Sunday, 19 July 2009

A Memorable Sunday

This is the first Sunday on which Calmac have run a scheduled ferry service between the Isle of Lewis and the Scottish mainland breaking a tradition stretching back hundreds of years. Opponents have described it as an attack on the culture, heritage and way of life in Lewis, where the Sabbath is strictly observed, but many believe it will be a great benefit to the islands.

Opponents of the Sunday sailing prayed at the quayside, while supporters cheered the boat on its way to the Scottish mainland.

I can see both sides of the argument. I am not in favour of unrestricted shop opening and the general Sunday mania that occurs on the mainland. I believe people in non-essential jobs should have a day off. And if they wish to use that day only to walk to church, read and pray I am OK with that. (Quite where travelling by car to protest at the quayside comes in I'm not sure. That in itself is a relaxing of the former rule whereby one had to walk to Sunday worship - but perhaps they all did walk into Stornoway.) It bothers me not that the shops and cafes are closed. I also quite enjoy the fact that noisy outside work doesn't take place. (Who knows what goes on inside?). On the other hand the Island needs the tourists and the increased freedom that a Sunday sailing allows. What I do not find amusing are extremists of any sort. Or perhaps I should say that in some ways I do find them amusing - they can make such fools of themselves.

When the ferry, the MV Isle of Lewis, broke down in the Minch on Friday and spent Saturday in dock being repaired, some members of the Lord's Day Observance Society claimed it was God's Will. When it got going again for the Sunday sailing I can only presume Calmac's Will was a bit stronger or God had changed his mind! Yes, Heather dearest, I know I'm being naughty! The whole palaver was just so funny (or it would have been had I not been concerned about the possibility of Jo being stranded in Ullapool on Monday because the ferry broke down on one of its busiest weekends of the year). Jo, wandering around Ullapool for the afternoon, watched the first car come off the ferry onto the mainland to the sound of cheering.

Interestingly, I read recently that in 1907 the parish council of the village of Halberton in Devon passed a resolution against the sale of Sunday newspapers in the village as having 'a bad and pernicious influence upon public morality, and in affecting the moral tone of the rising generation'. The absence of a ferry service has meant the absence of Sunday newspapers and if anyone had attempted to import them by plane they would have been boycotted by a lot of people. I wonder if Sunday newspapers will follow the ferry service and, if so, whether the moral tone of the rising generation will be affected. No doubt the debate over Sunday generally will continue for a long time yet but the ferry will become absorbed into the new Island mentality just as the Sunday plane service did a few years ago.


  1. Not at all naughty. Common, you know me well enough by now - don't you???

    I am not for extremists, I am not for signs and yelling, I am not for anyone PUSHING there own personal way upon anyone; for one way or another.

    I am for God :)

    I would have been frustrated with those people, or any who are telling others that there way is WRONG. They pull in judgement upon themselves for acting in such a juvenile manner, as far as I am concerned.

    The Sabbath rest begins in one's heart - no matter where you may be; in a church, on a hill side, on a boat sailing along the river. Worshipping our Maker in the presence of others so happens to be on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays or any day of the week depending upon what church you are attending; but the Sabbath can only be found within yourself...resting and honoring God, between the two and it is personal - no one's business.

    Not naughty in the least...just giving back what they're dishing out, that's all.

    You will always have my blessing...even when you are naughty, my friend...just don't tell me about it ;)

    ♥ Heather

  2. What a charming post! Just knowing there is still a community that objects to such Sunday activities is heartwarming. Sounds like the sort of place I'd feel right at home. Even years after its introduction here, I can't see why we need Sunday trading. Not that I object on religious grounds but surely those in the service industries deserve one day a week of guaranteed rest. But on the other hand I can no longer imagine a ferry service with no service on Sunday. So maybe I have half-moved with the times.

  3. Hope Jo arrives safe and sound, with few holdups.

    Do warn her about the hazards of "that goose" in GB's home. And just have a glorious reunion and catchup.

    Is so wonderful that you've been in the position to be up there for GB.

    Care and huggles from Wellington to all 3 of you,

    Michelle, with a sleeping Zebbycat "they're so lovely when they're alseep"

  4. The very last point you make about Sunday newspapers is one of particular interest. Sunday newspapers used to be produced on Saturday (they may largely still be). The objection to them being read (in days gone by the idea of them being available on Sunday was academic as there was no way of getting them to the Island) and even sold on Monday was that they were a Sunday newspaper per se. The fact that Monday newspapers were produced on Sunday always conveniently escaped comment.

    On the subject of 'quietness' I agree but if you go round Stornoway (or even in our own Township of Eagleton where a non-incomer uses a motor mower on Sundays) there is often little apart from closed shops to distinguish the Town from other quiet towns in the Country. And on the subject of demand for some Sunday commerce the one petrol station and shop that does open in Stornoway is exceptionally well used. I'm not sure how the one on Berneray (a very Sabatarian area) is faring but it has remained open so one assumes it is worthwhile.

    I could add many things to this but one I would just mention is that when, 35 years ago, we came to this Island we were told that we were not allowed to watch TV on Sunday or take our children out en famille. There are still people I know who only watch religious programmes on Sunday. But I suspect that they are in a very tiny minority and as for going out.....


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