It was a tragic quest that could only really end in futility and failure.
Ahab had his whale, Don Quixote his windmills, Fox Mulder his vast conspiracy between the CIA, alien shape-shifters, and that black oil they never really explained.
For Jamie Ross, it was Solero Woman.
Back during the 1999 Scottish Parliament election campaign, Alex Salmond — the then, later, and by some accounts current leader of the SNP — had posed for a photograph in which he fed an ice lolly to a comely young woman.
Lesser journalists were content to shake their head in disgust and block the image from their minds forever. Some went as far as applying bleach and a wire brush to their eyes.
But not Jamie. For Jamie Ross, formerly of BBC Scotland and now of BuzzFeed, is the Woodward and Bernstein of cheekbones. He resolved to track down this mystery woman, this femme fatale of the film noir that is Scottish politics.
His adventure took him on planes and trains and Facebook pages as he pleaded for Solero Woman to come forward. After all, a journey of a thousand Milk Maids begins with one step.
The more jaded amongst us knew it would end in disappointment but who were we to crush the hopes of this Hunter S Thompson with a hand gel addiction. His germaphobic gonzo was an inspiration to us all and he left no freezer unsearched in his mission.
Now, less than a year later, you can go up on a steep hill in Stirling and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see Salmond creepily proffering a frozen treat to a student – that place where the Solero melted and began to leak from the packaging.
But Solero Woman spurned his entreaties. Instead, she spoke to The Herald, that oldest of old-media outlets. How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless meme.
Now Jamie sits slouched over the beer-tacky bar of some gin mill in the bad part of town, a broken man, eyeing the half-empty bottle of Jack Daniel’s wielded by the bartender as his hand is drawn in black inevitability to the cold steel in his pocket. “I coulda been a contender,” he mutters bitterly. “I coulda been somebody. I coulda had James Cook’s job if I’d stayed at the Beeb.”
His mood darkens further when he considers this doomed expedition, this cursed pilgrimage that had led him up the river on a Solero stick. “I had immense plans,” he cries. “I was on the threshold of great things! Like setting up a rematch between John Prescott and that farmer he belted in the 2001 election.”
But look on the bright side, Jamie. Consider what you achieved along the way. You were force-fed a Solero by Ruth Davidson and Tangfastics by her too. You were accused of working for “BBC BuzzFeed” by David Coburn. You were called an “angular sex-elf” by me.
Jamie, we hardly knew ye. You chose to seek out Solero Woman not because it was easy but because it was hard.
We won’t forget you, Jamie, nor the last time we saw you, awkwardly nibbling an ice lolly thrust in your gob by the Scottish Tory leader, before you slipped the surly bonds of earth and touched the Waitrose freezer section.
It seems to me you lived your life like a Solero in the sun. And your listicles will always be read here, even though they’re written from England’s greenest hills. Your Solero’s melted long before your legend ever will.
Originally published on STV News.