1 EAGLETON NOTES: We Have Survived

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Friday, 19 July 2019

We Have Survived

Ten years ago today a monumental thing happened to the Isle of Lewis. The first scheduled Sunday ferry service sailing to the Island occurred. Lewis had been the bastion of Sabbatarian opposition to the ferry sailing on Sunday. I can hardly believe that I wrote this post ten years ago. Even then the vocal Sabbatarian opposition only numbered about 20 whilst supporters on the quayside cheering the ferry (which was carrying an almost full complement of vehicles) numbered over 200. 

When the first Sabbath ferry sailed to the Isle of Skye in 1965, a minister lay down on the pier and had to be removed by the police.

The ferry operators, Caladonia MacBrayne (Calmac), said that it also had received legal advice that it could be breaking European laws if it followed the wishes of one part of the community on Lewis, while sailing to almost every other large island on a Sunday.

Prof Donald Macleod, principal of the Free Church college in Edinburgh, accused the firm of "bullying" the islanders. He warned: "It's going to have a domino effect on church attendance and will change the community from a Christian civilisation to a secular, humanist society." The Rev Angus Smith, a veteran campaigner, said the service would bring "things that terrify parents", including shops opening seven days a week.

While a large section of the population was celebrating, the most Presbyterian residents warned that judgment awaited. The Rev Dr James Tallach of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland said: "CalMac made a great play that they must keep the law. Well, I ask them what about the law of God? "We will not be tried at the end of the day, when all of us stand before the judgment seat of Christ, on the basis of EU law."

Well looking back the strange thing is that absolutely nothing changed apart from the fact that we can all go on and off the Island 7 days a week. Sunday happens to be a very busy day for the ferry. People can actually go away for a long weekend.

As for shops opening., very little has changed. The one shop/petrol station that does open in Stornoway did so long before the Sunday ferry started. 

I'm sure that now, if the ferry were to be withdrawn, the Island's worthies would be as up in arms as they were over its introduction. After all that's what happened when the Sunday air service to Benbecula was opposed and then its withdrawal was opposed.

Life goes on.

31 comments:

  1. I still miss stores being closed on Sundays. Sundays, and some holidays, use to have an aura honoring the importance of family and community. Now the atmosphere is all about shopping.

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    1. Maywyn, shops don't generally open here on Sunday apart from one of the filling station/shops. Sunday is still a quiet family day. But we can travel!

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  2. Amazing ! In my part of the world Sunday is a very busy day for shops like supermarkets. Working mother’s do their weekly shopping then. We are wary when travelling in Europe to try to ensure we have food for Sunday as we have been caught out as we were recently in Norway where the streets were deserted on Sunday. Quite eerie actually. Didn’t see huge attendances in the churches so everyone must just stay home for family get togethers ......or perhaps they were all off climbing mountains as Norwegians like to do ???

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    1. Helsie, there have been arguments for the supermarkets to open here but the overwhelming view is that is unnecessary. Apart from that, however, there are only two large supermarkets and they wouldn't benefit economically because, on an Island, you have a limited customer base so you would have the same income but seven days running costs instead of six. Of course if just one opened they would probably do well. I hope they don't.

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  3. Hate auto correct. Should be mothers not mother’s !

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    1. Helsie, on the subject of autocorrect, years ago mine refused to acknowledge the word 'spellchecker' and corrected it to 'spillchucker'. Since then that has been common family usage.

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  4. Sunday openings were strenuously opposed here too but by a small and noisy group.

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    1. Red, Sunday opening of shops here is still the norm and supported by the majority (though not for religious reasons). However there is support for the sports centre to open to enable family use but the Council is still in the grip of the Sabbatarians and they won't allow it.

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  5. And did church attendance fall? I expect the church big-wigs worried more about their collection box, than about saving souls. Personally I never shop on Sundays, simply because our local market day is on Saturday.

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    1. Cro, church attendance has been falling steadily for many years but I think we can take it that Sunday ferry services had nothing to do with it. The shops still close on Sunday in the main simply because few want them to open.

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  6. Happy to hear there was no real trouble.
    Imagine the headlines had they been of a different persuasion....."Isle of Lewis hijacked in The Minch by militant Wee Frees."

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    1. Adrian, the Church's sanctions were a million times worse that hijacking. Social ostracisation in a small community is a powerful weapon.

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  7. Here in Germany, most shops are closed on Sundays, but if one is desperate for basic food items etc., petrol stations / garages will usually be open, with limited choice and higher prices than regular supermarkets and other shops.
    It has never been a problem to me, as I've always been able to get my shopping done during the week - the little I need for my mostly single household. But I like the peaceful quietness in my town on a Sunday, people getting up later, not so many cars on the roads, and so on.

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    1. Meike, I think a family day without work is a Good Thing. However, all those who provide leisure facilities and the like still work.

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  8. Though I am an atheist and humanist, I wish that there was still one day in the week when nearly all businesses were closed. This would give the majority of families treasured time together and people would have to find other, more healthful things to do than leisure shopping and spending money. Nothing to do with God or his alleged "Bible"... just a day of rest and reflection.

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    1. YP, like you I have no religious beliefs nor do I want to see the shops on Lewis open on a Sunday. It is, however, the one day when many families can go to the sports centre together and, for that reason, I'd like to see those facilities opened on a Sunday.

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  9. Oh! Henny Penny! The sky didn't fall in, after all! The church was probably fearful their profits would fall...their Sunday donation plates would be empty!!

    Work patterns/operations and times have changed vastly over the years from when I was a child...which was a long time ago. For some, Sunday is a day of work...and Monday is their day of rest, for example.

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    1. Lee, apart from anything else over 2 million people in the Uk are employed in the National Health Service and many other social work and care facilities and then there are police, forces, prison staff etc. Not to mention all the Ministers of Religion who all are paid for their work on their Sabbath.

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  10. Seems hard to believe it was that "recently" that Sunday ferry service was introduced to your island! (How about the airline services?) When I grew up, shops were closed on Sundays. Nowadays, the big grocery supermarkets (as well as many smaller convenience stores) are open all day, every day. Some other big stores are also open on Sunday afternoons. Many smaller ones are still closed on Sundays though. And in summer especially, the opening hours may also vary according to how big a part tourism plays in that area. Many of the small seaside towns for example often double their "population" in the summer!

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    1. Monica, Sunday flights to Lewis started in 2002 and, again, caused some Sabbatarian protest. Ironically in the early '90s the Western Isles Islands Council (as it then was) opposed Sunday flights to Benbecula and then after a trial introduction was stopped after a few months it opposed the removal of the flights. In Scotland I think there is some variation in opening to make allowance for tourism but in the rural areas I think many of the very small non-food and non-touristy shops still shut on a Sunday.

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  11. A friend of mine has told me at length about the battle to allow flights in on Sundays so in reading your post I had a little pang of deja vu.
    What silliness

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  12. Indeed, Kylie. Was your friend in Scotland or Australia?

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    1. She's an Aussie, married to a Scot. She lived over there for a couple of years while he waited for a visa

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  13. Basically some people don't like change, and aren't very rational about it, I suppose.

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    1. Jenny, change has always upset the established order or at least those with a vested interest in it: in this case the Sabbatarian churches - but not all the churches!

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  14. You're very lucky Graham. As you know here in NZ Sunday trading is just about done by everyone. I remember the days when I was growing up when shops were shut on that day.

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    1. Yes, Amy, Sunday trading seemed to be the norm in New Zealand. I found it difficult to get used to the early Saturday closing in Napier though. I didn't mind, of course, I just found it odd when I wanted to get things.

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  15. I enjoy being old fashioned in some things. The things I choose. One of them is Sunday shopping. But having access to a ferry when one lives on an island, I think is a bit more of a basic requirement than having shops open.

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    1. It is indeed, Pauline, and nowadays with the ferry being fully booked seven days a week during the summer it would be unthinkable to delete a day.

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  16. I agree with Pauline - I would think it would be seen as essential progress for residents of the island to be able to travel off the island 7 days a week!

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    1. It's good to see you again, Liz. We've had 10 years of Sunday sailings now and it would be unthinkable to stop it.

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