Peat Loaf RIP

22 01 2022

Tributes have been pouring in to recently departed rock legend Marvin Lee Aday, better known as Meat Loaf, famed for his ‘Bat Out of Hell’ album and partnership with over-the-top producer Jim Steinman.

We’re also sad to report that Meat Loaf’s  Leodhasach second cousin on his mother’s side,  Marvig Lee Adabroc –  the legendary big fat shouty cove more famously known as ‘Peat Loaf’ – has also passed away. 

Born in Dell-as, (not) Texas in 1947, Peat Loaf discovered a talent for music while attending Leòbag Cuireamach College and formed his first band “Peat Loaf Soval” in 1967 as a cover for his salmon poaching trips to Lochs.

Surprisingly the band had some success, supporting the likes of grumpy Niseach Dan Morrison’s band ‘Themcoves’, rhythm ‘n’ brues legend ‘Howlin’ Woolagie’, and acid rock freak crofters The Graipful Dead. Off the back of that, Peat Loaf was recruited to appear in famous hippy musical ‘Wool’. 

After the massive success of ‘Wool’, Peat Loaf and a fellow performer from the show, Shorn Stoneyfield, signed to top De-chroit soul label Tormod Murdotown records. During their time at Murdotown, Stoneyfield and Peatloaf were plagued by interference from label executives, and Peat Loaf left after Murdotown replaced his vocals on their hit single “Who Is The Leader of the Paible” with an alternate take by soul giant Edwin StarrInn, (who of course is better known for his own 1970 hit “Todhar (What is It Good For?)”). 

Peat Loaf sprang to island-wide fame in 1977 with the release of his “Bat Out of Dell” album, co-written with bombastic rock producer Jim Steinishman (see last year’s obituary),

Peat Loaf’s thunderous bovine bellow and Steinishman’s operatic pretensions went together like sgadan and buntata.  “Bat Out of Dell” became one of Stornoway’s biggest selling albums of all time (8 copies), and has been in the Maciver and Dart’s album chart continuously since 1977.

The enigmatic cover artwork (a painting of a crofter bursting out of a grave at Habost Cemetery, whilst driving a Massey Ferguson tractor and towing a trailer full of peats) caused some controversy at first, but has gone on to be recognised as a great work of art and is now used by the Dail bho Dheas Tourist Board.

‘Bat Out of Dell’ was filled with epic hits, most noticeably the title track,  but also ‘You Hooked The Fish Right Out at the (Creed) Mouth’ and ‘Paradise By The Arnish Light’, a duet with Eilean Foley. The album also had ‘All Reverend Up and No Parish to go’ (about a church schism where a Minister missed out on getting a church once the dust settled).  Many folk became fans after watching his groundbreaking live performance on BBC Alba’s ‘Old Folks’ Coulregrein Whistle Test’.

Peat Loaf followed up BOOD with “Deaf Singer” in 1981. This album featured a duet with Sher on the title track. A couple of years later he returned with “Midnight at the Lochs Sheep Pound” and in 1984 “Bahhd Attitude”.

Steinishman and Peat Loaf continued to collaborate intermittently over the subsequent years, but they were cursed by bad timing. When Steinishman had songs handy, Peat Loaf would have lost his voice, or got the cuiream and be refusing to sing anything but psalms; When Peat Loaf was ready to work, Steinishman would be short of material because he’d just flogged his least ruppish  songs to one of his other artists. While several very successful albums emerged from this period, none of them attained the dizzy heights of the original.  

But this changed in 1993 when “Bat Out of Dell 2: Back Into Dell” appeared. This revisited the themes of BOOD 1 and was a big hit all across most of the West Side largely on the strength of hit single “I Would Do Anything for Lochs (But I won’t do Pairc)”. 

Peat Loaf continued to release albums and tour round Lewis, but also made a living as a showbiz celebrity on the telly (Grampian) and in the media (Fios).

Peat Loaf also had a twin career as an actor. He started off playing a tree in the 1955 Stornoway Thespians Xmas Panto, but soon graduated on to playing trees in various BBC Alba productions in the 1960’s. His first acting brush with fame came just before he made it really big as a rock star, when he played the part of the biker Eddie in “The Lochie Ho-Ro Picture Show” in 1975. 

Peat Loaf also had memorable parts in the following movies:

  • ‘(John)Waynes(MotherCameFromNess) World’ with comedians Mike Byres and Dena ElevenCarvery, 
  • ‘Lice World’’ – a cameo appearance as a driver in the film from girly pop stars ‘The Lice Girls’. (a manufactured band sponsored by the Salmon Parasite Eradication Board).
  • ‘Shite Club’ – a film about a secret manure sharing club, where Crofters could spread todhar on a secret feannag without having to worry about the Environmental Health coves chasing them. Remember, as the famous line in the film goes, ‘You do not talk about Shite Club (if you’ve any self respect)’

A larger than life character, Peat Loaf will be sadly missed.

Ronnie Spealtrag RIP

15 01 2022

Fans of legendary 60s girl group the Ronettes were in mourning yesterday following the passing of singer and beehive hairstyle pioneer Ronnie Spector. 

The Ronettes’ big hits such as ‘Be My Baby’ and ‘Walking in the Rain’, with Ronnie’s voice up front and mad ex-husband Phil Spector’s ‘wall of sound’ production, are fondly remembered by those who were young in the early 60s.

Closer to home, surviving fans of Point’s thriving 1960s blone band (and fishing) scene were also saddened by the death  the same day of Ronnie Spector’s slightly less well known cousin from Garrabost – Ronnie Spealtrag, frontwoman of the Eye Peninsula’s most popular girl group/fishing boat crew of 1963, the Rubha-nets.

Born Veronica Beannag in 1943, Spealtrag formed the Rubha-nets in 1957 with her sister Estebellag and cousin Mehhhrag from Sealladh na Mara.

Originally calling themselves The (Silver)Darling Sisters, The Rubha-nets started out singing sea shanties to pass the time as they rowed over to the Broadbay fishing grounds. Their close-ish harmony singing, interspersed with swear words, became very popular with the other fishermen. Very soon they were encouraged to go professional and began to give impromptu performances on various slipways and piers around Broadbay.

They also began to write their own songs, mainly ones in honour of their Rubhach heritage.  These soon brought the girls to the attention of record producer Phil(let) Spealtrag, and before they knew it they were regularly hitting the Point Top Forty. 

Their  hits included:

Be My Bayble

Baby EyePeninsula Love You

Waulking in the Portnagu-rain

(The Best Part of) Brocair Up

… and Iasgair The Snowman

Ronnie also invented the beehive-hut hairstyle after a poaching trip to Kinlochresort. Whilst trying to get away with two salmon up the Morsgail track, she was spotted by two burly Water Bailiffs who promptly gave chase. Luckily Ronnie had several hairpins in her fishing tackle bag, along with a tin of hairspray. She nipped behind one of the many beehive dwellings in the area and cunningly fashioned a gravity defying hairstyle more than capable of secreting away the two salmon. 

Ronnie just had to pretend she was a passing archaeologist and the Water Bailiffs left her alone. In honour of her close shave she named her ‘do’ the Beehive and soon after this every blone in Lewis (except Ministers wives) was sporting one on Cromwell St. 

(It should be noted that FP Ministers wives were eventually allowed to have a Beeehive in the 1980’s after the Synod agreed the Beehive could be officially classed as an impressive ‘bun’). 

From 1968 to1972, Ronnie was married to mental record producer and Inaclete Road fish-curer Phil(let) Spealtrag, known for his “wall of fleekeen sound, cove” productions.

The blone group scene in the mid 60s was huge, and the Rubha-nets had to fight their corner against rival acts like the Sùgh-premes, Ma-tha & the Fishvandellas, the Sandwick-La’s, the Marviglettes, the  Sheepffons and the Ciorstags.

Despite early successes, the Rubha-nets’ career was fleeked up by Phil(let) Spector refusing to release some of their best recordings and giving songs away to rival blone bands. After supporting the Peatles on their 1966 Tour of Point and Sandwick, the band broke up in 1967. 

From then until her death, Spealtrag kept busy with a variety of projects and collaborations with other artistes, from ex-Peatle George Harrishouse, to punk  poet Patti Smithavenue, Keithstreet Richards and Joey Ram-mùn.

Ronnie also did some work with Laxdale guitar hero Jimi  Hens-lick,who had backed the Rubha-nets in their early days  She sang backing vox on Hens-lick’s “Raining On Bernera Bridge” album.

In the 70s she sang with Brue Springfield’s E. Street (Sandwick) band, and toured with Southbeach Seonaidh and the Arnishbury Flukes.

When Ronnie Spector’s autobiography “Be My Baby: How I survived Mascara, Miniskirts and Madness” was published in 1990 to great acclaim, Spealtrag got Acair to put out her own life story.

Spealtrag’s book “Be My Bayble: How I survived Marags, Ministers and Mawness”, was also a big hit, selling nearly 4 copies in the Loch Erisort bookshop.

Ronnie Spealtrag was a big influence on many later artists, including tragic modren singer Amy Winehouse. After Winehouse’s demise, Spealtrag went into the studio to record a tribute version of ‘Back to Black’ but got mixed up and did AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ instead. Which always went down well whenever she played the Sea Angling.

Be My Bayble

The night mending nets I knew I needed your sgoth

And if I had the charts, I’d never let you row

So won’t you sail to Tiumpan

I’ll make you a pound a cran 

We’ll make ’em burn their fish heads, every plaice we throw (away)

So won’t you, please, be my, be my Bayble

Be my little Bayble, my one and only Bayble Pier

Sail you’ll be a darning’, better than fleeking farmin’

Be my Paible now, my one and only Paible Iarach

Wha oh ohhh, ohhhh fleek a rock.

RIP Mike Nessmithavenue from The Mankees

18 12 2021

Only a week late, we’re sad to report that another member of legendary local 60s band ‘The Mankees’ has passed on to the great gig in the sky (bizarrely, dying within minutes of his more famous cousin from The Monkees).

Mike Nessmithavenue was born in the posh part of Stornoway and grew up as an independently wealthy Townie dilettante. He didn’t have to work because his mother was the inventor of Dipp-Ex – the world’s top sheep whitening fluid.

After an unsuccessful early career as a folk musician (he kept getting thrown out of Stornoway Folk Club for not being from Away), Mike was recruited to be one of the famous Mankees, a group of trendy youngsters set up by local Stornoway businessmen to try and emulate the success of The Monkees. Although of course, any resemblance to The Monkees was purely coincidental.

Up the town in their 60s headquarters where the Golden Ocean is now, local TV tycoons M*civer and D*rt were developing a new show for their short-lived cable channel NBC(C) (Narrows Broadcasting Corporation (Continuing)). “The Mankees” was to be a sitcom centred around the life of a fab groovy beat combo who lived in a shed in Marybank and collected fuidheags in their spare time. Nessmithavenue got the job because he could provide a free supply of Dipp-Ex for correcting the band’s press releases.

The other Mankees were Mickey Domhlann’s, a former shoe salesman, Davey Blones, a former child actor and sheep jockey, and former Rubhach journalist Peter Torquilterrace (see our moving tribute from March 2019) 

The Mankees all lived together in a big house, drove about the town in The Mankee-mobile (an old Town Council ‘ash-cart’) and had wacky adventures every week. In between all those wacky goings on, each episode of the show would feature The Mankees performing catchy pop songs that you could soon hear Johnny Tee-Dee whistling as he did his milk rounds. 

Initial criticism of the band for being “manufactured” worked in their favour; when the Stornoway Gazette accused them of being the “Prefab Four”, their record sales in Plasterfield rocketed.

Massive success across the islands ensued, with top viewing figures for the TV series, several shillings’ worth of merchandising and a string of hit singles written (and allegedly played) by hard-bitten music industry veterans of the day such as C*l*m K*nn*dy, Al*sd*r G*ll*s and the M*cd*n*ld S*sters.

The hits kept coming and the TV show kept bringing in advertising revenue. Songs included:

  • Last Train to Cladh Shanndabhaig, 
  • Day Dream Tweed Weaver
  • I’m a Seceder
  • (I’m Not Your) Steading Blone
  • Unpleasant Newvalley Sunday
  • A Little Bit Mehh, A Little Bit Brue

It was only when the band started thinking they were capable of writing and playing their own material that it all went wrong. Maciver & Dart cancelled the TV series and the band went off and made “(Tiumpan) Head” a very strange film in which a porpoise was played by Stornoway Harbour’s Sammy the Seal and Jack Nicholson was played by somebody who had been to the Nicolson. Or maybe it was the Castle. Anyway, it was widely derided as “fleekeen ruppish” and soon afterwards the Mankees split up.

Nessmithavenue’s post-Mankees career as a songwriter and performer wasn’t quite as successful, but he did get around to writing “Different DruimLeathann” which became a hit for Linda Tolstatd. He also formed successful country rock/Gaelic poetry crossover group the First National Bard, and when the members of that combo fell out, he formed the equally successful but more hardline First National Bard (Continuing).

Nessmithavenue also founded audiovisual production company Pacific Cearcs in 1974 to cash in on the emerging Gaelic media bonanza, and pioneered the rock video format on shows like “Se Ur Beatha” and later “Brag”. 

In the 80s he directed the video for smoothie Niseach soul crooner Lional Macritchie’s big hit about salmon poaching “All Night Langabhat”, and was an executive producer on 1984 classic cult movie “Sheepo Man”.

He was invited to join the board of MTV (Maw Television) in 1980 but told them to fleek off because he was a Townie.

Nessmithavenue wasn’t dependent on his solo musical or business ventures anyway; Since it was first broadcast in 1966, “The Mankees” has never been off the telly, so he could quite happily have sat back and lived off the repeat fees (especially since BBC Alba started).

Nessmithavenue also maintained a keen interest in the dramatic and journalistic arts, and was never happier than when indulging in his favourite hobby of fomenting schisms in his local church congregation then writing to the Gazette to complain about them.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, Mankees fans. If there is one upside to Mike Nessmithavenue’s demise, it’s that we were able to knock up his obituary quite quickly by re-using the one we did for Peter Torquilterrace back in 2019. 

Co dhiù, Let’s leave you with one of the Mankees’ greatest hits, a fine piece of work that Nessmithavenue often mimed to despite having had fleek all to do with writing or recording it (it was actually written by popular Leurbost singer N**l Di*mond, who is said to have used the earnings from it to build the Caberfeidh):

I’m a Seceder

“I thought church was only good for scary tales 

Meant for someone else in the F.P.

Cuiream wasn’t out to get me

That’s the way it seemed

Predestination haunted all my dreams

I watched Songs of Praise, now I’m a Seceder

No more Feis, I doubt I’m allowed

I’m in church – oohhhh  (but I didn’t get the bus)  

cos I’m a Seceder

I couldn’t leave even if I died(*)

(*)Unless there was an ecclesiastical schism.

Musical Theatre Legend Steven Strond-heim RIP

11 12 2021

Across the globe, devotees of musical theatre are in mourning following the death of Steven Sondheim, the composer and librettist behind countless Broadway smashes from “West Side Story” to “Sweeney Todd” to  “Into the Woods”

Meanwhile closer to home, several members of the Stornoway Thespians, a cailleach from Rodel and one flamboyant lifelong bachelor from Ardhasaig (the chair of the North Harris Barbara Streisand Appreciation Society), were saddened by  the demise the same day of Sondheim’s nearly-as-successful Hearach cousin.

Steven Strond-heim was a colossus of late 20th century Broadbay musicals, bridging the gap between earlier giants such as his mentor Oscar Haboststein, and young whippersnappers such as Andrew Leòid Weaver and Linishader Manual Mooranda.

Strond-heim was born at an early age in 1930 in South Harris. His piping tutor noticed Strond-heim’s natural gift for a tune and encouraged him to take up the melodian as well, in order to broaden his musical horizons. It wasn’t long until he was adding elaborate arrangements to traditional ceilidh tunes and confusing the flick out of musicians during a stramash, who didn’t see the point in having to use more than 4 notes. 

But as well as composition, Strond-heim was fascinated by lyrics and their construction. Cole Portnaguran, Noel Cow Aird and Oscar Habotstein’s work all made a deep impression on the young Strond-heim and he got his first big break writing the lyrics to Leonard Bernerastein’s music on  ‘West Side Story’.

Loosely based around Uilleam Shakes-number1Pier’s “Rubha-meo and Juliateallthegugas”, “West Side Story”  features two gangs busy collecting tyres for the Gelly on Bonfire Night.  One of the gangs, The Siarachs, come from Arnol, and the other, the Chets, from Puerto Ness, and they’re forever meeting up in Ballantrushal for meticulously choreographed scraps. 

More on ‘West Side Story’ later in this article, but following on from it, Strond-heim went on to develop a string of smash hit musicals over the subsequent 60 years, including:

“Into the Wools”

“Sweeney’s Todhar – the Demon Barber of Point Street” 

(Strond-heim’s love for BBC Alba’s ‘Air an Lot’ was matched only by the post-traumatic stress he suffered following the many terrible haircuts inflicted at Johnny Geeper’s in his younger days; ingeniously, he managed to combined both themes into this one show).

“Sunday in Parkend with Geordie Golidy”

“A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Cuiream.”

“A Little Sh*te Music”

…and many more.

A host of great names of stage and screen have appeared in Strond-heim’s shows and film adaptations over the years, including:

Barbara Steinishquicksand

Johnny Dip

Helena Bothan Cearc-er

Huge Cacman

Zebo Mostel

Angela Langabhatsbury

Meryl Sheep

Along with all these big names we could also mention Niseach terpsichorean and gravedigger Lionel Lair. Lair (98) also passed away recently, after tap-dancing backwards into an open grave while ‘treating’ the mourners at a funeral in Habost to a demonstration of the routine he once performed with Psalmmy Davis Jr at the Royal Variety Performance – or was it the Royal public bar? – in 1948). 

We could, but we can’t, because despite his numerous claims to have done so, Lair in fact never appeared in any of Strond-heim’s musicals. This was due in part  to his long term commitments to recording popular BBC Alba panel show ‘Give Us A Brue’, but mostly to his being fleekeen ruppish.

Co dhiù, let us finish with a snippet of Strond-heim’s work – perhaps the most well known song from his breakthrough show “West Side Story” – none other than the legendary  “A Marag? Tha”:

“I like for my tea, a mara…ag. Tha

Okay by me, a Tha

Ingredients free in a Tha

From a small sheep, in a marag tha”

A marag on credit is so nice

One look at us and there’s a less slice

I have my own pail to collect blood

What will you use to pick the spuds”

Quo Legend Balallan Làn-cac-ster RIP

23 10 2021

Fans of rock legends Status Quo were saddened recently by the passing in Australia of original bass player Alan Lancaster, who propelled the band from their 60s psychedelic years into their “heads-down-no-nonsense-mindless boogie” 70s heyday before falling out with bandmates Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt in the mid 80s.

Sadly Lancaster’s demise eclipsed the passing the same day of his lesser-known Leodhasach cousin. Had it not been for this unfortunate coincidence, there would probably have been a lot more in the music press that day about Balallan Làn-cac-ster, bass player with popular island “heads-down-no-nonsense-mindless-Bogie” merchants Steinish Quo.

Làn-cac-ster was born Murdo Macleod in 1949 in Bennadrove, to parents who were exiles from the Kinloch area and filled his head with fanciful notions about the imagined perfection of their homeland – the majestic palaces of Laxay, the golden temples of Balallan and the dreaming spires of Airidhbhruach. They could neffer be bothered taking him over there for a look though, so he came to believe their tales wholeheartedly and parroted them relentlessly to his sceptical pals in Laxdale school. 

This soon earned him the nickname “Balallan Làn-cac-ster”, and when he became a professional musician he was obliged to stick with it, in order to avoid getting mixed up with all the other Murdo Macleods in the world of showbiz.

Làn-cac-ster first met Francis Rossiesshop in 1962 whilst both were still in the Niccy. They formed a band called ‘The Sgorp Iains’ and played a couple of times in the YM. They soon found like-minded drummer/knitting enthusiast John Cnocan (famed for using his needles as drumsticks) and changed the band name to ‘The Hectares’. Several other name changes swiftly followed including ‘Traffic Cham’ and ‘The Steinish Quo’ (their late 60’s ‘psychedelic’ phase), until they finally settled on ‘Steinish Quo’.

Along with the name changes, several other musicians came and went, but the classic “Fanktic Four” line-up of  Làn-cac-ster, Francis Rossiesshop, Rick Paircfitt and John Cnocan soon hit the right note (B very flat) and before they knew it they were filling venues (on occasion playing to up to 4 people in Mac’s Imperial Bar who were waiting for the Plasterfield bus) and selling loads of records (sometimes up to 3 copies in DD Morrison’s).

In their 60s psychedelic incarnation as “The Steinish Quo” the band were often seen, resplendent in “mòd” fashions from the hip boutiques of Ceann-a-Bhaigh Street, scouring the golf course for mushrooms to inspire their work.

Inspired by the prevailing groovy climate, “The Steinish Quo” enjoyed a number of far-out hits including ‘Pictures of Marvig Men’ and ‘Back Veils of Melbost-collie’

But as the 60s came to an end the band ditched their psychedelic sound in favour of a more basic 3-chord ‘Bogie’ style (with occasional 2-chord Deetan and 1-chord Snooley variations) that went back to their rock ‘n’ roll beginnings. At the same time, they discarded their fab 60s threads and  kitted themselves out in more workaday attire – Wrangler chackets and flares from Nazir’s and Smith’s, and boiler suits from Mackenzie & Macsween.

Quo’s classic  “Bogie” albums from this period included:

Maw Cailleach’s Greasy Spoon 

Dog of Toe Head


Brue For You

And their decades-long run of hit singles included: 

Rodelhouse Blues

Down The Dustcart

(Sunday) Paper Plane


Down Town (a moving tribute to Bogie’s attempts to buy a ‘hen supper’ from the Church St Chippie)

Whatever Ewes Want

Living on an Island

Somethin’ Bout Ewes Baby I Like

Marag-uerita Time

You’re in the Army (Cadets) Nuw

(b/w “You’re in the Gu-sealladh-nì-màth-orm-y Now”)

But by the end of the 70s cracks were appearing in the band, and in 1982 John Cnocan surprised everyone by fleeking off just after their 20th anniversary, in a huff because Francis Rossiesshop wouldn’t wear the pink bobban waistcoat Cnocan had knitted for him specially.  

A new drummer and melodeon player were added and the Quo continued through the 1980’s. 

Highlights of the 80’s for the band must surely include being the opening act at Livener Aid in Goathill Stadium, kicking the whole show off with ‘Crofting All Over The World’

Shortly after Livener Aid however, Làn-cac-ster announced he was leaving and fleeked off ‘down under’ to Harris. He continued in the music business, playing in several ceilidh bands including a supergroup with former Rosestreet Tattoo frontman Angry Andersonroad.

In 2013 the classic ‘Fanktic Four’ Quo line up resolved their differences and reunited for a lucrative tour of Sunday School picnics, which was well received by the fans. 

In appreciation of Lan-cac-ster’s contribution to Stornoway culture let’s all sing along to one of their greatest hits…..1, 2, 3, 4……….

Down Town

Get down, Deetan, down town

Down town, Deetan down town

Down town, Deetan down town

Get down Deetan down town

I want all the hens you see

Cooked in batter in the Church St chippie

I can get a supper for you

A hen, a hen, a hen, a hen

A hen, a hen, a hen, a hen supper downtown

Get down, Deetan, down town

Down town, Deetan, down town

Down town, Deetan, down town

Get down Deetan down town

I want all the hens you see

At the chippie for my brother Bogie

I can get a supper for you

A hen, a hen, a hen, a hen

A hen, a hen, a hen, a hen supper downtown

Sir Glaoic Zinclayer RIP

25 09 2021

The recent demise of famous inventor Sir Clive Sinclair (The pocket calculator, ZX80 and Spectrum computers, C5 electric vehicle, and miniature TV)  left middle-aged nerds across the globe in mourning. 

Less well known was the innovator’s island cousin, who came up with a few pretty smart ideas of his own and sadly passed away the same day.

Sir Glaoic Zinclayer was best known for claiming to have invented corrugated iron, and made his original fortune in the early 1960s selling 2-room àiridh kits to readers of Practical Tairsgear magazine for 10 shillings and sixpence a shot.

As peatcutting declined in the early 1970s, Zinclayer sensed that the bottom was rusting out of the àiridh market and decided to diversify into consumer electronics. In 1973, spotting the success of his cousin Clive’s “pocket calculator” on the mainland, Zinclayer began developing several similar devices that were aimed more specifically at the Hebridean market. 

First came the Pocket Cac-u-lator, a device for determining how many trailerloads of todhar were required to fertilise a feannag.

Then the Pocket Cala-culator, for working out how many fishing boats could fit in alongside the pier.

The Pocket Coll-culator could instantly compute how many Stornoway Sunday School outings could be accommodated on the beach at a time, based on tidal conditions.

And finally the Pocket Cull-culator, used every year to count the number of Guga clubbed on Sulasgeir. Unfortunately the Pocket Cull-culator could only count to 2000 (according to the Niseachs) and became the first ever computer to fall victim to the Maw-llenium bug.

In the late 70s, anticipating the emerging trend towards personal computers, Zinclayer designed some of the earliest and cheapest machines on the market –  the iconic ‘ZXochdad’, and the snappily named ‘ZXCeithir fichead sa h-aon’ and finally the legendary ‘ZX Bogha-froise’, which came with colour graphics and a state-of-the-art 16K of Rams.

While Zinclayer’s machines were innovative and cheap, competition in the emerging home computer field was intense, with big international players like Comhairle-dore, Abair and Tawse-tarry muscling in. But trouble came too from within Zinclayer’s organisation, when treacherous employee Chris Cuiream broke away and designed the BBC Alba Pinecone microcomputer. The BBC Alba became the standard in island schools, doing Zinclayer out of the lucrative council contracts he’d hoped for.

To make matters worse, Zinclayer had no sooner finished building a hi-tech factory at Parkend Industrial Estate to produce the ZX series, when the HIDB realized that there was no “Z” or “X” in the Gaelic alphabet and demanded their grant money back.

Despite Zinclayer’s woes, computer gamers of a certain age remember the ZX series fondly, especially for its classic games such as: 

Maw-nic miner

3D Minister Maze

3D Minister (Continuing) Maze


Tha-Tic Attack

Chet Set Uilly

Chuckie Eigg

Jet Pairc

As his fortunes in the computer business faded, Zinclayer took a bold, and ultimately disastrous, step into the world of electric vehicles. Spotting a gap in the commuting market, he came up with the idea of a sleek, low cost vehicle designed to nip in between all the fleekeen school buses clogging up the Manor roundabout and the Matheson Rd crossroads. 

Named the “Zinclayer CFifeAdventurers” in an attempt to get on the good side of the Stornoway Historical Society, this innovative vehicle came to naught as it didn’t have a roof, couldn’t get up Anderson Road, tended to come off worst in encounters with sheep, and got stuck whenever it came to a cattle grid.

Sir Clive also tried out a number of other models of his vehicle including:

The Zinclayer C5Pennyborve electric tractor, targeted at the rural market. The C5Pennyborve failed simply because it was so far ahead of its time (the maws didn’t have electricity).

The Zinclayer APC5 electric church bus – the promising APC5 ultimately proved unsuccessful because, in a misguided  attempt to capture the Free Presbyterian market, it was programmed not to work on Sundays.

In his spare time – despite his nerdy appearance – Sir Glaoic was a bit of a playboy, and was frequently spotted in top-end nightclubs like the Galaxy Disco, or wuining and duining blones at his usual table in the Coffee Pot. 

An accomplished high-stakes gambler, he was often seen in the Turf Accountant’s, placing bets of 50p or more, and was the winner of Grampian TV’s “Celebrity 2s and 8s Challenge” in the early 2000s.

Famed for having an impressive IQ of over 59, Zinclayer also served for many years as chairman of the Airidhbhruach branch of Mehhh-nsa.

On the news of Zinclayer’s death the Made Up History spoke to some of his fellow tech tycoons and asked them for their thoughts:

“A cove ahead of his time” – Nessla’s Elon Morsgail, ” 

“A true inspiration” – Amadan’s Jeff Broadbayzos.

“Oh yus, thon cove. I nicked all my ideas off him” – Microcroft founder Bill ‘Galvanised’ Gates.

“We need to get out of Eoropie! Make Breasclete Great Again! Sir Glaoic who?” – Offshore Hoover magnate Sir Jameson Dryveson, speaking from somewhere abroad.

“What the fleek are you asking me for? I’m dead” – Abair boss Steve JobsblowforArnishworkers (deceased)

Charlie SirEScotts RIP

27 08 2021

The music world has lost another of its all-time greats with the recent passing of the lechendary (and very spaideil) Rolling Stones tub-thumper Charlie Watts. Closer to home, another lesser known but no less-respected drummer also shuffled off (get it?) this mortal coil; Charlie SirEScotts, who for nearly sixty years occupied the drum stool of the Rodel Stones, foremost band in the Harris R&B scene (Roghadal and Borrisdale). 

The Rodel Stones’ origin story takes us back to 1950 where Charlie’s future bandmate Keithstreet Richards was attending Bragar School with his pal Mick MacAskill. Mick (short for Murchadh) was a very common name in 1950s Lewis, and so MacAskill was always known as Mick Bragar in order to differentiate himself from all the other Micks, which became very confusing when his family then upped and moved to Brue. Separated by insurmountable distance, the boys lost touch, but years later Keithstreet met Mick waiting for the 6 o’ clock bus back home and noticed that he was carrying a Flair LP. They bonded over this and quickly began making their very own ruppish music under the name “Brue’s Boys”.

Meanwhile, Charlie had started playing drums with Alex Dan LazyKorner in his band ‘Brues Incorporated’ alongside melodeon player Ian Stewartscreamofthebarley and slide guitarist (and early Trans pioneer) Brian Blones. Brues-style music became very popular around Roghadal and Borrisdale and it was in 1962, whilst playing around the South Harris R&B scene, that Charlie first met Mick Bragar and Keithstreet Richards and soon formed a new band with them.  Brian Blones phoned up “Events” to have their first gig advertised and was asked what the band’s name was. He glanced out of the phonebox, saw the wall around St Clements’ Church and replied that they were called “the Rodel Stones”.

The line-up of the Rodel Stones changed several times. Stewartscreamofthebarley was kicked out for being too ugly, but became their road manager instead and Bill Aidhaidhman soon joined the line-up on bass. In later years (After the sad demise of Brian Blones), a young trendy FP melodeon player called Mick Secaaay-der  joined the band but he only stayed for five years as he got a better job as a piping instructor in Mangersta School. He in turn was replaced by the lead accordionist in ‘The Fèises’, Ronnie WoodlandsCentre, who along with Keithstreet Richards, formed what is probably the best known accordion partnership ever seen in R&B and Ceilidh circles.

The band quickly gained popularity, but true success didn’t come their way until their manager Giorgio Gormeliasky was replaced by former Peatles manager and respected deacon Andrew Loog Orduighean. 

Orduighean (a staunch FP) was responsible for the band’s look and initially tried to get them wearing good serge suits and homburg hats, but, realising that a raunchier, more dangerous image would make the band more desirable to the cailleachs, he allowed them to take off the homburgs. 

They soon secured themselves a three album deal with Ness-based label DeccaStation Records and released their first single; a cover of a Church Berry song. However, Orduighean wanted them to get their own songwriting royalties instead of giving them up to “middle aged Bacachs”, hence the title of what became their first self-penned hit “(I Can’t Get No) Sustentation”.

Their next single “Get off, MacLeod” also went to number one in DD Morrison’s chart and they soon released their first album of very good originals “Aftermathdharìreabh” which featured the hit song “Paint it Back”.

“Between the ButtonKeyAccordions” came out in 1967, tackling diverse subjects such as the difficulty of finding romance while still needing to finish essential tasks on the croft (“Let’s Spend The Night Togatherthepeats”) and the shortage of buses to Point (“Rubha by Tuesday”).

Their material took on a darker tone after Orduighean left to go in for the ministry. Particularly controversial were the album “Their Satanic Marvigs Request” and subsequent single “Sympathy for the Deamhais”. Even their album covers caused a stir. “Bleigeard’s Banquet” was criticised for its photograph of a seagull eating chips outside Perceval Square public toilets but this paled in comparison to the fuss made about the sleeve of “KennyStickysMill Fingers” which depicted a weaver struggling to operate a hattersley loom while wearing trousers that were too tight.

The band played some of the biggest and best known concerts in island history, although these appearances often hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. While on tour on the West Side in 1969, Mick Bragar blurted out to a Gazette reporter their plan to hold a free concert in the yard at Denis Autos. Fearing that Bragar would be inundated, the organisers were forced to move the show to Arnol. However, “Arnoltamont” was to become infamous after the Barvas Grazings Committee were hired to do security and the Stones’ set was cut short when an audience member was clubbed with a marag.

Their free concert at Haoidh Park in 1969 didn’t fare much better. As a tribute to Brian Blones, who died just a couple of days before, the Stones planned to release 100,000,000,000 midges which would form a sombre black cloud. After a lengthy prayer and a eulogy where Blones was never once mentioned by name, the midges were set loose and the entire audience of between 25 and 27 people fled home flailing their arms.

Success brought with it romance, and the other members of the band were often seen in the narrows after closing time with beautiful and glamorous women holding them upright. Both Brian Blones and Keithstreet Richards were involved with Lochie actress Anita Balallanberg, while Bragar was paired with Mairi-Anna Faithful (who had the cùram), married to Niseachcaraguan heiress Bianca Perez-Morag Maragas, and later partnered with Texel supermaw-del Jerry Laxdalehall (who allegedly cheated on him and ended up marrying wealthy newspaper mogul Rubha-poirt Murdoch). 

There was none of that carry-on for Charlie, though, who remained happily married until his death to the blone he met at the 1964 Carloway Show – Siabost Siarach Shearing champion Shearly-Annag Sheepherd. Charlie’s exemplary behaviour compared to the rest of the band, and the fact that Shearly-Annag was a world-renowned expert with the deamhais, were entirely coincidental, propaply.

Over their lengthy career, the Rodel Stones released a seemingly endless string of records including “Exile on Mainland”, “Sheep’s Head Soup”, “Tattoo Ewe”, “Let It Bleat”, “Bridges to Bayble” and “Soum Girls” –  and a raft of classic singles such as “Jumpin’ Cac Flush”,

“Honky Tong Woman”, “It’s Only Deoch an Dole”, “Angie”, “Gimmer Shelter” and “Start Me Tup”.

Despite his success in the world of rock and blues, Charlie was at heart a chazz fan, his early taste in music having been formed by the likes of Jelly Roll Maw-ton and Charlie Parkend. When he wasn’t playing with the Stones he could often be found jamming away with one of his side-projects at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz and Fish Club.

But we’ll leave you here with fond memories of Charlie SirEScotts and the words of one of the Rodel Stones’ best known songs, that well known warning against sheep rustling “Get Off, MacLeod”:

I live in an apartment on the ninety-ninth croft in Garyvard

And I sit at home looking out the window waiting just to catch thon ceard

Then in flies the guy next door all dressed up in a peephole boiler suit

He jumps the fence and sets about molesting my prize mehags at their food

I said Hey! Macleod! Get offa my Ewe!

Hey Macleod! Get offa my Ewe!   

Hey Macleod! Get offa my Ewe!  

Don’t hang around or I’ll have the law on you

On Macleod, baby 

The telephone is ringing 

I say, “Hi, it’s me. Who is it there – on the phone?” 

A voice says, “Oh a’thighearna flossie tha gaol mor agam ort – you fleecy blone”

He says “it’s three am so I’ll come over and I’ll meet you at the fank”

I don’t care about the cove that owns you – 

he can go and jump into his septic tank 

I said Hey! Macleod! Get offa my Ewe!

Hey Macleod! Get offa my Ewe!   

Hey Macleod! Get offa my Ewe!  

Don’t hang around or I’ll have the law on you

On Macleod, baby

I was sick and tired fed up with this

And decided I was gonna call the law

No dice the cops was all off at a riot in a mission house in Keose

But then I saw the vet returning from a prayer meeting in Cromore

He’ll git the guy next door fixed like a molt so he won’t bother me no more 

And I said  Hey Macleod! Get offa my Ewe!   

Hey Macleod! Get offa my Ewe!  

Don’t hang around or I’ll have the law on you

On Macleod, baby

Ewe-na Stubbs RIP

21 08 2021

Ewe-na Stubbs RIP. 

The recent passing of TV institution Una Stubbs marked the end of an era for entertainment across the nation. The versatile but sometimes underrated actress was a fixture of our big and small screens, having appeared in everything from ‘Summer Holiday’ to ‘Til Death Us Do Part’ to ‘Sherlock’.

But island audiences are also in mourning for the legendary actress’s Leodhasach cousin who passed away the same day, herself a mainstay of the BBC Alba TV  schedules since before anybody had a telly or electricity.

Local star of stage and screen, (and seasonal sheep shearer) Ewe-na Stubbs hit the boards at a young age and trained as a dancer, graduating on to parts in TV commercials on Grampian – most noticeably as the face of TeeDeesDairy Milk Chocolate.

Ewe-na’s first big break came in the hit Clibhe RichAird film ‘Summer Holydays’, where Clibhe, Ewe-na and the gang all went off to the Orduighean in Uig on a church bus, and to do a bit of Missionary work for the heathen parts of the district (mostly in Carishader). Readers will recall the catchy theme song, with memorable lines such as “We’re going where the sins shine brightly”.

Ewe-na became a household name after she starred in popular BBC Alba sit-com  ‘Till Death Us Do Pairc’, with Dandy Nicolsonroad, Tony Bùthsheumais, and of course Warren Mitchellsbus as her bigoted Eastender (from the Battery) dad Alf Garenin.

Alf Garenin’s racist diatribes against Hearachs, Rubhachs, Siarachs, Niseachs, Sgiathanachs, Lochies, Uibhisteachs, Barrachs, Uigeachs, Townies (except those from the Battery), Townies (from the Battery but not from Bulnacraig Street) and Townies (from Bulnacraig Street but not from Garenin’s house) were intended by scriptwriter Seonaidh Splaoid to be ironic, but this subtlety was lost on many viewers who thought the character of Garenin was talking a lot of sense and – despite his being fictional – tried to get him voted in as MP for the Western Isles in 1966, 1970 and 1974. The show also coined a popular phrase ‘You Silly Maw’. In today’s more sensitive times, ‘Till Death Us Do Pairc; is rarely repeated (Unlike nearly everything else on BBC Alba)..

In the Garenin household, Stubb’s character Rita (short for Rhoda Ishbal Tormodina Ann-Christina) was usually the voice of reason while all the other characters shouted at each other like deaf Siarachs at the Arnol fank in a force 10.

Ewe-na was also a regular on the original series of “Give us a Brue” with herself and Lionel Blarbuidhe leading the opposing teams. This popular show was based around the party game ‘CharAiridhs’ where contestants had to mime the name of a summer pasture. Who can forget the time Ewe-na was doubled up with laughter while, with the clock ticking, an over-excited Christopher Biggins repeatedly failed to grasp Lionel’s ‘Airidh Dhomhaill Chaim’? 

Stubbs was much loved by young viewers in the late 70s and 80s because of her role as Aunt Salainn in that program about the scarecrow built from wood they found in a cave; “Worzel Geò-Maide”… or was it as Aunt Salach in thon programme about the cove who looked like a scarecrow and was forever being thrown out of the Clachan – “Worzel Go-Mach”?  Co dhiù, whichever one it was, the scarecrow was played by Jon Piort-wee, or Jon Puirt-a-beul, or Jon Peat-wee, or somebody.

In parallel with her film and TV appearances Stubbs enjoyed a successful theatrical career. She was forever onstage with the Stornoway Thespians or with the Royal (Hotel) Shakes Pier Company. Notable appearances over the years included a critically acclaimed two-hander with Penelope Keithstreet in Noël Eadie’s “Star (Inn) Quality”, a show-stealing Nurse in the Point-based tragedy “Rubha-meo and Shulishader”, “Don Carlosway” with Derek Bac-obi and of course the role of Mrs Alexandersgarage in “The Curious Incident of the Dogfish on the Handline”.

Ewe-na kept working well into her 80’s, and in ‘Siarach’ she played the role of Mrs Hiortson, housekeeper to the great detective Siarach Holm at his famous residence, 221b Bakers Road. Holm and Watson were, of course, played by Bennadrove Cumberbatch and Martin WeeFreeman.

ZZ TUP: Every Blone’s Crazy ‘bout a Sharp Dressed Maw

11 08 2021

There are many heartfelt tributes on the go just now to Dusty Hill, the bearded, Stetson wearing bass player from fun lovin’ Texans ZZ Top, who recently passed away. ZZ Top were hugely popular in the mid 1980’s following the release of their ‘Eliminator’ album and the entertaining videos they made to promote the tunes on it, like ‘Legs’ and ‘Sharp Dressed Man’

Local music fans have also been full of praise for Dusty’s second cousin Sandy(wick) Hill who has also sadly passed away. Sandy was the bass accordionist in local ceilidh ‘n’ blues band ZZ Tup, who were said to have been a huge influence on their Texan cousins.

Sandy came from a large family of Hills; Gallows, Goat, Napier and Light, but none of them shared his skill on the box. 

Sandy was joined in ZZ Tup by Uilly Gibbsonhostel (lead accordion) and Fank Beard ( on the snare drum). They formed in 1971 and the line up remained unchanged for 50 years.  All three were mediocre weavers by day in order to supplement their meagre income from the music business. Many of ZZ Top’s songs were about the State of Texas, and in a similar way many of ZZ Tup’s songs were complaints against the Harris Tweed Authority for regularly withdrawing their Weaving Licence due to the State of their Textiles. 

Originally hailing from the dusty plains of South Lochs, ZZ Tup played a style of music heavily influenced by the closeness of the border with Harris and the Rio Gravir River. This blues-driven ceilidh music won them nearly several admirers as they toured the village halls of the island. Songs such as ’La (Coule) Greinge’ and ‘Duis’ became crowd pleasers, and set them on the road to becoming international rock megastars with fans across the globe from Eishken to Cromore.  

Eventually ZZ Tup cultivated an unforgettable stage image which saw Sandy and Uilly grow long beards (influenced by the fiasags on the coves in old photos of the St Kilda Parliament – which also led to their song ‘Beard Drinkers and Hiort Raisers’). Sandy and Uilly also wore sunglasses (to hide their bloodshot eyes) and topped this off with stylish church Elder hats from Mackenzie & Macsween on their ceanns.(which was where they got the name for their ‘Tres Homburgs’ album).

After many years doing no bad as a hard-working rock band, ZZ Tup suddenly became pop stars in 1983/84 after they decided to bring a bit of electro synth magic into the recording studio. This new-found love for modren day musical styles resulted in the huge selling (4 copies sold in DD Morrisons) album ‘WeeFree-liminator’. Boosted by the still new ‘Maw TV’ video channel, the band’s cine footage of their new songs opened their music up to a whole new audience (4 coves watching the telly in the Lewis Lounge whilst waiting for the football to come on). Soon the band were hobnobbing with the big names of glossy 80s pop like Madonnald, Duran Guirean, The Eoropierhythmics and Island Express.

These songs and cine footage included ’Sharp Dressed Maw’, ‘Cleggs’ and ‘Gimmer All Your Loving’. Who can forget the iconic image of Sandy and Uilly spinning their accordions around and the souped up red and chrome tractor with the large ‘z’ painted on each side?

ZZ Tup’s popular albums included: 

Rio Gravir Mud

Tres Homburgs


El Leodhas-cove


To finish this tribute to Sandy, we leave you with the lyrics to one of their greatest hits. All together now!!!

Sharp Dressed Maw

Cleaned dirt, new Arnish Boots

And I don’t know where I am goin’ to

Boilersuit, church tie (church tie)

I don’t need a reason why

They come runnin’ cos they like what they saw

‘Cause every blone crazy ’bout a sharp-dressed maw

Old watch, bobban bling

I ain’t missin’ not a single thing

No Cufflinks, so a safety pin

When I step out I’m gonna look like a bin

They come runnin’ cos they like what they saw

‘Cause every blone crazy ’bout a sharp-dressed maw

100 Years of the J&E’s Communist Party

17 07 2021

Great celebrations were held in the People’s Republic of China recently to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist party. But few are aware of the Party’s long standing and fraternal links to another organisation based  closer to home – on the corner of Church Street and Kenneth Street, in fact.

IN 1921, disgruntled staff in the  Stornoway bakery of J&E Macleod decided to form an organisation dedicated to establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat, seizing the means of production (of plain loaf and morning rolls) and placing it in the hands of the workers. 

The J&E’s Communist Party had its first meeting in July 1921, behind a pile of flour bags in a shed near where the Thai Cafe stands today.  Founders Chen Dubh-sùgh and Leverhulme Drivezhao met with Rubhach Bolshevik agent Grigori Pointinski who had been sent by the Garrabost politburo to J&E’s to foment revolution.

One promising young firebrand also present at the meeting was an apprentice dough mixer from Ford Terrace, Maw Tse Tong (nowadays spelt “Maw Zheepdung”),  who soon rose to lead the party as “Chairman Maw”.

The Communists were by no means dominant in J&E’s in the 20s and 30s – the main party in the shop was the nationalist  An Comunn-tang, led by staunchly anti-communist Rubhach exile Chiang Kai-Sheshader. 

Throughout the 30s and 40s the J&E’s Communists and the Comunn-tang alternated between battling each other for control of the shop, and ganging up to fight invading forces from other bakeries such as Forsyth’s, Johnny Òg’s and Calum Sgiathanach’s.

In the years following WWII, however, the Communists finally gained the upper hand and in 1949 the Comunn-tang abandoned mainland J&E’s and fled offshore to the island of Cromor-sa in Loch Erisort. The only building that was there when they arrived was a sheep shelter, so they promptly renamed the island Taigh-uan.

Chairman Maw took full control of J&E’s soon afterwards, and ruled until his death in 1976. 

In the early 50s the Chairman was very keen on exporting his brand of revolution beyond J&E’s itself. He invaded the Taobh Siar and drove its spiritual leader the Dalbeg Lamb-a into exile, and supported North Tolsta dictator Kim Il Drungaire’s breakaway from the Free Church in the Kuiream-ean war.

As the 50s went on, Maw established a personality cult, with a big statue of himself  in Perceval square and his face on the front of the Gazette every week. The Chairman soon started to believe his own hype and began to indulge his whims with disastrous initiatives on a grand scale, such as:

The Wee Free-Aunties Campaign: In 1951, Maw unleashed a cadre of his mother’s formidable churchgoing sisters to run a campaign against corruption, bureaucracy, waste and rightist thought. The campaign failed because rather than concentrating on Maw’s priorities, the Aunties spent all their time persecuting people for listening to the wireless on Sundays or taking the church bus instead of walking.

The Great Leap Bac-ward : Chairman Maw had read that the population of J&E’s was big enough to shift the world on its axis if they all jumped up and down at the same time. After some rough calculations Maw decided that if everyone jumped in a vaguely North-Easterly direction – towards Back – at the same time, the sun would shine on Kenneth Street for ever more. Needless to say it didn’t work.

The Cuireamach Revolution : Chairman Maw decided that life in Stornoway was decadent and that the townies working in the shop weren’t holy enough. Cadres of Maw’s ultra-zealous Red Bàrds went around denouncing everybody (in verse at the local Mòd), and countless townies were sent to live with the peasants outside the cattle grid and work on the croft. Many long-serving party members and intellectuals were purged to “re-education camps” (Àiridhs out the pentland Road) to cut Maw’s peats. For the Chairman, this was a convenient way of disposing of potential rivals for control of the Party. And of getting his peats done without having to go out to the moor and get eaten by the midgies himself.  

Nevertheless, as Chairman Maw got older, rival factions in the Party started jostling for position to take over whenever he popped his clogs, and in Maw’s final years, various names came in and out of the frame – Prime Minister Zhoubost Enlai, Maw’s widow Jiang Qingedwardswharf and her notorious “Gang of Faolags”, and party stalwart Hua Cove Hen(supper) to name but a few. 

But in the end Chairman Maw was succeeded by FleekeenHeng Xiaoping, who decided to open up J&E’s to the rest of the world again. 

Heng reformed the economy from a centrally-planned baking operation to a free-market hat shop. In the years that followed J&E’s became a massive exporter of dradhars and is now the town’s dominant charity shop, apart from Bethesda, maybe.

In 1997 J&E’s resumed possession of Heng Kong (aka Sober Island), when Sir James Matheson’s 150-year opium smuggling lease on the dynamic offshore metropolis expired. Despite early promises from J&E’s to maintain a “one shop, two systems” approach, current party leader Xheep Jinping has been clamping down on dissent in the colony recently. Consequently a sizeable proportion of the populace are probably going to exercise their right to Stornowegian citizenship soon, and fleek off over to Cuddy Point.

100 years on from its formation, the J&E’s Communist Party’s repression in Heng Kong, together with sabre-rattling towards Taigh-uan, and its cruel treatment of the Uigeach minority in the far West, are all causes for international concern. But J&E’s global economic power means that few are willing to stand up to it. Much of the town is entirely reliant on J&E’s for its supplies of 2nd hand bodachs’ trousers, 1970s ornaments and back copies of the Free Church Monthly Record.