1 EAGLETON NOTES: December 2021



Friday 31 December 2021

Bliadhna Mhath Ùr

The last week hasn't been one of my best and I've read little and written even less.  Hopefully all that is behind me. Well obviously it's all behind me but what I mean is that I hope all the lethargy, coughing and general lack of wellness is now behind me and the New Year will see life returning to whatever is the new normal out there in the big wide world that is Lewis.

Various friends I've spoken to today have been reminiscing about the Hogmanays we used to have. Stornoway used to have a huge firework display down at the Harbour to see in the New Year. It was always mobbed and a great charity fund raiser. In the Seventies when we came here we always had a party of friends on the evening with a meal and party games and a great deal of fun. Indeed, one way and another that continued into the 2000s and then for a decade I was always in New Zealand for Hogmanay.

Since then it's been a time of quiet reflection and, whilst each year I might be awake for The Bells, there's greater odds that I'll be asleep.

I did think about looking at one of the videos I'd taken back in the day but, with loved ones featured having passed on, New Year doesn't really seem the right time. 

Apropos nothing at all to do with New Year I was watching Archbishop Tutu's coffin being carried into the Cathedral today. It reminded me of the time when I found myself helping out an undertaker for a funeral at a crematorium. Archbishop Tutu's coffin was the 'cheapest they could find' but had rope handles by which it could be carried. I looked at those with envy as the bearers held them and took the coffin into the cathedral. The coffin I was supposed to help carry (the first time I'd ever carried a coffin) had less substantial 'brass' handles. As I picked up my corner of the coffin by the handle the Undertaker said in a 'whisper' that seemed to reverberate around the crematorium "Not by the effin handle you effin idiot, they're effin plastic."

Hopefully, tomorrow, I will wake feeling a new man and ready to meet the challenges of 2022 of which, I'm sure, there will be many. 

Saturday 25 December 2021

Christmas Day 2021

It's Christmas Day afternoon.  I wish you a very Happy Christmas (or what's left of it). Of course I would expect you to be concentrating on Christmas Day wherever you are rather than reading blogs so it may well be that my benediction is too late. anyway.

Most of my friends and family at this moment will be either tucking into or still preparing, or just possibly have eaten, Christmas Dinner.  In the normal course of events I would be one of those people sharing one of those meals. As it is I'm sitting looking out at the fading light of a cloudless sky towards the Scottish Mainland. The wind is abating. It's been a beautiful, if cold and windy, day on this Island paradise.

I am drinking a cup of hot coffee and eating a Lebkuchen. I've spent much of my day drinking hot water with lemon and honey, coffee or Earl Grey tea and nibbling one thing or another. I have to admit that the very last thing I could have coped with today would have been a Christmas Dinner with all the trimmings. And, however much, those who'd invited me said they wanted to see me, believe me they wouldn't.

I've got a dreadful cold and cough: a real doozie. I had a PCR yesterday and got the call late afternoon - negative. Regardless of that I'll not be going anywhere for a while.

The Lebkuchen are a special treat from my family who were over at the Hamburg Christmas Fair. For many years in the 'Eighties our Berlin friends sent the same box for Christmas. I love them.

Friday 10 December 2021


I've been alive for the best part of 8 decades and people can still surprise or even shock me with very simple things.  

In Glasgow when you get off a bus you say "Thank you, Driver."  Everyone does. If you are in a shop and someone hands you something such as your change or your goods then you thank the person who served you. If you go to the hairdresser/barber then you thank the person who did your hair.  If someone serves you a meal or a drink then you thank the person who served it and may thank the person. I could go on.

Many of us show our gratitude for good service in general in the hospitality industry in particular by leaving a tip as well.

When I am in hospital on a ward. I usually send a note of thanks and some chocolates as a token of my gratitude. I have always done it. I didn't, and still don't, think that is unusual.

I recently wrote a letter of thanks to a medical professional to whom I had a great deal for which to be grateful. 

So I was gobsmacked when, having mentioned that to someone, in passing, their comment was "But why?They are paid to do that!"