View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Friday, 9 November 2012

Friday 9 November

After last night's wind and rain, the day dawned fairly brightly, but with intermittent heavy showers. The temperature was no great shakes either, managing 9C / 48F, achieved soon after midday. The afternoon only got colder.

My heart bled when I heard the terrible privations having to be endured by Anders Breivik as he continues his 21-year sentence (mininum) for the murder of 78 people in Norway last year. At least he has a comfy prison cell for the rest of his life; his victims' lives were cut short by him. I hope he is now deprived of the oxygen of any further publicity.

St Kilda has been awarded an international award for preserving architecture. The group of islands, 45 miles west of North Uist, was abandoned by its permanent residents in August 1930. The houses were restored by the National Trust for Scotland, and the main island is home to a tracking station for test missiles, fired from a range in South Uist. The St Kilda Centre, which is due to be constructed at Mangersta in Lewis is yet to be put up.

To Canada

The man walked down the road
his knapsack slung over his shoulder
although he had gained some land
he had lost his neighbours

There had been only one way out
to Canada
Cutting down trees
building the Pacific railway

Gratitude had led to this separation
for the man left his family behind
sending back money
that he had earned over there

His neighbours were behind with the rent
And as he had saved the proprietor's life
The reward was a piece of land
taken off his neighbours' croft

The man did not ask for a reward
even less for more land
however useful
And certainly not at the expense of his neighbour

So he walked down the road
His family staring after him
As he disappeared in the distance
Never to return

Death of army cadet

Five years ago, in August 2007, an army cadet from Fyvie, Aberdeenshire, drowned following an accident in Loch Carnan, South Uist. Kaylee Macintosh had become trapped under a RIB after it overturned, and her absence had not been noticed for 90 minutes. When the boat was finally turned over, the cadet was found drowned underneath.

It is reported today that the officer in charge, Major George Maccallum, has admitted at Inverness Sheriff Court charges on health and safety issues at the time.


9 November 1938 - an organised mob of Nazi forces and sympathisers go on the rampage in towns and cities across Germany, smashing and destroying Jewish-owned property and businesses. It was to be a marker, to what was to come during World War II - the extermination of anyone deemed sub-human by the warped mind of Adolf Hitler and his henchmen. Jews topped their league of the unfit, closely followed by gypsies, the mentally ill and many many others. The Reichskristallnacht was a night of infamy, and not just to Germany.

For Hitler was allowed to get away with literally murder for several years beforehand. In 1936, he occupied the Rhineland which had been ceded to France at the end of the First World War. The League of Nations, a toothless talkingshop, cried wolf but had no bite. In March 1938, Nazi forces marched into Austria to join that country to Germany, an event referred to as the Anschluss. Neville Chamberlain flew to Munich to meet with Adolf Hitler on 30 September 1938, returning with the infamous phrase: "Peace for our time". Six weeks later, the Reichskristallnacht took place, a sign of ill omen. Only a few months later, Germany invaded the Sudetenland area of Czecho-Slovakia, and again, nobody moved a finger to stop. In September 1939, Hitler thought he could get away with the invasion of Poland. But instead, it prompted the outbreak of the Second World War.

The lights have gone out in Europe, it was said at the time. The lights in Europe were extinguished in 1914, and had not been relit, not even at the end of the First World War. The Versailles Peace Treaty of June 1919 contained all the ingredients for another war, which duly materialised.

9 November

Light fills the room
refracted by hundreds of
finely cut crystals
hanging from the chandelier

A fire demurely crackles
in the hearth
filling the room
with warmth and comfort

A waltz gently plays
and couples glide
in tender embrace
along the polished floor

Darkness rules outside
as does the November chill
wafting along city centre streets
with marked windows

Light flares up rudely
as a bonfire shoots tongues
of fire into the night sky
illuminating the scene

Light flares up further
refracted by thousands
of crystals scattered
along streets of darkness

Gaping mouths where windows were
Glass pulverised into countless crystals
Fire spreads
consuming the culture

Books are burned
their writers were deemed unfit
for the country whose Leader
sought to exterminate

The millions of fragments
of broken glass, of crystal
scatter the light of the fire
burning the synagogues

Soon the worshippers
will follow the fate of their temple
The light of the fire
overshadows the continent

Dying into dull embers
the dancers fade into shadows
as the light goes out over Europe
on Kristallnacht