A few weeks ago I related, in my archive article, the story of when Harry McEachan - aka Hagarus The Handsome - 'gatecrashed' a posh do in one of London's top hotels in an audacious bid to persuade Hollywood film star Kirk Douglas to come to the Viking Festival.

It was actually the culmination of an adventure in 1995 when Harry, a voluntary ambassador for Largs, went to great lengths to gain national publicity for the Viking event, writes Drew Cochrane.

In the space of three days former community councillor Harry - still active today in his late 70s - made his way into two glamorous events in Glasgow and London which featured Kirk Douglas (star of old black and white movie, The Vikings) as a guest speaker.

Full Viking regalia

The first event, at the Hilton in Glasgow, saw Harry arrive in his full Viking regalia, complete with big sword and shield and, although, he had paid £75 for his ticket he was told he could not enter in his costume. However, a friend who drove him to the dinner had his dinner suit in the car...and Harry managed to change into more conventional dress to take his seat.

Fortunately, he was close to the top table where Kirk sat and spoke, and he managed to tell him all about Largs and the Vikings before the super star was whisked away to fly back to London.

Not to be outdone, the bold Harry booked a flight down south the next day, knowing that Kirk would be the VIP at the National Jewish Foundation gala dinner at The Dorchester hotel in London city centre.

Not having booked any accommodation Harry - a Protestant - chanced his arm by turning up at a Catholic convent at Marble Arch to look for a room for the night. Unbeknown to him a nun, Mother Veronica, who used to be based at the Largs Mackerston monastery, was now at the London base and welcomed him into her new 'home'.

Incidentally, he was entitled to be penny-pinching because he had just paid £240 (and that was 21 years ago) for his return flight and £100 for the London dinner ticket.....all at his own expense.

Also, when he went to collect his ticket at the Israeli embassy their 'secret service' had done their homework and they knew who he was. He was told to be on his best behaviour.

Hagarus The Handsome

Undeterred, Harry, in his Hagarus The Handsome Viking costume - minus the sword - turned up at The Dorchester and began helping the commissionaires to open the doors of the limousines as they pulled up with the distinguished guests.

So, he ended up opening the door of the limo which brought Kirk Douglas and his wife to the venue. According to Harry, the star was pleased to see him again and linked arms with him as they entered The Dorchester together.

Well, you can imagine that a Viking figure was in demand for photographs from the paparazzi and that is how he got to have his picture taken with Kirk (father of current film star Michael Douglas).

Harry told me last week: "Because he was much taller than me I stood on a chair to look like a big Viking."

Although he had struck a deal with Lord Glasgow, chairman of the Viking Festival, that the star could be accommodated at Kelburn Castle, if he came to Largs, the cost proved too much for the local committee. His fee would have been tens of thousands of pounds.

I've always thought that there is a book waiting to be written about the flamboyant Harry who did National Service before becoming a leading shop steward at the former Linwood car factory.

As a postscript, he says it was not his idea to call himself Hagarus The Handsome with his own calling card which, among other things, said he was Keeper of the Viking Graves on Cumbrae. He claims that the soubriquet was given to him, first, by George Whitestone of Largs Players, and then by a 97 year old nun in Largs! He had announced to the Sisters that he was Hagarus but needed another word that started with H. The veteran nun - who couldn't see very well - blurted out 'handsome' and it has stuck!