Here in the U.S., we can’t get our politicians to engage in civil debates about anything, let alone mythical monsters – unless they’re trying to get approval to make that monster THEIR state’s monster (see Washington state’s fight to make Bigfoot its official state monster – you can’t make this stuff up!). However, this is not the case in the British Parliament, where this week two members of the House of Commons discussed the existence of the Loch Ness monster and one revealed his own great-uncle was involved in an early sighting. Really!
The debate started when Scottish MP Drew Hendry was bragging about the growth of tourism in the towns under his jurisdiction, which includes Inverness, home of the Loch Ness monster.
“Why wouldn’t you, Mr. Speaker, want to come to Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey? To enjoy the snow sports in the Cairngorms, perhaps, or golfing in Nairn, or go on a cruise along Loch Ness with Jacobite cruises.”
Hendry was addressing MP Bob Stewart, who represents Beckenham in South-East London. Being a politician and not having access at the time to Twitter, Stewart responded to Hendry’s question face-to-face on the floor of Parliament with a revelation that both chided Hendry and shocked the rest of the members, the general public and Nessie believers worldwide.
“I want to help him by saying my uncle, who was at school on the edges of Loch Ness as a boy, saw the Loch Ness monster. In consequence, tourism expanded hugely. It was in all the Scottish newspapers. And only at his funeral did he allow it that he was a fake.”
If this had occurred in the U.S., all eyes would have turned to the nearest television to see what the cable news networks had to say. This being the U.K., Stewart was allowed to continue.
“For the sake of clarity, my uncle … was at prep school alongside Loch Ness in 1931 when he was late back to school and he and another boy claimed they were watching the Loch Ness monster. This grew big: Scotsman, lots of pictures and he was stuck with this. And it was only at my great uncle’s funeral that he allowed his son to declare that actually he hadn’t seen the Loch Ness Monster all those years ago as a boy.”
If this had occurred in the U.S., the tweets and retweets and memes would be flying. Instead, Hendry gave this stern yet polite response.
“[That is] a scurrilous attack on what is quite clearly one of my constituents.”
The first half of that statement is true, the second is also true assuming Nessie exists. The real question is, was Stewart telling the truth? He claims the sighting was reported in The Scotsman. The Official Loch Ness Monster Sightings Register – the go-to source for all things Nessie – lists one official sighting in 1931 by a J.J. Christie. However, the only record of that sighting it could find is an article in The Inverness, not The Scotsman, and it didn’t appear in the paper until 1948. That seems strange, considering the Official Loch Ness Monster Sightings Register is pretty thorough and Stewart said there were “lots of pictures.” Also, Stewart doesn’t give his great-uncle’s name.
Then there’s the alleged funeral confession by his great-uncle’s son that the alleged sighting of the alleged monster was all a real hoax. Really?
It was at this point that Stewart seems to be feeling a little guilty and says:
“But I want to say I believe there is a Loch Ness monster.”
Now there’s something that would NEVER happen on the floor of the U.S. Congress.