1 EAGLETON NOTES: January 2021



Sunday 24 January 2021


Apparently, despite the entertainment industry having been hit very hard by the pandemic globally, TV streaming services are doing a roaring trade. 

I have no idea how other countries (ie outside UK), except New Zealand, pay for their television channels but I assume that most are financed either by personal subscription, though advertisements or political donations or a combination of those.

In the UK it used to be the public service broadcaster (BBC) financed by a license fee without which it is illegal to watch a television so, in effect, everyone with a TV has to have a license. Then along came Independent Television (ITV and it's offshoots) financed by advertising. That was how it carried on for a number of decades. 

In 1989 SKY came along and charged for satellite television with 4 channels. Now it includes most mainstream channels together with SKY channels. 

As the number of 'free to view' channels proliferated Freeview was established in 2002 to control the potential chaos on the airwaves.

However it is now so complicated that I doubt many people have a clue about the vast range of services available unless they happen to want to watch something in particular when they find it's no longer available on a free-to-view channel.

The first thing that I noticed was when the Formula 1 Grand Prix ceased to be available live on the BBC and went to SKY who outbid the BBC for the rights knowing that many people would join SKY so that they could see it. There was such an outcry that a BBC channel was granted a few years of an edited version later in the day and a live UK GP. I can live without the GP.

I don't know who has all the major football matches but I assume that it's SKY and BT between them because they have a great deal of the UK's sport now.

The only thing that will really annoy me is if Wimbledon deserts the BBC.

Several years ago I wanted to watch something that was on Netflix so I got the trial package for a month or whatever it was and, because I wanted to continue with the series I just carried on with the subscription. I suspect many people do that.

Now there are many subscription channels including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Britbox (A joint BBC/ITV venture with old box sets), Disney Plus and Now TV. I have no idea, apart from Britbox, what they offer but apparently they all have at least something 'everyone wants'. 

I am fortunate that I don't want anything more that the standard BBC and ITV and existing free-to-view channels although I haven't cancelled my Netflix subscription (which is silly because I've only watched The Crown).

Obviously there are people who spend a fortune to get their football or whatever else on TV or all these subscription channels wouldn't exist. Personally I shall just bumble along paying my license fee and enjoying what's on offer or switching off and listening to music. Which reminds me that YouTube also has a subscription service which, so far, I've avoided.

Thursday 21 January 2021

Thankful Thursday: Is The Pope A Catholic?

Today has been a Good Day (with thanks to Sellars and Yeatman).

Trump is an ex-President. That's a good start. The fact that his mother came from the next township to where I lived when I came here does give me a vague right to comment but being a citizen of The World gives me an even greater right. Bearing in mind this is usually a non-political blog this is a real departure from my usual thoughts but I genuinely feel that the world is potentially a safer place with his departure.  I just hope upon hope that the new administration will be able to bring some stability to the country and, dare I hope it, the world.

A member of the medical profession who has looked after my cancer issues and been my rock since 2006 has had a very rough time but is now back in harness and I have had a chat to her. I have been more concerned about her than almost anyone during the last year.

For once a named storm is not dealing us the worst blow in the Western Isles. Storm Christoph is dealing havoc almost everywhere except here where we just had the ferries cancelled because of heavy swell. We've had a blustery, showery day but with some sun shining through on occasion.

Yesterday I got a call from the NHS. Would I like a Covid Inoculation? Is The Pope a Catholic? Instructions were to present myself at the Sports Centre at 15:09 hours today. So this afternoon I duly presented myself together with about another 450 duly received a dose of the Oxford Astra-Zeneka vaccine. The operation looked like a pretty well-oiled machine particularly as this was it's first day of operation.

Had I managed a walk or an hour in the garden the day would have been just about perfect. However, I'm going to pootle around and then have some dinner and have an evening probably watching a concert by the BBS Scottish Chamber Orchestra, then Death in Paradise and then a Messenger Video Chat with old friends with whom I meet in the pub in Callander when I'm down there. By that time it'll be not far off midnight and time for sleep. 

Days don't come much better.......do they?

Monday 18 January 2021

A Son, A Death and A Dream.

I dream a great deal and have blogged about dreaming in general before. 

I slept very deeply and for a long time last night. Just before I woke I had an extremely strange dream.  I usually forget the contents of even my weirdest dreams just after I have wakened. Today it lingered - all day.

I was in a very large house with my New Zealand family. My two sons were there as well. When Andy (the elder son) appeared he was immensely tall (which he wasn't in real life being just under 6'). However all the members of my father's family including his sister were over 6'6".  The exception was my father who was 'tiny' at 5'10½".  The height of my father's family had been a subject of discussion yesterday so I suppose there may have been a link in my mind there. 

I've been thinking about Andy most of the day today for an entirely different reason. Had he lived, he would have been 48 today. In the past I have never speculated on what he might have achieved. He was just completing a doctorate (in computer science) when he died and already had a very well paid job and a flat and life in London. Today my mind wandered into the realms of 'what if'. Not in a melancholy way just a wistful one.

This evening sitting in the living room listening to a concert and sort of watching it on the big screen and drawing an 'envelope picture' it suddenly struck me: the significance of dreaming about Andy this morning of all mornings.

The mind is a very strange place. Well mine is anyway.

Saturday 16 January 2021


 Days sorting old stuff,

reducing many boxes.

Each one gone, a win.

Thursday 14 January 2021

January Sunrise

Sunrise over Bayble Island to the West Coast of the Scottish Mainland.

Tuesday 12 January 2021


I am a great admirer of The Glasgow Boys.  One of the pictures which looms large is A Highland Funeral by James Guthrie painted in 1882. When I arrived on Lewis it had moved on a bit and women now attend the Church Service. In the Free Church, however, it is still a very formal and sombre occasion. Sometimes the name of the deceased is still not mentioned.

A Highland Funeral, James Guthrie, 1882

I have on various occasions posted about funerals and what they mean to me but on this occasion I really am concentrating on a very simple and single subject: neckties.

No one going to a funeral on Lewis would wear anything other than a black or sombre tie. It's the only occasion I wear a black tie and my black Crombie overcoat.

However, my Maternal Grandmother's stipulated that the family would not wear black ties at her funeral. That funeral was 50 years ago this year and we didn't. Mine, I recall very well, was a silk black and dark red minuscule check tie (at that time my idea of risqué). However that didn't stop one of my Nana's contemporaries (I can't recall exactly what relative she was - help please CJ if you read this) tearing me off a strip in front of the gathered mourners for being inappropriately and disrespectfully dressed.

My son arranged his own end of life service (he refused to call it a funeral) as a celebration of his life and insisted there was no sign of mourning. There wasn't.

The older I get and given where I live and the current pandemic I did start wondering what I would like when my time comes. I've had a wonderful life and I don't want anyone to mourn my passing. I understand, though, people need a focus for what was and, perhaps still is, called closure. So, if there has to be something, I want a celebration of my life and I certainly don't want anyone wearing mourning or a black tie.

How about you?

Saturday 9 January 2021


Wild swimming seems to be the latest trendy thing to do presumably helped on by lockdown. I'm not a great lover of swimming in the sea here at the best of times. I'm not a strong swimmer and even in October when the gulf stream has warmed our water by a degree or even a degree and a half, it's still very cold. Swimming in the sea in New Zealand in the summer was far more bearable. Swimming in The Family's pool on a hot summer day was infinitely better.

On my way into town I go over an isthmus called The Braighe. I have blogged about it on several occasions. There are a hardened few who regularly swim its length on a Saturday morning. A few days ago I came across a lone swimmer. From where I was standing in 3ºC it was an ideal and very beautiful morning. However swimming in the sea would not have been my choice of a way to spend a couple of hours. 

A beautiful view of The Mainland
A beautiful view of The Mainland

A swimmer


On a slightly less swimmer-friendly day

Wednesday 6 January 2021


We've just come to the end of five days of gloriously sunny and very cold (by our Island standards) clear, icy weather. At one point we even had a few snowflakes. 

When the beautiful snowflakes briefly appeared I wondered how and why the term had been appropriated in the news and social media to describe people. Then it occurred to me that, apart from the fact that the people I know who use it seemed to be regarding it as a derogatory term, I hadn't a clue what it meant. Do you know?

I did some research.

According to Wikipedia the definition is a 2010s derogatory slang term for a person, implying that they have an inflated sense of uniqueness, an unwarranted sense of entitlement, OR are overly-emotional, easily offended, and unable to deal with opposing opinions.
However a little further research turned this up from The Independent (UK now online only newspaper): On Christmas Eve 2019 the Donald Trump campaign launched a website called snowflakevictory.com to give guidance to Trump’s supporters about how to deal with their “liberal relatives” over the holiday period. It featured 12 hot-button topics (immigration, impeachment, the environment) and witty comebacks to frequently-cited Democrat arguments.

For someone reading that the year before, it might have seemed odd to include a weather reference. But in the 12 months preceding the website, "snowflake" entered the general lexicon as the epitome of Trump’s opposition. Used to mean everything from weak and wet, to a synonym for the millennial age bracket, snowflake had become a political buzzword.

So it would appear that it can mean all things to all people with one common denominator - it's not a compliment.

I think it is sad that we use beauty to define ugliness.

I had a gift from across The Pond just before Christmas and it greeted all my visitors by hanging in the window of my front porch until this afternoon. It is a crocheted snowflake. In my house a snowflake represents beauty and, of course, uniqueness.

Saturday 2 January 2021

2021 - New Year's Day, First Walk of The Year

Yesterday was a beautiful day: almost windless, just above freezing and sunny. I decided on the spur of the moment in the morning to get back into my practice of walking in the Castle Grounds. So I drove into town and parked at The Woodlands Café as always and set off. The walk up into the woods and along to the River Creed was fairly quiet. There were not even many dog walkers about. Many of you will have seen pictures of the walk, or parts of it, before but I thought I'd publish some of the winter ones I took yesterday anyway. 

An icy stretch.
An icy stretch

The River Creed in full flow.

The River Creed just above the estuary

The estuary and slack water at low tide. Quietness after the noisy torrent. 

The estuary 

And again.

A good place for a summer picnic

In memory of someone or perhaps of the RAF. Fresh roses.

I have photographed this tree in almost every month of the year.

A gull, a cormorant and a heron sat on a rock......

The Lews Castle resplendent with it's rebuilt stone wall.

Friday 1 January 2021

Welcome to 2021

I was working in the garden on Thursday afternoon and a sudden shower came through. I turned around and there was a rather splendid view:

I hope that this is a sign of better things to come.

I haven't celebrated The Bells actively since I stopped living in New Zealand. Before then, we use to have a magnificent firework display in Stornoway to welcome in the New Year but the funds dried up as austerity hit. Most of Stornoway and the environs went to that and, indeed, friends in the town always had a New Year dinner party before the fireworks which I loved. Since then I've celebrated the incoming year either very quietly or when I woke in the morning having been fast asleep at midnight.

This year we have little option anyway. Mixing in other people's houses is forbidden. 

I hope that you stay safe and continue writing and/or reading blogs in the year ahead.