View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Yellow eyes

On Tuesday (20 May) at 4 o'clock, I happened to look out of the window and saw something black lying in the road. A car was pulling in along the pavement and a man came out. He lifted it up. It was a cat.

I dashed outside and quickly walked the 150 yards to where the body of the cat had been left on the pavement. It was plainly dead. It had yellow eyes.

The driver, a young man, was visibly upset and didn't know how to deal with the situation. He told me he had been unable to stop, and I suspect it had dashed out from the seat by the Coastguard Station access road. Even when you only do 25 mph, you still take more than 10 yards to stop. I said to the driver that I'd ring the SSPCA and not to worry. The SSPCA told me that they would not come out for a dead animal, and to ring the council to have it uplifted. The council said that would have to wait until morning (it was now about 4.30pm). However, twenty minutes later, a car with SSPCA markings drew up at the spot and a man briefly checked over the cat's body before wrapping it up and disposing of it.

It was the friendly little cat that had been hovering around the area for the last five weeks. I am gutted and actually griefstricken. Even as I type this, two days later, I still have to actively not think of what I saw on Tuesday. It wasn't anything bloody or gruesome, but the transformation into death was awful.

I'll never forget those yellow eyes, as they gazed into the sunset last Sunday. Its obviously pleasure to see me, and to come running, calling all the way. I feel guilty that, even though I could not take it in, I didn't ring SSPCA earlier to come and pick it up, and get it a good home.

However, its death came mercifully quick, and I suspect it didn't really know what happened nor feel any pain.

What also comforted me was the response on a local Facebook page, where two employees of a company in the next street had also been wondering who the cat belonged to, thinking it had hitched a lift on a bus out of the district of Uig. They too were upset, and quite a few people in the area had noticed it as well.

Yellow eyes, I won't forget you. I'll meet you again beyond the Rainbow Bridge, alongside the two family cats that passed over there in 1988 and 2004. I'm sorry I didn't think to help you when you asked.

Tuesday 20 May

Fog was slow to lift this morning, it closed the airport until about 11 am. It didn't prevent the helicopter flying in the Earl and Countess of Wessex, here to attend to some youth-related activities in the town.

At lunchtime, the wee black cat came running out at me from across the road, and jumped on the gardenwall along the street. It followed me to the back door, and evidently wanted to come in. I couldn't allow it.

Later on, I went into town to view progress on the harbour works for the new ferry. I was quite surprised to see the wee black cat again outside the fish smoking place on Shell Street, a quarter of a mile from where I last saw it, some three hours previous. That was the last time I was to see it alive.

Monday 19 May

I have resolved the mystery of the friendly black cat that's been featuring in my pictures over the past few weeks. It turns out he lives in one of the houses up the street, but goes up to everybody that happens to walk past. One of the other neighbours also owns a black cat, but with green eyes and not quite as friendly. However, at one time he found a black cat at his door and let it in, thinking it was his. Only to go into his sitting room to be confronted by TWO black cats!

The congregation that broke away from the High Church (Matheson Road) in Stornoway has joined the Free Church. The breakaway congregation (need to get the terminology correct) was Church of Scotland, but wasn't happy with the ordination of an overt homosexual priest, so decided to break away. The Free Church of Scotland (which itself broke away as a body in 1843) recently lifted its ban on musical instruments in worship, making it easier for members of the breakaway congregation to join. If you are confused, join the club. An additional muddying of the waters - the Lewis Presbytery of the Free Church (I am open to correction here) was vehemently opposed to the lifting of the ban on musical instruments a few years ago.

A strange lump of rusty iron was hauled up the Goat Island slipway this morning, but it would appear it is a feeding barge from a fishfarm. It is going to be cleaned up. Yards and yards of seaweed dangle from its sides.

Sunday 18 May

Very changeable in Stornoway today. Drizzle is the order of the day, sometimes restricting the visibility to only a few hundred yards. 12C is no great shakes, but then, we are not noted for getting major shifts in temperatures. Fortunately, clouds broke and the sun came out during the evening.

The young black cat put in an appearance, coming up from down the shore to greet me. It is always pleased to see anybody, running along with the girls from the Mormon Church, or trying to hitch a lift with two guys getting into their car across the way. After I had made my excuses, it ran up the road to the bench by the access road to the Coastguard Station, where it surprised a man who wasn't interested in its advances. The wee cat just sat back and enjoyed the sunshine.

Saturday 17 May

Overcast and pretty grey here this morning. The southerly wind is getting up again, force 6 in the morning. However, that doesn't mean it is getting warm - only 11C / 52F. Promptly, and as forecast, the rain arrived at 2pm. Pretty sopping wet out there now, and likely to stay so for the next couple of hours. Roll on SUNday, when there should be sunshine and showers.

Friday 16 May

Overcast and blowing a near-gale here in Stornoway. Temperatures nothing to complain about, 14C / 57F, which contrasts with the south of the UK which is set to easily crest 20C / 68F. This does serve to explain our strong winds.

A bus was stuck on the ramp, coming off the MV Isle of Lewis at Stornoway on Wednesday. It took an hour and a half for the tide to come in to allow the bus to proceed ashore.

I am very excited to announce that BBC Alba (the Gaelic language channel) have commissioned a television documentary on HMS Timbertown, which is pencilled in for broadcast in October. Its focus will be on the 100-odd men from Lewis who were among the internees.

HMS Timbertown was an internment camp in Groningen, Netherlands, where about 1,500 sailors from the Royal Naval Division were interned during the First World War.

Thursday 15 May

Overcast and very windy today, with the odd spot of rain. Was surprised to note today's high, 15C / 59F, in spite of the wind and cloudcover. Further south, the mercury will rise to a lot more than that over the weekend. I am making good progress with my Roll of Honour project, and I should finish the first third, the Parish of Stornoway, by the weekend.

Wednesday 14 May

Overcast and very breezy this morning, after a cold night dropped the mercury to only 2C / 36F. Drizzle is forecast to reach us this afternoon. After days of sunshine and relatively mild conditions, we are back to strong winds, rain and cold. Feeling bitter out there in the wind and drizzle. Oh, did I mention that the south of the UK will see temperatures into the low 20s (C) in a few days' time?

Meetings are being held in North Uist to discuss support for a community buy-out from the Earl of Granville, whose family have owned parts of the island for more than 50 years. Support appears to be thin on the ground, but local councillors intend to conduct a secret (postal) ballot to get a true picture. The meetings were poorly publicised, and many were unaware they were on. Also, there are parts of N Uist that are not part of the Granville estate.

Cruiseliner Island Sky