Music Ensemble Chorus (1 August 1989) [radio]

“Music Ensemble Chorus.” BBC Radio 3, 1 August 1989, 5:05–5:30 p.m.

The Music Ensemble Chorus, conducted by Keith Williams, sings “‘Westerlings,’ Peter Maxwell Davies’ setting of George Mackay Brown’s poem about the voyage to Orkney of the first Norse settlers. BBC Bristol.”

Island Diary (1950)

The following “Island Diary” columns by George Mackay Brown, all signed “Islandman,” were published in the Orkney Herald during 1950. (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.


“O Wild West Wind!” 3 January 1950, p. 4. An article in the Orkney Herald, November 1909, about the turbulent crossing of the Pentland Firth by the Royal Mail. ¶ “Journey through Hell.” 10 January 1950, p. 4. Reading Dorothy L. Sayers’ new translation of Dante’s Inferno. ¶ “We Have No Time to Stand and Stare.” 17 January 1950, p. 4. A typical boring day in the life of a writer. ¶ “Homage to Burns.” 24 January 1950, p. 4. Various reactions to Burns’s poetry. ¶ “Remembering July 1945.” 31 January 1950, p. 4. Remembering the political scene five years earlier.

“A Columnist’s Year.” 7 February 1950, p. 4. A look back on the past year (especially its weather). ¶ “Things that Go Bump in the Night.” 14 February 1950, p. 4. Supernatural apparitions. ¶ “A Fortnight to Go . . .” 21 February 1950, p. 4. An account of his life just before the election, with emphasis on the cold weather. ¶ “The Noble Art of Murder.” 28 February 1950, p. 4. His fascination with murderers.

“Orkney’s Illustrious Obscure.” 14 March 1950, p. 4. Orcadians who “have won a minor immortality.” ¶ “Letter to a Hot Country.” 21 March 1950, p. 4. Letter to “Dear Willie” in the tropics about what has been happening politically in Orkney.

“Exchange of Views.” 4 April 1950, p. 4. Prints a letter from a reader complaining about immorality on the stage, and responds to it. ¶ “’The Only Pretty Ring Time . . .’.” 11 April 1950, p. 4. The arrival of spring in Orkney. ¶ “Trying to Be Honest.” 18 April 1950, p. 4. Imagines a completely honest guidebook about Orkney for first-time visitors. ¶ “Ten Years Ago.” 25 April 1950, p. 4. Remembering the early phase of the war in 1940.

“War of Words.” 2 May 1950, p. 4. The arguments in favor of English rather than Scots as the best language for Scottish writers. Reply by Robert M. Thorburn, “War of Words,” 9 May 1950, p. 6. ¶ “Mansie Harra’s Escape from the Trows.” 9 May 1950, p. 4. “The following story, which you will either accept as true or dismiss as a piece of wild imagination, was told by Mansie Harra, who, even in his lifetime, was a legendary figure in the West Mainland.” ¶ “The Beginning of Summer.” 16 May 1950, p. 4. An account of his activities, literary and otherwise, during the past week. ¶ “A Football Fan Remembers.” 23 May 1950, p. 4. His earliest memories of watching football. ¶ “Hours Worth Living For.” 30 May 1950, p. 4. His chief delights in life.

“The League of Story Tellers.” 6 June 1950, p. 4. “Fortunately the story-tellers of Orkney are not all dead. . . . But they are dying out fast, I must warn you of that.” ¶ “Letter to London.” 13 June 1950, p. 4. He writes to a friend in London about what’s happening in Orkney. ¶ “The Wickedest Woman in Orkney.” 27 June 1950, p. 4. An account of the life of Ragnhild a thousand years ago on Orkney.

“A Summer of Carnival.” 4 July 1950, p. 4. The activities of Earl Rognvald, nephew of St. Magnus, eight centuries ago. ¶ “Floreat Stromness!” 18 July 1950, p. 4. Technically this is not part of the “Island Diary” series, but it is signed with GMB’s usual pseudonym of “Islandman,” with this accompanying note: “‘Islandman’ contributes a thumb-nail sketch of the history and growth of the town, and mentions some of its outstanding people. And he has tried to discover what Stromness hopes for in the future.” ¶ “This Modern Orkney.” 25 July 1950, p. 4. How life on Orkney has changed in the past fifty years.
“Rousay – Isle of Beauty and History.”

1 August 1950, p. 4. “Now Rousay is not half such a celebrated island as it should be.” Repr. NL 91–96. ¶ “An Hour or Two in Rousay.” 8 August 1950, p. 4. A visit to the Rousay Golf Course. ¶ “Advice to Tourists.” 22 August 1950, p. 6. A brief guide to Orkney for visitors. ¶ “The Minister Who Went to Jail.” 29 August 1950, p. 4. The conviction of the Rev. Matthew Armour for disturbing the peace in Sanday in 1885. Reply by M.S., 12 September, p. 5.

“John Gerard’s Heir.” 12 September 1950, p. 4. The only son of “one of Orkney’s greatest preachers and personalities, the Reverend John Gerard, of South Ronaldsay.” ¶ “The Island of Seals” [1]. 19 September 1950, p. 4. GMB visits the island of Suleskerry. ¶ “The Island of Seals” [2]. 26 September 1950, p. 4. Description of the scenery and wildlife on the island.

“Journey to Thule” [1]. 3 October 1950, p. 6. A trip to Shetland “with the football and hockey contingent at the end of August”; description of Lerwick.­ ¶ “Journey to Thule” [2]. 10 October 1950, p. 6. A visit to a bookshop in Lerwick, followed by the hockey and football matches in Scalloway. “The evening came down, and I realised with a sharp pang of disappointment that I wouldn’t be able to see any more of Shetland this time.” ¶ “A Great Orkney Historian.” 17 October 1950, p. 4. “The death of Mr. John Mooney has removed from our midst one of the keenest and noblest intellects of Orkney.” ¶ “A Shower of Poets.” 24 October 1950, p. 6. Various writers who have visited or written about Orkney in the past. ¶ “Islandman Listens In.” 31 October 1950, p. 6. What he enjoys listening to on BBC radio.

“The Tumult and the Shouting.” 7 November 1950, p. 3. An account of the Battle of Summerdale. ¶ “Battered Caravanserai.” 14 November 1950, p. 4. An evening at the Shelter, an old air raid shelter. ¶ “November Chill.” 21 November 1950, p. 6. The occasional consolations of November, including St. Magnus Day (the 13th). ¶ “Winter Afternoon’s Walk.” 28 November 1950, p. 4. Reflections on Orkney politics; his regular afternoon walk; flying saucers; a piece of local folklore (the Knowe of Yuro).

“The Old Norse Gods.” 5 December 1950, p. 4. The Norse deities of ancient Orkney. ­¶ “Window on a Golden Age.” 12 December 1950, p. 4 . ¶ “A Yule-tide Setting.” 19 December 1950, p. 4. Transfers the story of the first Christmas to Orkney during the period of Norse rule. ¶ “New Year’s Song.” 26 December 1950, p. 4. The traditional song once connected with Hogmanay.

GMB — Island Diary (1946)

The following “Island Diary” columns by George Mackay Brown, all signed “Islandman,” were published in the Orkney Herald during 1946. GMB did not reprint any of them in a later book.


1 January 1946, p. 7. Response to a letter from George W. Johnston; Orkney Christian names; December skyscapes in Orkney. ¶ 8 January 1946, p. 5. Sir John Franklin; John Rae; early Orkney explorers. ¶ 15 January 1946, p. 7. “Pomona” should not be the name of Orkney’s main island; “peedie” versus “peerie” in the local dialect; pipe-smoking among women; excessive makeup. ¶ 22 January 1946, p. 7. The case for Robert Burns as an Orkneyman. ¶ 29 January 1946, p. 7. The “big tree” on Stromness’s street; the melancholy shipwrecks near South Ronaldsay; the Italian chapel on Lamb Holm; the causeways.

5 February 1946, p. 2. The differences among Orkney’s parishes; a poem (by GMB) about the “Peerie” versus “Peedie” debate. ¶ 12 February 1946, p. 7. The weather; Sheriff Alfred Thomas (who left £60,000 for the restoration of St. Magnus Cathedral). ¶ 19 February 1946, p. 2. Orcadians are suspicious of enthusiasm; “peedie” versus “peerie.”  (See letters to the editor: Ould Mansie, “Peedie v. Peerie,” 26 February, p. 2; “Peerie Tam Says” [a poem], 5 March, p. 7; Peerie Tam’s Peerie Brither, “Some Peeries Remarks,” 5 March, p. 7.)  ¶ 26 February 1946, p. 2. The Drama Festival should be held in St. Magnus Cathedral.

5 March 1946, p. 2. “Peedie” versus “peerie” again; housing shortage; late winter weather. ¶ 12 March 1946, p. 7. Orkney during World War Two; the recent thaw. ¶ 19 March 1946, p. 2. The Kirkwall Arts Club wins a prize; on becoming a true Orcadian; Eric Linklater’s new novel, Private Angelo; Edwin Muir. ¶ 26 March 1946, p. 7. Church music.

2 April 1946, p. 7. Eric Linklater; Stanley Cursiter; Sibelius and Grieg. ¶ 9 April 1946, p. 5. The burning of heather on Orphir; summer football matches on Orkney. ¶ 16 April 1946, p. 5. Salaries for clergymen; the Hydro Electric Scheme; the effects of the Budget on Orkney; Sunday football. ¶ 23 April 1946, p. 7. Accordions; religious films. ¶ 30 April 1946, p. 7. The value of manual labor; the fickle weather of April.

14 May 1946, p. 7. Orkney not “a minor Scottish county”; what an independent Orkney would be like. (See the reply by “Islandwoman,” “How about It, Islandman?”, 28 May 1946, p. 7 [“Casting my mind back since “Island Diary” first started I am amazed at the flood of tempestuous feeling obviously filling your heart towards this bare, bleak treeless island and its, generally speaking, monotonous and unimaginative people”]. This letter in turn prompted an editorial response in the Orkney Herald, 4 June 1946, p. 4. See also “Islandman Replies,” 4 June, p. 7 [“In the midst of incredible beauty, you have been blind. It is time you had your eyes open, and I will be only too glad to perform that operation, absolutely free of charge”]. “Islandwoman” in turn offered a lengthy “Reply to Islandman,” 18 June, p. 7. See also the letters from J. Moar, “Orkney versus the World, 18 June, p. 2; Pax, “Islandman and Islandwoman,” 25 June, p. 5; Moar, “Ver. Sap,” 2 July, p. 5; and John B. J. Laurenson, “Humourless Bore?”, 16 July 1946, p. 5. GMB re-entered the fray in “‘Over to You, Islandwoman’: The Fourth Round of the Big Fight,” 25 June, p. 7, which provoked yet another letter from “Islandwoman,” “Second Reply to Islandman,” 2 July, p. 7 [“How like a man!”]. GMB again responded with “‘Islandwoman’ Psycho-analysed! A Lady’s Mind Fully Exposed,” 9 July, p. 7, and her final letter was entitled “Reply to Islandman,” 16 July 1946, p. 7. See also 23 July below.) ¶ 21 May 1946, p. 7. A Stromness hotel has been granted a liquor license; the parish of Harray. ¶ 28 May 1946, p. 7. The handsome Polish troops; local football rivalries.

4 June 1946, p. 7. The dismantling of the military camps; the local regattas; Tennyson’s refusal to visit Orkney. ¶ 11 June 1946, p. 7. A visit to Hoy. ¶ 18 June 1946, p. 7. Rackwick on Hoy. ¶ 25 June 1946, p. 7. The beach at Rackwick.

2 July 1946, p. 7. The conclusion to his visit to Hoy. ¶ 9 July 1946, p. 7. A recent radio broadcast about Shetland. ¶ 16 July 1946, p. 7. Bread rationing; the arrival of sightseers in Orkney. ¶ 23 July 1946, p. 7. Response to letter from John B. J. Laurenson (see above); “My chum ‘Islandwoman’ alas has thrown in the sponge, somewhat belatedly.” ¶ 30 July 1946, p. 7. “I want . . . to tell you about a recent Sunday afternoon [bus] trip to some West Mainland beauty spots.”

6 August 1946, p. 7. The second part of his account of the bus tour. ¶ 13 August 1946, p. 7. Third installment about the bus tour. ¶ 20 August 1946, p. 6. An attempt to understand how Edwin Muir sees the world. ¶ 27 August 1946, p. 7. An account of the Hamilton Cup competition at the Stromness Golf Course.

3 September 1946, p. 7. What Sundays were like on Orkney fifty years ago. ¶ 10 September 1946, p. 7. Commentary on Frank Baker’s short story “Mr. Allenby Loses His Way,” which is set in Orkney. ¶ 17 September 1946, p. 7. The recent football match between Shetland and Orkney. Reply by “A. J. W. (Another Ferrylouper),” 24 September, p. 3. ¶ 24 September 1946, p. 9. The football pools.

1 October 1946, p. 6. The recent glorious weather; Sir John Sinclair’s Statistical Account of Scotland (1898). ¶ 8 October 1946, p. 2. “Now it is mid-October, and relentless winter approaches, cold and dark, over the Northern lands.” ¶ 15 October 1946, p. 6. The medieval story of an Orkney nun and her sparrow. ¶ 22 October 1946, p. 3. The modern sounds of airplanes and radios; why Orkney and Shetland will never break away from Scotland. ¶ 29 October 1946, p. 5. The Peedie Sea in Kirkwall. On the question of peedie vs. peerie he was challenged by “Ferrylouper in Reverse”: see GMB’s reply (as “Stromness Correspondent”), 5 November, p. 4.

12 November 1946, p. 6. A concert at the Paterson Church in Kirkwall. ¶ 19 November 1946, p. 3. The municipal candidates’ meeting. ¶ 26 November 1946, p. 9. His hobby of collecting Orkney postcards.

3 December 1946, p. 3. Orkney under Norse rule, unlike modern times, was full of poetry. ¶ 10 December 1946, p. 9. More about the decline of poetry in Orkney through the centuries. ¶ 17 December 1946, p. 6. “Who would you say was the greatest Orcadian who ever lived?” Possible candidates: St. Magnus, Rev. John Gerard, Dr. John Rae, John Gow. ¶ 24 December 1946, p. 3. Prints an anonymous “Ballad of Andrew Ross”; reading Robert Rendall’s Country Sonnets. ¶ 31 December 1946, p. 8. A look back on the year.

D’Arcy — Certain Aspects of Old Norse Influence (1990)

D’Arcy, Julian Meldon. “Certain Aspects of Old Norse Influence on Modern Scottish Literature.” Ph.D. thesis, University of Aberdeen, 1990.

Abstract: “The argument of this thesis is twofold. Firstly, it is to show that from the eighteenth century onwards Scottish scholars and writers have made a distinct and important contribution, hitherto mostly unnoted, to the dissemination of Old Norse history and literature in Britain. Furthermore Scottish writers such as Samuel Laing, Thomas Carlyle, and R.M. Ballantyne played a significant role in the creation of the literary notion of a Norse ethos which was to be a central point in the literary and journalistic debate in Scotland between c.1880 and 1940 on the relative merits of opposing Norse and Celtic influences on Scottish history, culture and society. Secondly, and more particularly, the thesis illustrates how this consciousness of a literary and historical Norse heritage in Scotland influenced many minor authors in Orkney and Shetland, and eight important Scottish writers in the twentieth century: Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Hugh MacDiarmid, Neil M. Gunn, John Buchan, David Lindsay, Naomi Mitchison, Eric Linklater, and George Mackay Brown. The thesis examines in detail the Norse-inspired works of these writers and investigates how and why they became influenced by Old Norse history and literature, what sources they used, and what effect this had on their work. The Old Norse influence is mostly notable in the writers’ attitudes to the Norse/Celtic debate, their use of saga and skaldic styles, their knowledge and application of Viking history, their interpretation and use of Old Norse mythology, and a belief in atavism and contemporary applications of a Norse ethos. The nature of this influence on each individual author varies both in extent and form, but its existence and relevance cannot be questioned, and the thesis argues that this Old Norse influence has thus played an interesting and significant role in modern Scottish literature.”

Island Diary (1947)

The following “Island Diary” columns by George Mackay Brown, all signed “Islandman,”  were published in the Orkney Herald during 1947. GMB did not reprint any of them in a later book.


7 January 1947, p. 8. Food was better in Orkney than in Glasgow during 1946; celebration of the New Year. ¶ 14 January 1947, p. 8.  A survey of the best Orkney books. ¶ 21 January 1947, p. 8. General reflections on Burns. ¶ 28 January 1947, p. 2. “Orkney was a great place for women to live in 300 years ago. There was then none of that ridiculous pampering of women that is rotting the 20th century at its foundations.” Witch-mania.

4 February 1947, p. 5. Superstitions associated with dark winter nights. ¶ 11 February 1947, p. 5. Description of an exhibition of “modern Scottish paintings, drawings, and statues” at the Arts Club. ¶ 18 February 1947, p. 2. “I consider that every snowfall since my early childhood has had a distinct personality”; further comments on the Drama Festival.

4 March 1947, p. 5. Reflections prompted by reading the Orkney Almanac for 1877: “Orkney in 1877 – what a land flowing with milk and honey it was! It seems now like a remote legendary place, half lost in the mists of antiquity.” ¶ 11 March 1947, p. 5. “I never remember a gruelling winter like this before”; the BBC “panders too much in its programmes to the mentally undeveloped”; The Saga of Burnt Njal is to be on Third Programme tonight. ¶ 18 March 1947, p. 5. The Kirkwall Arts Club has won a prize at a drama festival in Inverary; a forthcoming Music Festival in Kirkwall (but Orcadians are not musically gifted at the moment). ¶ 25 March 1947, p. 7. “Another great change that has come over Orkney since the war is that now everyone locks the doors at night”; “I am often surprised by the fact that there exists no church dedicated to St Rognvald in Orkney”; local football. Reply (about football clubs) by “Cubbie Roo,” 8 April, p. 6.

1 April 1947, p. 3. His opposition to blood sports. Replies by readers, with a rejoinder by GMB, on 15 April, p. 6. ¶ 8 April 1947, p. 5. The banning of C. S. Forester’s The Ship from the Wick Public Library. ¶ 15 April 1947, p. 5. Review of the first issue of the New Shetlander. ¶ 22 April 1947, p. 5. “Last week was a week of listening to superlative entertainment supplied by the B.B.C.”: football, a speech by the Chancellor, and a boxing match. ¶ 29 April 1947, p. 5. How he gave up smoking.

6 May 1947, p. 5. The Dounby v. Kirkwall Thorfinn “A” football match. ¶ 13 May 1947, p. 7. The pleasures of putting. ¶ 20 May 1947, p. 5. The recent fire that destroyed Stromness’s cinema; the subjects that he enjoys writing about. ¶ 27 May 1947, p. 5. Beautiful spring days; the contemporary preoccupation with the young; an accused Orkney witch in the eighteenth century.

3 June 1947, p. 5. Further comments on Robert Rendall’s Country Sonnets; an illustrated article about Orkney in the Picture Post; the Wall of Death. ¶ 10 June 1947, p. 9. Orkney should build a great herring ship. ¶ 17 June 1947, p. 5. The best football players in Orkney; British Summer Time; the history of the name of Hellihole Road. ¶ 24 June 1947, p. 5. High bidding for books about Orkney at a recent auction.

1 July 1947, p. 7. After a “slight indisposition,” he hopes to start exploring Orkney again; the poetry of Earl Rognvald; has recently written some Horatian stanzas; plans for an arts page in the Orkney Herald. ¶ 8 July 1947, p. 4. Reviews of an art exhibition and the Orkney Music Festival. ¶ 15 July 1947, p. 2. A visit to the Stromness Museum. ¶ 22 July 1947, p. 5. A group of young pilgrims of the Faith Mission gathered at the pier-head. ¶ 29 July 1947, p. 5. Lovely summer weather; a Punch and Judy show.

5 August 1947, p. 5. An exhibition of paintings by Ian MacInnes and John Farmiloe. ¶ 12 August 1947, p. 4. A bus trip to the Bay of Skaill. ¶ 19 August 1947, p. 4. A visit to Waulkmill Bay, Orphir. ¶ 26 August 1947, p. 7. A BBC radio program, “Country Magazine,” about Orkney; the hot and overcrowded County Show.

2 September 1947, p. 5. The Orkney–Shetland football match. ¶ 9 September 1947, p. 9. The end of “the phenomenal Orkney August of 1947”; a visit to Graemsay. ¶ 16 September 1947, p. 5. Bleak, cold autumn weather. ¶ 23 September 1947, p. 9. “. . . Orkney and Shetland books are so much sought after that they have become a definite branch in the second-hand bookselling business”; a series of articles by H. V. Morton entitled “In Search of the Northern Isles” that appeared in the Daily Herald during the 1930s. ¶ 30 September 1947, p. 5. Legends associated with the mysterious vanishing island of Heather-Bleather.

7 October 1947, p. 2. Various Orkney and Shetland newspapers published in the nineteenth century. ¶ 14 October 1947, p. 5. “If culture is not indigenous and popular, it had better not exist at all. That goes for Orkney as well as other places.” This column provoked some letters to the editor: see 4 November, p. 4 (from Margaret C. Tait and Allison Leonard); and 18 November (from “Dairyman”). GMB in turn replied 18 November, p. 9. There was a further comment by Tait, 2 December, p. 5. ¶ 21 October 1947, p. 5. The plans for the Moncur Memorial Church, Stronsay; “I find myself actively depressed worshipping in any of the Orkney churches built during the past two centuries.” ¶ 28 October 1947, p. 7. Visiting a small island near Stromness and listening to a gramophone.

4 November 1947, p. 7. The legends of seals/humans (selkies). ¶ 11 November 1947, p. 7. The fierce dispute about whether Stromness should remain “dry.” ¶ 18 November 1947, p. 7. Review of a collection of stories by Erik Linklater. Reply (in the form of a poem entitled “Squelching in a Midden”) by Heather Jock, 2 December, p. 5. ¶ 25 November 1947, p. 4. “Even the children are disgusted with this winter’s snow”; “the Budget was another cruel blow this week”; the recent performance of Shaw’s Arms and the Man.

9 December 1947, p. 5. A Christmas card from Bernard Shaw to “The Art Critic” of the Orkney Herald (i.e. GMB); a review of Eric Linklater’s Sealskin Trousers in the Times Literary Supplement. Reply by D. R. Linklater, “‘Islandman’ under Fire Again,” 23 December, p. 3; rejoinder by GMB, “Islandman Regurgitates,”30 December, p. 5. ¶ 16 December 1947, p. 5. He imagines how the Norse runes came to be inscribed in Maeshowe. “I was inside Maeshowe only once, and doubt if I’ll ever go again.” ¶ 23 December 1947, p. 5. The story of how Earl Rognvald was killed on Christmas 901 years ago. ¶ 30 December 1947, p. 5. Critics of his column; summary of the events of the past year.

“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.