View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Monday, 16 April 2012

Monday 16 April

A sunny day after a very cold night. The overnight low went down to -3C, a temperature we have not often seen this winter. However, cloud increased through the afternoon and we are awaiting wind and rain in the night. No hurricanes to report on elsewhere in the world; the States have had another dose of tornadoes, and my sympathies go out to those lost or injured in the outbreak in the Mid West.

I am currently transcribing another document from this island's history, which is supposed to follow on from the Napier Report of 1883. The Crofters Commission, reporting in 1902, finds me raising my eyebrows at their condescending attitude, with phrases like "primitive native" and "simple crofter". Lord Napier, in his earlier inquiry, treated all who came before him with courtesy and deference, irrespective of social class. The 1902 report for the then Scottish Secretary Lord Balfour or Burleigh even seems to scoff at the findings of the Napier Commission with this unforgettable quote:

The schoolmaster is the great Highland depopulator and evictor of modern times
I dread to think what else I am going to read. I have transcribed 14 pages, and still have about 90 to go.

The trial of Anders Breivik has commenced in Oslo, and the man is totally convinced of the right of his deeds. He was moved to tears by his own promotional video, but unmoved by the footage of his own atrocity. In worse circumstances, he could have become another Hitler. Breivik will be locked up for life, either in jail or in a psychiatric unit. It is my conviction that when idiots like that come to prominence, there is something very badly wrong in society, that there is a problem not being addressed. Once this trial is out of the way, I hope the Norwegians will be able to conduct some introspection as to what ill in society allowed this monster to develop. The ideologies of another far-right politician, Dutch MP Geert Wilders, are reported to have been an inspiration to Breivik. I am pleased to note that Mr Wilders' popularity is waning in the Netherlands.