GMB — Rackwick (1984)

GMB. “Rackwick: A Child’s Scrapbook.” Temenos 5 (1984): 55–58.

Poem.

MS, MS drafts: University of Edinburgh Library (MS 2845.4.2) [dated 1982].

“Under Brinkie’s Brae” (1980)

The following “Under Brinkie’s Brae” columns by George Mackay Brown were published in the Orcadian during 1980 and were signed with initials only. Most were reprinted in GMB’s Rockpools and Daffodils (1992), cited here as RD.


3 January 1980, p. 7. “We still retain some shadow of the ancient Christmas that lasted 12 days.” ¶ 10 January 1980, p. 4. Robert Rendall’s books should be reprinted. ¶ 17 January 1980, p. 4. A meditation on the lives of the earliest inhabitants of the Orkney islands. Repr. RD 20–21. ¶ 24 January 1980, p. 4. Description of a very early (but undated) souvenir booklet about “Stromness and Vicinity.” Repr. RD 21–22.

7 February 1980, p. 4. The pleasures of examining Ordnance Survey maps of Orkney. Repr. RD 22–23. ¶ 14 February 1980, p. 4. Memories of exploring Stromness’s interesting closes. Repr. RD 23–24. ¶ 21 February 1980, p. 4. Recollections of Gray’s Pier (which still existed in his younger days). Repr. RD 24–25.

6 March 1980, p. 4. About his diary-keeping. Repr. RD 25. ¶ 13 March 1980, p. 6. “We do not realise sometimes what a powerful force television is in our lives.” ¶ 20 March 1980, p. 4. A fictionalized account of Bessie Millie’s encounter with John Gow. ¶ 27 March 1980, p. 4. Spring has arrived – but “now, suddenly, Winter is back!”

3 April 1980, p. 6. Poems in childhood. ¶ 10 April 1980, p. 4. A walk along the shore on Palm Sunday. Repr. RD 26. ¶ 17 April 1980, p. 4. A discussion of the plays of Sean O’Casey. Repr. RD 26–27. ¶ 24 April 1980, p. 4. On the anniversary of the death of St. Magnus, he visits Birsay; a day earlier he was at St. Magnus Cathedral and saw where his bones were immured. Repr. RD 27–28.

1 May 1980, p. 4. April and daffodils. ¶ 8 May 1980, p. 4. May Day; the failure of his television. ¶ 15 May 1980, p. 4. Memories of World War Two. Repr. RD 28–29. ¶ 22 May 1980, p. 4. The warmth and sunshine of spring. ¶ 29 May 1980, p. 4. Possible local subjects for Orkney authors to write about. Repr. RD 29–30.

5 June 1980, p. 4. Days spent in the country when he was a boy. Repr. RD 30. ¶ 12 June 1980, p. 4. A walk up Brinkie’s Brae. Repr. RD 31. ¶ 19 June 1980, p. 6. A fierce thunderstorm. Repr. RD 31–32. ¶ 26 June 1980, p. 4. The opening of the Corrigall Farm Museum. Repr. RD 32–33.

3 July 1980, p. 4. A visit to Rackwick on Hoy. ¶ 10 July 1980, p. 4. A series of paintings by children of St. Magnus and the construction of the St. Magnus Cathedral. Repr. RD 33–34. ¶ 17 July 1980, p. 6. The pronunciation of Orkney place names. Repr. RD 34–35. ¶ 24 July 1980, p. 4. “It has been a good summer in Orkney so far.” ¶ 31 July 1980, p. 4. Walking around Stromness early in the morning on the third day of Shopping Week.

7 August 1980, p. 4. “Summer passes, so quickly. Today is the first of August. In a few weeks’ time the shadows of autumn will begin to cluster around us.” ¶14 August 1980, p. 6. “Where have all the insects gone this summer?” ¶ 21 August 1980, p. 6. What it must have been like for young Orkneymen forced to serve on ships two centuries ago. Repr. RD 35. ¶ 28 August 1980, p. 4. An excursion on the sailing ship Marques to Rousay. Repr. RD 36.

4 September 1980, p. 6. The end of summer. ¶ 11 September 1980, p. 4. British and other monarchs who have visited Orkney through the centuries. Repr. RD 36–37. ¶ 18 September 1980, p. 6. “. . . to sail from Norway to Orkney on a Viking longship must have been a deeply uncomfortable experience.” ¶ 25 September 1980, p. 4. Again, the end of summer. Repr. RD 37–38.

2 October 1980, p. 4. The story of Hundi, the son of Earl Sigurd, who was taken hostage. Repr. RD 38–39. ¶ 9 October 1980, p. 4. “October has come in with a half-tempest from the south-west.” ¶ 16 October 1980, p. 4. Accounts of crime on television and heroism in the Orcadian. Repr. RD 39–40. ¶ 23 October 1980, p. 4. “One of the great life-experiences is to come, unexpectedly, upon a writer whose work leaves one struck through with admiration and praise.” ¶ 30 October 1980, p. 4. Halloween in the past.

6 November 1980, p. 4. Memories of early gramophones and wireless sets – and now the arrival of television. ¶ 13 November 1980, p. 4. Guy Fawkes day. Repr. RD 40–41. ¶ 20 November 1980, p. 6. The Orkney habit of understatement. Repr. RD 41. ¶ 27 November 1980, p. 4. The loss of older words in Orkney: “More and more our speech is approximating to Standard English; with, it’s true, the music of the islands in them still.” Repr. RD 41–42.

4 December 1980, p. 6. Various thoughts on a cold winter day. ¶ 11 December 1980, p. 4. Memories of the sweeties he bought during early boyhood. Repr. RD 42–43. ¶ 18 December 1980, p. 6. Reflections on the changing seasons in antiquity. Repr. RD 43–44. ¶  25 December 1980, p. 4. An Orcadian version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, with Rolph Scroogeson as the central character. Repr. RD 44–45.

GMB — Letter from Hamnavoe (1972)

The following “Letter from Hamnavoe” columns by George Mackay Brown were published in the Orcadian during 1972 and were signed with initials only (except for the column of 11 May 1972, which was unsigned). Most were reprinted in GMB’s Letters from Hamnavoe (1979), cited here as LH.


6 January 1972, p. 3. “January is a month when . . .” [a long list]. Repr. LH 31–32. ¶ 13 January 1972, p. 3. What Sunday was like during his childhood. ¶ 20 January 1972, p. 4. “Next week Orkney will once more be celebrating Robbie Burns.” Repr. LH 32–33. ¶ 27 January 1972, p. 4. The spread of flu in Orkney – but it turns out that his own illness was only “a bit of a cold.” Repr. LH 33.

3 February 1972, p. 4. The mixing of races and nationalities in Orkney’s history. ¶ 10 February 1972, p. 4. The traditional rivalry between boys of the South End and the North End of Stromness. “Nowadays that old rivalry seems to have completely withered away among the young – and whether that is a good or a bad thing I would not care to say.” Repr. LH 35. ¶ 17 February 1972, p. 3. “The Scots above all love to wear masks before the world”; the former cathedral on the Brough of Birsay.

2 March 1972, p. 4. He visits Perth to watch a rehearsal of his play A Spell for Green Corn. Repr. LH 36-39. ¶ 9 March 1972, p. 4. A stroll about Perth, and a performance of J. M. Barrie’s The Admirable Crichton. Repr. LH 36–37. ¶ 16 March 1972, p. 4. “One Saturday morning I took a bus to the royal burgh of Falkland in the interior of Fife, to visit my friends Kulgin Duval and Colin Hamilton.” Then he rides with them to their new home on Loch Tummel in the heart of the Highlands. Repr. LH 37–38. ¶ 23 March 1972, p. 3. Growing pollution in Orkney: “We must have faith that somewhere, deep down at the very roots and sources of life, there is an endless upsurge of health and renewal.” Repr. LH 38–40.

6 April 1972, p. 3. “After the dance of the bulldozers, Gray’s Pier is no more. When I got back from Perth at the end of March, there was a tall wooden stockade along the seaward side of the street, and a padlocked gate.” Memories of the people who once lived in the vicinity. Repr. LH 40. ¶ 13 April 1972, p. 4. “We had better relish the flavour of every day we live from now on, because very soon the life of the place is going to be radically altered. Oil is going to change everything. . . . But there is more than oil in Orkney; somebody has discovered traces of uranium at Yesnaby.” Repr. LH 41. ¶ 20 April 1972, p. 3. ¶ 27 April 1972, p. 4. An account of John Louttit, Kirk Officer of the Secession Church in Stromness during the early nineteenth century, who was removed from office for butchering whales on the sabbath. Repr. LH 41–42.

4 May 1972, p. 3. Admiring daffodils alongside the road on the bus journey from Stromness to Kirkwall. Repr. LH 42–43. ¶ 11 May 1972, p. 3. Unsigned. The pleasures of listening to his transistor radio. ¶ 18 May 1972, p. 4. Advice to tourists on the best things to see in Stromness. Repr. LH 43–44. ¶ 25 May 1972, p. 3. “I have a rent book that goes back to 1934.”

1 June 1972, p. 4. A visit to Edinburgh for “a literary gathering, a cocktail party for my new book Greenvoe”; but there is a delay in returning to Orkney, and he finds himself staying briefly with friends in Aberdeen. Repr. LH 45. ¶ 8 June 1972, p. 3. “‘The Orkney Croft’ is the title of this summer’s exhibition in Stromness Museum. . . . It is a memorable exhibition, one of the best that the Museum has put on (and that’s saying something). I have been to see it twice and I hope to go back a few times yet before September.” Repr. LH 45–46. ¶ 15 June 1972, p. 3. Heavy automobile traffic in Stromness. ¶ 22 June 1972, p. 3. “Here we are, near midsummer, and how pleasant it would be, among all these dull days, to have a splash or two of sunshine. The weather has been meagre with his gold as a miser this year.” Repr. LH 46–47.

6 July 1972, p. 3. “Our ignorant great-grandfathers had a relationship with the sun that was intense and meaningful. Midsummer for them was a mysterious time. . . . Nowadays we just get tanned, and drink iced lager, and have a little holiday.” Repr. LH 47. ¶ 13 July 1972, p. 9. “Stromness is being pleasantly invaded by troops of young folk.” Account of an evening spent with Jeremy Rundall, a journalist from London. Repr. LH 47–48. ¶ 20 July 1972, p. 4. Affectionate memories of an Orkney childhood – rather different from the experiences of the young today. Repr. LH 48–49. ¶ 27 July 1972, p. 4. “It’s such a gay, giddy, coloured wheel, Shopping Week [in Stromness], that when it’s all over . . . it’s difficult to separate the various incidents.” Repr. LH 49–50.

3 August 1972, p. 4. “Nobody seems to know anything nowadays about The Book of Black Arts: though in my young days all the old men could tell the story in different versions.” Repr. LH 50. ¶ 10 August 1972, p. 3. ¶ 17 August 1972, p. 4. A day of heavy rain at the annual Dounby cattle show. Repr. LH 50–51. ¶ 24 August 1972, p. 4. A visit to Rackwick. “The old magic of Rackwick is stronger than all its threnodies and desolations.” Repr. LH 51–53. ¶ 31 August 1972, p. 4. A day at the Lammas Fair in Kirkwall: “I never saw such a crowd in Kirkwall as last Wednesday afternoon.” Repr. LH 53–54.

7 September 1972, p. 4. Watching the Olympics on television. ¶ 14 September 1972, p. 3. A depressing town holiday; heavy traffic in Stromness. ¶ 21 September 1972, p. 4. For the past fortnight he has been exploring the roads of Orkney: Mainland, Burray, South Ronaldsay. Repr. LH 54. ¶ 28 September 1972, p. 4. The problems and pleasures of letter-writing. Repr. LH 54–55.

5 October 1972, p. 4. Affectionate memories of various pens he has used during his lifetime. Repr. LH 55–56. ¶ 12 October 1972, p. 4. The arrival of postcodes in Orkney. ¶ 19 October 1972, p. 4. Reflections on various Poets Laureate, including the only two who are known to have visited Orkney (Betjeman and Tennyson). Repr. LH 56–57. ¶ 26 October 1972, p. 4. “The Stromness Library has never been in better shape, or so well stocked, as it is today.” Repr. LH 57.

2 November 1972, p. 4. A parable about what we have lost in the modern world. Repr. LH 58. ¶ 9 November 1972, p. 4. Reflections on the observance, past and present, of Guy Fawkes Day in Stromness. Repr. LH 58–59. ¶ 16 November 1972, p. 4. A young American visitor is disillusioned to discover that GMB does not live in a croft and has modern conveniences (including a radio and an electric fire) in his modern council house. Repr. LH 59–61. ¶ 23 November 1972, p. 4. His morning routine. Repr. LH 61–62. ¶ 30 November 1972, p. 4. (Unsigned.) Description of a typical week at home. Repr. LH 62–63.

7 December 1972, p. 4. Memories of Christmas during childhood. “December for a child is a marvellous magical month. He exists then and then only among the stars and the storms and the snow, without hindsight or foresight.” Repr. LH 63. ¶ 14 December 1972, p. 4. Stromness sweetie shops that he frequented as a child. Repr. LH 64. ¶ 21 December 1972, p. 3. Various incarnations of the St. Ola ferry since the nineteenth century; suggests that the next one be renamed St. Olaf, of which St. Ola is merely a corruption. Repr. LH 64–65. ¶ 28 December 1972, p. 4. “Every year, once it’s gone, has its own flavour. 1972 leaves a pleasant taste in the mind, all things considered.”

GMB — Fishermen with Ploughs (1971)

Fishermen with Ploughs 2GMB. Fishermen with Ploughs: A Poem Cycle. London: Hogarth Press, 1971.

[xii] + 100 pages. 13.5 × 21.5 cm. Co-published by Clarke, Irwin & Co., Toronto. Dust-wrapper design by Stanley Hickson.

Dedicated to Ian and Jean MacInnes.

“Some of these poems have appeared in Scottish Poetry (Edinburgh University Press), Contemporary Scottish Verse (Calder and Boyars), An Orkney Tapestry (Gollancz), New Statesman, Atlantic Monthly, New Edinburgh Review, Transatlantic, English, Encounter, Scotsman, Scottish Field, Lines Review, Poetry Review, The Listener, Scottish International, Poor. Old. Tired. Horse.”

As GMB explains in his preface, the poems and prose monologues (the latter in Section VI) offer a narrative of the history of Rackwick, Hoy, from the arrival of Norwegian settlers in the ninth century to the collapse of the community in the twentieth century and finally into the mysterious future when the cycle begins again.

Contents: I. Dragon and Dove — Building the Ship — The Fight with the Dragon — The Death of Thorkeld — The Blind Helmsman (1) — The Blind Helmsman (2) — The Blind Helmsman (3) — The Net — Gudrun —Whales — II. Our Lady — Stations of the Cross — A Jar of Salt — The Statue in the Hills — Helmsman — III. Hall and Kirk — Witch — A Reel of Seven Fishermen — Taxman — Sheriff of Orknay — Shroud — Grave Stone — Buonaparte, the Laird, and the Volunteers — IV. Foldings — The Laird — Crofter’s Death — Then Four Angels . . . — Black Furrow, Gray Furrow — A Winter Bride — Peat Cutting — Homage to Heddle — New Year Stories — Ikey Crosses the Ward Hill . . . — Twins — Fiddlers at the Wedding — Ikey’s Day — A Warped Boat — A Jar of Honey — Foldings — Jock — Funeral — Ploughman and Whales — V. The Stone Hawk — Love Letter — Haddock Fishermen — The Laird’s Falcon — Sea Runes — The Scarecrow in the Schoolmaster’s Oats — A Child’s Calendar — Beachcomber — Windfall — Girl — Old Man — Roads — Butter — The Coward — Sabbath — Hill Runes — The Big Wind — The Drowning Brothers — Fisherman’s Bride — Dead Fires — VI. The Return of the Women — Landfall — Houses — Harvest.

Reviews: Stewart Conn, “An Orkney Prophecy,” Glasgow Herald (Saturday Extra), 10 July 1971, p. 2. — C.G., “The Wheel of Bread in Orkney,” Aberdeen Press and Journal (Weekend Review), 10 July 1971, p. 6. — B.W.M., “Rackwick to Eternity,” Orcadian, 15 July 1971, p. 5. — Maurice Wiggin, “Out of Orkney,” Sunday Times, 22 August 1971, p. 25. — Ian Hamilton, “The Bones in the Dyke,” Observer, 29 August 1971, p. 23. — Clive Wilmer, Spectator 227 (October 1971): 591 [Web]. — Anne Cluysenaar, Stand 13, no. 1 (1972): 75.

Copies: British Library [General Reference Collection X.989/10709]. — Library of Congress [PR6052.R59 F5 OVERFLOWA5S]. — Orkney Library, Stromness [Orkney Room 800 Y/BRO] (inscribed by GMB to Ian and Jean MacInnes).

“Under Brinkie’s Brae” (1976)

The following “Under Brinkie’s Brae” columns by George Mackay Brown were published in the Orcadian during 1976 and were signed with initials only. Most were reprinted in GMB’s Under Brinkie’s Brae (1979), cited here as UBB.


5 February 1976, p. 4. The tradition of the ba’ in Kirkwall. Repr. UBB 9. ¶ 12 February 1976, p. 4. “It seems that the most famous of Orkney foods is clapshot.” Repr. UBB 9–10. ¶ 19 February 1976, p. 4. Description of a trip on the ferry across the Pentland Firth. Repr. UBB 10–11. ¶ 26 February 1976, p. 4. Taking the train from Edinburgh to Thurso. Repr. UBB 11–12.

4 March 1976, p. 4. His visit to Edinburgh. Repr. UBB 12. ¶ 11 March 1976, p. 6. “I must have said somewhere before that two of the highlights of each day are when the postman delivers the mail, around about 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.” Repr. UBB 12–13. ¶ 18 March 1976, p. 4. “The poet who seems to me to be closest in spirit to Van Gogh is Gerard Manley Hopkins.” Repr. UBB 13–14. ¶ 25 March 1976, p. 4. “All month, with short interludes of peace, Orkney has been scourged by this south-east gale.” Repr. UBB 14–15.

1 April 1976, p. 4. Loss of the old vocabulary for pre-decimalized coins. Repr. UBB 15–16. ¶ 8 April 1976, p. 4. A visit to a Perthshire village evokes some thoughts about yew trees. Repr. UBB 16. ¶ 15 April 1976, p. 4. It’s now possible to watch three television channels. “It’s perhaps best not to ask if we might not have a penalty to pay for all the luxury, in terms of weakened speech and colder social relations.” Repr. UBB 16–17. ¶ 22 April 1976, p. 4. Ball-point pens are essential but unreliable. Repr. UBB 17–18. ¶ 29 April 1976, p. 4. A visit to the local public library, which is suffering from the consequences of austerity. Repr. UBB 18.

6 May 1976, p. 4. A couch in need of repairs. Repr. UBB 20. ¶ 13 May 1976, p. 4. The pleasures of the bench in Mayburn Court: “It has been a beautiful week, altogether.” Repr. UBB 20–21. ¶ 20 May 1976, p. 4. A hypothetical account of Stromness grown into a major seaport. Repr. UBB 21–22. ¶ 27 May 1976, p. 4. “There was a lot of football on the TV last week.” Repr. UBB 22.

3 June 1976, p. 6. An excursion with friends to Marwick Bay and Birsay on a beautiful day. Repr. UBB 22–23. ¶ 10 June 1976, p. 4. An afternoon on the bench near Stromness Museum, with an account of the people he spoke to there. Repr. UBB 24. ¶ 17 June 1976, p. 4. His brief visits to England (by crossing the bridge at Berwick) and Ireland. ¶ 24 June 1976, p. 4. Midsummer past and present in Orkney. Repr. UBB 24–25.

1 July 1976, p. 4. School holidays when he was a boy. Repr. UBB 26. ¶ 8 July 1976, p. 4. Hot weather and midges. Repr. UBB 26–27. ¶ 15 July 1976, p. 4. Visiting Rackwick. Repr. UBB 28. ¶ 22 July 1976, p. 6. Walking around Rackwick with a small boy. Repr. UBB 28–29. ¶ 29 July 1976, p. 4. The intense sounds of scraping the railings on Mayburn Court. Repr. UBB 29–30.

5 August 1976, p. 4. Various kinds of tourists in Stromness. Repr. UBB 30. ¶ 12 August 1976, p. 6. A Caithness friend has given him a large salmon. Repr. UBB 31. ¶ 19 August 1976, p. 4. A visit to St. Peter’s Church on South Ronaldsay, once presided over by the eccentric Rev. John Gerard. Repr. UBB 31–32.

2 September 1976, p. 4. “It has been a beautiful summer in the islands”; tents and caravans just south of Stromness. Repr. UBB 32–33. ¶ 9 September 1976, p. 4. The Muirs and other friends at Newbattle Abbey College. Repr. UBB 34. ¶ 16 September 1976, p. 4. He is again using his record player, which had been gathering dust for two years. Repr. UBB 34–35. ¶ 23 September 1976, p. 4. “. . . why, I wonder, do the fishermen of the north have an aversion to mackerel as an item of diet?” Repr. UBB 35–36. ¶ 30 September 1976, p. 4. The Scotsman has been sending him review copies of books of verse. Repr. UBB 36.

7 October 1976, p. 4. City dwellers are now coming back to Orkney. Repr. UBB 36–37. ¶ 14 October 1976, p. 4. We don’t respond appropriately to good news. Repr. UBB 37–38. ¶ 21 October 1976, p. 4. The futility of reading the Sunday newspapers. Repr. UBB 39. ¶ 28 October 1976, p. 4. A car breakdown in Sutherland on his way to Edinburgh. Repr. UBB 39–40.

4 November 1976, p. 4. Visiting exhibitions in Edinburgh. Repr. UBB 41. ¶ 11 November 1976, p. 4. The journey home. Repr. UBB 41–42. ¶ 18 November 1976, p. 4. His failure to climb Brinkie’s Brae in 1976 and his uneasiness about the Black Craig. Repr. UBB 42–43. ¶ 25 November 1976, p. 4. His apparently dead wristwatch has come back to life. Repr. UBB 43.

2 December 1976, p. 4. Driving around the island on a bleak winter day with a friend from Northumberland. Repr. UBB 45. ¶ 9 December 1976, p. 6. Writing is merely a trade that brings in income. Repr. UBB 45–46. ¶ 16 December 1976, p. 6. The arrival of snow in Stromness. Repr. UBB 46–47. ¶ 23 December 1976, p. 4. Christmas in the 1920s. Repr. UBB 47–48. ¶ 30 December 1976, p. 4. A look back at 1976, when he began to write poetry again. Repr. UBB 48.

GMB — Letter from Hamnavoe (1974)

The following “Letter from Hamnavoe” columns by George Mackay Brown were published in the Orcadian during 1974 and were signed with initials only (except for 30 May 1974, which was unsigned). Most were reprinted in GMB’s Letters from Hamnavoe (1979), cited here as LH.


10 January 1974, p. 3. New Year in Stromness when he was a child. ¶ 17 January 1974, p. 4. Reflections on a Daniell print of the Bishop’s Palace, Kirkwall. Repr. LH 97–99. ¶ 24 January 1974, p. 4. Burns never mentioned Orkney in his writings, but there are allusions to it in various other literary texts through the centuries. Repr. LH 99. ¶ 31 January 1974, p. 4. The history of the name of the St. Ola ferry.

14 February 1974, p. 4. Local political talk; a high tide. ¶ 21 February 1974, p. 4. Approves the decision to close down television (“old one-eye”) at 10:30 p.m.; the death of the poet Douglas Young. Repr. LH 100. ¶ 28 February 1974, p. 4. Memories of past election days in Stromness. Repr. LH 100–01.

7 March 1974, p. 4. Tribute to the career of Eric Linklater on his 75th birthday. Repr. LH 101. ¶ 14 March 1974, p. 4. The end of the miners’ strike leads to some thoughts about the history of mining in Stromness. Repr. LH 102. ¶ 21 March 1974, p. 4. “Today is the vernal equinox, one of the four magical times of the year. In the everlasting struggle between light and darkness both forces are locked together and motionless, on this day. From now on the darkness begins to give way.” Repr. LH 102–03. ¶ 28 March 1974, p. 4. Fine weather and the sighting of swans near Stromness. Repr. LH 104.

4 April 1974, p. 4. Even 300 years ago Orcadians were notorious for heavy drinking, but they are rarely interested in betting. Repr. LH 104–05. ¶ 11 April 1974, p. 4. He imagines what would happen if Shetland were to declare its independence. ¶ 18 April 1974, p. 4. The egg symbolism of Easter. Repr. LH 105–06. ¶ 25 April 1974, p. 4. The problem of getting rid of old books; the story of how Peter Maxwell Davies gave a copy of the Orkneying Saga to Jorge Luis Borges. Repr. LH 106.

2 May 1974, p. 4. Conversations at the Pier Head. ¶ 9 May 1974, p. 4. Short story about an old woman and her granddaughter on a May morning. ¶ 16 May 1974, p. 4. Memories of going to the cinema in Stromness when he was young. Repr. LH 106–07. ¶ 23 May 1974, p. 4. Review of G. S. Robertson, A History of the Stromness Golf Courses. Repr. LH 107–08. ¶ 30 May 1974, p. 4. Unsigned. In 1842 “there were over 40 places in Stromness where drink could be bought. But most of these premises would not have been ‘pubs’ as we understand them. They would have been ‘ale houses’, where you drank the ale that was brewed on the premises.” Repr. LH 108.

6 June 1974, p. 4. The death of James MacTaggart; recalls the time when MacTaggart filmed a television drama based on three stories by GMB, the first of which was set in Rackwick. Repr. LH 110. ¶ 13 June 1974, p. 4. Gloomy thoughts about Dounreay, the nuclear reactor visible across the Pentland Firth. Repr. LH 111. ¶ 20 June 1974, p. 4. The pleasures of riding in a friend’s car around the island. ¶ 27 June 1974, p. 4. Imaginary letter written 150 years ago about the Orkney hilltop bonfires on midsummer’s eve (Johnsmas). Repr. LH 111–12.

4 July 1974, p. 4. Visiting an exhibition at the Stromness Museum. ¶ 11 July 1974, p. 4. Reflections prompted by John Firth’s Reminiscences of an Orkney Parish (reissued by the Stromness Museum). Repr. LH 112–13. ¶ 18 July 1974, p. 4. An account of the life of Phin, who was (mistakenly) thought to be the founder of Finstown. Repr. LH 114. ¶ 25 July 1974, p. 4. Story about a Stromness man who retreats to another island in order to escape the crowds of Shopping Week.

1 August 1974, p. 4. A day on a boat with friends in Burra Sound. Repr. LH 114–15. ¶ 8 August 1974, p. 4. A visit to the Dounby Show (of farm animals). Repr. LH 115–16. ¶ 15 August 1974, p. 3. The problems of reading the Sunday newspapers. ¶ 22 August 1974, p. 4. Praise for the week-long Orkney Orchestral Summer School in Stromness. Repr. LH 116–17. ¶ 29 August 1974, p. 4. Summer visitors in Stromness.

5 September 1974, p. 4. The pleasures of looking at an old map he has just bought, “A Map of Orkney Shire, drawn from the best Authorities by T. Kitchin.” Repr. LH 117. ¶ 12 September 1974, p. 4. Unsightly military relics throughout Orkney. ¶ 19 September 1974, p. 4. An imaginary account of a school day forty years ago. Repr. LH 117–20. ¶ 26 September 1974, p. 4. The autumnal equinox. “If only we could read the great stone book of Brodgar! It was undoubtedly erected with some reference to, and reverence for, the waxing and waning of the fruitful year.” Repr. LH 119–20.

3 October 1974, p. 6. “Another election! – the second within a year – what a bore!” ¶ 10 October 1974, p. 4. “They were discussing the election at the Pier Head . . . one afternoon recently.” ¶ 17 October 1974, p. 4. Listening to a radio program about plants and farming. ¶ 24 October 1974, p. 4. The death of John Shearer, former Director of Education and once a science master at Stromness Academy. Repr. LH 120–21. ¶ 31 October 1974, p. 4. Listening to awful news on radio and television; reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

7 November 1974, p. 4. The telephone box in front of the Stromness Museum. Repr. LH 121–22. ¶ 14 November 1974, p. 4. His cooking and eating habits. Repr. LH 122–23. ¶ 21 November 1974, p. 4. A new St. Ola ferry has arrived. Repr. LH 123–24. ¶ 28 November 1974, p. 6. Possible origins of the name of the hill behind Stromness, Brinkie’s Brae. Repr. LH 124–25.

5 December 1974, p. 4. Fictional narrative about an Orkney boy’s misunderstanding of the Ice Age. Repr. LH 126. ¶ 12 December 1974, p. 6. Electrical problems in his kitchen; the acquisitiveness of modern society. ¶ 19 December 1974, p. 4. How a boy named Josie might have experienced Christmas at the beginning of the twentieth century. ¶ 26 December 1974, p. 3. Memories of the past year.