The Saga Of Frank McComisky – Michael Bell

Just a few minutes of our time boys, and I’ll give you a yarn  
Told me by an old  gragsman one night in a barn  
Of deeds so bold, they would put yours to shame  
Perlormed by a climber, Frank McComiskey by name.  
 
Now Frank was a man born out of the norm  
A man unflínched by the fiercest of storm  
A man unperturbed by the steepest North Face  
He would climb it unaided with a smile on his face  
 
He would take delight in an ice filled gully  
And would climb all day saying ‘What’s the hurry? ‘ .  
He would dangle from his ice axe on the steepest of ground  
Saying ‘there’s nothing to beat a good look around’.  
 
He scorned the use of a tight top rope  
He said they’re for soft men just like sweet smelling soap  
He’d climbed most of the hills from the East to the West  
And couldn’t make his mind up which one was the best.  
 
He knew his Corbetts and he knew his Munros  
(As an ordinary man might know his own toes)  
He knew all their heights, both in metric and feet,  
He’d climbed all but one in rain, hail snow and sleet  
 
Now Frank loved the mountains and the pure clean fresh air  
And every animal thereon, such as rabbit and hare,  
An honest lad, Frank, as his daily acts showed  
Such as helping blind OAP’s across busy roads.  
 
O.K you might say, that’s not bad for a start  
But what is it that made him a man so apart  
A man who is known from North Pole to South  
Whose deeds were passed on by quick word of mouth?  
 
Just slow your haste boys, and take in some slack  
And jam a nut in that right-hand crack  
Belay yourself safely, to rush is a sin  
And when you are ready, it’s then I’ll begin.  
 
You’ve heard of a mountain whose steepness is famed  
Just below Loch Earn, Ben Chonzie it’s named  
A peak which had defeated the hardest of men  
This is the reason I’ve put paper to pen.  
 
Unclimbed it had stood throughout all these years  
Its danger had brought forth all of man’s inner fears  
It had thwarted all styles from the crude to the neat  
Its summit stood virgin untrodden by feet.  
 
Many climbers had perished on it’s dangerous slopes  
There was no easy route to raise the falsest of hopes  
They said it was too hard, an impossible climb  
Until along came the boastful promise of one, Hamish MacLind.  
 
MacLind was well known, second cousin to Reg Hake  
And possessed most of the tracts that excess wealth makes  
MacLind was a braggard of many parts  
Not least of all which was, of breaking fair maidens hearts.  
 
MacLind was a cad, who cheated at cards  
And laughed at folk who had known life hard  
He scoffed at the bad luck of the down and out  
At parties it was always his which was the loudest shout.  
 
‘I’ll stake a wager, ‘ he cried, one night at the bar  
‘To any climber in this country or even afar  
To climb a mountain well known to you all as well as me  
That’s right you‘ve got it first time, I mean Ben Chonzie’.  
 
This challenge appealed at once to our honest lad Frank  
A climber equal to MacLind but lacking his swank  
Without further ado he went into strict training   
No matter the weather – sun, wind, hail or raining  
 
The match was accepted, it was the talk of the land  
There was to be cheap beer and sandwiches and a local brass band  
As an added attraction it was to be live on T.V  
А race to the summit of Ben Chonzie ‘.  
 
The date was set for the second Sunday in Lent  
Strict rules to abide by, not one to be bent  
The climbers could either run, walk or hop  
But the victor was he who stood first on the top.  
 
‘The prize tis certain, it is bound to be mine  
I’ll place it alongside my others,’ boasted the braggard MacLind  
‘There is no man alive can match me on snow  
I have no need to boast it, it‘s a fact you all know.‘  
 
Bets were placed on the race both by laymen and toff  
Frank’s odds lengthened further when he developed a cough  
‘The race is unfair, an ill planned mismatch  
McComiskey’s a game lad, but MacLind he’ll nae catch. ‘  
 
The day of the race brought great crowds to Comrie  
They billed it on posters as the Climb of the Century.  
The braggard MacLind versus our honest lad Frank  
Homely good nature against wealth and brash swank.  
 
The Lord Provost was invited to start the great race  
He wore his best robes, and he carried his mace  
‘Gentlemen the race will start when the town clock strikes nine  
And that clock never chimes late it’s always on time.’  
 
The great crowds gave a roar, and the climbers were off  
Frank’s slower than MacLind because of his cough  
‘Good Luck and Best Wishes,’ were the shouts of the crowd  
‘He’ll need it I promise’ sneered Hamish aloud.  
 
The first part of the mountain led through steep grass and loose stones  
Hard on the feet and worse on the bones  
MacLind soon showed his worth as a treacherous hound  
He found the signpost to the top and turned it around!  
 
This cunning manoeuvre delayed honest Frank  
As so did MacLinds’ next trick involving a plank  
He’d had it pre-delivered by post to cross a large gap  
No such methods by Frank, he was too nice a chap.  
 
Up through the cloud and the rain and the rocks  
When Frank felt a chill in his feet, MacLind had hobbled his socks!  
He had cut out a hole in each of the toes  
To slow our lad down, when he reached the cold snows.  
 
(Meanwhile down in the valley, the brass band still played  
The man selling telescopes was doing a wonderful trade  
The Lord Provost viewed some badges, and not to be thought unkind 
Bought a red one for Frank and a blue for MacLind ) 
 
Frank had just passed the rocks and was on the snow  
When through the cold air he heard a cry from below  
He listened once more not helped by the storm  
And there was a cry from a maiden which sounded forlorn  
 
Frank peered down to where he had heard the voice  
And realised the situation, and his awful choice  
To carry on with the race, and to aim for the prize  
Or to search for the maiden with the heart rendering cries  
 
He quickly made a decision, the one he knew was best  
And took a fix on the yells, they came from the West!  
He shouted up to MacLind, telling him of his fears  
‘I’ve heard the cries too Frank, but I’ll shed no tears.‘  
 
Frank quickly descended using; his compass bearing  
Cursing the cold in his feet due to the socks he was wearing  
Every pace he took the cries grew more loud  
And then Frank saw it all through a gap in the cloud.  
 
Down there in the valley, аn ex lady friend of MacLind  
Lying stretched out across the main railway line  
Her ankles and wrists tied with best No 2 Rope  
And her cries of distress were those of lost hope  
 
Miss Dolores Macness had decided to take her own life  
MacLind had broken a promise to make her his wife  
So she had cancelled the cake and the bottles of liquor  
And dispatched a small boy to inform the vicar  
 
She had carefully tied herself to the railway track  
Making certain the ropes were not too slack  
And had laid there silently awaiting her doom  
By the train that arrived at & quarter past noon  
 
But as she lay there thinking of this coward MacLind  
Some fleeting thoughts passed through her mind  
She gazed up at Ben Chonzie’s summit so high  
And changed her mind, she did not want to die  
 
It was then that she let out with tearful yells  
Which were heard by Frank whilst high on the fells  
It was this that led to deeds so bold  
As you’ll soon know when this story has been told  
 
Looking down at the scene through the misty rain  
Frank felt a beat of his heart, it was the sight of a train  
Chugging along towards Miss Dolores Macness 
Was the 12.15 special, the Auchtermuchty express ‘.  
 
Certainly this was not a time to be afraid  
More so a time when heroes are made  
Frank drew in his breath and increased his pace  
For this was a far more important race.  
 
He felt slightly sick, he felt a pain in his thighs  
But what drove him on was those awful cries  
(What an absolute bounder was this Hamish MacLind  
To promise bethrothal, and then change his mind)  
 
At last he reached the side of the line  
He would have to act quick, he had cut it too fine!  
Frank cursed to the wind on his instant bad luck  
For she was secured to the line by a well tied Tarbuck  
 
From out of his pocket he drew his penknife  
And cut the ropes free from this not to be wife  
The Auchtermuchty express was not ten yards away  
But Frank’s quick action had saved the day.  
 
Frank had saved Miss Macness in the nick of time  
From a terrible death on the main railway line  
He then laid her down in a comfortable place  
And resumed his challenge in the Ben Chonzie race.  
 
To win the race now would. need superlative power  
He trailed Hamish MacLind by at least half an hour  
But Frank took up the challenge, using all of his will  
He drove himself fearlessly forward up that infamous hill.  
 
The thirty minute lead was reduced to twenty then ten  
An incredible climb up this dangerous Ben,  
MacLind sensing Frank’ s challenge then hatched his most devious plan  
To disguise himself as Macdui’s Grey Man!  
 
Almost in sight of Ben Chonzies’ twin tops  
He produced from his sack, some theatrical props  
A pair of stilts, and an old sheet  
That changed his size and colour, to grey and eight feet! 

His evil plan was to give Frank a shock  
By jumping out from behind a large rock  
But he hatched his plan without enough reason  
For he had forgotten it was the stag mating season!  
 
A 12 pointer stag looked at MacLind as fair match  
He thought that he was & she, and would make a fine catch  
A new addition to join his harem of nine  
So he moved up behind him and nudged his behind  
 
MacLind had such a fright when he turned around  
That he fell of his stilts and crashed to the ground  
He raced off downhill pursued by his suitor  
Not stopping; tis rumoured until he reached Cupar!  
 
Frank reached the summit alone, and he wrote his name  
Into mountaineering’s elite Hall of Fame  
He was first to the top, and he had won the race  
And done it all with good. manners and grace.  
 
When later he returned to the town of Comrie  
As a bonus prize he was given some sandwiches free  
But this did not compare with the one he liked best  
Which was a kiss on the cheek from Miss Dolores Macness.  
 
M Bell 
Dec ‘84

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