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Slugging through

The commitment and talents of John Patton, former president of the Educational Institute of Scotland, know no bounds. As a Roman Catholic from Northern Ireland, it must have been bad enough when he was asked to travel to a place called Aboyne to espouse the cause of a "Yes" vote in the current union ballot.

But the itinerant orator's route to his next port of call in Stonehaven over the notorious and precipitous Slug Road through the Grampians in the dark proved to be even more of a challenge of he nerve.

Patton, who is something of a polymath with interests ranging from credit unions to photography, displayed his knowledge of classical history on his arival at Mackie Academy. "If crossing the Alps turned Hannibal's hair grey, that trip would have left him with no hair at all," he remarked, doubtlessly to instant understanding.

On his return to the flatlands of Clackmannanshire, Patton only had the Ochils to contend with. What would Hannibal's elephants have made of them?

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