Down Memory Lane, February 8 2019

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A children’s thriller, titled Satellite 7, by a former Courier editor predicted Kintyre’s space race back in 1958.

That year NASA was formed as the two Cold War superpowers, America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), vied for off world power and raced to put a man in space.

Angus MacVicar, a Courier editor in the 1930s, was a novelist determined that Scotland would have a starring role.

Last week, while on holiday, a Courier reporter spotted MacVicar’s 1958 work in the eclectic collection of a Great Malvern, Worcestershire second-hand bookshop.

The cover features a dish for communicating with a geostationery satellite, such as the first Telstar, launched in 1962, and a rocket launching pad.

The two are connected by a road with an uncanny resemblance to the track leading to the Mull lighthouse.

Angus, who eventually bought a property in Southend and lived to 93, before passing away in 2001, belonged to a North Uist family whose history can be traced back 600 years.

The flyleaf to the book states he became a ‘hard working newspaperman’   at the Courier in 1930, after graduating from Glasgow University and, when the editor Alec MacLeod, had a serious ilness, in 1933 stepped up to the hot seat.

Not content with writing all day, Angus, in the words of another former Courier reporter, Freddy Gillies: ‘burned the midnight oil,’ to write the first of 60 novels – The Purple Rock, published in 1933 by Stanley Paul.

He left to become a full-time author and broadcaster although the Second World War intervened.

Angus took part in three assault landings – Madagascar, Sicily and Italy and was mentioned in dispatches for his part in the break-out at Anzio.

Satellite 7, costing three shillings and six pence, was published 10 years before Paul McCartney came to Kintyre and tells the tale of radio and television singing star, Tony Thomson, aged 21 and his younger brother Jake.

They are shipwrecked on a remote Hebridean island, find a government research station and are detained by the inhabitants.

Eventually some of the mystery is unravelled  when they learn Britain is about to launch its seventh satellite, built to circle the moon and return with the first photographs of its dark side.

Angus’s first volume of autobiography, Salt In My Porridge, subtitled Confession’s of a Minister’s son, was published in 1971 and reprinted five times.

It was first issued in paperback in 1975 and currently changes hands for between 0.60 pence and £4.50.

Graeme Baird at the Old Bookshelf in Cross Street said that Angus’ books are in great demand.

The front cover of Satellite 7 features a tarred road which looks remarkably similar to the Mull lighthouse track. NO_c06dml01_cover_Angus_MacVicar

Mr MacVicar is in illustrious company on the rear cover. In a list of authors, in the same imprint, is the famous astronomer Patrick Moore who passed away in 2012. NO_c06dml02_reverse_Angus_MacVicar