About the Author
Peter McNaughton was born in Drummond Street, Comrie during wartime in February 1944. He was then taken as a baby to the village of Clapham in Bedfordshire where his father was a serving officer in the Royal Engineers.
He was brought up there by his mother, Ena, and his God Mother, Ada Askew. His father went off to war and was at Normandy on D plus 1 as a disembarcation officer, then Antwerp where the clearing of mines and booby traps was a common occurrence, and then on to Java and Sumatra in charge of a company of Indian and Britihs troops. He finished his war in Padang along with other soldiers guarding 15000 armed Japanese soldiers who were returning to Japan after the war ended.
At age five the family moved to Glasgow where Peter went to Willowbank School followed by several years at Hillhead High School. He worked in industry in Glasgow for ten years and then emigrated to Canada and settled in Montreal in Quebec Province. After working for many years, he took an undergraduate degree at Concordia University, followed by a graduate degree at McGill University. This allowed him to change careers in mid life and for the last thirty years he has been running a technical translation services company.
As a young man he spent most of his summer holidays in Comrie developing a deep love of the place and area. In later years he was responsible for twinning Comrie with Carleton Place, Ontario. This was the first transatlantic twinning to ever take place. In addition, he authored an anthology of poems about Highland Strathearn entitled “Comrie in the Distance Fair.”
Contained within this book can be seen shadows of greatness from the past. Mighty deeds were undertaken by a cast of characters which would make Hollywood green with envy. In the early part of the story we see the “noble” Agricola, the “good” man St. Fillan, King Kenneth the “Grim,” the mighty “warrior” William Wallace, and the “magnificent” opportunist, Robert the Bruce. Later, glimpses are given of the power houses and their internecine struggles which created the clan system. The Drummonds, the Grahams, Murrays, MacDonalds, MacGregors, MacNabs, Neish, Stewarts and Campbells fill the pages. Clan warfare resulted and became endemic and it loomed large and, in most cases, tragedy was unavoidable. Historical giants like Mary, Queen of Scots, whose passage through life was short and not sweet, and the Marquis of Montrose are briefly seen. Others flit across our landscape like moths attracted to the flame of a candle: Rob Roy MacGregor Campbell, “Bonnie” Prince Charlie, Viscount Melville, Sir David Baird, Queen Victoria, General Booth and Lloyd George. Others, mostly never mentioned, play supporting roles.
It is this supporting cast which puts the “cherry on the cake” and which shines throughout. They are only referred to in history books as an “army” or as a “clan,” or as the “local” population. However, without them, there would be little or no story. This book, therefore, is really a collection of stories and anecdotes about their lives. It takes into account that their lot was hard, punishing and demanding. They were, however, able to laugh at adversity, weep at sorrow, leave (but never really leave), and lament, sing and write, and give sustenance and richness by their being, to others. Their humour provides rays of sunshine. They never gave up. They were, and are, “the salt of the earth!”