View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Two minutes silence in Amsterdam

In my last post, I referred to the two minutes' silence that the Dutch were observing at 8pm local time. I watched the ceremony in Amsterdam courtesy the Internet. In the last 15 seconds of the two minutes, people suddenly started running away from an area of the Dam square in Amsterdam, panicking at - nobody knew what. The Queen and other royals were quickly led away into the nearby Palace. The master of ceremonies quickly announced that someone had collapsed and was being attended to by paramedics. Judging by the some of the pictures on NOS TV, which was being relayed on the Net, some bystanders were pushed over and hurt. It brought back some very bad memories of just over a year ago, when a deranged man drove into a crowd of spectators at the Queen's Day celebrations in Apeldoorn, killing 7. Hearing of the cause of the disturbance, I can only assume that the panic was caused by the memory of that terrible incident.

Within a minute or two, everybody had resumed their places, including the Queen. Amidst emotional scenes, the ceremony resumed by the playing of the National Anthem, colloquially referred to in Holland as the Wilhelmus.

Tuesday 4 May

As I'm typing this, the rain is once more closing in from across the Arnish hills, a mile away across the water. It has been a dreich day, with frequent drizzle although not really cold. The northwesterly wind has brought us a return of 'volcanic conditions' and 'dirty air'. The latter quote is courtesy Hebrides News, and can be happily misconstrued, which I'll do for a moment. If planes can't fly in dirty air, how come they are able to fly around London, where the air can be pretty polluted at the best of times?

Away from levity.
I was deeply saddened to see that Jane, "A journey of another kind", has now reached the point that once her pain has stabilised, she will return home to die. It is not that long ago that she was in Brazil on holiday. My thoughts are with her and her husband Martin, who keeps us informed when Jane is not able to. I posted on Call for Support yesterday, when things took a turn for the worse.

In just over half an hour's time, the Netherlands will come to a halt to observe a two minute's silence in memory of those that lost their life in the Second World War. The national event will take place on the Dam in the centre of Amsterdam; another event in the dunes outside The Hague where up to 280 people were summarily executed by the occupying forces of Nazi Germany. I observe this, as well as the Armistice Day commemoration in November.

In the context of the latter, I have been looking up further information on the Canadian casualties from Lewis from the First World War. The attestation papers give the address in Canada where the man in question lived before he signed up. It is possible for me to view the house courtesy Google Streetview. It struck me how many came from Fort William near Thunder Bay, Ontario. There is also a Fort William here in Scotland, 100 miles north of Glasgow. Many Lewismen emigrated to the Maritime Provinces of Canada, and were then transported up the Great Lakes to end up in places like Thunder Bay. Some crossed over into the USA, not far down the road, and abandoned all identifying items in order that they could not be sent back into Canada.