After all the trials and tribulation, treachery and torment of the past week in Westminster, I fancy a peaceful weekend away from it all. And what better place for that than an island?
I’ve a few bees in my bonnet about islands at the moment.
Firstly, islands off the West Coast of Ireland. Our book circle have just read Roddy Doyle’s Smile, The protagonist, now in his 50s, looks back to his school days and among other things recalls having to read the autobiography of Peig Sawyers at school. This book, written in Gaelic, was compulsory reading for all Irish school kids in the years after independence. Not a cheerful read. Misery, pain and suffering on the Blasket Islands.
It was all so OTT that it inspired that wonderfully amusing writer, Third Policeman Hitmaker, Flann O’Brien, to write a parody of it; The Poor Mouth. It “ relates the story of one Bonaparte O’Coonassa, born in a cabin in a fictitious village called Corkadoragha in western Ireland equally renowned for its beauty and the abject poverty of its residents.” His satire got him into a lot of hot water.
No doubt about it. There is something very unique about those treeless, windswept islands off the West Coast of Ireland. I believe they have a special place in the heart of the Irish..
Next stop: the Shetland Islands.
Multi-instrumentalist, Inge Thomson, who hails from Fair Isle, has been mentioned several times on the AW. Recently. I became very keen to hear more of her music and explore her back catalogue. She often plays with Karine Polwart but previously was in Drop the Box and then Harem Scarem, How can I not love Scottish band who had an album called the Birnam Witch Project?
I am very keen to hear more about Inge’s back-catalogue and the modern music of the Scottish highlands and islands.
All this brings us to the author who really put the Shetland Isles on the modern popular culture map
In her early 20s, Anne Cleeves worked at a bird watching centre on the Shetlands. 30 years later she wrote her first novel about DCI Jimmy Perez.
Saturday TV in Sweden is saved. “Shetland” is back! Interesting stories, fine acting and magnificent scenery: it is a treat. Cleeves also created Tyneside DCI Vera Stanhope so wonderfully played by Brenda Blethyn. To my own surprise, I have never read one of her books.
Guensey, Corsica, Gozo,, Sark, Iceland, Malta, the Orkneys, Sardinia, Cap Verde, the Hebrides, Menorca, Crete, the Easter Islands, Ibiza, Corfu, the Isle of Man…..
Please share your thoughts about your favourite islands. And if there is a tune or two, some books or a film, we would like to hear about it.