GMB — What the Pier Head Is Saying (1969)

The following “What the Pier Head Is Saying” columns by George Mackay Brown were published in the Orcadian during 1969, signed with his initials only.


16 January 1969, p. 3. “They speak sometimes about colour television at the Pier Head, and they wonder if it will come to Orkney in their time.” ¶ 23 January 1969, p. 4. “Robbie Burns’ Day on Saturday . . . is one date in the calendar that the Pier Head never forgets.” ¶ 30 January 1969, p. 4. “Solemnly at the Pier Head they debate the pros and cons of one-way traffic in Stromness.”

6 February 1969, p. 3. “Snow has a queer effect on the Pier Head folk.” ¶ 13 February 1969, p. 3. A “magnificent blizzard” – followed by complaints from “the Pier Head folk.” ¶ 20 February 1969, p. 4. Daydreams about summer holidays. ¶ 27 February 1969, p. 2. “So we are, in all likelihood, to have a new Warehouse Pier in Stromness. The Pier Head folk are quietly pleased about that.”

6 March 1969, p. 4. The pleasures of the Eventide club room “on a cold wet winter afternoon.” ¶ 13 March 1969, p. 4. “A variety of topics at the Pier Head last week,” including a final blizzard of the winter. ¶ 20 March 1969, p. 4. “Sometimes, especially in such terrible weather as last week, they speak at the Pier Head about summer and the tourists, to keep their hearts up.” ¶ 27 March 1969, p. 4. The good and bad of television.

3 April 1969, p. 4. “The West Shore is still, at week-ends, the favourite walking-place for Stromnessians.” ¶ 10 April 1969, p. 4. Affectionate memories of the Stromness cinema. ¶ 17 April 1969, p. 4. The Stromness Museum. ¶ 24 April 1969, p. 4. A visit to Edinburgh, where he encounters many Orkney students.

1 May 1969, p. 4. Beards have returned in the Edinburgh taverns. ¶ 8 May 1969, p. 4. Thoughts of spring in Edinburgh and Orkney. ¶ 22 May 1969, p. 2. “. . . women have been known to join in a discussion [at the Pier Head], but in the end they are gently frozen out, as they inhibit complete freedom of expression – the whole spectrum of the language cannot be used.” ¶ 29 May 1969, p. 4. Alexander Graham’s fountain at the Pier Head.

5 June 1969, p. 4. Watching “Tomorrow’s World,” a television program about the technological marvels of the future. ¶ 12 June 1969, p. 4. “The gaming machines have come to Orkney, all except Stromness.” ¶ 19 June 1969, p. 4. “They sat all last week bewildered with heat at the Pier Head.” ¶ 26 June 1969, p. 4. “The imminent death of the half-penny is causing some concern at the Pier Head.”

3 July 1969, p. 4. The old women who were the first doctors of Stromness. ¶ 10 July 1969, p. 3. “It seems like only yesterday since the first Shopping Week was opened, on a fine Monday morning in July 1949, by Provost G. S. Robertson at the Pier Head.” ¶ 17 July 1969, p. 4. A quiet Sunday morning. ¶ 24 July 1969, p. 4. An afternoon squall and an amazing cloud.

7 August 1969, p. 4. “Was there ever such a Shopping Week as the one just past?” ¶ 14 August 1969, p. 4. The Dounby Show. ¶ 21 August 1969, p. 4. Walking to Warbeth. ¶ 28 August 1969, p. 4. Many children now actually enjoy school.

4 September 1969, p. 4. Many of the Pier Head regulars are at home watching television. ¶ 11 September 1969, p. 4. Various minor religious groups in Stromness. ¶ 18 September 1969, p. 4. “Probably the greatest single event in Stromness this year is the Swimming Pool.”

2 October 1979, p. 4. “After being in the doldrums for years, the Pier Head is glad to note a great resurgence of interest in football, on the part of young folk.” ¶ 9 October 1974, p. 4. The pleasures of making beer at home. ¶ 16 October 1969, p. 4. “A great silence has descended on the town: the hush before winter.” ¶ 23 October 1969, p. 4. “Naturally the Pier Head was delighted with the Highlands and Islands Development Board decision to keep Stromness as the Orkney terminal of the Pentland Firth ferry.” ¶ 30 October 1969, p. 7. “In that longish spell of mild weather through October – ‘the peedie summer’ – creation turned back a little from the cold of winter.”

20 November 1969, p. 4. “Last week in the Youth Centre the Heritage Society gave a show of local slides, with commentaries by Ernest W. Marwick, E. Balfour and Ian MacInnes. It was intended to show the precious things – nature, streets, houses – that history has bequeathed to us, and that are perhaps in danger of being sacrificed to notions of progress and planning.” ¶ 27 November 1969, p. 4. “With St Andrew’s Day looming up . . . the Scottish Nationalists at the Pier Head are working up a fine head of steam.”

4 December 1969, p. 4. “Twopence on a pint of beer – that was the shock news that hit the Pier Head last week-end.” ¶ 11 December 1969, p. 4. “. . . it is very important . . . that that there should be a central pool, such as the Heritage Society or the Museum, for gathering and preserving these [old] photographs.” ¶ 18 December 1969, p. 4. “They are standing at the Pier Head these nights . . . dyed with multicoloured lights. It is of course the Christmas tree in the Town House garden and the festive web strung athwart the Fountain, that is scattering such richness.” ¶ 25 December 1969, p. 4. Christmas, which was once seen primarily as an English festival, is now vigorously celebrated in Orkney.

“Under Brinkie’s Brae” (1983)

The following “Under Brinkie’s Brae” columns by George Mackay Brown were published in the Orcadian during 1983 and were signed with initials only. Most were reprinted in GMB’s Rockpools and Daffodils (1992), cited here as RD.


6 January 1983, p. 3. “What should we wish for most, in a new year?” Repr. RD 83–84. ¶ 13 January 1983, p. 4. The experience of writing an article about Stromness. ¶ 20 January 1983, p. 4. “January . . . is probably the most ferocious month of the year, a growling polar bear”; recollections of a distant summer day. Repr. RD 84. ¶ 27 January 1983, p. 4. Breakfast television; breakfast and going to school a half century ago. Repr. RD 85.

3 February 1983, p. 4. Why he didn’t go out to see The Spy in Black at the Academy Hall. ¶ 10 February 1983, p. 4. Staying at home on a stormy winter afternoon. ¶ 17 February 1983, p. 4. “A strangely-patterned winter, this, for weather.” Repr. RD 85–86. ¶ 24 February 1983, p. 4. Some thoughts on flowers – about which he claims he knows nothing.

3 March 1983, p. 4. What he does on Thursdays: writing letters and his “Under Brinkie’s Brae” column. ¶ 10 March 1983, p. 4. The seasons don’t really correspond with arbitrary dates on the calendar. ¶ 17 March 1983, p. 4. Grumbling; “gratitude is not in fashion these days.” Repr. RD 86–87. ¶ 24 March 1983, p. 6. He acquired his first refrigerator two years ago, but now it is no longer functioning. ¶ 31 March 1983, p. 4. A cold, stormy spring; thoughts about the death of St. Magnus.

14 April 1983, p. 4. Some eminent ministers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Orkney, including Rev. William Clouston and Rev. James Wallace. Repr. RD 87–88. ¶ 21 April 1983, p. 4. Celebrated American writers whose ancestors came from Orkney, including Robert Frost, Robert Lowell, and Washington Irving. ¶ 28 April 1983, p. 6. “I get ever more enjoyment out of occasional perusings of Gregor Lamb’s ‘Orkney Surnames.’”

5 May 1983, p. 4. Claims made on television and in magazines that certain foods are bad for you. Repr. RD 88. ¶ 12 May 1983, p. 4. “. . . recently, it seems for the first time, I’ve become conscious of the stink and the blue-gray fumes that motor cars give off.” ¶ 19 May 1983, p. 4. Watching football on television. Repr. RD 89. ¶ 26 May 1983, p. 6. Remembering how exciting local political campaigns once were.

2 June 1983, p. 6. What it was like a century ago when whales were spotted near Stromness. Repr. RD 89–90. ¶ 9 June 1983, p. 6. A fictional account of how peat fires were discovered in prehistoric times. Repr. RD 90–91. ¶ 16 June 1983, p. 4. A dead gull. Repr. RD 91–92. ¶ 23 June 1983, p. 6. The unpredictability of Orkney weather. ¶ 30 June 1983, p. 4. The occasional loss of a column in the clutter of his house.

7 July 1983, p. 4. A persistent fog. ¶ 14 July 1983, p. 4. A description of how Gypsy the cat arrived at Mayburn Court. ¶ 21 July 1983, p. 4. “A lovely late afternoon in July, at the Birsay shore”; speculations about a dead gull. Repr. RD 92–93. ¶ 28 July 1983, p. 6. Putting out the trash on Monday morning. Repr. RD 93.

4 August 1983, p. 4. “Will they write this summer down as one of the best on record?” ¶ 18 August 1983, p. 4. Watching a performance at the Arts Theatre in Kirkwall by a group of singers and dancers from the Philippines. Repr. RD 93–94. ¶ 25 August 1983, p. 6. A drive to Merkister and Warbeth beach.

1 September 1983, p. 4. Taking the ferry to Hoy. ¶ 8 September 1983, p. 4. J. J. Furer, a visitor from Switzerland, who worries about the death of languages. ¶ 15 September 1983, p. 4. Visits from Michael Krauskopf, a lecturer in German at St. Andrews University. ¶ 22 September 1983, p. 4. A strange coincidence: he and a friend have just read the same short story by Robert Louis Stevenson. Repr. RD 94–95. ¶ 29 September 1983, p. 4. Braal, in Strathy, where his mother came from. Repr. RD 95–96.

6 October 1983, p. 4. A performance by Paul Greenwood and Claire Neilson at the Pier Arts Centre, followed by their visit to Rackwick. ¶ 13 October 1983, p. 4. Comments on a memoir of Kirsty Watt, “a fisher-lass from the village of Broadsea near Fraserburgh.” Repr. RD 96–97. ¶ 20 October 1983, p. 4. The major literary prizes are meaningless. Repr. RD 97. ¶ 27 October 1983, p. 4. Changes in eating and sleeping habits.

3 November 1983, p. 4. Changeable weather does not really constitute “an awful day.” ¶ 10 November 1983, p. 4. A visit from Gypsy the cat. Repr. RD 98. ¶ 17 November 1983, p. 4. Memories of the daily newspapers of the past. Repr. RD 98–99. ¶ 24 November 1983, p. 4. The legend that Annie Caird, thought to be an Orkney witch, caused the tidal wave of 1755. Repr. RD 99–100.

1 December 1983, p. 4. Reading a book about the Crusades. Repr. RD 100–01. ¶ 8 December 1983, p. 4. Various activities before Christmas. Repr. RD 101–02. ¶ 15 December 1983, p. 4. The problems of writing a short story. Repr. RD 102. ¶ 22 December 1983, p. 4. Sending out Christmas cards. Repr. RD 102–03.

“Under Brinkie’s Brae” (1986)

The following “Under Brinkie’s Brae” columns by George Mackay Brown were published in the Orcadian during 1986 and were signed with initials only. Most were reprinted in GMB’s Rockpools and Daffodils (1992), cited here as RD.


2 January 1986, p. 3. A television program about a traveling puppeteer evokes memories of “the Punch and Judy shows which regularly visited Orkney more than half a century ago.” ¶ 9 January 1986, p. 4. Suggested place names for Stromness. ¶ 16 January 1986, p. 4. Winter visitors to Orkney. Repr. RD 139–40. ¶ 23 January 1986, p. 4. Burns probably had no ancestors in Orkney. ¶ 30 January 1986, p. 4. Snow now and as remembered from childhood. Repr. RD 140–41.

6 February 1986, p. 4. The pleasures of writing about the weather in his weekly column. ¶ 13 February 1986, p. 4. “That otherwise delightful cat Gypsy, who has been staying with me for a week, has been driving me crazy with demands for food.” Repr. RD 141–42. ¶ 20 February 1986, p. 4. Defrosting his refrigerator. ¶ 27 February 1986, p. 4. “How lovely, after the storms and darkness, to be able to walk on a fine winter afternoon round Ness and back along the road that bisects the golf course.”

6 March 1986, p. 4. The recent temporary loss of electricity in Orkney. ¶ 13 March 1986, p. 4. The history of tea-drinking in Orkney. ¶ 20 March 1986, p. 6. The spring equinox, which was once associated with house-cleaning. ¶ 27 March 1986, p. 4. Watching a television program by Jonathan Miller about the origins of the universe.

3 April 1986, p. 6. “It was General Winter, they say, that defeated Napoleon in 1812”; winter’s assaults on Orkney. ¶ 10 April 1986, p. 4. Connecting the Orkney myth of the Stoor-worm with modern nuclear dangers. Repr. RD 143. ¶ 17 April 1986, p. 4. A medieval Highland poem about St. Magnus. ¶ 24 April 1986, p. 6. Daffodils and snowflakes.

1 May 1986, p. 6. How the first of May was celebrated on Orkney in earlier centuries. ¶ 8 May 1986, p. 6. Remembering the old Orkney story of an infant rescued by his mother from an eagle. Repr. RD 143–44. ¶ 15 May 1986, p. 4. Our abuse of nature; dangerous nuclear plants. Repr. RD 144–45. ¶ 22 May 1986, p. 4. About Edwin Muir, who wandered endlessly but “all through his life he kept his Orkney accent.”

5 June 1986, p. 4. The dramatic changes of May. Repr. RD 145–46. ¶ 12 June 1986, p. 6. Watching World Cup football on television. Repr. RD 146–47. ¶ 19 June 1986, p. 6. A television program about Stonehenge leads to some reflections on Skara Brae. ¶ 26 June 1986, p. 6. Reading in bed.

3 July 1986, p. 6. The pleasures of Johnsmas Day; the St. Magnus Festival. Repr. RD 147–48. ¶ 10 July 1986, p. 4. Bird-watching. ¶ 17 July 1986, p. 6. Fickle summer weather. ¶ 24 July 1986, p. 4. The “end of a week-long holiday in Rackwick, Hoy.” Repr. RD 148. ¶ 31 July 1986, p. 6. Memories of an earlier visit to Rackwick. Repr. RD 149.

7 August 1986, p. 6. A day of enforced idleness when he accidentally locks himself out of his home. ¶ 14 August 1986, p. 6. His friend Brian Murray has cleared out a patch of weeds near Mayburn Court. Repr. RD 149–50. ¶ 21 August 1986, p. 4. A rainy day at the Dounby Show. ¶ 28 August 1986, p. 4. A drive toward Yesnaby with his friend Michael Krauskopf. Repr. RD 150–51.

4 September 1986, p. 6. Memories of the beginning of the war in 1939. ¶ 11 September 1986, p. 4. Short story about Sweyn Asleifson, the Viking on the island of Gairsay. Repr. RD 151–52. ¶ 18 September 1986, p. 4. Remembering what it was like to go back to school at the age of twelve. Repr. RD 152–53. ¶ 25 September 1986, p. 4. The variety of weather in Orkney.

2 October 1986, p. 6. A visit from Gypsy the cat; the problems of feeding her. ¶ 9 October 1986, p. 4. The loss of older place-names on Orkney. Repr. RD 153. ¶ 16 October 1986, p. 4. “On the very verge of being an old-age pensioner, I took shelter from a driving smirr of rain on Monday forenoon in the Eventide Club at the Pier-head.” Repr. RD 154. ¶ 23 October 1986, p. 6. Apples and nuts at Hallowe’en during his childhood. ¶ 30 October 1986, p. 4. Making soup; the first signs of winter.

6 November 1986, p. 4. A fierce thunderstorm; writing letters. ¶ 13 November 1986, p. 6. Flying south. Repr. RD 154–55. ¶ 20 November 1986, p. 6. Revisiting Edinburgh. Repr. RD 155–56. ¶ 27 November 1986, p. 6. “I sometimes wonder, what did they drink in Orkney for breakfast before tea came from China, two centuries ago and more?”

4 December 1986, p. 6. Early preparations for Christmas at school and home in earlier generations. ¶ 11 December 1986, p. 6. A fierce storm. ¶ 18 December 1986, p. 6. A story about the revival of Hogmanay during the Cromwellian period. Repr. RD 156. ¶ 25 December 1986, p. 4. Christmas as it was celebrated in the past.

“Under Brinkie’s Brae” (1991)

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; the last column of the year was reprinted in The First Wash of Spring (2006) [FWS].


3 January 1991, p. 15. A fictionalized account of John Gow’s arrival in Stromness in 1726. ¶ 10 January 1991, p. 10. What happened to him during the past year – including his stay in the Foresterhill hospital in Aberdeen. ¶ 17 January 1991, p. 10. A record of his activities on a recent pleasant day. ¶ 24 January 1991, p. 12. How Burns’s birthday was celebrated in the 1930s. ¶ 31 January 1991, p. 12. “. . . every day of the week, when we were children, had its own unique flavour.” Repr. RD 250–51.

7 February 1991, p. 12. The “south end” of Stromness is much quieter now than it used to be. ¶ 14 February 1991, p. 12. Description of working-class house interiors a century ago. Repr. RD 251–52. ¶ 21 February 1991, p. 12. A day-by-day record of his activities during the past week. ¶ 28 February 1991, p. 12. Remembering the first tea-time by daylight in late February two generations ago.

7 March 1991, p. 14. Speculation about what life must be like in the other Stromness (in South Georgia). Repr. RD 252–53. ¶ 14 March 1991, p. 12. Remembering various General Elections in Stromness in the past. ¶ 21 March 1991, p. 12. The vernal equinox; March fogs. ¶ 28 March 1991, p. 12. Lying in bed listening to the radio on a gloomy day.

4 April 1991, p. 12. Memories of collecting pace eggs on Easter Eve. ¶ 11 April 1991, p. 12. April Fool’s Day when he was a child. ¶ 18 April 1991, p. 10. Enjoying a heavy rainstorm. ¶ 25 April 1991, p. 12. Earl Hakon was “an accomplished ruler, and a good man according to the ‘mores’ of the age.” Repr. RD 253–54.

2 May 1991, p. 12. His kitchen table as a writing desk. Repr. RD 254–55. ¶ 9 May 1991, p. 12. “The chief difference about life in Orkney now and sixty years ago is that noise has intensified and deepened.” Repr. RD 255–56. ¶ 16 May 1991, p. 12. The pleasures of May. ¶ 23 May 1991, p. 12. Thoughts about ball point pens. ¶ 30 May 1991, p. 12. The closing of the Stromness pubs in the 1920s: one man’s sad experience. Repr. RD 256–57.

6 June 1991, p. 12. Sea-haar (fog), particularly during the “astonishing summer of 1947.” Repr. RD 257–58. ¶ 13 June 1991, p. 12. Dressing up for an event at the Pier Arts Centre; the public benches in Stromness. ¶ 20 June 1991, p. 14. If you’ve written a poem or novel, put it away in a drawer and come back to it later. Repr. RD 259–60. ¶ 27 June 1991, p. 14. The pleasures of midsummer; a visit from Hugo Brunner.

4 July 1991, p. 12. Reflections on midsummer. Repr. RD 260–61. ¶ 11 July 1991, p. 14. What it was like to be released from school for the summer when he was a child. Repr. RD 261–62. ¶ 18 July 1991, p. 12. The arrival of summer. Repr. RD 262–63. ¶ 25 July 1991, p. 12. “Gavin Muir, the only son of Edwin and Willa Muir, died a few weeks ago in Edinburgh.” Repr. RD 263–64.

1 August 1991, p. 12. Some reflections (partly imaginary) on the early history of Stromness. Repr. RD 264–65. ¶ 8 August 1991, p. 12. “Some days everything you do seems to go wrong.” Repr. RD 265–66. ¶ 15 August 1991, p. 12. Trade names that have disappeared. ¶ 22 August 1991, p. 10. The miseries of a cold. Repr. RD 266–67.

5 September 1991, p. 14. Tourists in Stromness past and present; our dependency on modern electrical gadgets. ¶ 19 September 1991, p. 14. The Stromness Lammas Market when he was a child. ¶ 26 September 1991, p. 12. How he is keeping himself amused in the Foresterhill hospital: reading, writing, correspondence, afternoon car rides in the countryside. Repr. RD 267.

3 October 1991, p. 14. Life in the hospital. ¶ 10 October 1991, p. 12. Thoughts about the approach of winter. ¶ 17 October 1991, p. 12. Severe thunderstorms in Orkney past and present. Repr. RD 268. ¶ 24 October 1991, p. 12. His seventieth birthday evokes memories of earlier birthdays. Repr. RD 269. ¶ 31 October 1991, p. 12. When a little loch next to Stromness became a part of the sea many centuries ago.

7 November 1991, p. 14. The traditional Orkney dish called clapshot. ¶ 14 November 1991, p. 14. May Burn, the stream that runs close to his home, overflows during a heavy rainstorm. Repr. RD 270. ¶ 21 November 1991, p. 12. Various games that have been played in Orkney homes on winter nights. ¶ 28 November 1991, p. 14. There has been no peedie summer (i.e. Indian summer) this year; but it’s a pleasure to turn to books again.

5 December 1991, p. 16. Difficulties in sleeping; threats from the natural world. Repr. RD 271. ¶ 12 December 1991, p. 16. The pens he used in school. Repr. RD 272. ¶ 19 December 1991, p. 12. What to do with all the Christmas cards flowing in? ¶ 26 December 1991, p. 10. “I think there ought to be an Orkney variant of the marvellous Scrooge story. How about this?” Repr. FWS 11–12.

“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.