View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Thursday 29 November

Another cold day, temperature wise, with some good sunny spells. Again, the sun doing nothing to lift temperatures in any way. The flooding across England and Wales from earlier in the week is only slowly subsiding, and further rain next week could exacerbate the situation again. Wasn't it funny when some of the TV weathermen, at the height of the flood crisis, thought that the rain would exasperate the flooding.

My eye was caught by an article in the Daily Telegraph of 27 November, where people owning crofts in the Highlands were threatened with eviction, as they did not live there all the time. That may sound harsh, but it needs to be borne in mind that a croft is a phenomenon that lies at the heart of a lot of passion in these parts. A croft, a leased strip of land, was where people made their living. It was the lack of security of tenure that prompted what amounted to an uprising in the 1880s, as tenants were at risk of summary eviction. When you have a croft, it does not automatically have a house on it - a house is classed as an improvement. What happens a lot is that people think they have a house, and oh, there's a croft alongside it. Nope, it's the other way round.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Tuesday 27 November

A very cold day, with the mercury only briefly getting above 4C / 39F. There was some sunshine, but that had no impact on the temperature. We continue to enjoy days of nice cloudscapes, even if that does mean showers here and there. I by no means envy the people in floodstricken areas of England and Wales, and express my condolences to the family and friends of the elderly lady who drowned in the flooding of St Asaph, Denbighshire today. St Asaph is a small city, southwest of Chester and was nearly swept away in severe flooding.

I have spent the afternoon preparing a few texts for publication (read, make up into a nice book for myself); only one of these will make it on the open market, namely a selection of my writings. The other text is a private diary of some of my trips in the north of Scotland in 2004.

On the Cape Wrath peninsula, August 2004

I continue to monitor the slow progression of tropical storm Bopha, the 26th of the Northern Pacific season. However, it is still stuck at low latitudes, only 4 north. The system is not expected to move above 10N within the next five days. So, I'm presented with a lesson in the geography of the Federated States of Micronesia. I had heard of Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap and Palau before. But not of their constituent islands, such as Nukuoro, Losap or Puluwat.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Monday 26 November

A fairly bright day, although a couple of showers did come along to tease us. It felt cold, with the temperature no higher than 7C / 45F and a penetrating northerly breeze. As per usual this year, we're having the best weather in the country. North Yorkshire is being plagued by flooding, after the weekend wreaked havoc in southwestern England.

It was reported today that the famous Stornoway Black Puddings (a type of blood sausage) is closing in on the coveted Protected Geographical Indication status. I'm not fond of black pudding, but Stornoway is famous for it and I support the protection that the PGI affords. Unfortunately, producers outside the town will not be covered - but don't forget that there is a historic rivalry between rural Lewis and towny Stornoway, and a Niseach (e.g.) would not like to be seen under the same umbrella as a Stornowegian. Don't ask.

Hurricane update - 26 November

A tropical depression has formed in the Pacific Ocean, in the Federated States of Micronesia. System 26W is currently located near position 4.6N 155.7E, this being 70 miles northeast of Nukuoro; 145 miles southwest of Sapwuafik / Ngatik; 135 miles eastsoutheast of Lukunor; 235 miles southwest of Pohnpei; 260 miles southeast of Losap and 330 miles southeast of Weno, Chuuk.

The system will intensify to typhoon strength, reaching 90 knots (105 mph) by the time it reaches Yap.

If those names mean nothing to you, have a look on the warning pages of NWS Guam or consult an atlas. I had to too.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Sunday 25 November

A beautifully sunny day, after a veil of high cloud dissipated in the course of the morning.
I think we were really luck with the weather, as conditions in England have been downright atrocious. Two people were reportedly killed as a result of wind and rain, and although two inches of rain is not that much, it comes on top of a heck of a lot of rain that has fallen recently, leaving rivers full, the ground saturated - and basically, a recipe for disaster. The forecast for the northwest of Scotland is for a couple of cold and fairly calm days ahead; the Met Office puts our daytime highs between 5 and 9C (41 to 48F).

In the afternoon, I went for a wee amble round the bay to Goat Island, just as the ferry left and the tanker came in. There was no wind to speak of, making it feel warmer than the 7C / 45F on the thermometer; but out of the sun, you could feel the cold. The sun was so low in the sky that I could barely see where I was going.

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Saturday, 24 November 2012

Saturday 24 November

Quite a nice day, with good spells of sunshine and only high-level cloud. We managed 9C, about the highest temperature in the land. Went into town in the morning for a copy of the Stornoway Gazette; this usually comes out on Thursday, but it was late coming this week, and yesterday I didn't get round to getting it. But today, I managed a copy of the Two Minutes' Silence for 90p. The farmers' market was in Perceval Square, and I had a look round the bazaar in the Town Hall.

I have just finished watching an episode of a programme, recorded earlier this week, presented by Michael Portillo, on rail journeys in continental Europe. He was traversing Germany, and parts of it were familiar to me. During my time in Stornoway so far, I have encountered many people from that country. The historical background is familiar to all, and it somehow does not seem to be true - but it very much is. A fortnight ago, I once more highlighted the anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom of 1938. However, times do change, and a huge effort has been made to integrate Germany back into the family of nations. Like Hitler was the wrong man at the wrong time, Adenauer (the first chancellor of post-war West Germany) was the right man at the right time. We should never forget what happened between 1933 and 1945; but not let it rule either what happens now and in the future.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Friday 23 November

This cloud summed up the day for us here in Stornoway; sunshine and a few showers. With the early sunset, before 4pm, we don't get much daylight through the day. At winter solstice, around December 21st, sunrise is at 9.15 am and sunset at 3.35 pm, giving us 6 hours and 20 minutes of sunshine (on a bright day). Stornoway lies just north of the 58th parallel North, and in December, the sun rises not more than 8 degrees (a hand's width) above the horizon at midday.

It has grown very quiet on the hurricane front, with the Atlantic hurricane season going out with a bang in the shape of hurricane Sandy. The southern hemisphere season has kicked off with tropical cyclone Anais a couple of weeks ago, but it did not affect land.

I have compiled two different calendars with my pictures; selecting 26 images out of the 5,500 photographs I have taken this year was no easy task!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Thursday 22 November

A wild start to today, with winds of 84 mph before dawn at the Butt of Lewis and nearly an inch of rain near the Tiumpan Head Lighthouse, 10 miles northeast of Stornoway. The rain cleared after midday, leaving us with a reasonably bright afternoon - our afternoons are presently rather curtailed due to sunset times before 4pm.

As I type this, a consultation is coming to a close at the local council [Comhairle nan Eilean Siar] about budget cuts, amounting to £6 million. This is the final of a series of consultations across the islands. I have seen the list of proposed cuts, and some of them are painful to say the least. Closing schools, slashing provision of social services - and yet, councillors have been provided with their own iPads. Budget choices are always difficult.

Today it is reported that one Pacific island, Sandy Island, does not exist. It was reported to lie between New Caledonia and Australia, but when a survey ship went to have a look, there was only 4,600 feet of water. So, this is a case of undiscovering an island.

Kittens for sale

A pretty little girl named Suzy was standing on the pavement in front of her home. Next to her was a basket containing a number of tiny creatures; in her hand was a sign announcing FREE KITTENS.

Suddenly a line of big black cars pulled up beside her. Out of the lead car stepped a chubby, grinning man.

"Hi there little girl, I'm Alex Salmond. What do you have in the basket?" he asked.
"Kittens," little Suzy said.
"How old are they?" asked Salmond. Suzy replied,
"They're so young, their eyes aren't even open yet."
"And what kind of kittens are they?"
"Scottish Nationalists," answered Suzy with a smile.

Salmond was delighted. As soon as he returned to his car, he called his PR chief and told him about the little girl and the kittens. Recognising the perfect photo op, the two men agreed that the Salmond should return the next day; and in front of the assembled media, have the girl talk about her discerning kittens.

So the next day, Suzy was again standing on the pavement with her basket of "FREE KITTENS" when another motorcade pulled up, this time followed by vans from STV, BBC, and CNN. Cameras and audio equipment were quickly set up, then Salmond got out of his limo and walked over to little Suzy.

"Hello, again," he said, "I'd love it if you would tell all my friends out there what kind of kittens you're giving away."
"Yes sir," Suzy said. "They're Conservatives."
Taken by surprise, the Salmond stammered, "But...but...yesterday, you told me they were SCOTTISH NATIONALISTS."

Little Suzy smiled and said, "I know. But today, they have their eyes open."

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Wednesday 21 November

A pretty bright day today, but we certainly have got the wind back. Blowing force 6 to 7 through most of the day. I was left gobsmacked by the images of flooding in England, where 2 inches (50 mm) of rain has fallen in places. More of the same in days to come. Our rain lasted just an hour and a half. That's the advantage of being this far north, any weathersystems tend to scoot past at a rate of knots.

I have been revising the information on one of my Western Isles tribute sites, namely for the Isle of Harris. Harris is on the same landmass as Lewis. Anyway, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission have recently introduced a vastly improved search function ont heir website, meaning I can search for certain keywords, like "Harris", "Tarbert" or "Inverness-shire". You can download those search-results into spreadsheet data and work them on your own PC. Very nifty, and I have managed to locate data for 24 persons. 65 (out of 200) remain without any more information than is on the war memorial at Tarbert. As I haven't been to Harris in a while, I'll close this post with a handful of piccies of Na Hearadh, as the island is known in Gaelic. The first image is of the war memorial at Tarbert, the main village and ferry port for the ferry to Skye and the mainland.


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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Tuesday 20 November

We started off grey but dry, with very little wind. That all changed at 11 in the morning, when the rain started to pour and the wind got up. By lunchtime, the sun came out and the wind rose to a near-gale, force 7. Yes, the barometer was way down as well, and is only rising slowly.

Fortunately, Stornoway looked very nice in the afternoon when the sun shone on South Beach, as shown above.

I was slightly amazed that the Church of England voted against female bishops. I was amazed at the emotional response, shown by the (female) reporter on ITV news, who (I felt) went way over the top in her condemnation of the CoE, describing it as not of this age &c. She should bear in mind that the Anglican Church does not just hold sway in England, but also has large congregations outside the country, some of whom are very conservative. However, it is a typical case of how shall we interpret the Scriptures to our own ends, and I have this funny feeling that 'Him upstairs' will have cast his Eyes upwards as one of his churches is heading for more schisms.

I'm patiently waiting for the hot-heads in the Middle East to cool down and reach a cease-fire, and hopefully a permanent solution. After 65 years of crap, I think it's high time. Israel is here to stay, the people who used to live in Palestine before the Israelis came, are also here to stay, so why not sit down for a chat? I acknowledge the hatred that all this crap has caused, and which will not go away in a hurry. As the people in Iraq have shown, it is perfectly feasible for the idiots to be kicked out, if the will for peace is there. And I genuinely believe that it is there. On both sides.

Monday 19 November

A very dark, grey, overcast and wet day. After the cold weather of the last few days, it was pleasant to find it had got quite a bit milder, with the mercury in double figures. The rain, which locally amounted to 2/3 inches (17 mm), caused havoc in Perthshire, with the village of Comrie (between Perth and Crieff) awash under several inches if not feet of water. Three months ago, the village had suffered flooding as well and had nowhere near recovered from that. The next couple of days will see more active weatherfronts and rain moving through.

In a way, it was good that the army major, in charge of the boattrip that left young Kaylee Macintosh dead, back in 2007, was sentenced to a fine of £5,000 ($8k). Since '07, the law on breaches of health & safety has been altered, meaning that in severe cases like this, people can be sent to prison. Other people may be prosecuted as well, as many aspects of the whole trip were found to be faulty. Kaylee, who was 14, was one of a party of several teenagers who were in a fast boat in Loch Carnan, South Uist, in August 2007, when the craft overturned during bad weather. No headcount was taken, and it took an hour and a half for Kaylee to be recovered from under the upturned boat, dead by that time.

Stornoway is not a place that shies away from a drink, so it was even more surprising to read that one of its pubs has closed down. Others have diversified into providing food. The reasons quoted are a decrease in disposable income in the island, cheap booze in supermarkets (which people will consume at home). I mean, if you can get 6 pints for £3 in the supermarket, and get charged £3 for 1 pint in a pub, I can very well understand why people make that choice.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Sunday 18 November

Today was not unlike yesterday, with good sunny spells interspersed with showers, some wintry - not surprising with a daytime max of just 6C / 43F. Dedicated today to some reading, with my first e-book (read through Kindle for PC), Inner Legacy by Douglas Stuart. As I wrote in my review, it took a bit of getting into, but flowed well for the rest of its 300+ pages. The number of pages on an ebook is in fact irrelevant, as that changes with the typeface and fontsize you select for reading the text. It worked well on my laptop, in spite of its continuing problems with warped colours.

As you will have seen on Writings from Castle Town, I have completed another two writings today. These tend to be based on my own observations and interpretations of local areas, histories and scenes. Two of them will be submitted to a local writing competition; just a bit of fun. I continue to get favourable feedback, so I feel emboldened to enter.

I hope they manage to get themselves a ceasefire in the Middle East before the situation in Gaza and Israel flies out of control, which it could ever so easily do. Both sides are at fault, and neither is right in what they are doing.

Saturday 17 November

Quite cold today, with the mercury struggling to reach 5C / 41F in the afternoon. With the sun now setting at 4 o'clock, the days are getting very short. Just over five weeks until the winter solstice now. It only seems like yesterday that I was out at 11.30pm, photographing the town as daylight was only just beginning to give way to night. This week has seen a good display of the aurora borealis; as I am located on the south side of Stornoway (i.e. with a townful of light to the north) I have not been able to see them, but contacts in Ness and Coll (25 and 7 miles outside Stornoway) assure me that it has been good.

I despair at the on-going stupidity in the Middle East, where the Israelis and Palestinians continue not to realise that they are condemned to live with each other, whether they like it or not. Rather than make each others' life hell, why don't they sit down for some quiet talk, and shove all the noxious influences from outside into the sea?

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Friday, 16 November 2012

Friday 16 November

Overcast today, with some outbreaks of rain as we transition to a colder frame of weather. Wintry showers are possible over the weekend as we dip down towards the 40F mark on the thermometer. I discovered that my walking boots (which I wear every day) have worn away and are about to give up the ghost. I therefore went into some of the local outdoor shops, but they had nothing that fitted my feet. This would ordinarily mean a trip to Inverness, 100 miles and £34 away - but if I can get a repeat order of the same boots, that would make it all a bit easier.

I reported yesterday about the Facebook contact who had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of Dave Lee Travis. Reading the first-hand account makes you sick to the core - even if it happened 30 years ago. I cannot profess to know the person concerned very well, but that's beside the point. And DLT expressing himself precisely the way an abuser would: 'you are worth nothing' - well, that sunk him for good.


I have copied my poetic writings onto a separate blogsite, Writings from Castle Town and after today, will blog the poetry there. Those who follow my writings on Facebook will see a feed from that blog on my wall. I am contemplating whether to publish these in book form, but have not yet decided.

Castle Town is a username I adopted on Blipfoto, a site where you can post one photograph each day, something I have been doing for the past 3 years. Castle Town refers to Lews Castle in Stornoway, and to the castle in my home town in the Netherlands. Pictures from both castles are featured in the Writings blog. 


A line of four hills
on the southern horizon
The endless sea
stretching out north

The old land falls
from the cliff edge
to its ruins
the sea toys with the stack below

A single line of houses
along the edge of the loch
another line marching
on the opposing skyline

The moorland waters drain off
to rest for a while
in the shallow waters
before merging with the ocean

Ever moving
never still
motion born
of long dead storms

Trains of white riders
charging the shore
A bullying wind
batters the cowering homesteads

Stretching uphill
to end at the church
views opening out
west along the coast

Like so many places
in these old islands
it's given up its people
to seek riches abroad

Or pledge fielty unto death
For a distant king
The village awaits
The return of the departed

Whether in this life
or in the one beyond
At the setting of the sun
Or at the Breaking of the Day

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Pentland Road

A ribbon of black
threads across
the trackless moor
hugging contours

Distant hills
looming either side
blue pieces of glass
reflecting the high sky

Dark blankets roll away
in green, yellow, brown
and black to the horizon
waiting to be cut for fuel

The road forks
where rocky hillocks crop out
angling down along the riverbank
and coming to end at the pierhead

Thursday 15 November

Today in 2004, I first arrived in Stornoway, and in due course made the place my pied-a-terre. I started off staying at the Ravenspoint Centre in Kershader, 22 miles (by road) south of Stornoway, before relocating to the town proper a number of weeks later. I arrived in Stornoway from Berneray, in the Sound of Harris, after a lengthy tour of northern Scotland.

Berneray, 1996

Kershader, 2008

I was shocked to hear of the arrest today of Dave Lee Travis, until 1993 a famed DJ on BBC radio; I first heard of him on the BBC World Service, which he dubbed the BBC's Wild Service. I found that funny; until today. One of my Facebook contacts has lodged a police complaint against Mr Travis for alleged sexual abuse 30 years ago.

Today was a day of sunshine and cloudscapes and quite a bit of wind. The wind blew the remaining dry leaves around, causing a visiting cat to jump up in the air on all fours and trying to chase them. After dark, the cloud increased and there was a brief spell of rain - the wind has now died down.

Alcohol in pregnancy

One of today's headlines is the news that drinking one or two glasses of wine per week whilst pregnant increases the risk of lowering the IQ of the baby. This was also carried in the regional paper for the north of Scotland, the Press and Journal. The closing lines of the P&J article run as follows:

Dr Simon Newell, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: "We already know that an estimated 6,000 babies a year in the UK are born with problems as a result of heavy alcohol consumption by their mothers while pregnant. It is impossible to say what constitutes a "safe" amount of alcohol, so our advice is don't take the chance with your baby's health - don't drink at all".

The P&J adds an editorial which runs as follows:

So researchers are now telling pregnant women that having a glass of wine once a week could reduce their child's IQ. The difficulty with research, of course, is that much of it is intelligent supposition based on, by its very nature, limited findings. It creates confusion and mixed messages, but most women are far too sensible to be swayed by these kinds of messages anyway. We know the dangers drink can have and ultimately know that a little glass of wine now and again won't kill us. Often our bodies are the best guide one can have, not a researcher with a message to sell.

I wonder who is right...

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Wednesday 14 November

Quite a reasonable day, with good spells of sunshine and the odd drop of rain - which I managed to avoid. I went for a walk to Strawberry Hill this afternoon, and discovered that this area of the Castle Grounds is not as difficult to get to as I had thought. My first foray, in February of last year, involved scaling the southern flank of the hill (220 feet high), and last summer I tackled the hill from the north. It was at that point that I discovered the tracks leading off Strawberry Hill to the east, and I discovered an even better (if rather rough) track a little way further south. These tracks lead to the Marybank Quarry, an area that is obviously out of bounds. It being mid afternoon, the sun was setting (sunset time 4pm at the moment), leading to some nice cloud and lightscapes.

I have collected my poetry on, but will continue to copy it on here as well.

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Golden rays caress the sky
languid clouds
slowly moving east
an ever-changing mosaic

A cooling breeze
gently touches
the hilltop, slowly turning
brown as autumn progresses

Greens of leaves
makes way for the
grey of denuded

Greens of grasses
turn yellow then
fade into the
background of blackened heath

The wind reminisces
as the sun bids us good night
angling its rays ever higher
airbrushing the sky pink

Slowly, colour fades
from the skye, the hills
the sea
Night has fallen

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Tuesday 13 November

A bit milder than in recent times, as we manage double figures. It was a day of changeable fortunes, but with some nice spells of sunshine. November is set to continue in much the same fashion over the next few days. No complaints this end.

Fuel prices remain at the forefront of local politics. A pump, only a few hundred yards from my position, has dropped its prices by about 10p a litre since the wholesalers announced that island retailers could buy where they wanted; previously, they had been locked into five-year contracts, which attracted the ire of local residents. I do not drive myself, but when I go on the bus, the fuel prices do affect me indirectly, through fare increases.

82 years after being abandoned by its permanent residents, St Kilda has attracted an award for conservation of architectural heritage. The houses in Village Street quicly fell into disrepair, but were restored later. In spite of its stunning landscapes, St Kilda does not hold much attraction for me, as I hold it to be dead.


Low tide
The bar stretches
across the entrance to the basin
a rapid outflow the sole break

An old engine
now just a lump of rust
with a few floats

Dirty mud with stones
empty shells
gulls squawking

A squirt of water
other inhabited shells
try not to stand out

Six hours later
Only water
All else aforementioned?
Under 17 feet of water

Journalistic accountability

As we (in the UK) know by now, there have been major changes in personnel at the BBC. This was brought about because the Newsnight programme did not do proper journalistic checks before broadcasting a programme that appears to have been defamatory.

Well, of course when you're a journalist, you have to check and countercheck. However, why didn't that numbskull Philip Schofield, of ITV1 fame, not do his checks on the card with names that he handed David Cameron the other day? More to the point, what is he still doing on that featherweight This morning programme? Names were (allegedly) legible on the card for a second, as it was passed by Schofield to the prime minister. These names were culled off the Internet, where rumours were flying aplenty about the name of the former Tory aide who is alleged to have abused boys at (or from) the Bryn Estyn home at Wrexham, North Wales. Off the Internet, the greatest rumour box on earth? If heads are rolling at the BBC, then we should also see (metaphorically speaking) the heads of Philip Schofield (and his team at This morning) impaled on the gates of ITV HQ.


Along the water's edge
Stepping on tall legs
Looking for
a meal





Lazily, the heron
flies off to its
in the treetops

Monday, 12 November 2012

Monday 12 November

Overcast, wet and initially windy. However, the wind has died down now. I finished reading a book that tried to depict Britain under Nazi occupation during the Second World War. That, of course, complete conjecture and the author, Norman Longmate, has made a creditable effort to describe the invasion and its aftermath. What I found fault with is the relative understatement of the atrocities committed by Nazi forces in occupied Europe, which the author tip-toed past. He laid heavy emphasis on the occupation of the Channel Islands, the only British territory to be occupied by Hitler's forces. However, that occupation appears to have been relatively benign, and not representative of the occupation of other countries, like France, Holland or Belgium.

I have started on the phenomenon of e-books, and purchased a novel, written by a fellow blogger, Stuart Rogerson. Another book I currently have on the go, Crime and Punishment, by Dostoevsky.

Did you ask about hurricanes? None about, and only one tropical disturbance, near Brunei, which is not likely to develop much further.


I recently finished, after a year, reading the Qu'ran, the holy text of Islam. Due to the sensitive nature of the subject in hand, I decided not to write a review on, but will do so nonetheless on this relatively obscure corner of my internet output. The Qu'ran is vastly different from the Bible, being a series of revelations to a Prophet, transmitted through the Angel Gabriel from God. The Bible is a collection of scripts, which were written by many different hands, in different languages at different times, over a period of four to five thousand years.

The translation I read served to make the book accessible to me, also highlighting the many areas that Christianity and Islam have in common. However, there are also one or two statements that render the two religions incompatible. Islam states that God does not have a son - although it does acknowledge Jesus as a prophet (note lowercase). The Holy Trinity is a cornerstone of Christianity, I need not remind you. However, the Qu'ran also says, through the Prophet, that "God gave man the Torah, and he did not listen. God gave man the Gospel, and he did not listen. God gave man the Qu'ran, and he did not listen". In other words, in my opinion, Islam is the younger brother of Christianity, and a very vocal one at that.

I am profoundly saddened that, like Christianity, Islam has been hijacked for political ends, and used as justification for mass murder. I do not read or understand Arabic, but appreciate and acknowledge the  vast cultural heritage that the Arabian peninsula has to offer - do not forget that it was Arab scholars that invented the concept of the zero, without which we would not have the computers we are all working on today.

I shall reread the Qu'ran in the future, because it is a huge work with a huge impact that you cannot appreciate from just one reading. I shall also reread the Bible, in order to reacquaint myself with the Scriptures from that Book.


After a monumental failure in editorial control at Newsnight, the Director General of the BBC, George Entwistle, finally did what he should have done some time ago: resign. I am outraged to hear he is given a year's pay upon departure, "because he is helping with the Jimmy Savile case". Entwistle was torn to shreds by, first, the Culture Media and Sports Committee of Parliament, and last week by John Humphrys on BBC Radio 4. The man is plainly incompetent out of his ivory tower, and Mr Entwistle should be out of the BBC altogether, not be permitted to finish what he started off bungling in the first place. I am disgusted with Chris Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, who stands up for the former DG because he's such a nice guy. Yes, I'm sure I'd be happy to buy George a pint down the pub myself, but this old-boys network should not come into a management structure. If that persists, Chris Patten himself should resign. It is symptomatic of a culture where malpractice is covered with the mantle of fraternal love and "he is such a nice guy". That is precisely the sort of attitude that allowed Jimmy Savile to abuse women and children between 1958 and 2011. Nobody would say anything about Jimmy, because he was such a good guy, and, well, we all know Jimmy, and didn't you enjoy it??

I have previously stated on this blog that I am a supporter of the BBC, and have been for nearly 30 years. The organisation has a high standard of journalism, but nobody is perfect, and things go wrong, even in the best-run enterprises. The test is how malpractice is being dealt with - and there have been two serious instances at the BBC where malpractice was uncovered, and it was not dealt with properly. The BBC is not a private enterprise, the broadcaster is (partly) funded by license fee money, paid by viewers in the UK - £150 per annum.

Autumn day

Rivers running down the glass
Distorting the view outside
A rapid patter of drops
and an impatient buffeting by wind

Visibility quite poor
but there isn't much to see
today is an autumnal day
as chill makes way for mild

Darkness falls near four fifteen
and daylight's getting very short
Six weeks left till solstice day
and we'll hunker down some more

Bowed down into the wind
Minimising time outside
warmed by a cosy fire
ignoring mother nature's ill temper

Remembrance Sunday (II)

They gather round
under clearing skies
remembering those
gone on ahead

Through war and strife
the trumpet sounds
and all fall silent
to contemplate

The sun comes out
and the trumpet calls
A  new day dawns

The wreaths remain
We will remember
Their today
For our tomorrow

Sunday, 11 November 2012

War memorials

For an island of about 20,000 inhabitants, Lewis has a surprising number of war memorials, sixteen. The largest is situated just outside Stornoway and consists of a tower, with a circle of 23 plaques below. They used to be in the tower, but that is severely affected by ingress of water, so they were placed outside.

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Other locations are

Garrabost (Point)

Braighe na h-Aoidhe & Melbost


North Tolsta

Cross (Ness)




Tolsta Chaolais


Great Bernera

Timsgarry (Uig)


Laxay (Kinloch)

Kershader (South Lochs)