Tuesday, 15 November 2016
then you had to remember that everyone knew you and your business. As a friend said when we arrived in the '70s "People here know that you have passed wind before you have eaten the beans." Incomers were relatively unusual. It was a very small world.
How things have changed. Now many people don't even know their neighbours because there is a chance that their neighbour has little or no island connection or history.
When I came to the Island the furniture removal van arrived in Stornoway several months later on a Communion Thursday (and that's another story). On the Friday morning they went into Roddy Smiths (a newsagent and more in Stornoway) and asked where 22a Coll was and were astonished when the people immediately knew for whom they were looking.
One day in the early '90s I had to go to London with a female senior colleague who, at the time, had an aversion to both London and hotels. I thought that I would solve the problem by suggesting that we stayed at a London Club of which I had reciprocal membership. The Club had a 'Ladies Wing' which gave ladies privacy and 'security'. I rang the Club to arrange the accommodation. I gave my name and as I was giving my address as 22a Coll the receptionist said "on the Isle of Lewis?". Having confirmed that it was indeed that Coll the receptionist then continued to tell me that she was from Barvas on the Island.
I realised (as if I hadn't realised before) just how small the world was if you came from a Hebridean island. I was rather pleased that I'd not been having an affair and had tried to book a double room!