Sunday, 22 December 2013

I have just been reading a

description for a "residency" on the Isle of Eigg. This little island off the coast of Scotland clearly has a "can do" and "go ahead" sort of attitude.
They have a "bothy" (small hut for those of you who don't speak Scots) available for artists, writers or musicians who want to spend a week away from it all and get some work done. For £200 you get the bothy and a lift to and from it once you reach the island.
The bothy sounds basic but comfortable enough - exactly the sort of thing someone who wanted to get a week of serious work done might need. It would be free of the distractions of the internet and phone conversations and you don't want to spend too long under an outside shower - do you?
I think I would have to hope the mist descended so that I could not see the scenery. That would be a distraction.
The description made me wonder what many city dwelling writers, artists and musicians would think of living in such a location, even for a week? How would they cope with being so alone?
You can be lonely in a city. There are some very lonely people in cities. They are surrounded by people. They are not alone but they are lonely.
I think it may be harder to be lonely in the country. You may be alone at times but people are more likely to acknowledge you in passing. The description of Eigg actually says that if you do not want to walk the four miles into town you can go to the road and "put your thumb out" to get a lift into the village. Safe to do so? Yes, on an island that size it would be because the permanent residents would know each other and they would know who was visiting. Oh yes, they would keep a discreet eye on visitors arriving on the ferry.
Want some company? Then you head into the village and the harbour. I have no doubt someone will talk to you. The rest will be up to you.
We lived on an island for four years. The Senior Cat was the headmaster of the big school in the middle. It was larger than Eigg but it was still an island with a small population. There were about three thousand people living there at the time. We didn't know everyone but we knew many of them and, because my parents both taught at the school and my father was a lay preacher everyone knew us.
That wasn't always comfortable but it was safe.  I think a week on Eigg might be rather nice - but I am not sure how much work I would get done.

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