The year was 1745 and the Young Pretender, Bonnie Prince Charlie, was on the run from the English army after his defeat at Culloden. He was hiding amongst the remote glens and wild hills of the far West of Scotland when he sat down on the ruined wall of an ancient blackhouse to have a spot of lunch. Unbeknown to the Prince, an adder was also occupying the old dyke, asleep in the sun and was not best pleased when the prince sat down on top of him. The adder’s first instinct was to bite Charlie, which would have been most unfortunate since the prince, like any true Highlander, wasn’t wearing anything under his kilt. But the adder had Jacobite sympathies and resisted the temptation to sink his fangs into the fragrant rump of the Young Pretender. The Prince tried to thank the adder for his forbearance, uttering “Merci beaucoup, tu est mon serpent favori” or words to that effect, but the snake did not speak French and hadn’t a clue what his Royal friend was saying. Flora Macdonald, who was there among the Prince’s motley crew of supporters, explained to the snake that the prince was saying thanks and that he was now Charlie’s favourite snake – “By Royal Appointment” – so to speak. Then the prince went on to say…”Je suis comme le roi d’un pays pluvieux” which again left the snake a bit bewildered. The loyal Flora wasn’t much help either and said to the snake that she didn’t know what the bonny prince was on about. “I dinner ken,” she added, “and in any case how am I supposed to know since the man who wrote these words has not been born yet?” The Prince then stood up and made to set off on his way. “Robert The Bruce has got his spider”, he shouted, “And now I’ve gone one better with my very own snake.’ With that he vanished into the damp mists, bogs and waste-high heather of the far West.
This then, in industrial strength wood and metal filler. epoxy resin, acrylic paint and hundreds of individually hand-cut rusty fence staples, is my tribute to that most forbearing of snakes.
Measures 70 cm wide by 59 cm deep in its frame (weighs a tonne).