1 EAGLETON NOTES: November 2016



Saturday 26 November 2016

Are You Happy?

Image result for happy faceIt's been a very busy time since I arrived back from Glasgow: enjoyable and productive and busy.

I had a lot of things to do in town this morning including breakfast at The Woodlands - well it was really a mid morning top-up.  

After that I made a number of calls dropping things off at charity (goodwill/op shop) shops as well as the usual shopping forays.

As I got out of the car outside the Red Cross shop two very attractively personable young ladies accosted me (not a common situation for me I have to admit) and asked if I was happy.  My immediate reaction was that they looked like female versions of the very well-groomed and personable young men who roam the streets proselytising for the Mormons (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  Whether they were or not I do not know. However they were wearing badges that declared that they were missionaries. I have to say that the idea of missionaries on Lewis which is the last bastion of staunch Christianity in the UK rather amused me.

What was unusual was that they walked right up to me and greeted me very forthrightly asking if I was happy. 

It did occur to me afterwards that if I as an old(ish) man had walked up to two young girls and greeted them in the same way I'd probably have been arrested at best or carted off in a straightjacket. 

I responded that I was, indeed, very happy: just like the rainbow smiley face above. After all I'd woken up this morning and that, in itself, was cause for my happiness regardless of all the other good things happening in my day. Indeed, I told them in response to their further questioning as to why I was happy, that I am invariably happy because that is my general nature (these days!). Of course they then introduced their chosen subject. 

I'm assuming that they were fairly new to the vocation because they seemed rather at a loss when I said that I was not just a happy person but a happy atheist.

And there, having exhorted me to 'have a nice day' and I having responded likewise we parted company.

I wonder if what they saw was
Image result for happy face

Tuesday 15 November 2016

If You Lived on Lewis in the '70s

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!

Sunday 13 November 2016

New Zealand Shakes

My blood ran cold. Less than an hour ago New Zealand started being shaken by a series of earthquakes from Hamner Springs in South Island through the capital, Wellington, at the southern tip of North Island and up through the North Island. The 'quakes are continuing unabated as I write.

There is now a tsunami warning:

I can only begin to imagine how everyone is feeling and I hope that everyone stays safe. My thoughts are with you all.

It's the middle of the night in New Zealand too which always makes things seem worse.

Sunday 6 November 2016

Spending Time on the Loo

For my readers in the USA the title is "Spending Time in the Washroom" and for Canada substitute "Restroom".

When I was about 9 I was given The Schoolboy’s Pocket Book. It was a truly wonderful treasure trove of information including The Universe, Solar System, The World, Language, Tables and Formulæ (sic), Hobbies, Pastimes and Sports.

I used to shut myself in the bathroom with it and learn as much as I could. Unfortunately I was born with a very poor memory and getting things to stick in my brain was not, and still is not, easy. So I would write things out and pin them in places where I could see them and recite them which is why, over 60 years later, I can still recite the Greek alphabet. My brother reminded me a few weeks ago that as a result of me reciting it, he too (who had my share of memory as well as his own) can still recite it. I have to say that it has proved invaluable when doing crosswords.

Looking at some of the book's pages today gave food for thought and some interesting information.

Some is presumably relevant today:

Some probably not!

And  some might look quite bizarre by today's standards. I wonder if any of these records remain today.

Years later I came across Frank Bunker Gilbreth the father of work study and O&M (Organisation and Methods) having read the book by two of his 12 children, Frank and Ernestine, entitled Cheaper By The Dozen. One of his tricks was to put things he wanted the children to learn on the back of the toilet door.

So I have always used my time in the loo to good effect.

Nowadays if you play WWF (Words With Friends - a derivation of Scrabble) with me then there is a likelihood that my turn was taken in the bathroom.

I thought you’d like to know that.

Friday 4 November 2016


Outside the Oxfam Shop in Heswall (and doubtless in many other places) there is a sandwich board which carries various messages with the aim of getting readers to part with their belongings to Oxfam.

It seemed to me a very strange message. ‘Free yourself of stuff’ is a wonderful, liberating, concept and one people of my age in particular both aspire to and do. However it does rather conflict with Oxfam’s desire to offload that same stuff onto someone else!

Wednesday 2 November 2016

More Labelling

It's good to know that water is suitable for vegetarians.