Friday, 28 November 2008

Through a glass darkly

As previously posted, trying to find one kind of 'thing' which represents a geographical area can be tricky. Possibly impossible. I've wondered before about what image could represent the Outer Hebrides. Maybe the beach at Luskentyre, or the plane landing at Barra, or a boat leaving the harbour.

But it's this image by The Tamed Shrew (Kate Ferris) on Flickr that, for me, represents the Outer Hebrides. And this is how you take a picture.

She took it while on a bus on the island of Lewis, looking out of the window. On September 4th 2008, through the window, then through the plastic shield of the bus shelter, she saw an old man sitting, waiting for a bus.

The picture and comments can be found on Flickr.


Why does it represent the Outer Hebrides (for me)? Because there are many old, very old, people here, both native and retireess to the archipelago. Every week, the obituary column in the Stornoway Gazette is long, while the births column is short. Funerals are an integral, frequent, intense and raw, and both private and public part of living here. Because it's in black and white, the colours of the Hebrides through the long winter. Because you just know he's got a story, his story, and it will be epic.

I've wondered several times who he is, and what his story is. And I hope he's still alive and will be alive for a lot longer, has led a fulfilling life, and is able to reflect on it with contentment.

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