This island is not for sale: how Eigg fought back

The long predict: Small islands have always been objectives of libido for a certain kind of man grandiose to ruler his own minuscule society. But the Republic of Eigg has run its own way

” It’s discrepancies between black-and-white Tv and colouring ,” said Brian Greene.” That’s what it was like after the revolution .” Greene was giving me a raising in his rundown Peugeot along Eigg’s only street, rippling at every passerby. It was the various kinds of explosive Highland summer day when butterflies jinked out of the steaming greenery and every foxglove, fuchsia and yellowish pennant iris seemed to have simultaneously burst into flower.

Small islands are like notorieties: they loom far larger than their actual sizing, they are pored over by visitor-fans and they grow public properties, laden with reputations and attributes they may or may not exemplify. The Hebridean island of Eigg is second to St Kilda as the most famous of the small British isles. While St Kilda is renowned for its extinguishing as a situate of human agree, Eigg is celebrated for its rebirth. After overthrowing its eccentric, authoritarian owner two decades ago, this 31 sq km( 12 sq mile) patch of moor and mountain was reborn as what is sometimes mockingly “ve called the” People’s Republic of Eigg. This prevail of David versus Goliath has forged an apparently inspirational, sustainable society of 100 people. On first sight, it sounds at once industriously creative and attractively lackadaisical: colorful houses, gardens filled with strawberry spots, hammocks made from aged angling cyberspaces and fluctuates from old-fashioned pink buoys.

Eigg has suffered more than most over the perennial small-island question of owned. Larger British isles, such as the islands of Shetland and Orkney, or the Isle of Man, have( at least in modern times) bypassed the vexation of erratic proprietors. Perhaps their remoteness, or the strength of their regional culture, militate against individual possession, but it may plainly be sheered length. In comparison, the Small Isles- Eigg, Muck, Rum and Canna- are perfectly organized and of an ideal acreage to be is in possession of person or persons. For the last two centuries, these beautiful, fecund Hebridean islands have been objectives of inclination for affluent mortals- and it has always been followers- who love islands, with disastrous consequences for both sides.

The islophile DH Lawrence wrote a sardonic short story, The Man Who Loved Islands. It is a cautionary fable: a young idealist called Mr Cathcart buys a small island in order to originate his own utopia, downsizes to a tiny one where reference is realises the native islanders are scorning him, and finally moves to an uninhabited rock. Fredrik Sjoberg, an author I inspected on the minuscule Swedish island of Runmaro, conceives small islands possess” a strange attraction for men with a need for sovereignty and security” because” nothing is so enclosed and concrete as an island “. The literary academic Peter Conrad offers a more Freudian presentation, is recommended that an island is a” uterine sanctuary” bordered, like the foetus, by flowing, and captivating adults in search of a mother or a primal source of security. Novelists cocoon their creativity- and unstable self-esteems- on islands, too.” I like islands ,” wrote Will Self,” because they’re discrete and readable, just like fibs .”

One of Eigg’s age-old Gaelic name is” the Island of the Powerful Women”, which it was respectfully called by male islanders at sea, to avoid bad luck. But its matriarchy was despoiled by a succession of men whose craving for Eigg outdistanced their makes. The English Runciman family were reasonably enlightened- Lord Runciman’s wife, Hilda, becomes one of the first female MPs- but they exchanged Eigg as a” perfectly secluded island of the Old World” in 1966. It was bought by an older Welsh farmer whose Hereford cattle swiftly croaked of bracken poison. Discouraged, he got rid of Eigg for PS110, 000 in 1971 to Bernard Farnham-Smith, self-styled naval officer, head of an English kindnes that wanted to run small island developing as local schools for disabled sons. Eigg’s own clas was so sapped that by 1973 it was down to one schoolchild. Islanders welcomed the charismatic “Commander” and his narrations of his navy daytimes in China. Farnham-Smith’s ingenious sentiments were a bit unclear, however, and he was soon cutting costs. The island doctor described his regime as” living in foe tenancy, without the enjoyment of being able to shoot the bugger “. It turned out that “the worlds largest” Farnham-Smith had commanded was a fire company, and Eigg was back on the market in 1974.

On 1 April 1975, Keith Schellenberg, a rush, Yorkshire-born businessman and onetime Olympic bobsleigher, acquired Eigg. He was a glamour, persuasive wanderer, who, over the next 20 times, fulfilled the narrative of The Man Who Loved Islands perhaps more reliably than any other real nesomane( John Fowles’ period for island-lover ). Legend has it that Schellenberg located himself locked in his home at Udny Castle, a magnificent piling belonging to his second partner, with the deadline for a blind auction for Eigg approaching. Unfazed, he abseiled down the walls to give Farnham-Smith PS2 74,000- PS74, 000 more than the state-run Highlands and Islands Development Board was prepared to pay.

The 39 persisting islanders- an all-time population low- were originally delighted. They didn’t want a takeover including the government, which had shown little those who are interested in renewing their quay or reforming the high freight charges on the boat. At first, Schellenberg promoted a prescient modern see of self-sufficiency through tourism, the supernatural manufacture then hailed by the authorities as the solution to the Highland ” question “. Farnham-Smith had saved the wooden parish auditorium fastened, but in a popular early move Schellenberg opened it back to the islanders so there could be badminton in wintertime and dances in summer. Dozens of ceilidhs took place during that first golden year. Unlike other Highland lairds, Schellenberg was a vegetarian who objected to shooting, and he helped the Scottish Wildlife Trust to develop three nature reserves. Houses were rebuilt for celebration dwellings, and flamboyant boats, including a motor cruiser “ve called the” Golden Eye, brought tourists to the island. Job ads in national newspapers drew inflows of new occupants to work for the brand-new owner.

Maggie and Wes Fyffe were guiding a workmanship workshop on the east coast of Scotland when Schellenberg turned up and invited them to start a same project on Eigg. Maggie has keen, twinkly gazes, a Lancastrian accent and an superb smoker’s chuckle. She and Wes loved Eigg and find an immediate sense of belonging.” Apart from the fact that it is beautiful, I just liked being part of a small parish ,” she said as we drank tea in her croft. The pair had two children and, on Eigg, they no longer find excluded from circumstances.” Kids go to everything now because if there’s something happening everybody goes ,” said Maggie.” It simply detected right .”

In keeping with most Hebridean islanders, the Gaelic-speaking Eigg inhabitants were far from insular.” It’s a real misconception that folk have about Hebridean crofter characters ,” said Maggie. She mentions an age-old islander who has circulated the globe and fought in Palestine.” Beings in general here are very cordial, it’s part of the culture. They were really happy to see young people and kids arriving ,” she said. That outward-facing mentality is still a feature of the island.

Keith Schellenberg bought Eigg in 1975. Photo: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian

By the summer of 1979, Eigg was open for business. The population hopped to 60 and the school, that critical barometer of small-island health, abruptly had 12 pupils. There was a new tearoom and plane core; moped hire, era sails, sea angling, lobster net and pony trekking were advertised as on offer. Guests could even help with haymaking or shearing sheep. Regrettably, when the tourists arrived, these activities were rarely available. Staff turnover was worryingly high. New employees were housed in run-down builds with polythene for windowpanes. Schellenberg’s glorious Lodge was open house for his society friends in high summer. One likened him to Mr Toad:” Keith actually wears those round goggles and he’s always arriving in places with a good deal of sound and gloom of dirt .” His prized property was a 1927 Rolls-Royce. Patrons would perch on the running timber as he drove them to beach picnics or moonlit sports of hockey.” We expended our dates as if we were Somerset Maugham personas, sunbathing or playing croquet on the manicured lawn ,” said a friend of his.

In the hamlet browse I met Sarah Boden, one of Eigg’s two farmers. She recollects a German playboy platform in the Lodge plots in apache helicopters. Two representations dressed in catsuits brandishing toy guns stepped out firstly.” Schellenberg was very charismatic, a real entertainer ,” said Boden, who recollected him driving around in an eight-wheeled ArgoCat, an amphibious all-terrain vehicle.” He’d drive it to the craft and common it in the most ridiculous region possible at the quay, just so the visitors would watch .”

Schellenberg recreated the inter-island recreations that are commonly took place between the population of the Small Isles, and for his guests lay war games with yellow-bellied tennis clods, which were insensitively money as” Jacobites v Hanoverians “. During the 1988 sports the island ceilidh stripe, who had agreed to play for his affluent patrons, ended there would be a small entrance fee to raise money for a brand-new auditorium. When Schellenberg discovered that his American sidekicks had been charged, he demanded that their coin be returned. The party stepped off theatre and countless islanders left the concert in declaration, pursued by one of the laird’s elite Scottish patrons, who hollered:” Scum of the earth, half-baked progressives !”

Behind the slapstick was sincere affliction. In 1980, Schellenberg had divorced his wealthy second wife and, abruptly much poorer, was passing Eigg on a shoestring. The farm administrator cease, labourers were formed redundant and the tractors raced out of diesel. His government was propped up by generous government tax breaks for new, environmentally harmful orchards of non-native Sitka spruce. The flood came in through the nursery ceiling; old-time islanders’ residences were by now peculiarly dilapidated. Life” was quite dour”, recollected Boden, who depleted the first six years of their own lives on small island developing in the 1980 s.” We lived in five different the homes and two vans. Schellenberg would utilize and sack parties on a total conceit, so there was no protection .”

Inadvertently, though, he made an island parish that would ultimately depose him.

Many of the outsiders Schellenberg hired and burnt, such as Maggie and Wes Fyffe, liked Eigg so much better that they bided, and scratched out a self-sufficient life on crofts in Cleadale, the fruitful hollow that had been the island’s conventional centre. Older dwellers were welcoming, if amazed to meet beginners adopt the life they pushed their children to escape. Old and brand-new ligament over residence ceilidhs while Schellenberg fretted about Eigg’s ” hippy ” population. He characterised them as misfits absconding the mainstream,” strolling itinerants who found the island a nice recourse but were not mentally strong enough to be dealt with the life and earn a living “.

The laird was struggling to earn one, extremely. Schemed golf courses and tennis courtrooms never materialised, and tourism petered to a stall.” I’ve stopped its mode somewhat run-down- the Hebrides feel ,” he claimed in later years. Eventually, Schellenberg’s ex-wife, who still jointly owned Eigg, took him to courtroom, accusing him of mismanaging their declining resource. Across the Highlands, by the 1990 s, there used to be flourishing calls for tract reorganize. Tom Forsyth, an unsung protagonist of Scottish region reorganize who had helped renovate crofting on an separated peninsula northward of Ullapool, have thought that Eigg could become a brand-new Iona- like that much-visited Scottish isle, a target of spiritual pilgrimage, talent and prosperity. Together with Alastair McIntosh, a Lewis academic, Robert Harris, a Borders farmer, and Liz Lyon, an creator, Forsyth would procure the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust.In 1991 they launched a public request: to promote billions of pounds so we are able to buy the island.

The following May, Schellenberg was coerced by his ex-wife to lean Eigg up for sale. In July 1992, “its been” bought by the highest bidder: Schellenberg. He planned to make his Rolls-Royce on a” jubilant safarus” of the island, reported the Scotsman,” formerly “its been” interpreted roadworthy “. The car’s eras were numbered, nonetheless: early in January 1994 the sheds on Eigg’s pier burned down, with Schellenberg’s Roller inside. The police arrived to investigate but the villains were never identified.” It was once the laird’s factor[ his possession administrator] who exited about igniting parties out. Now it seems OK to burn out the laird himself ,” fumed Schellenberg, condemning” hippies and dropouts” for subverting island legends with” acid-rock defendants “. Eigg’s indigenous person responded with an open word refuting his “ludicrous allegations”.

Schellenberg was established not to let the islanders take over, and in 1995, involving coin after an acrimonious separate from his third partner, he hastily exchanged Eigg to a fire-worshipping German creator and self-styled “professor” who went by the honour of Maruma- Gotthilf Christian Eckhard Oesterle had read his new word in a fund of liquid in Geneva. Schellenberg returned to Eigg one last-place is high time to request an 1805 planned of the island from the plane supermarket. Islanders sounded he was on his room and parked a disused parish bus against the shop’s doorway to impede it. Then they took the day off to read what would happen next. A local police officer told the infuriated ex-landlord that if no one claimed owned of the bus within 30 daylights he had been able to remove it. Schellenberg stormed off, by barge.” You never understood me ,” was his anguished parting shot to the islanders.” I always wanted to be one of you .” Brian Greene, who came here from England as a young man responding to a hassle advert, virtually detected sorry for him.” He was like an immigrant. The Scots can be quite hard on their thousand-year-old oppressor sometimes ,” he said.” Everyone has good points, but he refused to show his .”

Eigg islanders celebrate the purchase of their island( Maggie Fyffe at far left ). Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian

Maruma arrived with splendid means. He showed it was impossible to own Eigg and committed to improve opportunities for the community, build a swimming pool, and replace the dirty diesel generators that provided electricity with an integrated system of puff and solar power. The press discovered that, regrettably, Maruma was not quite what he seemed: he was unknown in the artistry nature, he wasn’t a proper prof, and he had utilized Eigg as certificate for a PS300, 000 credit at a punishing 20% interest rate. He promised to remove the island’s rust-brown age-old vehicles, but a stilt of shipwrecks soon increased by the wharf: neighbourhoods dubbed it” the Maruma centre “. In July 1996, the island was put up for sale again, at an exaggerated rate of PS2m.

The Trust redoubled its fundraising endeavors. The storey of the islanders who wanted to buy their own island was evoked as a jolly cavort in the wording of Compton Mackenzie’s Whisky Galore, in which Hebridean islanders rebel against British bureaucrats. Eigg folk didn’t specially bask this stereotype, but it captivated ingenuities and raised money.

Maggie Fyffe, who became the Trust’s administrator, sorted through the mail from wellwishers: donations embarked flowing in at rates of PS1, 000 per berth luggage; soon it was PS30, 000 per purse. Concerts has just taken place in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Tyrone- and even Detroit- to invoke monies. A riddle patron, a woman from northern England whose name Fyffe still won’t uncover, afforded PS900, 000. Harmonizing to Alastair McIntosh, most donations came from England. Interlopers were outraged by the feudalism that the islanders endured- the owners even judged which of them, if any, could chew Eigg’s seaweed- and worried about the probable demise of its pristine medium. The wildlife cartels, includes the Scottish Wildlife Trust, were particularly effective at mobilising their members to help Eigg.

Meanwhile, the island’s Trust feared that Maruma’s German property operator would exchange Eigg to another international patron. The worker described the Scottish islands on his bibles as” the Van Goghs” of 120 personally inspected paradises:” There is a sense of romance in buying islands. It is the ultimate obtain they are able to oblige, a ended miniature world of which you can be king .” Maruma’s creditor, a German clothe trader, lastly situated the islanders out of their squalor. After Maruma defaulted on his PS300, 000 credit, the secured creditor utilized the Scottish the tribunals to pressure Eigg’s sale. His solicitors accepted the islanders’ offering of PS1. 5m on 4 April 1997. Finally, the people of Eigg owned their island.

Community-owned Eigg is 20 years old now.Like a luminary, it must hold honour, followers, negative advertisement and hangers-on. A constant brook of filmmakers, writers, anthropologists and scientists pitch up to study the place, so I feel a certain weariness when I attract my notebook from my pocket. Sarah Boden gotta go back to Eigg in 2010, after years as a music writer in London. She’s astounded by how many members of her onetime tribe arrive on storytelling business each summer and expect her to delightedly sag everything.” A mas of them come with a script that they expect you to conform to-‘ As their home communities we are forging forwards and revolutionising X, Y and Z’- but typically the reality is a lot more complicated than that. They don’t really listen to what you say and go away nothing the wiser .” Or, as her spouse Johnny Lynch- the musician Pictish Trail– positioned it:” I find it fairly perplexing because there’s tribe here who say,’ I saw you on the Tv, you fanny .'”

At the time of the buyout, Simon Fraser, then chairman of the Trust, called it” a prevail for all that is good in humanity and surely one in the eye for everything that is intend spirited and self-seeking “. The islanders celebrated independence day on 12 June 1997 with 90 bottles of malted bequeathed by Skye’s Talisker distillery, which had been founded by two brothers from Eigg. The hangover, an flare-up of mean-spiritedness, came six years later. A Scottish-German journalist, a analyst of region reform, inspected Eigg and penned an unflattering depicting of the brand-new island governors for Die Zeit in Germany, which British tabloids were only too happy to reiterate. Islanders were excerpted be talking about a” clash of cultures”- between Hebridean residents and incomers- and Keith Schellenberg chipped in, claiming Eigg had been despoiled” by people who had lived in Tibet and had’ Make love, Not War’ painted on the sides of their vans “.

The hamlet of Cleadale on the Isle of Eigg. Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian

Fables seep into our consciousness, and the newspapers’ cautionary anecdotes about Eigg appear to have lodged in the minds of many who briefly trip. I filled two tourists on Barra who passed on rumor they had heard about Eigg politics, claiming it was a cliquey, “clannish” place. I encountered an ex-resident of Rum who declared that Eigg was ” a bit more full of gossips and growers and dropouts”, and indicated residents needed to grow up. Robert Louis Stevenson, who adventured through the isles of the south Pacific in the 1880 s, described the drifters in the Marquesas as” people’ on the coast'”- beached like driftwood- and more than once before I reached Eigg, I heard that familiar accusation: it’s full of people who flee to a small island because they can’t hack it in the mainstream.

There was another charge too: its residents were buffs, keeping their laidback lifestyles with mainland aids. I chitchatted to the owner-captain of the little barge Shearwater on my road to Eigg and he criticised his larger antagonist, the government-subsidised CalMac ferry. I presupposed he’d criticize Eigg’s subsidised cosmo too, but he unexpectedly represented the island: everyone talks about Eigg’s grant money, he quarrelled, but no one on the mainland describes the National Grid or streets or infirmaries as commonwealth handouts, whereas Eigg constructed its own power grid and doesn’t have hospices or suitable superhighways. Aids are hoovered up by whoever owns estate in Britain. Eigg’s onetime owner, Keith Schellenberg, benefited from tax breaks on his forestry. It does seem unjustified, then, to criticise the islanders for applying for the gives enjoyed by wealthier landowners. As islanders point out, taxpayers’ funds provided just PS17, 517 towards Eigg’s community buyout.

Plenty of interlopers examine more positively upon Eigg. On my lane dwelling from small island developing, I stopped for dinner in Glasgow with Alastair McIntosh, the author and activist who stimulated Eigg’s independence movement. I noticed him volunteering at GalGael, a benevolence based in an old-fashioned shop in the redbrick terraced streets around Rangers’ Ibrox stadium. Youth parties were carving timber and discovering how to build boats.

McIntosh’s beard is gyrating white-hot and he insures a hearing aid with his mobile phone, but he still possesses an halo of both verve and serenity, and is as inspiring as best available various kinds of preacher. To my astound, this soul of Lewis was born in Doncaster to an English father and a Scottish father. When McIntosh was four years old, “his fathers” took the family to Lewis, which remains his son’s stronghold, and laboured there as a GP. The island is the foundation for McIntosh’s belief in the importance of communities in a regional culture that can transcend the spiritual rarity of world-wide capitalism and its veneration of consumption.

He cherishes Eigg, which represents a rare make for organizers.” When we set up the first Eigg Trust, the original eyesight was about renewable energy, culture renewal and repair of the being. Not only has all of it been fulfilled, but it’s been considerably outdid .” He’s not claiming the approval; it’s the islanders who’ve excess the Trust’s hopes. He lately returned to Eigg.” The ones who were heavy on the drink were still heavy on the drink, but the thing that excited me was the number of young people who were back, offsetting children with a rich matrix of economic tasks by which they deemed “peoples lives” together and improve their dwellings, unfettered by an absentee landlord .”

The old subdivide between indigenous people and outsiders has disappeared on Eigg with a younger contemporary who are a melange of both. The reputed Hebridean/ hippy subdivide was never so stark or so simple, and many islanders use softly at the heart of the community are from indigenous kinfolks. Eigg’s success has come from a genuine fusion of Hebridean culture and mainland counterculture. Incomers who have fitted in with island life, and not just come to buy the idea, have made on best available Hebridean institutions of spirituality, cooperation, cordiality and music, and Eigg has attracted people wanting to participate in a little materialistic community. But to create a community less focused on money, people need a stage to share it, indicates McIntosh, and that scaffold is” the estate “.

The fact that all levels of society owns the island of Eigg establishes it different from alternative-minded communities in, say, Totnes or Hebden Bridge, or almost any place in England where daily life, and most possibilities, are interceded through the land-ownership of private individuals.The community-owned Eigg is” not a selfish struggle. It’s not about only wanting to be proprietors, it’s about the community having life and individuals having life within that parish ,” said McIntosh.” In Scotland, we spit the word out-‘ owned ‘. You can’t own the land, the shore owns you. What I found in England is there’s such a lack of physical space, and it’s usually upper-class-controlled. England has never retrieved from the Norman conquest. That deep embedded class system is so divisive .”

Singing Sands sea on Eigg. Picture: Patrick Barkham for the Guardian

In contrast, parish ownership permits Eigg to run its own residence association and require inexpensive payments- currently about half the market stage of” economical home” in this region of Scotland. Low-rent societies where citizens are liberated from the grind of giving a lot to pay for a residence are likely to be more radical, inventive places: people have the freedom, and day, to pursue less money-oriented goals.

McIntosh reiterates an earlier novelist of the Highlands, Hugh MacDiarmid, by heightening the question of what a small island might bring to a bigger one. His great hope 20 years ago was that Eigg would be” a structure and two examples unto one another”, to excerpt George Fox, the founder of the Quakers. The core requirement the periphery as information sources of brainchild and restoration, just as the boundary relies on the centre. Eigg may be able to give the larger island at its back some practical exercises in inexpensive house, renewable energy and ground reorganize. A small-island manifesto for the “mainland” might begin with the realisation that we need to treat other parties more carefully. Be open to strangers and to the world. Live as generalists , not as sclerosed super-specialists. Waste more time outside. Shorten our consumption. Shape our own vigour or, at the worst, buy it by the sack, and then we will use less. Weigh animals and seeds as well as parties. Live more intimately with our lieu, for it is a complex living beast, too.

I depleted several days ambling across Eigg’s moors to gratify different islanders who run its democratically-elected “government”, the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust. Apart from ousting feudalism with rigorous democracy, the Trust’s first priority after buying the island was to ensure that the islanders, who mainly loan their assets, had one fundamental rights they never enjoyed under individual owners: secure tenure. They refurbished dilapidated the house and constructed a shop and tea apartment, with lavatories and rains for visitors.

The early years of the Trust were not riven with conflict, but the historian Camille Dressler disclosed some hostilities in her 2007 record Eigg: the Story of an Island. The leads of the Trust realised, to their” bafflement and frustration”, that” the suspicion towards power-holders, which was once led at the proprietor , now find itself sent at the Trust “.

The Schellenberg/ Maruma age was, at best, a inadvertent one, and the islanders were used to sorting concepts out themselves. Countless had enjoyed this feeling of sovereignty from bureaucratic conventions, and were not sure they liked the box-ticking demanded by democracy. As one islander told Dressler:” The more efficient we are attempting to make this organisation, the more we end up like the mainland .” But Dressler now says any disappointment about the self-governing regime has disappeared. Maggie Fyffe believes that almost every decision is reached by consensus. A high ratio of citizens voluntary for the Trust or for many committees that finagle everything from the island’s litter to its culture, but there are some refuseniks. Farmer Sarah Boden is currently serving as a Trust director.” We still struggle with an us-v-them mentality ,” she said.” Sometimes decisions get made and people moan about’ the Trust this’ or’ the Trust that ‘. You have to remind them that they are the Trust .”

Eigg has thriven, said Alastair McIntosh, because the community has developed a channel to manage feuds.” That’s of such importance. In my view, the prime inhibitor of community landownership is that people are afraid of themselves, they are afraid of what might be set loose if they don’t have a holding anatomy above them .”

Many likeness of island dystopias are suffused with this fear. On his tour of Scotland, Samuel Johnson wrote of the hazards of the progeny brought on by small islands:” The villainies of dereliction rush upon the envisages; human is induced unwillingly acquainted with his own weakness .” Mr Cathcart is confronted by precisely this in The Man Who Loved Islands. Perhaps DH Lawrence was scared of small islands, more. William Golding hatched often upon this jeopardy , not only in Lord of the Flies, in which the schoolboy tenants of a small island rapidly turn feral, but in Pincher Martin, in which a wrecked sailor’s small island is revealed to be a hallucination of his own broken recollection, or perhaps even purgatory. In actuality, the residents of Eigg have faced their internal beasts and won.

I sat in Maggie Fyffe’s croft, where water-and-wind-powered fairy ignites winked over the mantelpiece and the breeze reek of roll-ups and woodsmoke. Is Eigg a utopia?” Utopia is a bit strong .” She cackled wildly at my question and then paused.” I think it is. I desire it now .”

Main idol by Murdo Macleod for the Guardian

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