The devil they say, is in the details. I met Davey when I was researching my novel. He was a young “chowkra” factory assistant in the 60’s of Kothalgoorie Tea Estate and worked under John Clayton, a good friend of my father’s. Davey is a colorful Scotsman who speaks in a delightful brogue with big rrrrolling r’s and tells the most outrageous stories. He can be terribly funny. Davey tells me the most curious and bizarre things that happened in Assam. He is super with details– lots of which have gone into Teatime for the Firefly. What were the “chung” bungalows like? I ask. He describes the “bundh” roads with tall embankments and rice fields in Assam, the funny servants, the food they cooked, the leopard hunts, the grueling job of a factory assistant, rollicking times at the Mariani Club, the opium problem with laborers, “chowkri” girls and ghosts and ghouls. Davey read the early drafts of TEATIME for historical accuracy. His shared with me his secret for growing heirloom tomatoes which has gone into the Jimmy Morrison segment. The idea of the “Fertility Hill” in the novel also came from him.
To flesh out the character of the manager, a man called Ian McIntrye, a proud highlander and a military man, I picked Davey’s brains about the little touches to add to the décor of his bungalow that would hint of his Scottish ancestry. Before that I did not even know what a Sporran was. Davey not only knows his Sporrans inside out, he used to make them! His grandfather was the taxidermist to the royal family. Davey shared with me these photographs of him presenting a sporran to Prince Charles. There is a very amusing anecdote that goes along with this story but you have to hear it in Davey’s own words in his rich brogue. I will record it on Skype and put it up, once I have figured out how to embed video on his blog.
As a writer I need to “see” things. Davey sent me this photo of a Military Sporran for my reference. Here is an extract from his email to me. Details like these helps me to add authenticity to my characters.
“Pics of a military sporran, Shona. If you want Ian MacIntyre to come from distillery country, Craigellachie is a town on Speyside in the centre of the Highland distilleries. He could have joined the Gordon Highlanders as his father served in that Highland Regiment.”
Davey Lamont is a happily retired Assam tea planter who has had several other interesting occupations as well. Among them: a coffee planter in Papua New Guinea, a Tomato grower on New Zealand and a Bespoke Sporran Maker in Braemar. Davey has written a humerous memoir full of interesting anecdotes about his “wee village of Braemar” in Scotland. Copies of the book may be ordered by contacting the publisher (Neil A Robertson at 7-9 Queen St, Forfar, Scotland Ph 01307 464078). Davey lives in the Gold Coast of Australia with his wife Lana, who is an enthusiastic cook and the inventor of the world’s best green papaya chutney!!