“THERE’S never a dull moment in Dull!” exclaimed councilwoman Marjorie Keddie yesterday as she unveiled Scotland’s newest, and most eye-catching road sign.
After several months of anxious negotiation, the 84 residents of this tiny Perthshire village have made it official. They are no longer Dull. They are now Dull and Boring.
The news that the village of Dull, near Aberfeldy, was to pair with the town of Boring in Oregon, USA, has made headlines around the world.
And yesterday, with the blessing of Perth & Kinross Council, they were granted an official village sign to commemorate the momentous event.
Later in the evening there was a street party, with tables and gazebos lining the village’s one and only street weighed down with homebaked banoffee tarts and cheese straws, as well as a few celebratory bottles of bubbly.
“It’s been absolutely amazing,” said Keddie, chairwoman of Dull and Weem Community Council, as she put the finishing touches to her contribution to the evening’s celebrations.
“There’s been real community spirit about the whole thing. It really has brought people closer together.”
Emma Burtles, whose friend it was who first spotted the town of Boring while on a cycling holiday in the US earlier this year and suggested the link up, certainly thinks so. A mother-of-four, banoffee- tart-baker and a self-confessed “Dull woman”, she relocated with her GP husband to the village from Edinburgh a decade ago.
“We haven’t had any big social gatherings in the village for a while,” she said. “Being able to get together to celebrate like this is really special for everyone.”
Burtles’ son Archie,aged five, has cerebral palsy, and it is hoped that a project to make “Dull & Boring” T-shirts may allow the village to raise money for the charity Whizz-Kidz, which provides wheelchairs for disabled children.
“This whole thing has to mean something,” said Keddie. “It’s not just about being Dull and Boring. It’s about something bigger than that.”
Yet despite the good intentions, not everyone in the village is a fan. One local, who did not wish to be named, said: “I’d have far preferred it if we’d had some sort of more meaningful tie-up with a village in Malawi where we could have helped another community, rather than done something gimmicky like this.”
And a few feathers have been ruffled over the fact that the sign has been put up without due consultation within the community.
“There was no vote on it,” said one. “The Boring people had a vote, why couldn’t we have had one?”
For most locals however, being Dull and Boring has been decidedly interesting.
Down at Highland Safaris, the biggest tourism business in the area providing hillside safaris and home to a cosy cafe and shop, director Donald Riddell says that being based in “that weird little village called Dull” can only be good for business.
“People see it as a daft joke, but there is a very serious side to this,” he said. “We employ 30 local people here, on a B-road, in a recession. Anything that can put us on the map and keep our staff in jobs has to be a good thing.”
It is hoped that locals from Boring USA will flock to the area in their droves. Bob Boring, whose ancestor founded the town, is believed to be particularly keen to visit and there are discussions of a visit to distribute “Dull & Boring” T-shirts later in the year.
Certainly, this is a glorious part of the world in which to be Dull, with its rolling green hills, pine forests and Glen Lyon, the longest glen in Scotland and thought to be the birthplace of Pontius Pilate, nearby.
Local rumour has it that the stone of destiny was, until recently, kept safe at Dull church, before being relocated on to a local farmer’s land, where it was built into one of the stone walls.
And then there is the story of how Dull got its name in the first place, with the legend being that in the 7th century Saint Eonan, who lived in nearby Glen Lyon, asked for his coffin to be carried out of the Glen on “duils” or tethers, and decreed that wherever they broke was where he was to be buried, and a monastery founded in his name. Sure enough, they broke on the site that is modern day Dull.
But this “pairing” is less of a marriage, and more of a civil partnership. There will be no official twinning, because the rules – and who knew there were such strict rules for twinning? – say that the two settlements’ relative sizes are too diverse (Boring, a suburb of Portland, Oregon’s state capital, has a population of more than 10,000, against 119 Dulls). Instead it is a “pairing”, a more flexible arrangement which means anything either community would like it to.
On the Dull & Boring Facebook page, the two communities are tentatively getting to know each other. Earlier in the week, one Dull member posted a picture of a “local” – a Highland cow, in nearby Gen Lyon to much rapture from the Boring residents. “Can you milk them?” inquires one member from a local business named Boring Goats.
Another enthusiastic member has written: “God’s beauty knows no ends in Dull and Boring!”
Yesterday afternoon, as the sign was officially unveiled in front of a group of excited locals, that certainly seemed to be the case, despite the driving rain and the sun’s refusal to emerge from behind the clouds.
And indeed, every motorist who droyve past the new sign, destined to be one of the most photographed in the country, had a smile on their face that was anything but Dull and Boring.