Island Diary (1951)

The following “Island Diary” columns by George Mackay Brown, all signed “Islandman,” were published in the Orkney Herald during 1951. (From 1948 onward, the “Island Diary” columns had subheads, which I have here recorded at the start of each entry.) A few of them were reprinted posthumously in GMB’s Northern Lights (1999), cited here as NL.

“Earl Rognvald in Lallans.” 2 January 1951, p. 4. A description of his previous week, beginning with a radio play, The Jerusalem Farers by Alexander Scott, “an account of the pilgrimage made by Earl Rognvald and Bishop William from Orkney to Jerusalem in 1151.” ¶ “Lost Treasures.” 9 January 1951, p. 4. His “outstanding memories of the last year in Orkney”; the threat of nuclear war; slipping on an icy street; disappearing Hogmanay traditions; the importance of the Viking tales. ¶ “Talking at Random.” 16 January 1951, p. 4. Cricket; home-brewed ale; buying a scarf; a story about a “fire-and-brimstone” evangelist; reading Eric Linklater’s The Sailor’s Holiday; local politics; a series of old photographs being published by the Orkney Herald. ¶ “The Gutter and the Stars.” 23 January 1951, p. 4. “In a day or two from now we shall be celebrating the birthday of that extraordinary man, Robert Burns.” ¶ “Another Winter Election?” 30 January 1951, p. 4. The national political scene; the Yule issue of the New Shetlander; a new magazine to be published by the Kirkwall Thorfinn football club; story about the building of the lighthouse on Suleskerry; the awkward winter; Shaw’s comment on Stromness.

“A World of Birds.” 13 February 1951, p. 4. “The hobby that has the most enthusiastic followers in Orkney nowadays is undoubtedly the rearing of cagebirds”; imagining life in Orkney 70 years in the future; “there is a somewhat ghoulish story from the West Mainland which deserves to be better known”; not all Orkney Vikings were strong and handsome. ¶ “Days of Storm.” 20 February 1951, p. 6. “Yesterday the most fearful storm blew that Orkney has yet experienced this winter: he imagines Madame Bovary as told by a saga-writer; an anecdote about King George VI visiting Orkney. ¶ “The Play’s the Thing.” 27 February 1951, p. 4. The Orkney Drama Festival.

“‘Candida’ and ‘By Candlelight’.” 6 March 1951, p. 4. The Perth Theatre Company’s production, in Stromness and Kirkwall, of Shaw’s Candida, “followed by Harry Graham’s adaptation of the German play ‘By Candlelight.’” ¶ “A Sky-scape in March.” 13 March 1951, p. 6. A walk on “the first real spring day”; the Hydro-Electric Exhibition; a book about life during the last century on a group of Irish islands that resemble Orkney; painters in Orkney; the death of the playwright James Bridie. Repr. (in part) NL 97–98. ¶ “What the Orphir Minister Thought.” 20 March 1951, p. 6. The foolish historical commentary by the Rev. Francis Liddel in the eighteenth century; the current number of the New Shetlander; the late arrival of spring; listening to the “Housewife’s Choice” on radio while eating breakfast; quotes a letter from Captain D. J. MacInnes. ¶ “A Torrent of Gold.” 27 March 1951, p. 6. Report of a talk about the state of Orkney’s economy; the failure to commemorate the martyrdom of St. Magnus; the slow, reluctant arrival of spring; Hoy’s Dramatic Society; the dreariness of modern Scottish poetry.

“An Old Salt Ballad.” 3 April 1951, p. 4. Discussion of “The Ballad of Andrew Ross”; last year he visited Shetland and Suleskerry, while in 1951 he may go to Caithness, Wick, and Thurso; a spring walk. ¶ “Dispecta est et Thule.” 10 April 1951, p. 6. Review of Shetland Isles by Andrew T. Cluness; praise for the Orkney Librarian; rural poverty in Orkney’s past; complaints about the treatment of Orkney and Shetland on maps of Scotland; “the Orkney lobster fishermen are looking forward to a more prosperous summer this year.” ¶ “The Orkney Accent on the Air.” 17 April 1951, p. 4. A BBC radio program about “the Islands of Scotland,” which included some excerpts from his “Island Diary”; the relative Scottishness of Orkney and Shetland; the disappearance of old Orkney words and phrases; Eric Linklater and Edwin Muir in Linklater’s anthology of modern Scottish writing, The Thistle and the Pen.

“The Return of Bernard Shaw.” 1 May 1951, p. 4. The banning of Boswell’s London Journal in Caithness; his friend James Bruce’s tales of witches on Orkney in earlier centuries; the Orkney Strathspey and Reel Society; finding consolations in reading “during this long, harsh, bitter winter”; listening to the England v. Scotland match on the radio; a Manchester medium claims to have had communications from Shaw; “Spring has come to Orkney, but our spirits remain frozen.” ¶ “Out on the Lifeboat.” 8 May 1951, p. 6. A day spent on a lifeboat. Repr. NL 99–102. ¶ “Good-bye, Old Ship . . .” 15 May 1951, p. 4. The retirement from service of the St. Ola, “the smallest and best-loved ship in the North of Scotland Shipping Company.” ¶ “The Last Passage.” 22 May 1951, p. 4. His final trip on the St. Ola to Scrabster.

“Letter to an Exile.” 5 June 1951, p. 4. Celebrating (somewhat unenthusiastically) the Festival of Britain in Orkney; dreary weather; a visit to the golf course; signs of summer; the vanishing glory of the Stromness Market. ¶ “A Fardel of Old Yarns.” 12 June 1951, p. 4. A Sunday afternoon stroll; an old poem about the Rev. William Blaw on Westwray in the eighteenth century; “another very good story”: about Dr. Hamilton in Stromness in the early nineteenth century; a witch in Stenness. ¶ “Midsummer Gossip.” 19 June 1951, p. 4. Reading some American magazines; a visit from James Tosh of Aberdeen; the reading habits of Orcadians; the declining population of Orkney; “there is no such thing, at midnight on an Orkney midsummer, as clear broad daylight”; a country walk. ¶ “A New Book of Orkney Verse.” 26 June 1951, p. 4. Review of Robert Rendall, Orkney Variants and Other Poems.

“The Creels at Midnight.” 3 July 1951, p. 6. The corruption of Orkney names; the problem of reading stories and poems in the New Shetlander in the Shetland dialect; the weather has taken a turn for the worse; the death of James Twatt, proprietor of the Orkney Herald; suggested holiday writing. ¶ “Rognvald and Ermengarde: An Old Love Story.” 10 July 1951, p. 4. Their engagement in Narbonne while he was on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land 800 years ago. ¶ “A Stromness Anthology.” 17 July 1951, p. 4. “To celebrate Stromness’s third Gala Shopping Week, ‘Islandman’ has gathered from a wide range of literature a posy of facts about, and impressions of, the western burg.” ¶ “Around Hoy.” 31 July 1951, p. 4. After the excitement of Shopping Week, GMB takes a brief sea voyage on the new St. Ola around Hoy.

“Afternoon by the Sea.” 7 August 1951, p. 4. A quiet day at the seashore, with Graemsay and Hoy in the distance. ¶ “The New Orkney Book.” 21 August 1951, p. 4. Review of Hugh Marwick, Orkney. ¶ “From Brinkie’s Brae.” 28 August 1951, p. 4. A climb up Brinkie’s Brae at twilight, “almost as good as having been to church”; the need for more biographies of Orkney figures; the unusual Orkney conception of time; the first issue of the Orcadian, November 1854; the books of Jamie Hay, “bard of Flotta.” Repr. (in part) NL 103–04.

“Lammas Market.” 4 September 1951, p. 4. Old-fashioned cures for toothache; recollections of Stromness Lammas Market Day twenty years ago; the changeable Orkney weather. ¶ “Journey to Wick.” 11 September 1951, p. 4. A weekend visit to Wick for a football match. ¶ “Political Warm-up.” 18 September 1951, p. 4. A small pamphlet published by the Orkney Tories; the use of Shetland dialect in the latest issue of the New Shetlander; a recent book (Ventures in Verse by W. Fordyce Clark) published in Lerwick; pipe-smoking; a tour of the Mainland, Orkney, in the sidecar of a motor bike. (See reply by Peter Jamieson, editor of the New Shetlander, 30 October, p. 5.)

“Autumn Letter.” 2 October 1951, p. 4. The pastimes of autumn and winter.

“Under Brinkie’s Brae” (1984)

The following “Under Brinkie’s Brae” columns by George Mackay Brown were published in the Orcadian during 1984 and were signed with initials only. Most were reprinted in GMB’s Rockpools and Daffodils (1992), cited here as RD.

5 January 1984, p. 3. Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four. Repr. RD 103–04. ¶ 12 January 1984, p. 3. The pleasure of eating a pair of kippers. Repr. RD 104–05. ¶ 19 January 1984, p. 4. Remembering his early encounter with Burns’s poetry. ¶ 26 January 1984, p. 4. The great blizzard that didn’t fully materialize.

2 February 1984, p. 4. The pleasures of reading during a loss of electricity. ¶ 9 February 1984, p. 4. “How mixed-up we are when it comes to the four seasons! For everybody, it seems, has his own private quartering of the year and they nearly all differ markedly from the official dates.” ¶ 16 February 1984, p. 4. “The enigma of John Gow . . . will never be fully explained.” ¶ 23 February 1984, p. 4. “Over the period of years, a great local hero for boys from ten to twelve years old, in the thirties, was a footballer [Hugo Munro, buried yesterday].” Repr. RD 105–06.

1 March 1984, p. 4. Vanished figures from the streets of Stromness. Repr. RD 106. ¶ 8 March 1984, p. 4. A visit from Ros Rinkwater; what life would be like on Orkney after a future nuclear disaster. Repr. RD 106–07. ¶ 15 March 1984, p. 4. The problem of overflowing bookshelves. ¶ 22 March 1984, p. 4. “There’s something wonderful in the fact that light and darkness weigh the scales evenly at the March equinox, all over the world.” ¶ 29 March 1984, p. 4. Tells the story of Sweyn Asleifson on Gairsay.

5 April 1984, p. 4. Reading the short stories of Solzhenitsyn. Repr. RD 107–08. ¶ 12 April 1984, p. 4. New bookshelves in his living room mean that he must get rid of the contents of his sideboard. ¶ 19 April 1984, p. 6. “Old General Winter, who defeated Napoleon and Hitler, returns to fight a brave rearguard action just when you think he has shot his last bolt.” ¶ 26 April 1984, p. 4. His experiences in trying to care for flowers and plants.

3 May 1984, p. 4. The pleasures of public benches in Stromness. Repr. RD 108–09. ¶ 10 May 1984, p. 4. The disappearance of Latin in the schools. Repr. RD 109. ¶ 17 May 1984, p. 4. Remembering when Prince George (the future Duke of Kent) visited Stromness in the late 1920s to launch a new lifeboat. ¶ 24 May 1984, p. 4. What he had assumed to be fog turns out to be smoke from a moorland fire. ¶ 31 May 1984, p. 4. The death of Sir John Betjeman, whom GMB had met and with whom he corresponded. Discusses other Poet Laureates. Repr. RD 109–10.

7 June 1984, p. 4. Housman’s poem about the end of May. Repr. RD 110–11. ¶ 14 June 1984, p. 4. The masked fisherman in the Orkneyinga Saga. Repr. RD 111–12. ¶ 21 June 1984, p. 4. Recollections of the Marques, which has sunk near Bermuda. Repr. RD 112–13. ¶ 28 June 1984, p. 4. The St. Magnus Festival; heavy fog.

5 July 1984, p. 4. “One of the nicest coast walks in Orkney is along the Marwick shore in Birsay to the little geo that holds in its steep slopes the remnants of old boat-houses, built half into the solid rock.” Repr. RD 113. ¶ 12 July 1984, p. 6. A morning of literary work followed by a drive around the vicinity of Stromness with friends. ¶ 19 July 1984, p. 4. Arriving at Rackwick. ¶ 26 July 1984, p. 4. A week in Rackwick. Repr. RD 114.

2 August 1984, p. 6. Warbeth beach when he was a child. Repr. RD 114–15. ¶ 9 August 1984, p. 4. A story (possibly not true) about one of the north isles of Orkney during World War One. Repr. RD 115–16. ¶ 16 August 1984, p. 4. The Dounby Show. Repr. RD 116–17. ¶ 23 August 1984, p. 4. The menace of cars, trucks, and motor-bikes on the main street of Stromness. ¶ 30 August 1984, p. 4. Summer insects.

6 September 1984, p. 4. Stromness putting greens through the years. ¶ 13 September 1984, p. 4. Lammas Market Day. ¶ 20 September 1984, p. 4. How eating tastes on Orkney have changed. Repr. RD 117. ¶ 27 September 1984, p. 4. Comments on a recent radio program about Edwin and Willa Muir.

4 October 1984, p. 4. Why there is more flooding in Stromness now. ¶ 11 October 1984, p. 4. Various “items of domestic use that are no longer sold in the shops.” Repr. RD 118. ¶ 18 October 1984, p. 4. The south end of Stromness was once a livelier place. ¶ 25 October 1984, p. 4. A stormy day suggests the onset of winter. Repr. RD 118–19.

1 November 1984, p. 4. What meals were once like in Orkney. ¶ 8 November 1984, p. 4. Bessie Millie as a “‘white witch’, a conjuror of good and seemly things.” ¶ 15 November 1984, p. 4. The failure of his television set prompts some thoughts about the role of television in modern life. Repr. RD 110–20. ¶ 22 November 1984, p. 4. The coal strike; starting fires in his home. ¶ 29 November 1984, p. 6. The difficulties of sending out Christmas cards.

6 December 1984, p. 4. Drowsiness during the daytime as a sign of old age. Repr. RD 120. ¶ 13 December 1984, p. 6. His experiences in using the telephone. ¶ 20 December 1984, p. 6. Christmas and Santa Claus during his early years. Repr. RD 121–22. ¶ 27 December 1984, p. 4. Thoughts about Orwell during 1984.

“Under Brinkie’s Brae” (1996)

The following “Under Brinkie’s Brae” columns by George Mackay Brown were published in the Orcadian during 1996 and were signed with initials only. Most were reprinted in GMB’s First Wash of Spring (2006), cited here as FWS.

4 January 1996, p. 12. A cold day in his house without electricity, followed by a Christmas day in front of his television set. ¶ 11 January 1996, p. 12. John Gow’s visit to Stromness in January 1726. ¶ 18 January 1996, p. 12. Temporarily housebound and watching too much television. Repr. FWS 240–41. ¶ 25 January 1996, p. 14. Burns as a poet of winter.

1 February 1996, p. 14. January, with its fierce winds, compared with February and March. Repr. FWS 242–43. ¶ 8 February 1996, p. 14. His morning rituals; writers obsessed with the “mystery of Time”; the scientific “Big Bang” theory. Repr. FWS 243–45. ¶ 15 February 1996, p. 14. Insomnia in old age. ¶ 22 February 1996, p. 12. Reflections prompted by winter storms. “. . . when I was a child, Stromness was a poorer place materially than it is today; but there was more laughter along the street.” Repr. FWS 245–47. ¶ 29 February 1996, p. 14. “ . . . February, that seems always like a young girl at the door of Spring, with a crocus and a snowdrop in her fingers.” Repr. FWS 247–48.

7 March 1996, p. 12. “I have a weakness for paper.” Repr. FWS 248–50. ¶ 14 March 1996, p. 14. The return of his rheumatism. Repr. FWS 250–51. ¶ 21 March 1996, p. 14. The Chinese satellite that is about to crash on to the earth. Repr. FWS 251–52. ¶ 28 March 1996, p. 14. He bought a telephone fifteen years ago. “I tell folk that I have a kind of Skara Brae telephone, compared to those models at the cutting edge of communications.”

4 April 1996, p. 10. William and Mareon Clark, the earliest recorded inhabitants of Stromness. Repr. FWS 253–54. ¶ 11 April 1996, p. 12. “This morning – as I write – is April 3, and the first wash of Spring has gone over the earth.” (GMB’s last weekly column.) Repr. FWS 254–55.

“Under Brinkie’s Brae” (1995)

The following “Under Brinkie’s Brae” columns by George Mackay Brown were published in the Orcadian during 1995 and were signed with initials only. Most were reprinted in GMB’s First Wash of Spring (2006), cited here as FWS.

5 January 1995, p. 10. Memories of visiting the homes of friends during Hogmanay in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Repr. FWS 181–82. ¶ 12 January 1995, p. 10. Tribute to Edwin Muir, who died thirty-six years ago. Repr. FWS 182–83. ¶ 19 January 1995, p. 12. The growing light in the sky prompts some thoughts about what harsh January weather meant to Orcadians in earlier centuries. Repr. FWS 184–85. ¶ 26 January 1995, p. 12. The ballpoint pens he now uses and the pens and inkwells of his secondary school days. Repr. FWS 185–86.

2 February 1995, p. 12. A Burns Supper he attended many years ago; speculation about whether Burns’s father had some connection with Orkney. ¶ 9 February 1995, p. 12. Memories of the snowstorms and snowmen of his youth. Repr. FWS 187–88. ¶ 16 February 1995, p. 14. He is no longer steady on his feet: “Shakespeare’s ‘seventh age’ has come upon me.” Repr. FWS 188–89. ¶ 23 February 1995, p. 14. A description of his daily activities during the past week. Repr. FWS 190–91.

2 March 1995, p. 10. The passing of the seasons in Orkney. Repr. FWS 191–93. ¶ 9 March 1995, p. 14. Memories of taking the English exam in school on a cold March morning. ¶ 16 March 1995, p. 14. Changes in Stromness: John Wright’s shoe store is converted to another type of business (not yet known). Repr. FWS 193–94. ¶ 23 March 1995, p. 16. The benefits of nostalgia; collecting his weekly allowance from his father. ¶ 30 March 1995, p. 12. Reading some stories in the Old Testament during Lent. Repr. FWS 194–95.

6 April 1995, p. 12. The pleasures of reading the Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun. Repr. FWS 196–97. ¶ 13 April 1995, p. 14. Visiting friends in Outertown. ¶ 20 April 1995, p. 12. Thoughts about daffodils. ¶ 27 April 1995, p. 14. ¶ Recollections of the pre-war period when Thursday was “half-day” in Stromness.

4 May 1995, p. 14. “So many books come into this house, week by week, that the many shelves are full to overflowing, and the thought of more books becomes a burden.” ¶ 11 May 1995, p. 18. The dramatic variety in one day’s weather. Repr. FWS 197–98. ¶ 18 May 1995, p. 14. “What has happened to the thousand flags that used to be in Stromness, shut away in chests in attics? I suppose they must have been brought home to Stromness over a century and more by sailors, to show what brave seaports they had anchored in, in foreign parts.” Repr. FWS 198–99. ¶ 25 May 1995, p. 16. Sleeplessness and depression. Repr. FWS 200–01.

1 June 1995, p. 20. Morning visitors who disrupt his writing schedule. Repr. FWS 201–02. ¶ 8 June 1995, p. 14. The poems that he had to study and memorize in school. Repr. FWS 202–04. ¶ 15 June 1995, p. 14. Recollections of past midsummer’s eves, when the hills were ablaze with ceremonial fires. Repr. FWS 204–05. ¶ 22 June 1995, p. 18. Hardy’s “Darkling Thrush.” Repr. FWS 205–07. ¶ 29 June 1995, p. 14. Story about the fiddler who was imprisoned underground by trows on midsummer’s eve.

6 July 1995, p. 14. The golden summer of 1947. Repr. FWS 207–08. ¶ 13 July 1995, p. 16. The reopening of the bars in Stromness in 1948. Repr. FWS 208–10. ¶ 20 July 1995, p. 12. The problem of having too many books in his home. Repr. FWS 210–11. ¶ 27 July 1995, p. 14. Watching a cricket match in a heavy rain. Repr. FWS 211–13.

3 August 1995, p. 16. “I suppose no one can pinpoint the day when we change from the child’s view of time to the adult’s.” Repr. FWS 213–14. ¶ 10 August 1995, p. 18. Struggling with modern packaging. Repr. FWS 214–15. ¶ 17 August 1995, p. 16. The warfare and violence of Orkney from the ninth to the thirteenth century, culminating in the death of St. Magnus. ¶ 24 August 1995, p. 14. Remembering Peter Esson, the Stromness tailor. Repr. FWS 216–17. ¶ 31 August 1995, p. 12. His activities during a warm and sunny August.

7 September 1995, p. 14. The water supply in Stromness. Repr. FWS 217–18. ¶ 14 September 1995, p. 14. Lammas Fair in Stromness. Repr. FWS 219–20. ¶ 21 September 1995, p. 14. Arguments in favor of studying Latin. ¶ 28 September 1995, p. 14. An imaginary letter written by Earl Rognvald (“the most intriguing character in the Orkneyinga Saga“). Repr. FWS 221–22.

5 October 1995, p. 14. ¶ A list for winter reading. Repr. FWS 222–23. ¶ 12 October 1995, p. 14. The games of his childhood. Repr. FWS 224–25. ¶ 19 October 1995, p. 14. A day-by-day record of his activities this past week; Ludovic Kennedy’s Sleeping with an Elephant. Repr. FWS 225–27. ¶ 26 October 1995, p. 12. “Yesterday I was seventy-four, and when I was twenty-four I never thought to see such an advanced age.” Repr. FWS 227–28.

2 November 1995, p. 14. Storms past and present. Repr. FWS 228–30. ¶ 9 November 1995, p. 12. Glued-up windows; Pride and Prejudice on television; the minor ailments of old age; Hallowe’en. Repr. FWS 230–31. ¶ 16 November 1995, p. 14. Lost reading glasses; writing a Christmas story; Keats; football. Repr. FWS 231–33. ¶ 23 November 1995, p. 18. His recent reading; the Stromness Museum. Repr. FWS 233–34. ¶ 30 November 1995, p. 14. Reflections on Christmas; George Crabbe’s “Peter Grimes.” Repr. FWS 234–36.

7 December 1995, p. 18. The struggle to write a Christmas story with a football match in it; loss of memory in old age; lack of enthusiasm for most modern artists. ¶ 14 December 1995, p. 16. Writing and receiving Christmas cards. ¶ 21 December 1995, p. 14. How the winter solstice struck the ancient inhabitants of Orkney. Repr. FWS 236–37. ¶ 28 December 1995, p. 8. Recollections of Hogmanay celebrations when he was a child and visits to the Stromness Museum. Repr. FWS 237–39.

“Under Brinkie’s Brae” (1993)

The following “Under Brinkie’s Brae” columns by George Mackay Brown were published in the Orcadian during 1993 and were signed with initials only. Most were reprinted in GMB’s First Wash of Spring (2006), cited here as FWS, and one reappeared in Northern Lights (1999), cited as NL.

7 January 1993, p. 6. Disappointment on re-reading Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral; praise for Larkin’s poems but lack of enthusiasm for his published letters. Repr. FWS 68–69. ¶ 14 January 1993, p. 10. The pleasures of winter; the grim possibilities of global warming. ¶ 21 January 1993, p. 12. Short story about the fiddler of Fara. Repr. FWS 71–73. ¶ 28 January 1993, p. 12. The discomforts of “the winter bug.” Repr. FWS 73–74.

4 February 1993, p. 12. Watching the inauguration of President Clinton on television; thoughts about earlier American presidents (with praise for Franklin Roosevelt). Repr. FWS 74–75. ¶ 11 February 1993, p. 12. Short story: “Five thousand years ago, there were three young Sandwick men who thought they might as well go for a drink to Skara Brae.” Repr. FWS 76–77. ¶ 18 February 1993, p. 12. “I’ve always thought it strange that all the seven days of the week seem to have each a special flavour.” ¶ 25 February 1993, p. 12. Michael Jackson on television; popular music of the 1930s. Repr. FWS 77–79.

4 March 1993, p. 12. Memories of “the original [St.] Ola that plied the Pentland Firth between 1890 and 1950.” Repr. FWS 79–80. ¶ 11 March 1993, p. 12. Traditional definitions of winter; what March meant to him during his schooldays. ¶ 18 March 1993, p. 14. “I’m trying to remember how we fared in the days before electricity, pre-1947.” Repr. FWS 80–81. ¶ 25 March 1993, p. 12. Memories of struggling to school in the morning. Repr. FWS 81–83.

1 April 1993, p. 14. His winter reading includes Eliot’s Middlemarch and Dickens’s Bleak House. Repr. FWS 83–84. ¶ 15 April 1993, p. 12. Childhood memories of collecting pace-eggs at Easter. ¶ 8 April 1993, p. 14. A stormy March. Repr. FWS 84–85. ¶ 22 April 1993, p. 12. Reflections on the story of St. Magnus’s martyrdom. ¶ 29 April 1993, p. 14. At last some sunshine “after the bleakest April I can remember.” Repr. FWS 85–86.

6 May 1993, p. 12. Popular cures for aches and pains in the past. Repr. FWS 87–88. ¶ 13 May 1993, p. 14. Short story about an imaginary king of Orkney, Mansie IV. Repr. FWS 88–89. ¶ 20 May 1993, p. 14. “There seems to be some barrier between Sir Walter Scott and myself; for I never got any pleasure at all out of his novels.” Scott’s comments on Orkney. ¶ 27 May 1993, p. 14. The sudden arrival of spring. Repr. FWS 89–91.

3 June 1993, p. 14. Beautiful but neglected plants. Repr. FWS 91–92. ¶ 10 June 1993, p. 14. Husky Saunders, one of “a few half-Orcadian half-Canadian Indian boys in Stromness towards the end of the last century.” Repr. FWS 92–93. ¶ 17 June 1993, p. 12. “Going through that ever-delightful book: Stromness – Late 19th Century Photographs, published in 1972 by Stromness Museum,” he speculates about the identity of the boy in the sailor suit who appears in many of the pictures. Repr. FWS 94–95. ¶ 24 June 1993, p. 12. Reading Jane Smiley’s novel The Greenlanders; reflections on the dwindling population of Greenland. Repr. FWS 95–95.

1 July 1993, p. 14. How he spent the day of the summer solstice. Repr. FWS 96–97. ¶ 8 July 1993, p. 12. “Two days from now, the school will break up for summer. This time of year was for us, 60 years ago, a magical time.” ¶ 15 July 1993, p. 14. Reflections on the return of the whaling ships described in “Sir Walter Scott’s journal of his trip round the northern and western isles in 1814.” Repr. FWS 98–99; NL 14–15. ¶ 22 July 1993, p. 12. Recent heavy rain. Repr. FWS 99–100. ¶ 29 July 1993, p. 12. His two old chairs have been donated “for the big Shopping Week fire at the Braes.” Repr. FWS 100–01.

5 August 1993, p. 14. Reflections on some of his distant relatives. “I do regret the laziness of my youth that kept me from learning Gaelic and Norse. I wander about in a no man’s land between two cultures.” Repr. FWS 101–03. ¶ 12 August 1993, p. 14. Affectionate memories of the Tender Tables, a favorite swimming place for Stromness children. Repr. FWS 103–04. ¶ 19 August 1993, p. 14. Dounby Shows past and present. Repr. FWS 104–05. ¶ 26 August 1993, p. 12. Memories of moving into Mayburn Court nearly a quarter of a century ago. Repr. FWS 106–07.

2 September 1993, p. 12. Remembering the Lammas school holiday when he was a boy. ¶ 9 September 1993, p. 12. Stromness postmen of the past (including his father). Repr. FWS 107–08. ¶ 16 September 1993, p. 14. Reading poetry at Stromness Academy when he was a schoolboy. Repr. FWS 108–10. ¶ 23 September 1993, p. 12. “Early autumn and the falling leaves is the time to be mindful of age. . . .” Repr. FWS 110–11. ¶ 30 September 1993, p. 12. The history of tea and memories of tea-drinking during his childhood. Repr. FWS 111–12.

7 October 1993, p. 14. Childhood games and amusements. Repr. FWS 112–13. ¶ 14 October 1993, p. 12. Discussion of a book on Cowdenbeath Football Club by the Rev. Ronald Ferguson. Repr. FWS 114–15. ¶ 21 October 1993, p. 12. Remembering Stromness football in the 1930s. Repr. FWS 115–17. ¶ 28 October 1993, p. 12. Despite his various illnesses, including tuberculosis, he has reached the age of 72. Repr. FWS 117–18.

4 November 1993, p. 14. Memories associated with Clouston’s Pier, Stromness. Repr. FWS 118–19. ¶ 11 November 1993, p. 12. Prints a piece he has written for a charitable cause, “A Poem for the Restoration of the Organ in St Mary Magdalene Church, Keyworth, Nottingham.” Repr. FWS 120–21. ¶ 18 November 1993, p. 14. A visit to the graves in the kirkyard at Warbeth. Repr. FWS 121–22. ¶ 25 November 1993, p. 14. Memories of the old men of Stromness gathering on benches at the Pier Head – what came to be called “the Pier Head Parliament.” Repr. FWS 122–23.

2 December 1993, p. 14. What local people ate before the war. Repr. FWS 123–25. ¶ 9 December 1993, p. 14. Endless changes in the Stromness weather. Repr. FWS 125–26. ¶ 16 December 1993, p. 14. Christmas cards. ¶ 23 December 1993, p. 12. Short story about a lonely old man and a small boy. Repr. FWS 126–27. ¶ 30 December 1993, p. 8. Short story: an old man has unexpected visitors on Hogmanay. Repr. FWS 127–29.