The background of the ship’s 89 strong crew is a slice of early 20th Century society in Britain. The men were from varied cultural backgrounds. There is currently no memorial to them, and many of their relatives never found out what happened. Since writing about the subject for The Orkney News, Fiona Grahame has been contacted by some family members, and has been uncovering their often remarkable stories.
A documentary about this tragedy, to focus on the lives of the individual crewmen, is currently in pre-production by The Orkney News team. We are seeking financial backing to take this project forward – if you are in a position to help with this, please get in touch via the contact form on this site or https://theorkneynews.scot.
When Arnold Schwarzenegger became Governer of California in 2003, he was criticised for claiming to care about the environment whilst driving around in a Hummer (of which he owned six). This incrediblymasculine status symbol gets around 10 miles to the gallon, and is the exact opposite of what anyone that actually cares about the environment should be driving.
In 2019, in Orkney, it seems that everyone now drives the equivalent of a Hummvee: 4×4 SUVs and pickup trucks such as the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi Lwhatever, etc., are everywhere. These vehicles are so obnoxiously huge, they stuggle to stay on one side of the road. They are also an environmental disaster.
As engine technology has supposedly become more fuel efficient (notwithstanding vehicle manufacturers cooking the figures and illegally colluding to retard development of emissions reduction technology), the public has responded by buying larger, heavier, less efficient vehicles.
The above cartoon was drawn to accompany an article written by Fiona Grahame of The Orkney News foriScot magazine, which states that Orkney has far more cars per head than the Scottish average:
At the last count Orkney had 753 cars per 1,000 people compared to 385 in Edinburgh and a Scottish average of 533. It is not that Orcadians are richer or lazier than the folks of Edinburgh , in fact Orkney has a low wage economy but to get to work you most likely will need your own transport.
The unfortunate necessity of private vehicular transport does not justify the choice to drive the most environmentally destructive vehicle that money can buy.
There is also a chicken-and egg problem in that few people in Orkney can rely on public transport because public transport in Orkney is totally inadequate, but the reason it is so inadequate (and expensive) is in part because almost everyone chooses to drive everywhere!
The benefits of cycling to an individual’s health, the environment, and consequential knock-on financial benefits to the public purse (e.g. the NHS), are enormous. So enormous that Professor John Parkin of Bristol University, author of “Designing for Cycle Traffic“, stated in an interview with Carlton Reid on the Spokesman podcast that he thinks government officials often simply don’t believe the figures!
Thanks to the volume of vehicular traffic and the aggressive, dangerous, and inconsiderate behaviour of people behind the wheel, cycling on the roads of Orkney, like most places, is a scary, life-threatening, experience.
Campaigning for women to have the right to vote took place from the latter half of the 19th Century up to the start of the First World War. Orcadian suffragists were part of that activism.
Researched and scripted by Fiona Grahame, the hand-painted animation by Martin Laird is stylised to make some reference to the world of 20th century art. The artist Stanley Cursiter was associated with the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society, having designed its banner and married Phyllis Hourston, one of its members. The design of characters and locations was derived from period photos.
The narration by Orcadian Kim Foden is upbeat and enthusiastic. The original score by James Watson sets the perfect tempo for the flow of the animation.
Thank you to the staff at the Phoenix Cinema at the Pickaquoy Centre, who made it possible for A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm to premiere on the big screen in Kirkwall. It was shown alongside a week of films celebrating women in cinema, to coincide with International Women’s Day on the 8th of March 2019.
A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm, the animated story of the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society as told by The Orkney News, will be shown before these selected films. It premieres alongside Can You Ever Forgive Me, which stars Melissa McCarthy and Richard E Grant, and was directed by Marielle Heller.
Thank you to the staff at the Pickaquoy Centre who have made it possible to see the animation on the big screen. Thanks also to the Scottish Government Centenary Fund, without whom this project would not have happened.
A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm, the animated story of the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society, is now all but complete. It will be available soon.
The story, which is largely forgotten and previously untold, was researched and written by Fiona Grahame of The Orkney News. Narration was provided by Kim Foden, with a moving musical score by James Watson.
Campaigning for women to have the right to vote took place from the latter half of the 19th Century, up to the start of the First World War. Orcadian suffragists were part of that activism.
The artist Stanley Cursiter was associated with the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society. He designed their banner (of which sadly only a written description survives), and married Phyllis Hourston, a member of the society.
This artistic connection served as an inspiration for the animation. The intention was to make a moving painting. As such, all the art was hand painted in gouache on watercolour paper. It was then photographed, digitally collaged, and animated on a computer.
This animation project has been a joy to work on. Thanks especially to The Scottish Government Centenary Fund, without whom it would not have been possible.
Gammon is Great! Pineapple Gammons in yellow vests take back control of the Great Banana United Kakistocracy, under the approving gaze of a Skeleton Lord.
Kakistocracy is defined as government by the worst people.
The Banana Kakistocracy is an undemocratic totalitarian state run by incompetent psychopaths with delusional levels of self-confidence. It is a low wage, low productivity economy which has dismantled its social security system and manufacturing base, and sold off publicly owned assets. Prime industries are now tax evasion, weapons dealing, and financial crime.
This cartoon was created to accompany the Orkney News article in the November 2018 edition of iScot magazine. The article is about St Andrew’s Fair Saturday 2018, which is a day of events promoting positive social change throughout the world. It is a response to the unsustainable consumerism embodied by Black Friday.
According to Biblical legend, Roman senator Lucius Junius Gallio Annaeanus sentenced Andrew the Apostle to death by crucifixion in Achaea (Greece). Andrew supposedly didn’t feel himself worthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus Christ, and the fair-minded Lucius had him bound to an X-shaped cross (crux decussata) instead.
Centuries later, Óengus mac Fergusa, King of the Picts, is said to have selected the saltire as the emblem of Scotland following a successful battle against the Angles (and a vision of the crux decussata in the sky).
Having its roots in a story about St. Andrew’s feelings of unworthiness, the saltire seems an appropriate symbol for a people afflicted by the ‘Scottish cringe‘. Many a self-proclaimed Proud Scot resists the idea the people of Scotland have the wit or resources to govern themselves
In December, production artwork for an upcoming animation will be on display at the Northlight Gallery in Stromness. This work was created for a short film from The Orkney News called A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm. Researched and written by Fiona Grahame, it tells the largely forgotten story of the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society. The project received funding from the Scottish Government’s Centenary Fund celebrating 100 years of women having the vote.
The Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society was a peaceful, non-party political organisation, open to both men and women. The title of the animation, A Gude Cause Maks A StrongErm, comes from one of the banner slogans which the Suffragists used on marches.
This exhibition is taking place in association with St. Andrew’s Fair Saturday. Fair Saturday falls on the last Saturday of November (following the consumerist Black Friday). A wide variety of events in support of positive social change are taking place across the globe. The events calendar can be viewed on the Fair Saturday website (link).
The quote, “What you don’t have, you don’t miss,” comes from an interview with Edwin Harrold’s former neighbour Ruby Spence, as outlined here.
Edwin Harrold was by all accounts quite a character. He lived a simple life at Bankburn Cottage off Bigswell Road, Stenness, in the West Mainland of Orkney. There he re-routed the Russadale Burn to power a small hydro-electric system to cover his modest electrical needs.
The area around Edwin’s house was landscaped to create a small woodland escape of a kind which is uncommon in Orkney. Visitors were welcome, and the magical-sounding Happy Valley no doubt left a lasting impression on many a young Orcadian.
Happy Valley is now maintained by the Friends of Happy Valley, a charitable organisation.
For more on Edwin Harrold’s life and work, read this months iScot magazine.
Cartoon created to accompany The Orkney News article in the June 2018 edition of iScot magazine, about the Orkney connection to the Scottish Covenanters. The drawing references the dark artistic vision of William Blake. The figure of Urizen represents an aspect of God in Blake’s personal mythology.
The Covenanters were a 17th Century Scottish Presbyterian Christian sect. They were evangelical and militaristic, effectively governing Scotland for a time during the War of the Three Kingdoms. They also fought in the English Civil war, where they were defeated by the New Model Army of Oliver Cromwell.
The Covenanters did not recognise the Divine Right of monarchs to lead the Church, only Jesus. This caused them to fall foul of a succession of Kings – Charles I, Charles II, and James VII, who all tried to suppress their religious and rebellious activities.
During a period called The Killing Time, many Covenanters were executed or captured. 1200 of them were defeated at the Battle of Bothwell Brig, and 250 of these put aboard the Crown of London and sent into a life of slavery in the English colonies. They never made it. In 1679 the ship was wrecked in a storm off the coast of Deerness, in Orkney, at a headland called Scarvataing.
As the people were slaves, they were treated as cargo. The captain would be recompensed for their loss if they died, but not if they escaped. Therefore the hatches were ordered closed even as the ship foundered. One crew member did use an axe to break free some prisoners, and thanks to his efforts 47 of them survived. Most were recaptured, but some escaped and it is said their descendants still live in Orkney.