbed the worst man on Earth - who died in Hastings in 1947 aged 72. He was nicknamed "The Beast" as a child by his own mother who believed he was the devil incarnate. Producer Andrew Lane Fox said the venture will be partly funded by Celtic Broadcasting and partly by the BBC. "At the moment we are on quite a substantial budget and we are talking about a lot of money," he said. To finish off the documentary the crew will be travelling to America to record interviews and invite a Church of England priest, who carries out exorcisms, to Loch Ness also. EX:S series producer Richard Downes, who's based in Glasgow, confirmed an agreement had been reached and a deal about to be signed for the documentary to run on BBC 1. He said viewers would find the programme compelling. "It's just a very, very good story," he added. In 1996 it was reported how Factual Films art director had pulled out of the production because a "white witch" has told him delving into the life of Aleister would bring "terrible luck" and ruin his career. But the work has proved lucky for the current team with another longer version of the film The Other Loch Ness Mystery also on the cards. "Before we started this my aunt who is a minister in Canada gave the film crew a blessing," said Mr Fox. "We went into it with an open mind. We did not set out to upset anyone." Mr Fox confirmed previous attempts by others failed. "People have talked about making this sort of film for a long time but it has always been thought as being jinxed." Crowley bought Boleskine House on Loch Ness side around the turn of the century and built an occult temple to practise Abra-Melin magic. According to legend he attracted a host of demons. Locals were said to refuse to pass the house after dark and by some accounts there were various strange happenings to those connected with it. A coachman became an alcoholic, Crowley's housekeeper vanished and a workman tried to kill him after going mad. In the 1970s the house was occupied by rock millionaire Jimmy Page, the guitarist with Led Zeppelin, and it was the backdrop for film scenes for the Song Remains the Same. Boleskine is now owned by the MacGillivray family who have steadfastly refused to comment on the previous goings on and the infamous owner. The documentary talks to Malcolm Dent, former buddy of Jimmy Page and custodian of the house for Page for 20 years. Also included in the interview are Colin Wilson, a well known occult writer living in Cornwall, and a former housekeeper. The team travelled to Sicily to film in a small Italian community where Crowley set up a temple after leaving Loch Ness. They uncovered an intriguing Nazi connection with Loch Ness. But Mr Fox remained tight lipped about the ultimate finding of the film - was Crowley really an evil man? "I really couldn't say," said Mr Fox. "I suggest you tune in to make up your own mind."

Dram Successful

The Highlands' last new whisky, launched before the millennium has notched up successful sales in its home territory. The Talisman, named after Sir Walter Scott's novel, is produced for sale by J&W Hardie, the marketing arm of the Tomatin Distillery Company. Launched in the Moray Firth and Highland areas, it has already attracted strong initial orders from countries including France Spain and Italy. Tomatin managing director John Milne said their decision to go for a Highland only launch for The Talisman had been fully justified. He added: "Sales have been extremely encouraging and offer us genuine confidence for the future. "The Safeway supermarket chain in the north has chosen The Talisman among its selected brands and retailers large and small have given it a warm welcome. "While we have been selling our millennium product only in the Highlands, where it was created, we have also held tastings for overseas distributors. "These have been successful in the best possible way by attracting strong initial orders from the European mainland. "Come the Spring, the marketing campaign will be extended to cover the rest of Scotland and the export drive will be stepped up." The Talisman is a blend of whiskies from more than 25 Scottish distilleries.

Irish Connection

Lochaber's life blood industries of tourism, fishing and crafts could be given a major boost with the forging of links with an Irish community. This is the hope of Highland Council officials who say their West Coast community could learn much from developing ties with their counterparts in County Mayo. They are now recommending a seven strong party representing the council, tourism, chamber of commerce and enterprise agency, visit the region and also host a reciprocal visit. The council's Lochaber area manager, John Hutchison has already had talk with senior council officials in Mayo while on Columba Initiative business in Galway. Links have already been established between shinty and hurling clubs on both sides of the Irish Sea, and Lochaber has been represented for several years at the Pan Celtic Festival which alternates between Killarney and Tralee. Islanders on Eigg are keen to develop a link with Clare Island and there are ties between Lochaber High School at Fort William, and Donaghmore School in County Tyrone.

Walking Trail

The winding trail straddling the borders between Perthshire and Angus through which caterans or Highland brigands raided those counties is to be resurrected as the latest long distance Highland walk. The Cateran Trail, which is to be opened later this year, is a 60 mile circular route centred on Blairgowrie, using existing paths, minor roads and time honoured walks which will take five days to complete. For 400 years, the caterans brought fear, fire and sword and introduced the euphemism blackmail to the lexicon of the Southern Highlands. They were answerable only to their own chieftains north of Braemar and raided deep into the glens and rich pastureland of Perthshire and Angus, pillaging rival clan settlements and carrying off whatever they could steal. They made an art form of medieval extortion - offering written protection against raids on herds of black cattle raised on southern meadows - which passed into everyday language as blackmail. Walking is the main growth market in Scottish tourism in recent years. Almost half of all tourists coming to Scotland on activity holidays participate in walking. The West Highland Way attracts 35,000 hikers each year.

Musical Boost for the Islands

The teaching of traditional music and the Gaelic arts in the Uists and Barra is to get a boost with the still to be appointment of a new training officer. The new Gaelic Music Training and Development Officer post will be firstly employed by Lews Castle College through its new Benbecula Centre with the aim of having a new foundation course ready for the Autumn. It is being run with Ceolas, the Gaelic Arts Agency's summer school. Gordon Wells, senior lecturer at Colaisde Beinn a Bhaoghla (The Benbecula Centre) said it was a unique opportunity for someone with an interest in the traditional music field. He said: "We're looking for a practising musician, Gaelic speaker or learner, with teaching experience and good, practical organisation skills."

Royal Plaque Stolen

A plaque unveiled by Prince Charles on his favourite Hebridean island has been stolen. The commemorative bronze plaque marked the opening of Berneray causeway last April. It was removed from its plinth at the planned ferry terminal at Ardmaree on the island, which is now linked by the causeway to North Uist. Constable Dougie Galloway, from Lochamaddy in North Uist, who is investigating the theft said: "We now have no doubt that it was stolen. It was well fixed and did not fall off in the recent storms." The plaque reads "The Berneray Causeway was officially opened by HRH The Prince of Wales, Lord of the Isles, on the 8th of April 1999. There is also a Gaelic translation. Joan MacCuish, secretary of Berneray Community Council, said: "It's unbelievable that such a thing could happen in an area like this. It's very disturbing."

Help Wanted

An appeal went out recently for help in solving the mystery surrounding a 110 year old local photograph which turned up in a South London antique shop. The discovery of a photograph of the choir of St Andrew's Cathedral in Inverness, dating back apparently to 1890, has left Catherdral archivist Robert Preece stumped. It turned up amongst a bundle of items, none of which appear to have any link to the photograph. On the back is written "Inverness Catherdral Choir, 1890. Robert Clark, X." Marks on the photograph indicate that it has been hung on a cardboard mount. The condition of the mount also suggests that the picture has been displayed for many years in a frame. The man who discovered the picture in the London antique shop had a daughter who was at that time living in the Inverness area and working at the Highland Hospice. He sent it to her thinking someone might be able to shed light on the mystery and it was subsequently passed on to Mr Preece. After showing the picture to several members of the Catherdral congregation and checking archive material, Mr Preece has drawn a blank. He is however, convinced that the picture was taken in a studio. Said Mr Preece: "It appears that a Master Robert Clark sang a solo at the annual congregational meeting in January 1891, so the details on the back appear to be correct. However, it is impossible to decide which person in the picture is Robert Clark. "The clergyman in the centre is likely to be Rev Canon Llewellyn who for many years was precentor at the Catherdral. "It is not the Provost of the time who was Bishop Kelly." Mr Preece is now appealing to anyone who can shed further light on the photograph.

Charity Event

Mid Ross Young farmers raised over 400 recently when they went dung spreading at Balaldie Farm, Portmahomack. Eight spreaders and three loaders worked from 8am to 4pm in ideal weather conditions. They wish to thanks everyone who helped by lending machinery and a special thanks to host farmer Finlay and Ann Marie Munro for their hospitality.

Political Roundup

Green Issues

Highland Council have launched their Local Agenda 21 Initiative which features a 21 point action plan to raise awareness of environmental issues and promote more integrated policies which make the best use of key resources. Key initiatives in the action plan include a local audit of all the council's activities and policies to ensure consideration of sustainable development within decision making.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Some rain in the West a.m. Bright in the East. Locally heavy rain later. Wind light to moderate South Easterly. Temperature 12c to 16c.
Saturday Night
Locally heavy rain. Misty. Winds moderate to strong Easterly. Temperature 8c to 12c.
Bands of showers across the region. Bright with sunny spells. Moderate North Westerly winds. Fairly mild.
Mainly dry. Fairly cloudy with limited sunshine. Light Southerly breeze. Mild temperatures.

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This is Caledonia ( Caley for short ) A Ness-Scape family member and mascot. She is a White German Shepherd. Caley has decided to take over the editing of Nessie's Loch Ness Times, and she's sure she'll make a good job of it. What do you think?

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