Along the Pentland Road, 25 May 2017

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The missing man

I've had the question put to me, did I know Torsten Kulke? Did I meet him, perhaps just before he disappeared? No, I have never met him. The first I heard of him, ever, was in a news report that he was missing in this island. The dread really set in when I heard he had last been seen near Aird Uig, a village ringed by tall seacliffs. The eventual outcome, although deeply tragic, came as no surprise to me. Why did it affect the islanders, and me, so much? In a remote community like this, people look out for each other. Not just locals, but anyone who comes here to work, go on holiday etc. For about ten days, Torsten Kulke was one of us, even though he was probably no longer alive by then. We have seen a jolly image of him, on holiday in Asia (it would seem). I have seen him in a video as a senior vice president of a beauty products company. The last man that ever saw him alive drove him in his taxi the 38 miles from Stornoway airport to that lonely cattlegrid between Erista and Aird.

Torsten's family and friends remain in my thoughts at this sad time. May he rest in peace.

General Lee

Statues to General Lee, the commander of the Confederate forces during the American Civil War, have been pulled down in parts of the southern USA. Plans for such a demolition led to deadly clashes in Virginia over the weekend.

I do not believe in sanitising history. A statue to Gen Lee is, to my mind, not glorification of slavery (which he sought to defend), but a marker of history. Going on the ferocity of the clashes this weekend, the subject of racism is still very much alive in the USA of 2017. Pulling down a statue or two won't make that go away.

I shall add that the presidency of Donald Trump, who was very late in condemning the violence in VA, has not helped the situation. Rather than seeking a fight with a tinpot dictator in North Korea, he would be better advised to attend to matters at home. I thought that was the ticket on which he sought to be elected.