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The Natives Issue

Give Me a Signal

Depending on How you look at it, Barra is either an untainted paradise or the most boring place in the world. If you’re a retired fisherman then it’s the first one. If you’re a 17-year-old kid transplanted there from the city, then you’re putting your...
VICE Staff
Κείμενο VICE Staff
1.1.06

The bus shelter by the bay is one of the island’s hottest spots. Photo by Andy Capper

Depending on How you look at it, Barra is either an untainted paradise or the most boring place in the world. If you’re a retired fisherman then it’s the first one. If you’re a 17-year-old kid transplanted there from the city, then you’re putting your right hand up the air going: “Me me meeeeeaahahggghg! Get me out of here!” Saying that, the young people on this island are some of the most relaxed, kind, well-balanced young people I’ve ever met. The rest of the world’s schools and colleges should be sent videos on how to be like them. One of the reasons for this is that because of the lack of people on the island, the kids are forced to mingle and relate with people of every age, hence you’ll find 18-year-old girls chatting relaxedly with 85 year old squeezebox players in the bar while their brothers and sisters practice the highland fling around the gymnasium by the wife of the MP just 20 yards away. Because they’re indoctrinated in all ways of life, from the cradle to the grave, the youngsters commit hardly any crime, they drink occasionally but nowhere near mainland standards. Maybe this is what keeps the kids from not smashing up the island in protest that the only thing that’s there for them is a once-a-week youth club, a bus shelter and a mobile phone signal that only works for about 25 seconds a day in one certain part of the island when you’re standing on one leg with your left hand in a bucket of prawns. Vice: Karen Taylor, you were part of the consortium of young people who campaigned for the island to get a mobile phone mast installed so you could all phone each other up all the time. What influenced your decision to do that? Karen Taylor: Well I get bored quite a lot of the time. I wish there were places to go and things to see. Here there’s nothing apart from the youth café. If we had a mobile phone mast we could talk to our friends more. There’s random spots where you can get a signal. That’s only for a few seconds, it comes and goes all the time. So what happened? Where did it all go wrong? We got a petition and sent letters to politicians and various phone companies to tell them why we need a phone mast. We did a radio interview and then the summer before last, a company said that they would put a mast up. We were all delighted and then they just backed out. Wow. Why? We don’t know. It was really sad for all the young people because we were all talking about how good it would be to have a phone. We think there are good people here, but I suppose the big companies don’t care about people like that any more. VICE STAFF