View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Monday, 18 October 2010

The Napier Commission in Sutherland

It is late July 1883, and the Napier Commission has arrived on the distant north coast of Scotland. Sitting in the hamlet of Bettyhill, a village 30 miles west of Thurso, the Commission has just spoken at length to 23-year old Adam Gunn, on the problems, facing the people in his district. His interrogation comes to a grinding conclusion with this exchange:

25560. Have you always been engaged in agricultural labour, or have you had any other occupation?
—I am a student as well.

25561. In the university?

25562. Which university?
—St Andrews.

25563. For the purpose of entering one of the professions?
—I am not sure.

Hurricane update - 18 October

Typhoon Megi made landfall on the east coast of Luzon, Philippines, at 03.30 GMT this morning. The storm packed winds of 165 mph and is bringing very heavy rains to the island. The system has traversed the Sierra Madre range of mountains (which peak at about 5,900 feet), which has caused weakening to an estimated 95 knots or 115 mph. Once over open water, all the conditions are in place to allow the typhoon to reintensify at a rapid pace. Megi is expected to make a graceful curve across the South China Sea and make landfall in southern China, somewhere between Hong Kong and Hainan Island, with winds of just over 100 knots.

This Manila based newspaper is carrying updates on the typhoon's impact.

Monday 18 October

A nice bright morning - with some showers about. Feeling quite cold, with the mercury only just at 10C / 50F. Autumn is here, quickly headed for winter.

I could not believe my ears when I heard a report of an American woman, who is going round offering sterilisation to drug addicts. Barbara Harris says she gets very angry at the plight of children of drug addicts. Some describe her £200 pay-out after the procedures as a bribe. I think it completely misses the point. I am fully aware of the disastrous effects that drug addictions have on people and their families, not to mention the babies born to addicted women - who go "cold turkey" straight after birth. Rather than helping addicts "kick" their cravings, this Project Prevention charity destroys something else in their lives. If addicts take up this offer, and subsequently manage to get rid of their addiction, they will rue their decision for the rest of their lives. I would not be too sorry to see the back of Mrs Harris and her Project Prevention.

I shall have another post later today.