Aith Gun

Aith Gun
Breezy Isles, Shetland

Saturday, December 24, 2011


As 2011 comes to an end, it seems a good time to update here.

It has been an interesting and varied year, started as most do, slightly hung over.

I had got more involved with the Labour Party at a branch level and was still reeling from our bosses cutting my pay in 5 ways, at least. I had campaigned against it but as a council employee, you don't really get to have your say, you are muted by terms of contracts, basically you are not to tell folk your thoughts on how your part of the council is run. I was not to contact councillors directly either, though I know some are contacted, now. Odd really, I cannot make comments but can vote them (sack) out.

I ended being on the ballot paper for our local elections last May, delivering thousands of leaflets, getting help from the very kind David Hanson MP and enjoying the support of other group members.

And on it went.

I went to see my Dad in Shetland, I thought that if I did win this election, I may be initially busy.
I took the time off work and caught the train and the ferry. My Dad has Alzheimer's and is being well looked after at Viewforth House in Lerwick.
It still is upsetting to see him this way, although we did not always see eye to eye, he was still Dad. I also timed my visit to coincide with the anniversary of my Mams passing, which in a way, highlighted the problems my Dad was having at the time.

There are always mixed feelings when I step off the ferry in Lerwick. As I have said before, Shetland is full of happy memories of childhood, watching my Mam letting go so to speak and enjoying life away from Dad and able to have fun with her sisters and many good friends. We too were let of the leash, many a day spent up the hill or with Grandad looking at the ships in the harbour. Our next door neighbour was Rhoda Bulter, a bubbley woman, mother to my best friend and the font of knowledge, it sometimes felt she knew every rock in Shetland and who had sat on it. Going out on runs with her and the dear Dennis and my best friend were great, always ended in ice-cream from a knocked up kiosk in what seemed the middle of no where, with views to die for, and many did in the 20th Century.

The picture is of the ruined smoke house of the fish station on Bressay near the Aith Gun, the fire bricks, came from Preston, very close to where I am now living.

Dad was well, he had settled in and was safe, my heart goes out to those who are being introduced for the first time to dementia, as a sufferer or a future carer.
The picture of our life is well drawn and full of all the good and bad things we had to go through to get to where we are, some folks ink is strong and vibrant to the end others have the misfortune of choosing not so permanent ink, then to top it off, it fades more rapidly as time ebbs on, some folk choose invisible ink and will never be able to show their picture.

Back here now and a couple of weeks to the election.

Then it comes, May 5th 2011.

I got up, had a good breakfast and started to complete my campaign. I officially opened the campaign garage of refreshments and additional leaflets.

I spent most of the day riding around chatting to folk and encouraging them to go and vote. I think I rode over 30 odd miles, down every street with a party flag on my bike.

We all came to my house and had some tea and snacks and got ready for the evenings events.

Nerves started to kick in a bit, though the folk I was with helped, I was intrigued by what was going on. I had gone with an open mind as I was not sure what I was letting myself in for. What I found appalling was the way some of the other politicians treated the folk who were doing the count, arguing, leering over them and being down right rude. I am glad to say I saw none of our party do that.

The count for my area did not start til about 4am, it was interesting to watch, I could not really see my votes, just those of the opposition. I toddled off for a wee and another coffee. As I walked back, one of my colleagues brushed passed me and said "you done it". Eh? I did not quite take it in until my name was called to verify they spoilt papers, then up on stage, even though I knew I had won, I was still checking the totals being read out, the announcement, "I do by declare that Keith Martin is Duly Elected as councillor in the Kingsfold Ward" or there abouts. As I walked down the stair from the podium, a council officer greeted me, "congratulations Councillor Martin, can you sign your pledge?" there I was, a councillor, everything still whirring around me but slightly faded like a 1980s Top of the Pops video effect.

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