Along the Pentland Road, 25 May 2017

Friday, 4 February 2011

The Politician

The SS Politician was a merchant ship, which was sailing from Liverpool to Jamaica in December 1941. On February 5th, she ran aground on the island of Calvay, between the larger islands of Eriskay and South Uist. She later broke up and sank. Her cargo included tens of thousands of bottles of whisky - which inspired Compton Mackenzie to write his famous book Whisky Galore, the word Galore being one of the few Gaelic words that are in common usage in English today. Gu Leor means plenty.

The whisky was salvaged by the islanders. Although a near-endless supply of whisky may seem like heaven on earth, it did cause serious health problems in the longer run. Alcoholism and all its attendant problems, for instance.

The Politician did not just carry whisky. She also had a consignment of Jamaican banknotes, a grand piano, bathroom fittings and bicycles. The fittings were put to good use outside one islander's home, and were still being used decades later - in an outhouse beside a stream.

Even here in Lewis, there are stories around, if you know where to listen. Of the odd case being 'smuggled on request', and the skipper of the ferry distracting the 'polis' whilst the runner makes his get-away.

1 comment:

  1. Glad that you all survived the terrible storm...Even Mary my friend was asking today if you were ok ...
    Sybil x

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