View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

North Uist, 1883

My transcription of the Napier Commission, which I have been doing over the past week or so, is slowly progressing and we are presently in North Uist. Once more the issue appears to be the size (or lack of it) of the land that each crofter holds. Malcolm Mcinnes, a crofter from the township of Tigharry, summarises it in his reply to question 12298.

12298. Then what I understand is that though you are not dissatisfied with your present holdings, you wish to have such large holdings as would enable you to live as farmers on a farm, and not be dependent upon labour
to maintain your families?
—That is it exactly—the very thing we want—that we could make a living out of our crofts by our own labour. We don't want to be gentlemen.

Gentlemen, in his perspective (I remind you of the date, 1883), were people who made a living out of other people's labours. It appears to have been a matter of pride to Malcolm that he be able to make a living by his own hard graft. 

Hurricane update - 2 June

Tropical cyclone Phet (pronounce: pet, Thai for diamond) is currently strenghtening very rapidly in the Arabian Sea, west of India. The storm is currently equivalent in strength to a category IV hurricane, and will reach a maximum strength of category V, with winds of 140 knots or 160 mph by tomorrow. In the early hours of Friday, Phet will make landfall in Oman at that intensity and track overland to reemerge over the Arabian Sea on a northeasterly bearing and a lot weaker.

This is the second cat V storm in the Arabian Sea in three years; Gonu devastated Oman in 2007. The waters of the sea are very warm, not surprising if you know that Pakistan is suffering an extreme heatwave, with temperatures reported at 53.6C (128F) in the south. The monsoon will move in during July, but it is common for extremely high temperatures to occur ahead of its coming.

My tropical cyclones blog, which copies advisories from various hurricane agencies around the world, has suddenly become very popular, with nearly 1,400 hits in the past 16 hours. The Indian TC agency's website is inaccessible, and people in the area are very concerned.

The first tropical cyclone in the Eastern Pacific has exacted a fearful toll in human life, with more than 100 people reported killed in Guatemala, El Salvador and southern Mexico. Tropical storm Agatha unleashed 30 inches of rain on the mountainous terrain there, causing flashfloods and mudslides.

Wednesday 2 June

The news in the UK is dominated today by a shooting spree, conducted by a taxi-driver in the west of Cumbria, northwestern England. The man has taken his own life, after shooting at people in 11 different location in Whitehaven, Egremont and Seascale. Five people are presently known to have died. A police operation is still on-going to establish what happened and make sure that not more casualties are found along the route taken by the man on his way. He shot himself in woods at Boot in Eskdale, southeast of Whitehaven. People had been ordered to stay indoors and out of sight, but have now been allowed to resume normal daily activities.

Here in Stornoway, the weather is windy and with a fine drizzle blowing along. A controversy is on-going at the moment with regards to the provision of public conveniences. Due to the refurbishment works on Perceval Square, at the very centre of the town, the public toilets there have been closed. The intention is not to reopen the loos and refer the needy to the library (where they can read for a pee) and the bus station, which is not open all hours. Councillors are now beginning to veer towards reopening the public toilets, providing someone is prepared to spend 30,000,000 pennies. And that's a lot of wee-wees.