*Warning* Intensely personal post ahead!
It was 2005 and I'd just been through a painful divorce. I lived alone in the solitude of the highlands of Scotland, and although I had the fun and exciting life of being a performer in a rock band - I was still pretty miserable. Tour after tour, gig after gig seemed to end the same way - rapturous applause then the deafening silence and solitude of my wee cottage in the mountains.
Contrary to what Southerners will tell you, we have electricity in the North of Scotland, we even have phones, TV and computers, and so I'd struck up a 'conversation' with a lady from Australia on an Internet forum - about sleep paralysis of all things. Passing info to one another on the forum became private messages, private messages became e-mails, e-mails became phone calls and pretty soon I realised I was falling in love with this 'persona'. What was she like in real life though? My mates in the band used to joke about the fact she only sent pictures which showed her from the waist up - "Be warned! She's either a midget or in a wheelchair Rory" they'd tease me. Not that it would have mattered. But it did leave questions about whether the persona of someone on the Internet can be matched by the reality?
Neither of us were in a position physically or financially to spend any time abroad - I had tour commitments and she had four kids to raise on her meagre income as a substitute schoolteacher.
And then a miracle happened.
A mutual friend we had made from the USA on the same Internet forum, had been observing the relationship develop. She figured that if one of us didn't get ourselves over to the other then this whole thing could be heading nowhere - and so it was that Tracey (The Australian Lady) awoke one morning, to find that a plane ticket had been booked from Australia to the UK for her for a month, and that a rental car would be waiting to greet her, and there was more than enough set aside as spending money to cover the period, all courtesy of our mutual friend, someone we had never met before in real life.
On November 3rd I waited at Heathrow Airport to see if the person now about to land matched the person I'd known for 6 months on the Internet. It seemed a great idea at the time to turn up in full Highland dress, but now, standing in an English airport wearing my kilt, sporran and Montrose, well...it all seemed a bit over the top, but at least she could never mistake who I was - or so I thought. She appeared out of customs and I was sure 'That's her!' - and she walked straight past me.
When she finally realised that the awkward looking extra from Braveheart was me - we hugged and headed off for coffee...what followed then seems like a dream...
No words could do the following month justice. Suffice to say that I cancelled all gigs except two smaller ones and we started off on our journey through Britain - along the way we video'd most of the places we went and the time we shared together (which you can see below).
Six months later I was in Australia and we married in Brisbane. The Maid of Honour was our mutual friend from the USA who even came on Honeymoon to New Zealand with us such was the strength of our friendship.
Even now when I think back on it - it still raises a tear. I'm overwhelmed not only to be married to the woman I'm in love with but I'm proud of her. Proud of her bravery in traversing the world to go meet an ageing, falling apart rocker. And as for our friend in the USA, it reversed any lingering doubts I may have had about the human condition. 'We're a' Jock Tamson's bairns'.
For those of you wondering where on earth we are in this video; (Be warned - turn your speakers up and get your handkerchiefs ready lol)
Tower of London
Hampton Court Palace
Lady Jane Grey's Castle
The Highlands of Scotland
Falls Of Shin
A bar in Ullapool
A bar in Applecross (I like my bars :) )
Edinburgh Winter Markets
Castle Eilan Donan
Kyle of Lochalsh
All of the video as well as the stills images you see, were taken by ourselves.