Thursday, 30 August 2007

Faclan - Book Festival

The second Hebridean Book Festival Faclan is being held in Stornoway's arts centre An Lanntair this week. Unlike last year, I am not attending any of the lectures, as I am unfamiliar with the names. I did have a look round the books on sale in the foyer of the centre, but only came away with a transcription of a lecture, given by genealogist Bill Lawson 10 months ago in Gravir, South Lochs. He asserted that Lewis was not as badly affected by the Clearances as other parts of northern Scotland. I was glad to be able to read his well reasoned account, but that doesn't mean I agree with him.

It is immaterial whether a clearance leads to resettlement elsewhere in the island, elsewhere in Scotland or over in Nova Scotia, Canada. It remains a major upheaval. Whether the clearance was voluntary, engineered (through the tried and tested method of bumping up the rent deliberately to beyond the tenants' means), facilitated (passage paid for) - it cannot and should not be negated and belittled the way Mr Lawson does.

I am not a native of these parts, and perhaps can only sense from afar the distress and pain felt by those who were kicked out. I am currently reading a book I bought at last year's Faclan called The Crofters' Trail, which is about clearances all over Scotland.

The link to the present jumped out at me as I was reading a chapter about a clearance in North Uist. In 1987, the author, David Craig, visited the island just as many small island schools were being closed down. One islander complained to him: "It's just like the evictions, this closing of the schools over the children's heads".

There was talk earlier in the week of another round of school closures. I was baffled by the attitude of some councillors, oblivious to their own islands' history, and the sensitivities involved. I was pleased that others were not so blinkered, and voted for consultation on the matter.

1 comment:

  1. "Yes... Faclan...who exactly was responsible for the decision to put the children's events on at 1pm on Thursday and Friday - when they are all at school. Top marks again folks! "

    BoB from Lewis
    "The Donald Steven poetry book was good - you missed out a bit by not buying it. It has poems about local dnaces and church hats and pokes gentle fun at some aspects of Lewsi life in a good humoured way. Plus the author is a Dell man which is enormously in his favour!. 'Seachd' was premiered during the event as well."

    calumannabel from waterstones swainbost
    "Hello BoB. Lovely to hear from you again."

    Annie B from the usual
    "Don't they get time off school or visits organised by same for things like this?"

    Flying Cat from justaskingAuntieBoB
    "Yes, I've got my own signed copy! It's a great book."

    BoB from Lewis
    "Aw - Thanks Annie!"

    BoB from Lewis