woken in the wee small hours to the thrumming and rumbling of heavy
machinery. In the absolute silence of a Shetland night, such sounds
are magnified tenfold. Noisy nights could be expected if this place
was a vast urban conurbation, but it's not, it's a small island where
the sheep probably outnumber the humans. At the first sound outside,
I woke in darkness, wondering what on earth was going on. Voices,
splashes, sounds of metal ringing on stone and under it all, a
generator rumbling and coughing into life. In the pitch black of a
Scalloway night, my neighbour had turned on floodlights and could be
seen hurling concrete into a mixer with gay abandon prior to doing a
spot of recreational wall building and pickaxe wielding. He was doing
this a scant thirty feet away from where I clung to the edge of my
futon and profoundly dammed his eyes.
Monday night, the show began at 2 a.m and finished at dawn. Tuesday
night was a later performance, beginning at 2.40 a.m and finishing at
dawn. Last night it began at 3.15 a.m. and by then I was so sleep-
deprived and desperate, I climbed downstairs and phoned the police.
Curtain came down twenty minutes later. There were no encores.
Yeah, I know. You think I should have gone out and spoken to the
insanely insomniac concrete-mixer and pick-wielder myself. You think
it was a bit...cowardly and mean of me to sic the law on him? You can
see it, hmmm? You would've done that, eh? Got your clothes on,
grabbed a torch ( it's pitch dark out there - no streetlights - the
floodlights are for his benefit, not for community illumination) and
gone next door to remonstrate with a neighbour you've never met. A
very strong neighbour ( you should have seen the vast stones he was
hefting around - phhhwoarrrrrr) with a pickaxe. Yeah, right. Sure you
So. Silence blankets the shore tonight. I'm flailing around in a
sleep-deprived fog, trying to stay awake long enough to draw a
cartoon promoting, announcing and introducing the first meeting of a
Stitch and Bitch group in Lerwick. I hope I have cojones enough to go
back to the shop where I was initially rebuffed for enquiring as to
the possibility of there being such a group already in existence in
Shetland. Go back to the shop and ask if they'll be good enough to
put up the poster that I ought to be Getting On With instead of
The idea behind the S & B being that if you build it, they will come.
But if you build it in the middle of the bloody night, your neighbour
will grass you up bigtime.