on Fair Isle has been destroyed by fire.
This is something that I wouldn't normally comment on. I like birds but I know very little about them and I wouldn't want to go bird watching. I just enjoy the birds around me and encourage them by keeping an untidy garden with water available.
Our cats never chased birds. Our cats only once brought a bird inside. The cat which did this was incredibly gentle. The bird had a broken wing. The cat simply put it down in front of my mother and sat there looking at her and giving her a small "miaou" as if to say, "Can you fix it?" (There are people I know who say this could not have happened but a neighbour saw the bird hit glass and injure itself. It was not injured by the cat.)
But, although I know little about them, I do know that birds are an incredibly important part of nature and we have some wonderful birds here. We have everything from the tiny honey-eaters and sparrows to the big kookaburras and rowdy corellas.
I know Fair Isle is the same. There are more than 300 varieties of bird to be seen there. It's a destination for bird lovers from all over the world.
The island depends on the income these incomers bring for their short stays. They depend on the research which is being done from there.
Fair Isle is tiny. It is a tiny bump of land in the sea a long way from anywhere else. The people there are hardy. They need to be. They are not well off even now and they once lived in abject poverty.
Why am I bothered? Because there is also a rich knitting heritage there. In January this year I taught a class called "An introduction to Fair Isle knitting" and I tried to introduce the students I had to the immensely rich and diverse colour work knitting that is the islanders' contribution to the art and craft of knitting.
In preparing for the class I contacted the information centre on Fair Isle to check on some facts. The woman who responded seemed warm and friendly and more than happy to answer questions. I understood some of where she was coming from in her comments because my family lived on an island for a while. It was larger than Fair Isle but all islands share certain things which set them apart from the rest of the world.
I know that woman will be devastated and that there will be many islanders without an income as a result of the fire. They will need help and I hope they get it in a timely fashion. I don't know if the link below will work but this was the STV news clip. Think of them please!