The young girls of the island hop, skip and jump around these in competitions during a dance called “The Sword Dance”. The dance dates back to the reign of Malcolm III, King of Scots in the eleventh century. Known in Gaelic as “Canmore” meaning “Great Head”, he allegedly danced over his bloody claymore (the ancient two-handed sword of Scotland), crossed with the sword and severed head of his enemy. These days, the girls use the dance to keep fit.
E NUMBER SANDWICH
Made almost entirely out of E numbers that the mainland outlawed more than fifteen years ago, this frightening piece of confectionery is meant to represent a meatball sandwich with lettuce. Nobody takes Class A drugs on Barra. They have this instead.
METAPHOR FOR STRUGGLING FISHING INDUSTRY
This used to be attached to an old fishing boat. It probably held the mainbrace in the starboard bow or something. Bits of old boats litter the island like fried chicken boxes do the top decks of buses in Dalston. They’re omnipresent. Twenty years ago these things were attached to profitable fishing boats but now, thanks to bodies like the EU, it’s becoming harder and harder to maintain as a player in the fishing game.
for the exacts rizzo why.
This is what happens when the nearest black person lives more than 300 miles away. We bought this two foot high doll in the main gift shop on the island for about £16. Asked the woman behind the counter, “How much is the gollywog?” and she said: “Och you cannae call it that. You have to call it a golly-dolly. Apparently people are offended by the word ‘wog’ these days. Och it’s that political correctness.”
Did we mention booze? One of the most popular tipples on the island is a pint of this with a whisky chaser on the side. Fishermen will sit at the bar silently sipping these for eight hours a day. Then when an English ponce tries to interview you, you drunkenly mumble about “death and change” then grab him around the neck (this happened to our photographer Neil).
There’s not that much for kids to do on the island. There’s no mobile phone signal and the video shop only has two titles,
Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring
Missing In Action
. That’s why when you find a decent stick like this you hold on to it. You can use it to click alongside fences or gates or you can throw it for your dog to fetch. You can also start a fire or throw it at a sheep. “Sheep are dumb fuckers” one islander told us: “They have a memory span of three seconds.”
Big business and the governnment have been crapping on the good folk of Barra for years. Beause it’s so remote, and with zero media voice, the “man” thinks he can do what he wants. The latest thing is that he wants to stop the island’s once-a-day plane. It’s a lifeline for the islanders. The primary school kids are up in arms about it and have put posters like this up all over the airport.
You know what I shay? I don’t need her. If she can’t undershtand that I need to hang out at the bar every day for shix hours with some other boring alcoholics who aren’t even my friends then the bitch ish mad. Thank God phonesh don’t work on the island or I’d be fucked.
Here’s something you never see in the city apart from at overpriced sushi bars. The fisherman who sold us these said the best way to eat them was to get a few cans of beer, sit on the beach and light a fire. We thought about doing that for about two minutes but then realised that if we did that, we’d die from hypothermia in about three minutes because we are Sassenach puffs.
The Castlebay Bar staff were very cool to us even when we dropped that whisky glass on the floor just as the music stopped. They also have the largest collection of water jugs (used for drinking whisky) on the island, or for that matter, anywhere we’ve ever been. Was going to make some kind of racism comment here, but the golly dolly takes care of that (right).
This sign is pasted on the door of the grocer’s shop near the bay. It says “Open except when closed”. Wahey! You know the Scottish hotel owner in
? That’s only a mild exaggeration of people in the Outer Hebrides.
The film “Whisky Galore” was filmed here. The incident that inspired the film—where a ship crashes with 50,000 bottles of Scoth on board—also happened near Barra, so there are hundreds of bottles of whisky buried all around the island. Everybody got so drunk when they discovered the booze they forgot where they hid it so there’s still stashes of it buried all over the place.
They look like baby bird abortions, but these little rock-clinging squidgy guys oooked in garlic butter and seasoned with lemon and pepper is the second most delicious snack on the island after the black pudding. For explicit instructions on how to make black pudding