The great seas number seven,

And I've sailed them in my day --

But there's no place nearer heaven,

Than Tobermory Bay.

ONCE upon a time (until four springtimes ago) on the Isle of Mull at

Tobermory there was a man who worked poems and wrought laughter. Angus

Macintyre was alive with laughter. He had a beautifully bellowing voice.

He was a teller of tales and a wag. While he was a dreamer of dreams, he

was a counter of money.

At the harbour betwixt the distillery and the pier he was the manager

of the bank. He lived above the shop. Officially, it was a Clydesdale

place. But everybody called it Macintyre's bank or Angus's, depending on

how the account stood. At the end of a long working day and a longer

ceilidh evening he sat at his window over the bay to write his poems.

He wrote an elegiac one about Taynuilt, where he was brought up, on

the day before he died in l986. He was 75.

Some of his silly recitations (he called them) have been put in a new

book, called The Compleat Angus. It is a good and daft title. From it

comes the resonance of his love of fishing, especially for sea-trout.

Pound for pound, the sea-trout was the gamest of all, he reckoned. He

wrote: ''Cast awhile, sit on the grassy bank and dream awhile!''

But no book, especially so elegant and posh a little book, can

completely contain the Macintyre. He was a big bounding man. When the

casual visitor to the house of Angus and Betty Macintyre was poured a

drink of whisky, it came from the bottle in generous measure but of

ordinary human dimension for a' that. When he handed the glass over,

however, it somehow had become a crystal bucket. Everything he touched

he enlarged.

His bank services surpassed the notions that the Clydesdale's head

office dreamed of, or that it let on it did. To some customers were

delivered cylinders of gas in the bank van. There could be a bottle of

the good stuff when the location was remote and the urgency was sharp.

When the woman of a house would not have the stuff about the place,

emergency supplies were cached for her man behind a stone half a mile

down the road.

''He lived to be about l00,'' Angus Macintyre mused one night at home

as evening saddened on Tobermory Bay. ''I wonder whether we didn't help

that man more than we knew. Creeping about nocturnally to extricate his

bonanza seemed to be good for his health.''

He was a poet all the time. Even doing banking business, he used words

that enchanted ears, while they left a good taste in his mouth.

Some of his Mull-ed poems will endure for as long as Gaels have

parties, although he picked some of his subjects improbably -- Hercules

the bear; Jocky Wilson, the darts champ; Islay cheese; an Oban Mod and

the Oban Times:

We know who's born, we read who's dead,

At home and foreign climes;

What's more it's true, if it's been read

Within the Oban Times.

His skill for simplicity became sly to torpedo MacBrayne's when they

made a wily sale to Greek owners of their awful old boat, The Lochearn:

Now, vicious gossip give me pain --

These whispers in the dark --

But I heard the Turks have paid MacBrayne,

To sell them Noah's Ark.

He told whoppers. One night he insisted he learned his Gaelic in

Glasgow where a Highland landlady refused to hear any other language.

Now I learn from the book that his mother was a Gaelic scholar.

On another night he talked about Mull's mood of ''pervading manana.

It's a blessed beneficence, a beautiful way to live. Mull, like China,

absorbs all its invaders,'' Angus Macintyre said. Once upon a time on

Mull, at Tobermory, there was a man.

The Compleat Angus (#l2.50: Famedram).