Wayfarer Column- Tales should always be taken with a pinch of salt

The more you look the harder it is to believe some of the old tales you come across, in fact the old adage that ‘the truth is stranger than fiction’ becomes very apparent.

However a good tale is always worth telling and I will recount some of the latest tales I have come across.

With the referendum coming closer you may not realise that back in 1189 Richard the Lionheart was short of funds to cover the cost of a crusade to the Holy Land and granted Scotland its independence in exchange for the sum of 10,000 silver Merks from King William I of Scotland.

Why King William thought it necessary to pay for Scotland’s freedom escapes me, but does that mean that England owes Scotland today’s equivalent of 10,000 silver Merks as we have had problems over independence ever since. Just a thought.

Alistair Nicholson from Glasgow at first did not appreciate the turn of events that would befall him when he ordered a pot of coffee in a Southampton café back in 1948, a few years after the end of the Second World War when a lot of naval personnel were being de-mobbed. Apparently in those days the British drank tea, the Americans coffee. An American officer sitting nearby became suspicious and accused Nicholson of being an American seaman who had jumped ship.

Nicholson protested but was arrested and then accused of being a deserter from the American army, no doubt caused by his Glasgow accent being strange to the Americans plus the fact that he was drinking coffee. Nicholson decided that by agreeing to be an American soldier, giving a false number and a wildly outlandish account of his military career the Americans would realise their mistake and release him.

But not so. He was taken to America, faced a court-martial, fined $99 and imprisoned for three months.

On his release he received army back pay, mustering pay, plus other allowances totalling $2,500 which enabled him to tour America before returning to Scotland.

It seems that the Americans believed that the truth was stranger than fiction and believed the outlandish stories of his military career.

However our tall story teller Nicholson did not do so badly out of it as it appears that the wilder the tale the more likely it is to be believed. But remember that these tales must always be taken with a pinch of salt, although I believe that the Americans do not take a pinch of salt with their porridge. See you next week.