Recovery completed and looking forward to my first ever Party Political Event, we left for Inverness for a morning’s dash about town with the intention of heading down to Farr to join a few other people to hear speakers talk about Green matters. A beautiful autumn day with low light across the Bealach
and again and again all the way across the country. The reads, yellows and browns are resplendent just now and are sharpened by the acute angles of sunlight. After the Bealach no photos as I would probably be just arriving by now. Appropriately, on a green day, my first stop off was at Highland Bicycles where the Volt Ebike was left for its annual make over. Time flies when one realises that I bought it over a year ago, although I have only used it properly for about 6/7 months of that time. Going to be interesting to see how I cope with a north-west winter. Last winter’s six months of horizontal rain was not tackled with any enthusiasm. This year so far so good and after the overhaul it genuinely feels like a new bike. Haircut, Highland Wholefoods and winter fishing clothes from Blacks were all sorted in rapid order and the trip out to Farr was under way in good time. Last and only time I was out here was to learn about bees from Neil and Alison Spence. This event had been moved from the Spectrum Centre in Inverness to Farr due to the unprecedented pressure of numbers. Evident as the car park
and hall so filled up.
All on time as well….west coast time is always at least 15 minutes behind, or if it is a Dance about an hour before it finishes before people turn up.
Settled in and pleased to see an Applecross connection in the form of Nessa who spent some time over our way and Roddy who wandered over to share sympathies over political events. Even before events kicked off just sitting there in a room of over two hundred liked minded people was a wee buzz and as Lesley said when she spoke first we all need these meetings to keep energy levels high, a battery top up. Always inspiring to hear Lesley Riddoch speak and she was constantly stopped by spontaneous applause. And yes she did mention the Nordic nations. One really fascinating point was the development of Norway’s nationality and how for a time they had full autonomy over their own affairs bar defence and foreign policy before gaining full Independence. Now the aim is Home Rule with just that in mind. And of course Land Reform, pointing out the tax advantages of having a Sporting Estate as a plaything and emphasising that our land distribution is ludicrous and unique in Europe. It being so “unBritish” to cap or limit anyone or thing. Ownership of land has to be one thing to be capped, whole tracks of land and people living on it should not be held to the whims of one person. A recent bad example of this being Radcliffe of Ineos/Grangemouth holding the nation to ransom and ends up with public funds and licence to frack in the Central Belt. Speaking to Brian this morning from Shieldaig and such a different picture where land has been released for housing the school less than ten years ago was under threat but now is thriving, such a simple way of “repopulating the Highlands” and why not. Many houses can be built without destroying the Highlands unique attractions and giving its soul back. There are still long stretches on the way home where you do not see a light from the road. Surprised myself and asked Lesley if I could take a photo and she obliged and chuffed with the result.
Next up was Robin from Common Weal and he amazes me in how he can talk so fast, without notes and pack so much enthusiasm, information and inspiration into so short a time. Interesting to hear the political outcomes and strategies of recent upheavals. I do not think any one has much of a clue what is going to happen next. The one thing is for certain the Referendum has only started a movement and not finished it. Robin’s analogy, from a French film , I think, was off a man/woman, stepping off the pavement and on the way down does he fall or fly and that depends on how much effort goes into his progress. He says it feels like we have stepped of the pavement. The austerity measures are affecting the poorest sections of society and you can feel his passionate anger against tis effect on whole sections of the community. After his session he is still enthusing.
John Finnie, MSP,
who moved from SNP to Independent to joining the Green party finished the first section off with a list of reasons why he has moved in this direction. Trident, NATO, pointless wars, useless and subsidised nuclear power. Read recently that nuclear power has produced £156 billion of power, cost £200 billion to build and will cost £100 billion to clean up and some people complain above renewable subsidy. A theme throughout the afternoon was the disenfranchisement of local government right down to community council level. Many areas have no Councils now and at home we have not had an election for the last two nominations. On going are the LRRG proposals, the Community Empowerment Bill and the Smith Commission, put in my wee submission but as it had to be costed will probably be ignored, so no one can say nothing is happening in this part of the world. And hardly a mention of other parties, nothing negative, only a response to a direct question to which Robin MacAlpine asserted that SLAB’s umbilical cord to its guaranteed support was being severed. What I liked about the afternoon was the range of ideas and actions various people were taking themselves and suggesting for both individual and community levels. Liked the call to resurrect the Highland Land League. John’s saying from old, “Enough is as good as a feast” is an apt summing up of how we should live. Local food, local energy, local industry, common sense proposals discussed. All was excellently organised by Fabio, Isla and Ariane.
Away sharp to pick up the bike and home. A shift at the Inn, slightly disjointed, dropping into service already under way but not busy and slowly got into the swing as much as one could after such a different scene in the afternoon. Stayed on as staff wanted to head up to the Walled Garden, occasional caller such as Darren,
stopped in before staff Darren
The night ended in some fine music from John and Lorna.
His renditions of Green Fields and Caledonia were fine and emotional, music at its best. Uptil now have not really picked up on the song Applecross Bay, written by a McCalman (I hope), sensing the layout of Applecross resulting from the Clearances. 3,000 living here in the middle of the 1800s, now 250 maximum. But hearing the background to a fine song gives it even more resonance. Also heard the Common Weal event at Bogbain Farm went very well and Applecross was represented there as well. Would have loved to have been there but one has to select sometimes.
Today a long a very pleasant shift, busy enough with lots of very appreciative and generous people, music throughout the afternoon and good food and residents into the evening.
Requested another rendition of Caledonia to see me through and it seemed to work. So onto the bike and home around eight. It really is like having just bought a new bike, so Dougal and Eilidh got a wee walk down the Craig Darroch in the moonlight to finish off the day.