Monday, 18 November 2013

Anthony Hopkins' Bench

 There are always rumours about celebrities having secret hideaways in Dumfries and Galloway. You'll be on one of these wee buses that circle the region relentlessly and some auld heid will jerk a nicotined thumb in the direction of a farm track and say something like 'yon Claudia Schiffer lives doon there'. It's a type of wishful thinking, I suppose, as well as a kind of pride in our insular and highly remote landscape, as though folk with all the world to choose from couldn't see past sitting in the drizzle at the top of Auchengibbert Hill when they weren't partying in Monte Carlo or Cannes. Maybe it's a folk memory of past glories, as well. After all when the area was a frontier, strategically important for centuries saints, sinners and soldiers did indeed stride the hills and glens. Everybody who was anybody from Agricola to Walter Scott.

Of course some A listers do live here. Joanna Lumley has a house in Tynron, Alex Kapranos does yoga in Moniaive, but then he's Scottish so that maybe doesn't count. And for everyone who does or has lived here there are plenty who have visited and hated the place. Didn't Britt Ekland, while filming The Wickerman, describe Newton Stewart as "the most dismal place in creation... one of the bleakest places I've been to in my life. Gloom and misery oozed out of the furniture."? Scarlett Johansson's feelings about being filmed in the moors round Wanlockhead in the middle of November pretending to be an alien harvesting hitchikers body parts are not recorded, but might be imagined.

Britt watching misery ooze from some furniture in Newton Stewart
Nevertheless some parts of the region attract fleeting visits from famous actors. One bench in particular in Douglas Hall near Sandyhills seems to be a magnet. A local was sitting on it when Brian Cox came ashore to join him on a break from filming 'Master of Ballantrae'. Another spotted Anthony Hopkins sitting on it, while holidaying in the area. Since then it's become known as the Anthony Hopkins bench and is a celebrity in itself.

The Anthony Hopkins Bench, Douglas Hall

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