Thursday, 25 August 2016

The last boat


They saw it coming. They asked for it to come.

A steaming boat arrived and disgorged not essential supplies or post from the mainland, but well-heeled men and women in fur coats, top hats and shiny leather shoes unsuitable for the rocks and cobbles of the mean streets between the crofts.

A camera whirred and old men and women chatted amiably at the doors of their turf-roofed hovels, the children long since gone. Some of the women gave demonstrations of yarn-spinning, on wheels which would be left behind as worthless. The yarns spun by the men in the pubs of Oban and Glasgow would be worth more in the long run.

Then they all got on board and the gulls and kittywakes followed them for a while, unaware that their nests would never more be raided for meat and eggs by men improbably suspended from ropes, secured by wooden stakes stuck into the thin skin of mean earth.

A new life for an old life, but only for those who had all but lived theirs out on St Kilda.


26 comments:

  1. From the edge of the world they went.

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    1. Yes, that was my least favourite Powell and Pressburger. The good thing about the DVD is it has the original footage of the evacuation in the extras, as described here.

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  2. Isaw once on youtub a visit back of some of than children,was sad and tuching.

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    1. That must be a sad and melancholy thing to do. There is a village on a plain near here called Imber. It was bought by the British Army around the war time, for use as target practice for tanks, and the residents were forced to evacuate it.They shell it, then badly re-build it, then they shell it again. Once a year, the place is opened to the public, inclusding the surviving residents.

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  3. I just googled St Kilda and it was fascinating reading. Your post reminded me of a book I read recently called The Blackhouse by Peter May.

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  4. Is the island still empty? I seem to remember it as some pre-historic community overlooking a beautiful bay. Nice when the sun shone, but hell on the other 364 days of the year.

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    1. It must have been a vary hard life. The government decided it would no longer subsidise the islanders, who would have slowly starved to death.

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    2. Back to Wikipedia, the island was inhabited for two thousand years. There were sheep, cows, potatoes, grains, wildlife, and a limited population. Legend or fact says the inhabitants knew nothing of British government. When civilization found them, the government subsidized them. I guess I missed a chapter near the end.

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    3. That much I took for granted without Wikipedia. It has been the same in our household for almost as long.

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  5. They resettled in Hoxton where they are known as hipsters

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    1. Well the beards are back in fashion, but those men did not have razors or much hot water.

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  6. There is a great set of photos of St. Kilda on Wikipaedia.

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  7. Sorry….Wikipedia …. I was trying to be too clever with my spelling!

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    1. I always have to correct myself too. Think American.

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    2. You can always learn from me about spelling Frances,i don't care as long as at least one reader understand me...

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    3. That has been my philosophy too.. Sometimes I don't care if even one doesn't.

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  8. Somewhat different area and reasons, I saw the news of one village in Italy devastated by the latest earthquake and from where around 100 people will not be ever going home as rebuilding on the hillside would be not an option.

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    1. I think rebuilding is an option. They interviewed an architect who has already done it in another picturesque place in Italy. Pompeii was buried in ash.

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  9. I've just noticed, in the photo, that many are bare footed. Times woz 'ard.

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  10. I always wonder with these cases of mass exodus - how many wanted to leave and how many were really forced into it by circumstances.

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    1. A bit of each with St Kilda, I think.

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  11. I remember seeing something on TV about this some time ago and wondering about the isolation and yet closeness the people must have experienced living there.

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