Commemorating the first anniversary of the Japanese tsunami put me in mind of that other tsunami, seven years ago on Boxing Day 2004. It was triggered by an earthquake of similar magnitude, but had a far worse loss of life - about a quarter of a million people died on the fringes of the Indian Ocean. Another day worthy of remembrance. In exactly six months from now, we'll have the eleventh anniversary of 9/11.
Today was grey and drizzly in Stornoway, with the odd blink of sunshine behind the clouds.
I spent a large part of the afternoon transcribing more evidence from the Napier Commission of 1883 and the Dewar Commission of 1912. I have also unearthed the predecessor of Lord Napier's report, namely that by Sir John McNeill of 1851; in my possession is the successor report to Napier, taken in 1902. The transcriptions take the shape of cleaning up OCR renditions of scanned images of the original documents.
All these reports show the conditions of crofters and cottars (landless people) in the Highlands and Islands, which (particularly following the potato famine of 1846) was particularly dire in 1851. However, things were still so bad in the 1880s that it something not far off an uprising in the west of Scotland, leading to the setting up of the Napier Commission. Sir John A. Dewar headed up a commission to look into the provision of medical services across the Highlands and Islands, which (in 1912) was poor in this part of the world.
You'll be hearing more about this from me in the days and weeks to come.