So, on the Uist and Harris runs, the public will have the opportunity to name the two ferries that will soon be in service. Great news.
Do you have any names in mind? No, not Boaty McBoatface – not allowed. What about Reddy McRedface? It might be appropriate, given the humiliating delays in the construction of the two ships at Ferguson’s yard.
All you need to do is visit the website of Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) which is the owner of the majority of CalMac vessels. Follow the links to submit your thoughtfully considered proposal to them by December 18. I’m going to do mine now. Wait where you are. Talk among yourselves. I’ll be back in a few shakes.
Well, that was a complete waste of time. What do you think? The ferries’ possible names have already been chosen. You can only pick options from their list. The same old format, with mainly hills, lochs, and islands. Eubhal, Claymore, Eilean Dorcha, Orasay, Pioneer, Lochmor, Scotasay, and Clisham are the names from which you must choose two. Boring or what?
Also boring is being made to wait around when all you want to do is to go home. An Audi Quattro carrying five men from Stornoway pulled up to the Ullapool ferry port. “I can’t let you on the ferry,” says the guy supervising traffic, “Quattro is short for four. One of you needs to leave and walk on.”
The chauffeur asked: “Why? Quattro is just the car’s name. It takes five people.” No reply. The driver said: “I’m tired of this. Call your boss right here.”
“I’m sorry,” the traffic man says. “He is busy with two guys in that Fiat Uno.”
A culinary trip back in time to the 1980s
Meanwhile, I have been on my uno making retro food. More than a week ago, a distinguished neighbour of mine brought me some fish. Thanks, Mr K.
Cleaned haddock fillets with – wait for it – the liver and the head. That is a DIY kit for creating ceann-cropaig. Crappit heid is another name for it, in some places.
Sounds delish, doesn’t it? The haddock, cod or ling’s head is stuffed with a mixture of fish liver, oats, thinly-sliced onions, salt, and a barrowload of freshly-ground pepper.
I last tasted Vimto in the 1980s. Perfect for December, made with boiling water
I had to freeze it for a week, until Mrs X was out all day. Fish gives her the boak, you see. After stuffing the head, with those big eyes staring me out, it went into a large pan between the fillets to prevent the oozy goodness from spilling out. After simmering for 30 minutes, our kitchen had a scent reminiscent of Billingsgate Market.
I haven’t had ceann-cropaig since the 1980s. Hot Vimto to wash everything down. I had noticed a sign at the Co-op saying I should try it hot.
I last tasted Vimto in the 1980s. Perfect for December, made with boiling water. You get that warm feeling from your tongue to your feet.
Sir Keir may have said the wrong thing
Sir Keir Starmer has put his two feet in it, hasn’t he? His intention was probably to demonstrate to Tory supporters that he was a trustworthy individual who could care about business owners in addition to ordinary employees.
His glorifying of Margaret Thatcher’s way of doing things took him far too far down the Conservative path. My visit to Lancashire a few years ago made me see how painful Thatcher’s policies still were for the mining and steel industry.
In Scotland, it was worse. Scotland lost a lot of industries as a result of Thatcher’s policies. Remarkably, once a source of pride, industries like shipbuilding and coal were brought to their knees. It was shocking.
Unemployment had gotten out of hand. Half of the men in some parts of Glasgow had no jobs. Her callous “slash and burn” strategy against certain businesses inflicted suffering and infuriation.
Then the tide shifted. The country thought she had gone too far. She was going to lose the next election.
But unexpected help came from an unelected Argentine soldier. General Leopoldo Galtieri invaded the Falkland Islands. Thatcher confronted him, dispatched a task force, gave him a bloody nose, and sent him homeward to think again. Declared a national hero, she won the next election.
Another victory in 1987, but she was soon viewed by her own party as unlistening, uncaring, and a barrier to effective governance. Finally, compelled to resign in November 1990, she had lost a confidence vote.
Now we have a Labour leader who thinks highly of her tactics. Oh, heck.
On a hot day years ago, I went to Madame Tussauds. I found myself looking at a waxwork of Margaret Thatcher in a bikini. A security guard strode over, looked me up and down, and said: “Sir, you can’t wear that in here.”
Iain Maciver is a former broadcaster and news reporter from the Outer Hebrides