Thursday, March 26, 2015

All that Glitters is Garnet's Gold

The documentary Garnet’s Gold’, re-titled ‘The Lost Gold of the Highlands’ on BBC , was a brilliantly filmed feature surrounding the strange life and times of one Garnet Frost. A late fifty-something Londoner who, never having married or lived with a partner, had stayed with his mum in a state of splendid artistic dishevelment in a comfortable semi in that anonymous London sprawl which John Betjemen referred to as ‘Metroland’.

For reasons not quite explained, Garnet had paid his first visit to the Scottish Highlands twenty years previously and somehow found himself wandering the midge infested bounds of Lock Arkaig where he found himself tumbling down a ravine; coming to rest on the shores of a fast flowing small river which would enter the Loch further down. Lodged in one of the bank side rocks was a curious gnarled staff. It’s possible significance lost on the finder who starving, cold and dehydrated lapsed into a state of semi consciousness; prepared to accept the inevitability of death.

By a million to one chance he was rescued by a passing stalker and his return to civilisation coincided with his discovery of the legend of Prince Charlie’s Gold. During the Jacobite rebellion, funds in the form of gold bullion was brought over from the continent to financially underpin the campaign. However, defeat at Culloden saw the booty carted hither and thither across the Highlands until-legend has it-it was hidden someone near the shores of Loch Arkaig.

The bothy near Lock Arkaig: Walking Highlands 
Before the focus moves oop north, Garnet’s life with his 90 year old mother and friends is developed through talking head interviews and footage showing his predilection for beer, fags, dancing and crooning at the local boozer. As great outdoors activists go, Garnet is just about as far away from the norm as you can get.

Without any discernible means of income, our hero somehow manages to get himself an old Land Rover Discovery, a small boat and a weather balloon with a camera attachment and takes off with two friends for whom the wilds of Scotland are as alien to their suburban comfort zone as the jungles of the Congo!

Staying at the old bothy, Garnet takes off alone into the wild. His apparel refreshingly logo free and looking as if it was bought from an army and navy stores in the 1960's.His face quietly erupting into a midge bitten visage of swollen red skin. His bare legs inviting every tick in the area to climb aboard.
Ed Perkins captures it beautifully with some truly stunning footage; all taken apparently, on a single camera by the director himself.

Certainly well worth checking out. It might even still be on BBC iPlayer as we speak. Available in the UK only.

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