GMB — Stromness News (1948)

The following “Stromness News” columns by George Mackay Brown, unsigned, were published in the Orkney Herald during 1948.


13 January 1948, p. 4. Cold spell; books for the County Library; Burns on the social horizon; Stromness District Nursing Association; Whist Club party; golf; Current Affairs Discussion Group; German prisoners’ good work. ¶ 20 January 1948, p. 4. Drama Festival; property market; the snow; entertainment slump; other names for Stromness (Hamnavoe and Cairston); Arts Council concert (record attendance); Current Affairs Discussion Group. ¶ 27 January 1948, p. 4. Alexander Graham; new Council houses; film A Certain Nobleman; clearing up Stromness; Physical Culture class.

3 February 1948, p. 4. Victoria Street Woman’s Guild; Current Affairs Discussion Group; death of Thomas W. Eunson. ¶ 10 February 1948, p. 4. Rope slippers; a new Priestley play and J. M. Barrie’s Mary Rose by the the Perth Repertory Company; Current Affairs Discussion Group; famous signatures in the shop window of L. J. Smith; pinups selected; Whist Club; next season’s football; S.W.R.I Burns Night. ¶ 17 February 1948, p. 4. Bad weather; annual general meeting of the Stromness Golf Club; Stromness Youth Club; competition for Miss Stromness of 1948; outstanding actors in the Drama Festival; two Stromness plays in the Festival; Stromness singers in the rehearsals for the Easter performance of the Messiah; Stromness without lamp posts; two old whiskey stills still visible at the distillery; Current Affairs Discussion Group. ¶ 24 February 1948, p. 4. Hill fires; three more pinups; the Alexander Graham memorial; Perth Repertory Players; Current Affairs Discussion Group.

2 March 1948, p. 4. New manager of the Lounge Cafe in Lerwick; no housing exchanges; new library books; whist drive and dance; church news. ¶ 9 March 1948, p. 4. Whist drive; loss of Stromness football club’s books; Easter events; Current Affairs Discussion Group; visit by the Perth Repertory Theatre Company; three Festival plays; Tory meeting; death of James M. Linklater. ¶ 16 March 1948, p. 4. Football; gardens; Stanger’s Park paved; Alexander Graham memorial; Unionist meeting; Temperance Hall for Youth Club; death of Patrick Mee; Lloyds agent; Legion talk by Leslie J. Smith; historic photograph of Post Office officials; Miss Stromness 1948; church news; bulb show. ¶ 23 March 1948, p. 4. Stromness Town Council; trip to South Ronaldsay; North Church Woman’s Guild tea; Youth Club; jumble sale; performance of Messiah at the Victoria Street Church; meeting of the Stromness Athletic F.C.; temperance lecture; further competition for Miss Orkney. ¶ 30 March 1948, p. 4. Miss Stromness 1948; licensing for the sale of alcohol; the Messiah performance; golf; Easter weather; drama from Kirkwall; retirement of G. S. Robertson from the postmastership of Stromness Post Office; new Youth Club; football and hockey.

6 April 1948, p. 4. Stromness Academy holidays; the weather; the Town Clock custodian; church news; Provost G. S. Robertson’s retirement; Kirkwall Scout exhibition; Stromness airman congratulated. ¶ 13 April 1948, p. 4. Snow mantle; church news; Stromness holiday; Nursing Association the budget; golf; football; Whist Club social evening; Youth Club; Stromness Liberal Party. ¶ 20 April 1948, p. 4. A Stromness guidebook; shipping notes; Stanley Cursiter’s house; April holidays; Miss Stromness 1948; three Stromness licenses (to sell liquor); jumble sale; Kirkwall Scouts’ exhibition. ¶ 27 April 1948, p. 5. Miss Stromness 1948; comedy by the Kirkwall Scout Club Dramatic Society; local football league formed; Town Council; fundraising for trip to Shetland; jam jar collection; District Nursing Association.

4 May 1948, p. 6. Local League Football Competition; Stanley Cursiter; May dew custom; new library books; the overhead wiring of Stromness has reached “the furthest limits of the South End”; golf competitions; Miss Stromness 1948; church news; Young Farmers’ Club; listening to football matches on radio; Stromness Sailing Club. ¶ 11 May 1948, p. 4. Provost G. S. Robertson returns from holiday; open-air seats at Ness; church news; film The Outlaw at Stromness Cinema; football; golf and putting; Miss Stromness; Thursday a holiday; jumble sale by the Stromness Ladies’ Hockey Club. ¶ 18 May 1948, p. 4. Renovation of library lavatory; the May holiday; debris of war; church news; Stromness youth sports; Stromness Athletic Football Club; the local Youth Club; Stanley Cursiter’s new house to be called “Stennigar”; golf. ¶ 25 May 1948, p. 4. Stromness Tennis Club; site of the Garrison Theatre; church news; new telephone kiosk beside the Stromness Museum; youth sports; anniversary of the date when Stromness became “dry”; concrete paving stones near the hotel; irregularity in town gas supply; annual inspection of the S.S. Orcadia; summer guests arrive; the Orkney football team.

1 June 1948, p. 4. Concert by the Orkney Choral Union; golf; the late Mr. James M. Stevenson (Stromness bookseller); football; Stromness Museum acquisitions. ¶ 8 June 1948, p. 4. Holiday today; local cinema to close; church news; putting; possible gold and radium at Moosland; the artistic activities of Ian MacInnes and John Farmiloe; bowling; a Sromness fire; the football match in Shetland; golf. ¶ 15 June 1948, p. 4. Eric Linklater in town; changes in the colors of buoys in Stromness harbor; bird watchers; local holiday; remains of the Nissen huts; extended bus service between Stromness and Kirkwall; football; sailing boats points racing; message in a bottle found on the beach; golf; swings for children; an illustrated lecture about North Ronaldsay; Gala Day to Deerness. ¶ 22 June 1948, p. 4. Quiet Kirkwall holiday; more benches needed for “the older inhabitants of Stromness”; the end of J. R. Learmonth’s rectorship of Stromness Academy; golf; cinema; John Farmiloe and Ian MacInnes visiting town; new paintings at the Stromness Museum; visitors expected for the summer; unfavorable review of a new Stromness guide book. ¶ 29 June 1948, p. 4. The longest Stromness Town Council meeting; Grieveship Terrace; midsummer; Wishart’s Thursday bus tours; Councillor wins Edinburgh golf trophy; summer tours in the Scapa Rover (boat); local cinema will close down during July; swings; voting for ministers.

6 July 1948, p. 4. Excursion to Flotta and St. Margaret’s Hope; the latest issue of the Stromnessian, the magazine of Stromness Academy; John Farmiloe’s work as an artist; obituaries of James Ritch and William Spence. ¶ 13 July 1948, p. 4. Golf; July weather (a gloomy story); John Farmiloe and George Scott are in Stromness, and Ian MacInnes is expected soon; church news. ¶ 27 July 1948, p. 4. Ordination at the Victoria Street Church; golf; exhibition (by John Farmiloe, George Scott, and Ian MacInness) opening tomorrow.

10 August 1948, p. 4. Loud thunder last Sunday; cement streets in Stromness; reopening of the local cinema; a hole in one at the Stromness Golf Club. ¶ 17 August 1948, p. 4. A film version of Dickens’ Great Expectations; deserted streets in Stromness last Thursday; the Stromness Putting Championship Cup; Eric Linklater’s short story “Sealskin Trousers”; how the art exhibition (see above, 27 July) went. ¶ 24 August 1948, p. 4. Church news; Kirkwall Market holiday; oil paintings from the recent exhibition still on sale; Stromness Academy reassembles from a seven-weeks’ vacation; the new Stromness burgh surveyor; the boundary line between the North End and South End of Stromness; local interest in psychic phenomena; a cigarette shortage; cricket. ¶ 31 August 1948, p. 4. Stromness gardens; street lamps; cycling accident; more on the North–South boundary; a plague of earwigs; Lammas Market Day; the Orkney/Caithness annual football match.

7 September 1948, p. 4. Pipe Band parade; introducing a “Do You Know” series in this column; re-start of the Stromness Whist Club; recent filming in Dundas Street; end of the golf season; ordination at the North Church; Mark Day; breakup of the summer artist colony; retrospect on summer. ¶ 14 September 1948, p. 4. Welfare foods; “the Stromness Market this year was an utter flop”; acknowledgment of a found bottle at Sule Skerry (see above, 15 June); record crowd at the Stromness Museum; “Did You Know – I” (curse of the Black Craig).

19 October 1948, p. 4. Stanley Cursiter on holiday; no municipal election this winter; an Orkney woman is on a 7,000-mile journey; cycle accident; plays by the Perth Repertory Theatre Company; an Orkney boy appears on a popular radio program; the Victoria Street Church Woman’s Guild; John Farmiloe wins prize at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen; new books at the Stromness Library; “Did You Know – 2” (a Stromness radio station); British Legion Club. ¶ 26 October 1948, p. 4. Talk on Communism; Harvest Thanksgiving Day; seats for Stromness pensioners at the Pier Head; no Peedie Summer this year; local entertainment; “Do You Know – 3” (the daughter of Bessie Millie); the Current Affairs class at Stromness Academy; a Fancy Dress Dance.

2 November 1948, p. 4. The harvest thanksgiving service at Victoria Street Church; Stromness Academy’s long weekend; the Pier Head light; the recent storm; Dundee Repertory Theatre; “Do You Know? – 4” (superstitions among Stromness fishermen and sailors). ¶ 9 November 1948, p. 4. A magnificent Aurora Borealis; local rates going down; Guy Fawkes rituals; exhibition sponsored by the Arts Club; sale in benefit of the Victoria Street Church. ¶ 16 November 1948, p. 3. Stromness Youth Club opened; Orkney paintings in the exhibition at the Arts Club, Kirkwall; Girl Guides jubilee party; “Do You Know? – 5” (Robert Leighton’s book The Pilots of Pomona); the Current Affairs class; British Legion Club concert. ¶ 23 November 1948, p. 4. National Insurance queries; North Church Woman’s Guild; Youth Drama Festival in Stromness; town buys Point of Ness; congratulations from Stromness to Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh on the birth of their son; another whist club; “Do You Know – 6” (the baptismal font of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Stromness); a wall to be built in Stromness.

7 December 1948, p. 4. Belated “Peedie Summer”; retirement of the curator of the Stromness Museum; a new District Nurse; Miss Stromness 1949; Stromness Youth Club to discuss “What’s wrong with Stromness?”; Christmas in the shops; the Discussion Group meetings; new Stornoway postmaster; the Point of Ness may become a playing field. ¶ 14 December 1948, p. 4. The Suleskerry lighthouse; church news; winter functions at the Stromness Hotel; rumors of a revival of the Boys’ Brigade in Stromness; performances by “The Hill Billies”; Christmas carols “outside your door”; talks and discussions at the Youth Club; “Do You Know?” (the cave under the Black Craig). ¶ 21 December 1948 p. 3. Tory meeting tonight; new “Pin-up” competitions; possible revival of the Yule Log Tug-o’-War; the Orphir British Legion Club entertained at the Stromness Club; a collection for the Royal Blind Asylum and School, Edinburgh; plans for new lighthouse buildings; a Christmas Eve Variety Concert in the British Legion Club; “Do You Know – 8” (the history of Stromness during the last 300 years); a birthday tea sponsored by the North Church Woman’s Guild. ¶ 28 December 1948, p. 3. The Provost on “What’s wrong with Stromness?”; the 1st Stromness Company Boys’ Brigade will be re-formed; the Current Affairs discussion group; a dinner-dance at the Stromness Hotel.

GMB — Innkeeper’s Tale (10/17 April 1993)

GMB. “The Innkeeper’s Tale.” Tablet 247 (10/17 April 1993): 471–73.

Short story.

MS: University of Edinburgh Library (MS 3118.27a) [dated April 1992; this has a different title, “Lazarus: A Story for Easter. For The Tablet, Easter 1993”].

GMB — What the Pier Head Is Saying (1970)

The following “What the Pier Head Is Saying” columns by George Mackay Brown were published in the Orcadian during 1970, signed with his initials only.


1 January 1970, p. 3. “As the last few days of the Sixties dwindle and flicker at the Pier Head, they remember some of the things that happened during the year.” ¶ 8 January 1970, p. 3. What Stromness was like in the 1770s and 1870s; information about Robert Leighton, author of Pilots of Pomona. ¶ 15 January 1970, p. 3. Puzzling local street names. ¶ 22 January 1970, p. 4. “This is the Burns season, and at the Pier Head they honour the bard as sincerely as anywhere.” ¶ 29 January 1970, p. 5. Eyesores in Stromness that could be repaired or removed.

5 February 1970, p. 4. “Washing day in the old times – not so long ago either – was a large-scale operation, especially if there were more than four or five in the family.” ¶ 12 February 1970, p. 4. “”The Pier Head waits, with some apprehension, for the introduction of decimal currency a year from now.” ¶ 19 February 1970, p. 4. Recalling the wartime aerodrome near Stromness. ¶ 26 February 1970, p. 4. “The big snow came with a wild white flurry one Friday morning, and continued most of the afternoon.”

5 March 1970, p. 4. A visit to the Eventide Club. ¶ 12 March 1970, p. 4. “Congratulations to the Stromness W.R.I. on winning the Orkney Drama Festival again”; suggestions for an open-air drama in Stromness. ¶ 19 March 1970, p. 4. “Have they gone forever, the old shops of Stromness, where you could drop in for a talk at any hour of the day, and be sure of a good story before you left?” ¶ 26 March 1970, p. 4. The tradition of collecting pace eggs the Saturday before Easter.

2 April 1970, p. 4. “Nowadays, whetted no doubt by the activities of the Heritage Society, there is a great interest in old photographs both of the places and people that were once a part of our story.” ¶ 9 April 1970, p. 4. Signs of spring. ¶ 16 April 1970, p. 4. “Would it not be a good idea to start thinking now about the future of the Warehouse Building?” ¶ 23 April 1970, p. 4. Local feats of walking, past and present. ¶ 30 April 1970, p. 3. We are all hypocrites.

7 May 1970, p. 4. Spring-cleaning is no longer the “important and desperate ritual” that it once was. ¶ 14 May 1970, p. 4. “Whether they put fluoride in the water or not does not concern the Pier Head people very much.” ¶ 21 May 1970, p. 4. a visit to Edinburgh. ¶ 28 May 1970, p. 4. Signs of opulence in the shops of Edinburgh.

4 June 1970, p. 4. The pleasures of crossing the Pentland Firth. ¶ 11 June 1970, p. 3. The June holiday in Stromness. ¶ 18 June 1970, p. 4. Memories of earlier General Election Days. ¶ 25 June 1970, p. 4. The attempt to revive the tradition of a Johnsmas Eve fire on a hill on Hoy.

2 July 1970, p. 4. The flood of summer visitors.


[In the 3 December 1970 issue of the Orcadian (p. 4), a letter from G. Woodward complained, “We very much miss the one-time feature ‘What they are saying down at the Pierhead.'” The editor responded, “The writer of the Pierhead Gossip is ‘recharging his batteries’ and intends to return to the fold sometime.” In fact, GMB never resumed the “What the Pier Head Is Saying” column, but in February 1971 he launched his “Letter from Hamnavoe,” which seems to have been intended for a somewhat broader audience.]

Stromness News (1945)

The following “Stromness News” columns by George Mackay Brown, unsigned, were published in the Orkney Herald during 1944.


2 January 1945, p. 4. Communion; “Watch-Night” services; further successes for Stromness student (George P. Sutherland); the whiskey position; Christmas Eve service of praise; the Left Wing dilemma; obituary (Edith Leslie); ecclesiastical episodes no. 10. ¶ 9 January 1945, p. 4. Hogmanay damage; Local Youth Panel whist drive and dance; runaway horses; the Liberal candidate; Youth Panel; Hogmanay; ecclesiastical episodes. ¶ 16 January 1945, p. 4. S.C.W.S. starts in Stromness; power-station fire; youth church service (North Church); gas; harbor frozen; ecclesiastical episodes no. 12; musician departs (Gerald Dingley). ¶ 23 January 1945, p. 4. The Stromness public library; ecclesiastical episodes no. 13; ex-Academy scholars meet in Edinburgh; Curtain Theatre and Orkney. ¶ 30 January 1945, p. 4. Another Burns celebration; Liberal candidates; Army Cadets party; Labour party; the snow; ecclesiastical episodes no. 14; Burns supper and dance; service conducted by youth (North Church).

6 February 1945, p. 4. The thaw; Russian exhibition; fresh fish; Stromness Academy students exiled from studies (because of the weather); Scotland defeated (football); where can Hitler go?; ecclesiastical episodes no. 15; Arts’ Club; Henry V at Garrison Theatre. ¶ 13 February 1945, p. 4. Stromness invaded by measles; the political scene; the War Gratuity Plan; ecclesiastical episodes no. 16; signs of spring; Arts Club; local Brains Trust. ¶ 20 February 1945, p. 4. Co-operative; Army Cadets; children’s treat canceled; Orcadian Indians; new tea-rooms opened; further signs of spring; departure of educationalist (T. Rowlands); home from the Continent; ecclesiastical episodes no. 17. ¶ 27 February 1945, p. 4. The Great Mr. Handel (film); storms and entertainments; W.R.I. talk; Labour Party; old acquaintance (Gerald Meyer, former editor of the Orkney Blast); obituary (Gordon Brough); what we are missing (CEMA concerts); ecclesiastical episodes no. 18.

6 March 1945, p. 4. Still more signs of spring; coming Brains Trust; W.R.I. whist drive; ecclesiastical episodes no. 19; obituary of Thomas Towers. ¶ 13 March 1945, p. 4. Arts’ Club; Brains Trust tomorrow; the Welcome Home Fund; The Great Mr. Handel (appraisal of the film); Gallup poll; ecclesiastical episodes no. 20. ¶ 20 March 1945, p. 4. Arts’ Club; Leaving Certificate Examination (at Stromness Academy); Labour party; For Whom the Bell Tolls (film based on Hemingway’s novel); ecclesiastical episodes no. 21; Brains Trust. ¶ 27 March 1945, p. 6. Labour party; spring time (further indications); church news; Drama Section of the Arts’ Club; ecclesiastical episodes no. 22; music recital; obituary (William Gunn).

3 April 1945, p. 4. Good Friday services; Army Educational Corps display; Garrison Theatre surprise; sale of work (by Girl Guides and Brownies); new army magazine (Soldier); ecclesiastical episodes no. 23; “Welcome Home” Fund; N.F.S. dance; debate announcement; concert by the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders. ¶ 10 April 1945, p. 4. April holiday; the sale of a house called “The Mount”; obituary of James Corrigall; ecclesiastical episodes no. 24; Stromness Literary and Debating Society; Easter service of praise; Labour Party. ¶ 17 April 1945, p. 4. Stromness holiday; church notes; Arts’ Club; Springtime for Henry (play). ¶ 24 April 1945, p. 4. End of holidays; “Indian” Orcadians; lecture on English music; Labour party; ecclesiastical episodes no. 25; church news; springtime activities; C.E.M.A. and Stromness.

1 May 1945, p. 4. Nursing Association; Church of Scotland Hut; church notes; reading room destruction (Stromness public library); Women’s guilds; ecclesiastical episodes no. 26; weekly whist drives; obituaries (Isaac Robb and A. A. Faircloth). ¶ 8 May 1945, p. 4. Church news; W.R.I. contributions on “Welcome Home”; Arts’ Club drama; Choral Society; local Youth Panel; release of Stromness P.O.W.s; concert by the band of the Gordon Highlanders; May holiday; Bible Class supper; Stromness District Nursing Association; window smashed (Messrs. P. L. Johnston, drapers); programme for victory; “May Dew”; ecclesiastical episodes no. 27. ¶ 15 May 1945, p. 4. End of blackout; Stromness Academy outing; burgh holiday; ecclesiastical episodes no. 28; victory day (VE Day); whist drive postponed; Arts’ Club: drama; electors’ lists; Pygmalion (film shown in Town Hall); “Welcome Home.” ¶ 22 May 1945, p. 4. Forces’ Musical Festival; lighting up; ills and chills; church news; Arts’ Club: drama; ecclesiastical episodes no. 29; police presentation; victory ball; putting green; Mutiny on the Bounty (film showing at the Garrison Theatre, Stromness); more about “Welcome Home.” ¶ 29 May 1945, p. 4. Church notes; the West Shore road; Gallup poll; Army Cadets vs. W.D.; ecclesiastical episodes no. 30; basket whisk; Burgh Scavenger appointed; obituary (John Garrioch).

5 June 1945, p. 6. Prisoners of war; departure of soldier–educationalist (Francis Searle); departure of surveyor (J. Armstrong); Welcome Home; Gallup poll; aeroplane smash; Women’s Guilds; Literary and Debating Society; golf match; Stromness hockey; Army Cadets’ football; ecclesiastical episodes no. 31. ¶ 12 June 1945, p. 4. Football postponed; Youth Sunday; and still they go (more military departures); school holiday; “Welcome Home”‘; Band of Gordon Highlanders; Major Grimond in Stromness; ecclesiastical episodes no. 32. ¶ 19 June 1945, pp. 4, 6. Scarlet fever; Leaving Certificates (Stromness Academy); Youth Week; ecclesiastical episodes, no. 33; Empire Youth Sunday; the holiday furor; election fever; burgh holiday; Labour Election Fund; Welcome Home; L.Y.P. concert. ¶ 26 June 1945, p. 4. The election; the Daily Worker; the Shetland men of the Merchant Navy will not be able to vote on 5 July; ecclesiastical episodes no. 34; W.R.I. variety concert; indications of returning peace; review of The Stromnessian, the Stromness Academy magazine.

10 July 1945, p. 4. Visit of Mr. C. Franklin; drowned; Douglas Martin on Churchill; M.N. Cadet; ecclesiastical episodes no. 36; public holiday; white paint propaganda. ¶ 17 July 1945, p. 4. Concert by the Seaforth Highlanders; a Stromness jeweler offering high prices for gold; lamp-posts; Stromness soldiers on leave from Germany; ecclesiastical episodes, no. 37; St. Swithin’s Day; sea rescue; the eclipse; The Keys of the Kingdom (film showing at the Garrison Theatre); welcome home. ¶ 24 July 1945, p. 4. Boat-building summer visitors; excursions to Birsay; demobilised; obituary (William Ryden); presentation of a painting by Stanley Cursiter to the Stromness Museum; ecclesiastical episodes, no. 38. ¶ 31 July 1945, p. 4. Stromness Academy; election result; the local library; church news; price of gas increases; golf course; Moderator of the Church of Scotland; ecclesiastical episodes no. 39.

7 August 1945, p. 4. Honours unsought; church news; district nursing; Town Council; Stromnessian’s first trip; ecclesiastical episodes no. 40; fresh fish; the entertainment front. ¶ 14 August 1945, p. 4. VJ day?; atomic bombs; whist drives; Free Gift Sale; violinist (Mr. Wood) departs; fishing notes; ecclesiastical episodes no. 41; headmaster at Helmsdale (John Cook). ¶ 21 August 1945, p. 4. Municipal elections; dux medallists at Stromness Academy; a thanksgiving service at the Garrison Theatre; ecclesiastical episodes no. 42; the VJ holidays ¶ 28 August 1945, p. 4. Church news; marriage of William Tulloch and Thora Pottinger Johnston; Point of Ness road open; Alexander Graham’s fount at the Pier Head; drama meeting; ecclesiastical episodes no. 43; Free Gift Sale.

4 September 1945, p. 4. Labour Party; death of Hugh Lyon in Graemsay; Triton House, Stromness, sold; herring and apples; church news; housing; ecclesiastical episodes no. 44; Stromness District Nursing Association; Francis Scarfe (former Army Educational Officer in Stromness); Drama Adviser in Stromness. ¶ 11 September 1945, p. 4. Barbed wire; school holidays; S.C.W.S. concert; holiday trip; church news; Post Office holiday; ecclesiastical episodes no. 45. ¶ 18 September 1945, p. 4. Church news; George Swanson, Stromness prisoner of war, on his way home; Stromness street lights; ecclesiastical episodes no. 48; S.C.W.S. concert. ¶ 25 September 1945, p. 4. Stromness District Nursing Association; lights; housing; new doctor; ecclesiastical episodes no. 45; obituary of George Kirkpatrick.

2 October 1945, p. 4. Postmaster in Islay (Robert Corse); housing; “the street lights of Stromness went on for the first time for six years last Saturday evening”; church news; property (of Miss M. L. Stove) sold; evening classes; ecclesiastical episodes no. 48. ¶ 9 October 1945, p. 4. Burgh holiday; Stromness Academy reopens; housing; Garrison Theatre; church news; home from Burma (James Robertson); ecclesiastical episode no. 49. ¶ 16 October 1945, p. 4. Raymond Hutcheon; church news; local Army Cadets; municipal election; ecclesiastical episodes no. 50. ¶ 23 October 1945, p. 4. Armistice Sunday; ecclesiastical episodes no. 51; church news; Stromness cinema; Harvest Thanksgiving; rats; evening school classes; new Bowling Green?; bridge and whist drive and dance. ¶ 30 October 1945, p. 5. Harvest Thanksgiving; Stromness Harbour Commissioners; municipal election; ecclesiastical episodes, no. 52; the entertainment front.

13 November 1945, p. 4. “Our Stromness correspondent regrets that, owing to what the B.B.C. calls a technical hitch, his column did not appear in the last issue”; Thanksgiving week; Hallowe’en; new bailie; Remembrance Day; master Mariner (William Sutherland); Spring Meeting (play at the Garrison Theatre); ecclesiastical episodes no. 53. ¶ 20 November 1945, p. 6. Church news; religious films; W.R.I whist drive; Christian Youth Fellowship of Stromness; ecclesiastical episodes, no. 54. ¶ 27 November 1945, p. 4. The ship Earl of Zetland; women elders; church news; “there is a scheme in the air . . . to make a permanent record of the Stromness men and women who served the country in the 1939–45 War”; ecclesiastical episodes no. 55.

4 December 1945, p. 6. Praise services; the film Millions Like Us; Welcome Home (for servicemen); local Youth Panel; postmaster for Portree (C. A. Manson); ecclesiastical episodes no. 56. ¶ 11 December 1945, p. 4. Intimations of Christmas; a true story; departure of Italians; ecclesiastical episodes no. 57. ¶ 18 December 1945, p. 5. The film Dear Octopus; union of the two local Presbyterian churches; Glebe Barn dance; Terence Rattigan’s Flare Path at the Garrison Theatre; revival of “Yule Tree” contest; Blast ex-editor (Alan E. Richards) in town; ecclesiastical episodes no. 58; W.R.I. “basket” whist drive and dance. ¶ 25 December 1945, p. 5. Midnight sacrament in St. Mary’s; “Yule Tree” struggle; eclipse of the moon; The Sleeping Beauty, a Christmas pantomime; ecclesiastical episodes no. 59; Victoria Street Church rejection of union; praise services.

“Under Brinkie’s Brae” (1989)

The following “Under Brinkie’s Brae” columns by George Mackay Brown were published in the Orcadian during 1991 and were signed with initials only. Most were reprinted in GMB’s Rockpools and Daffodils (1992), cited here as RD.


5 January 1989, p. 7. Recollections of 1988, especially his visit to Shetland. ¶ 12 January 1989, p. 9. The recent mild winters prompt some thoughts about the greenhouse effect. Repr. RD 200–01. ¶ 19 January 1989, p. 11. Fictional description of John Gow’s visit to Stromness in January 1726. Repr. RD 201–02. ¶ 26 January 1989, p. 13. “The more you think about Robert Burns, now that his season is here once again, the more astonishing he becomes.”

2 February 1989, p. 11. Superstitions and proverbs of his childhood. Repr. RD 202–03. ¶ 9 February 1989, p. 11. The South End of Stromness was once a much busier place. Repr. RD 203–04. ¶ 16 February 1989, p. 11. Former superstitions associated with Candlemas. Repr. RD 204–05. ¶ 23 February 1989, p. 11. A February storm.

2 March 1989, p. 13. Description of the process of writing, which is mostly hard work rather than inspiration. Repr. RD 205–07. ¶ 9 March 1989, p. 15. “A company of us drove last Sunday afternoon to view a house in Birsay that our Edinburgh friend Sigrid has recently bought.” Repr. RD 206–07. ¶ 16 March 1989, p. 15. The history of his adolescent smoking. Repr. RD 207–08. ¶ 23 March 1989, p. 13. “I remember, from my years in Edinburgh, what a happy time it was, coming home [for Easter] after a winter of study and cold winds.” ¶ 30 March 1989, p. 15. Reflections on the spring equinox.

6 April 1989, p. 13. An account (partly fictional) of William Bligh’s visit to Stromness in 1780. Repr. RD 208–10. ¶ 13 April 1989, p. 15. The books he read when he was a student at Stromness Academy in the 1930s. Repr. RD 210–11. ¶ 27 April 1989, p. 17. Walking around in Stromness on a springlike day. ¶ 4 May 1989, p. 13. Snow during the last week of April. ¶ 11 May 1989, p. 13. Short story based on the experiences of Bessie Millie. Repr. RD 211–12. ¶ 18 May 1989, p. 13. His insomnia. ¶ 25 May 1989, p. 13. A visit from Gypsy the cat.

1 June 1989, p. 13. He is in Edinburgh, preparing for his first visit to England (except for a quick walk across the border at Berwick many years ago). ¶ 8 June 1989, p. 15. The golden summers of his youth. Repr. RD 212–13. ¶ 15 June 1989, p. 15. His impressions of London and Oxford. ¶ 22 June 1989, p. 21. Seeing a Hopkins exhibition in the Bodleian Library and attending a Requiem Mass in honor of Hopkins at St. Aloysius, Oxford. Repr. RD 21314. ¶ 29 June 1989, p. 15. An account of his return to Scotland from London by train.

6 July 1989, p. 13. A film team from BBC Glasgow interviews him. ¶ 13 July 1989, p. 12. Disagreement with John B. Broom about the interpretation of a passage in the book of Ecclesiastes. Repr. RD 214–15. ¶ 20 July 1989, p. 13. Praise of Orkney tatties (potatoes). Repr. RD 215–16. ¶ 27 July 1989, p. 13. Memories of the first Shopping Week in 1949. Repr. RD 216–17.

3 August 1989, p. 13. Reflections on the history of the May Burn. Repr. RD 218. 10 August 1989, p. 11. Fictional version of how the Dounby Show was established. Repr. RD 219–20. 17 August 1989, p. 17. A typical day in the hospital. ¶ 24 August 1989, p. 13. A visit to Dunotten Castle. ¶ 31 August 1989, p. 13. Lammas Market in Stromness when he was a child. Repr. RD 220–21.

14 September 1989, p. 13. Praise for the poetry of Robert Rendall. Repr. RD 221–22. ¶ 21 September 1989, p. 13. Description of a typical day in the hospital, where he has been for five and a half weeks; now “it’s time to go north again.” ¶ 28 September 1989, p. 13. The pleasures found in fierce storms during the autumn and winter.

5 October 1989, p. 15. Re-reading Hardy. ¶ 12 October 1989, p. 13. Reflections on haikus – and how Norse poetry is equally distant from us. Repr. RD 222–23. ¶ 19 October 1989, p. 11. Memories of Guy Fawkes Day during his childhood. Repr. RD 223–24. ¶ 26 October 1989, p. 13. Making soup.

2 November 1989, p. 13. Books he has taken with him to the Aberdeen hospital. ¶ 9 November 1989, p. 15. All Saints’ Day. Repr. RD 224–25. ¶ 16 November 1989, p. 15. “Smoking was, in the 1930s and 1940s, an important part of life.” ¶ 23 November 1989, p. 13. The arrival of winter; anxiety about the threat of rats in his home. Repr. RD 225–26. ¶ 30 November 1989, p. 13. A Sunday afternoon drive around Orkney.

7 December 1989, p. 15. The problems of sending out Christmas cards. ¶ 14 December 1989, p. 13. Reflections on the importance and significance of the telephone. Repr. RD 226–27. ¶ 21 December 1989, p. 13. What the preparations for Christmas were like in the 1920s. Repr. RD 227–28.