Our next major gathering will be at Castle Dounie on 16th June 2018. We plan to host a series of events in the interim, and will circulate information to  members. If you would like to attend, please submit your details using the form on the ‘join us’ tab of this site. Continue reading for an account of the Society’s inaugural meeting…

4pm Crinan Harbour, Saturday 17th June 2017:  Overcast – close by, but not oppressive. Threatening rain had given way to benign humidity.

Like the host of a student party, I didn’t know what to expect other than plenty of no-shows, and a handful of unanticipated guests. I guess the weather dampened the spirits of all but the most ardent.

I watched the first wave of participants saunter their way around the shore before slipping into the woods.   The last of them disappearing from view as the bard rolled up in a vivid blue jeep. Though a decade had passed since our last encounter, there was no hiatus in the conversation as we pieced our way beneath low-hanging boughs. Thick ferns and tangled roots marked our passage along loch Crinan before we started up the hill.

All awhile the vegetation drank from saturated air and our pores opened to contribute. A fusion of respiration as we stepped through what seemed like the primeval world of dinosaurs. It was satisfactory to see the goatee sweating like a stuck pig as we worked our way up to the traveller’s rest – a bench seat conveniently located mid-point on our route.

‘Well Mr. Day, that was a fair haul was it not? I should imagine you’ll be wanting some refreshment before we proceed?’ ‘…Now that’s a fair idea Dr MacMillan, Indeed, I’ve a mind to do just that – what is it that you propose?’  ‘Would a 15 year-old Glenfiddich take your fancy? – light on the palette and smooth as car sales-man. I can commend it as a most refreshing beverage’.  ‘ Aye, that’ll do me the now for I understand the Society has some important decisions to make’.

‘Indeed, we do’, as I pulled the bottle from my rucksack, broke the seal, and poured two measures. The wind had stilled and the clouds lay thick overhead.      From our vantage we looked down on moored boats which huddled around Crinan island like armies on a Risk board; and surveyed views to the North , over Duntroune  and beyond. The timing and the context was right to consider the first items on our agenda.

‘So Mr Day, I was surprised, and somewhat disappointed to note that a number of contributions were incorrectly addressed; and I wonder whether the Society should be accepting them?’ ‘ Hmmnn, indeed, this is weighty matter Dr MacMillan, and one which requires a considered opinion’, murmured Rory replenishing our plastic cups. ‘Can I invite you to be more specific about the nature of the infringement – who were the contributions from and what did they consist of?’

Flurries of midges circled glistening forearms before being dispersed by a stirring of the air. It prompted me to stand and relish the sweet caress of a gentle breeze. ‘Well, I regret to inform the infringement befell a generous contribution from Islay – three fine bottles of single malt produced at Ardbeg, which were incorrectly marked for the ‘Ian Banks Appreciation Society’.

Rory’s breath stilled and a heavy silence lay upon us as drams were supped in contemplation. Eventually, having reflected on the delicious nature of our predilection, he gave voice to his thoughts. ‘Well, I’m glad you brought this important matter to the Committee’s attention. For, it’s only correct that the Society should have high standards’.

‘In truth, I’m surprised that a respected distillery like the Ardbeg, should commit an error like this, and I’ve half a mind to set an example from this incident by returning their bottles. However, I consider myself a forgiving man, and I know it’s a sentiment held in the highest esteem by other committee members. So, I suggest on this one occasion we overlook this clerical error’.

Thus, the committee reached agreement on the Society’s first item of business. The notion was carried by unanimous vote.  We continued to the summit were rewarded with a wonderful, atmospheric, perspective on the ‘Sound you can See’.

With our selection of single malts we joined the others to toast a sepia landscape; while the sea slipped through islands, below, like mercury returning to a prospector’s vial. It was a magical situation to sip the finest whiskies under leaden skies from that ancient vantage. A perfect context to pursue the objectives of the Iain Banks Appreciation Society.