“Isle Martin” and welly boots

May 9, 2009

As mentioned on Thursday, Friday’s trip to Isle Martin was cancelled due to hazardous weather  (Angus Peter Campbell was storm bound in Lochmaddy on Uist for the same reasons). Some of the sea sick among us were not too discomfitted by this, but the resourceful Joan Michael of UBF vanquished disappointment by moving the tour to the Village Hall.  I turn to Ishbel, who visited last year for this picture, taken from the window of one of the abandoned houses there:

An abandoned house on Isle Martin by lovely Ishbel

An abandoned house on Isle Martin by lovely Ishbel

To paint a ‘pen portrait’ of Isle Martin, it is best to steal the words of Andro Linklater, the festival’s enormously entertaining first participant, who lived there while writing his biography of Compton MacKenzie: “the island is roughly 3 miles by 1 mile and shaped like a bulbous, bow-headed whale. There are cliffs down to the sea, and a magical loch where the blow hole would be (both source of drinking water and swimming pool – just make you drink before you swim…) It had a population of 90 – 100 people at its peak. The whale’s tail curves in towards the mainland  with a bay on the east side.” He spoke about ‘Monty’s’ immense theatricality (‘affecting the Gaelic to the people of Barra’), and about his industriousness in founding the Gramophone, the SNP and the Siamese Cat Club…

Mark Wringe took Angus Peter Campbell’s place in reading the Gaelic, and Derrick McClure the Scots of Campbell’s Meas Air Chrannaibh (Fruit on Branches). They followed up with an interesting discussion of the translation process.

Margaret Bennett told tales of Scottish Highland emigrants, during the clearances and the Scottish famine, to Canada, then James Graham, one half of ‘the Posh and Becks of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, sang gorgeous Gaelic laments, collected from singers in the Ullapool area.

In the evening we had Alison Miller and Alice Thompson talking about their intriguingly contrasting novels, Demo (Miller) and The Falconer (Thompson), and a comic tour de force from A L Kennedy on, quite simply, words.

The weather looks almost exactly like the picture below – a calmer Loch Broom than yesterday.  My welly purchase (in which I hirpled to the Loch Broom hardware shop, soddenly pump-shod, and acquired some navy Dunlops) was not timely. A L Kennedy says my dress, jumper and welly combo makes me look like I’m about to feed hens. I thought I was rocking an ‘I Know Where I’m Going!‘ kind of theme…

Loch BroomI’ll be representing the SPL later at Poems Aloud (persuade your Ross-shire relatives to join in!) and will report back from that later…

One Response to ““Isle Martin” and welly boots”


  1. […] James Fenton’s ‘I’m In Paris With You’ to Faith with a theatricality Compton MacKenzie would’ve applauded.. Honorary President of the UBF Donny O’Rourke brought music to the […]


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