OCCASIONALLY, a newspaper article makes you check your critical faculties to ensure they’re still functioning properly. This one was about Skye and appeared in last week’s Observer. It was written by the respected author Edward Docx, and I thought it was a rather lovely homage to the most iconic and perhaps most beautiful of the islands of the Inner Hebrides.

Mr Docx, whose parents bequeathed to him a lifelong connection with Skye, lives in London. He describes how on his annual visits to the island he finds a measure of peace, tranquillity and solitude which seems to fortify him for his return to a life less quiet.

“But not to think or to be as I am in the rest of my life,” he writes. “Not to think busy, hurried, tangled. Not distracted or caught up or diverted or waylaid. Not as a husband, nor as a father, nor as a son, nor as a friend. But I go to think and to be in a different way. In a deeper way. Meditatively, perhaps.”

I’d like to have written those lines. They seemed accurately to convey what I sometimes experience whenever I visit some of Scotland’s wild and glorious spaces. But more poetically.

It seems though, that I’d failed to divine some perfidy and capriciousness implicit in Mr Docx’s words. Others, obviously more sensitive to these rhythms than me, immediately disabused me of my jejune admiration for the article. Twitter’s Scottish army of cultural sentinels rose up to condemn the piece.

“One of the worst things about the Guardian (sic) feature on 'going back in time' to the Western Isles,” one prominent commentator tweeted, “is how it gives the impression these places are pickled in aspic. There are so many thriving innovative arts/cultural/scientific ventures across all the islands. It’s not 'Brigadoon'!”

Another inveighed: “Articles like this are such a gross fetishisation of an antiquated, over-romanticised view of Scotland.”

Others gleefully eviscerated the newspaper and the writer for mistakenly locating Skye in the Western Isles. Some refused to accept that this was a simple error of fact (which the paper later corrected online). Rather, it was evidence of the malignant ignorance which characterises the London media elites’ attitude to Scotland. Aye, right.

How could I have been so naïve as to take Mr Docx’s article at face value when it was really pulsing with arrogant and metropolitan entitlement? I began to hear the words from the Pink Floyd classic, Brain Damage: “And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon”.

And so I re-read the article and no, I wasn’t wrong: I still found it to be profoundly resonant. It captured why persistent city-dwellers like me like to visit Scotland’s magnificent Highlands and Islands. Even better: it made no mention of the Skye Faerie Pools without which most other descriptions of Skye are considered incomplete.

“Fetishised and antiquated?” This would serve as an accurate depiction of the pious attitudes us chippy Scots sometimes deploy when responding to people who come here.

Why do people claim to speak for Scotland when lecturing "outsiders" on what they consider to be imperfect experiences of our land?

Scotland is a multi-faceted, complicated country which has emerged from many different ethnic, social and political influences. How one person encounters it will be different from mine, which in turn will be different from many others’ who only visit here occasionally.

How would they rather it was depicted? As a place that specialises in guest houses and restaurants which want you out by 10am or refuse you food if you haven’t made the 2pm Highland guillotine?

I found Mr Docx’s experiences to be more authentic than those who fly in on private jets; shoot a few dozen of our native beasties and then play a round at one of Scotland’s two and a half million golf courses.

A few years ago I was reprimanded by some local people in Sutherland for questioning the proposal to build a luxury golf resort. We’ll leave aside the fact that Scotland needs another golf resort for the itinerant hedge-fund class like the royal family needs another Scottish castle. This Sutherland development threatened to destroy protected areas of rare flora and fauna. I responded by suggesting that this place didn’t belong exclusively to them and that the rest of us had an interest in it too.

I’d be much more concerned about how easy it’s recently become for billionaire predators to annexe large swathes of our natural heritage.

Scotland isn’t even ours anyway. By an accident of birth we are merely the fleeting custodians of this place. It’s open to all of humanity and we should avoid attaching conditions to the different ways they encounter it.

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