View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

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."