1 EAGLETON NOTES: March 2019



Tuesday 26 March 2019

The Braighe

I've spoken on a number of occasions of the peninsula on which I live being separated from the rest of Lewis and the town of Stornoway by an isthmus called The Braighe including my post here.

It is sometimes closed when there is a high tide and a southerly gale or storm force winds. On Saturday it was closed for a lot longer than usual at high tide because a lot of stones and seaweed came over the seawall with the waves and it took diggers, lorries and then a road sweeping vehicle to clear it before we could get across.

A video taken from a Coastguard vehicle before the waves got really bad was published by The Scotsman newspaper:

If the link doesn't work it may be easier to cut and paste the following into your browser:


Wednesday 20 March 2019


Did you know that today is The International Day of Happiness? Apparently the day is celebrated worldwide every March 20, and was conceptualized and founded by philanthropist, activist, statesman, and prominent United Nations special advisor Jayme Illien to inspire, mobilize, and advance the global happiness movement.

I'll be quite honest. I had not heard of the movement until Happiness Day was mentioned on the radio this morning.

I saw the television lunchtime news and there was no mention and not a single piece of happiness there.

Today is also the Vernol Equinox and therefore, in the Northern Hemisphere, Spring officially begins. Unfortunately these days few people worship Zephryus who is (or perhaps was) the god of the gentle west wind and the herald of spring. Consequently he is sulking. Zeus The King of the Gods and the ruler of the heavens was the god of clouds, rain, thunder and lightning and he still seems to be in charge here at the moment.

Anyway ignoring the abysmal weather, let us return to the subject of happiness. How does one determine whether the day has been a happiness success? Internationally the news is, as usual, not dominated by stories of happy events. At home as I type this a newsflash has just arrived on my phone saying that a short extension to Brexit is possible if MPs approve the Prime Minister's Brexit Deal next week. The effect of that would be that the deal will be approved or Britain will crash out of the EU without a deal. Unless, that is, something very spectacular happens. In any case the Royal Mint has issued a 50p coin to reflect the current mood of the nation. None of that indicates happiness so far as I can tell.

So I think we have to look to ourselves for happiness. I woke up this morning. So far as I am concerned that is always a good start to the day. I've been doing it for the last 27,317 days and I don't want to stop just yet. The weather was clement so I enjoyed my morning walk in the woods without getting my usual soaking. When I'd finished my walk and gone into The Woodlands for coffee, the young lady behind the counter greeted me with the diary I had misplaced the previous day. (I use my phone for almost everything except my diary so was lost without it). I'd been in animated conversation with a friend when I'd left and forgotten to pick it up. Silly me. This afternoon I met a lady who had at one time been the best buddy to our son Andy who died. We have almost no adult photos of Andy and whilst we were blethering it transpired that she has. I hadn't met her for years despite Stornoway being such a small place so that really was a wonderfully happy re-union.

Yes. All in all today has been a Good Day.

Saturday 16 March 2019

Strong Females

A few days ago I read a post on Rachel's blog entitled Today's Philosophy Class.  When I read it it made be think of the way I was brought up and the role feminism played or didn't play in my life.

I should explain that I and my brother were brought up in a family of very strong females. My mother and my maternal grandmother both played a significant role in our upbringing. My paternal grandparents were dead long before I was born but the females in my father's family were also very strong: my father had been brought up by one sister and another lived in Scotland and owned an inn. She had a head for business and turned the stables into a hall used for community get togethers and weddings etc. 

My brother and I were brought up to understand that women and men had different roles in that men could not have children but that the opportunities that men and women should have in life should be equal. Seeing the examples of the women so close to me as a child I just always assumed that to be the norm.

My first experience of a working environment was a hospital where men were usually doctors but all the 'bosses' in my world were female from Sisters to The Matron. After a spell as a trainee accountant in an all-male environment I made my career in local government starting in the Town Clerk's Department (the legal and administrative department) of Liverpool Corporation. It was certainly true that historically females had been shorthand typists and clerks but by the time I arrived there were women making their way up the administrative and legal ladders as well. There were many women professionals in other departments too and a female chief officer (so far as I can recall she was the only one out of 26!). In the professions, even then, women and men were paid the same rate for the same job in local government and all salaries were transparent and public.  

Liverpool also had a reputation for strong female politicians with people like Bessie Braddock (and some might argue that one Bessie Braddock was more formidable that the other 139 councillors and aldermen put together).

Of course by then I was well aware that females had an uphill struggle in a predominantly male world of government and business but my attitudes had already been established.

My brother's two daughters (I only had sons) are also clever, strong and successful women and it makes me wonder how much they owe to genetics and how much they owe to the attitudes with which they were surrounded as youngsters. 

Friday 8 March 2019

Post Office Discrimination

Notice anything about this screenshot of the Post Office website? I'll give you a clue. I, and thousands more, do not live on the UK mainland.

I use a lot of postage stamps.

I've never counted but my brother and I between us probably use several hundred first class stamps just sending missives to each other. We use WhatsApp and emails but we both like writing letters and sending cards.

Then there are my friends overseas who don't use computers and those to whom I like sending cards anyway. I certainly use several dozen overseas stamps a month.

I love sending cards (I print my own photo cards). I love writing letters! It's as simple as that.

I've never ordered stamps on line because I prefer to support my local post offices however CJ pointed out that there were really interesting stamps to be had directly from the Post Office on line. So I sussed out some interesting ones and then came the bad news. I can't have them delivered to the Isle of Lewis.

Given that the cost of postage for the order would be exactly the same for Lewis as anywhere else in the UK this totally defeats me. There will be a letter going to my MP on this one.

PS Why is there an apostrophe after 'address' in the information box?

Wednesday 6 March 2019


Island life has it's good and it's bad points as does rural life anywhere. There was an article on the news this evening informing us that an ambulance could take over 20 minutes to get to some rural communities. What they really meant was rural communities in England because outside of some major cities in Scotland there is little or no data.

The article on the BBC website says:
The most critically injured patients in rural areas are at risk due to the time it takes the ambulance service to reach them, a BBC investigation has found.
Some rural communities wait more than 20 minutes on average for 999 crews or trained members of the community to get to immediately life-threatening cases like cardiac arrests and stab victims.
A response should come in six to eight minutes, depending on where you live.
The accompanying map:

I think that once can be fairly certain in saying that in many rural areas in Scotland, 20 minutes would not even be achievable by an air ambulance. That's just a reality of rural life.

Sunday 3 March 2019


In his post on 2 March entitled Pinpointing, Yorkshire Pudding drew attention to a survey which claimed to determine where one was brought up (in the British Isles or the USA) from the words one uses and how one pronounces them - one's dialect. It pinpointed YP perfectly.

I was intrigued. I was born and brought up in Liverpool. There is an old joke about Liverpool back in my youth before any people from the Indian sub-continent lived there (they all lived in the mill towns of central Lancashire).  The joke was that if you were a Liverpudlian you were Liverpool Irish, Liverpool Welsh, Liverpool Scottish, Liverpool West Indian, Liverpool Chinese (Liverpool has the oldest ethnic Chinese community in Europe) or Liverpool Jewish. It was rumoured that there were Liverpool English but no-one had ever met one.

After I left home I lived in Cheshire until I came to the Isle of Lewis in the far north west of Scotland 44 years ago. Since then I have usually been taken for someone from the South of England. If you are a Northerner there are few greater insults. Well that's not quite true, as a Lancastrian it's a greater insult to call me a Yorkshireman. 

However I went to a small private prep school and was subjected to elocution by a French lady teacher. My parents didn't have particularly Liverpool accents. Neither do I. I do, however, use many Liverpool words from my childhood.

When I took the first part of the quiz it came up with the following results:

After my full quiz with the additional questions it came up with a slightly more refined result.

 The one thing it definitely shows is that I have no dialectic link to the South of England.

There's a British version of the quiz. Go here. And there's also an American version. Go here.