2007 - 2021

Cottage for Sale on Eigg, £65k

It is five in the morning and my sleep has been stolen by an on-line advertisement on the Isle of Eigg web site for a tiny bothy that is for sale on that exquisite Hebridean island. I know the cottage well, it is a broken little stone howff that has probably lain shivering and cold for several lifetimes.

I imagine it’s one of those places that is so damp that if you try and dry out your drookit trousers by the fire it would take half a forever.

It is far from nowhere and yet close to everywhere that matters and is available to someone who wants to live permanently in the land of the ever young, eating little other than the view and dancing with the tweetie birds on the raggity beach for their disco. The cottage is for sale for offers over sixty five thousand pounds Roll up, roll up.

No doubt the poor Isle of Eigg trustees who manage the island on behalf of the islanders will be inundated with applications to buy it from other restless nutters wrested this dawn from their slugabed warmth. Last night in dreams I went once more to the bay on the back of the ocean and there in infinite sadness I watched my life go down.

Back in the day I lived for a few months on that lovely island, writing the odd irrationally silly piece for The Independent as half the world seemed to be watching as the local population tried to raise a million pounds to buy their island from a half mad German painter who had bought the place with money he had borrowed from granite eyed money men in Hong Kong who took no prisoners and wanted their cash back.

I am told, though have never been able to confirm the story, that when the news finally came through that an anonymous little old lady from England had decided to send several hundred thousand pounds of her savings to the island to put them over their target that it was such a news story that even in far away Australia one television company had interrupted their regular programmes with a newsflash that made millions smile.

I myself was on the mainland when the news came through that the islanders had bought their land but dashed at once to it’s waking glory by tiny buzz boat. I remember we had trouble steering that inflated rubber soap dish as our eyes were misted with tears as we blattered across the dawn fresh waves that oozed restless and slow turning under a tablecloth of mist. When the mists finally cleared and we saw a shore crowd waiting for us gathered round a farm house our steersman, whose home that farmstead was, turned to us and said “ See that island? Well it’s ours now. That’s my home, that s my family. “ and we howled with unrestrained tears and let the boat graze awhile untended in the blue hills unable to run across them any further. All lost, yet all found.

Recently I attended a dinner party and sat next door to a wealthy land owner. Half way through the cheese and port she turned to me and said: “I hear you supported those ghastly hippies on Eigg, subsidy junkies all of them . It will never work you know. Never work. They are just parasites.”

Part of me knew she was right, yet part of me also knew she was wrong.

Back in the seventies when the alternative land economist John Seymour of “Fat of the Land” fame, once wrote in effect that the trouble with conventional economics was that it evaluated the cost of milking a cow with your head against her soft belly at dawn as a burden. when he saw it as a benefit, it made me wonder.

After all, no system can be taken as sensible if it’s end product is the fall of man.

And the exemplar of Eigg has its part to play as we re-set the world.

I hope someone nice buys that damp cottage on Eigg. I hope they cover its carpets with noisy children and squeeze every subsidy going from the real parasites in soft grey offices far away. It will never work? It has worked darling. Have you?

Let Scotland flourish.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    Hear! Hear, Maxwell!

  2. Paul Codd says:

    I’ve never heard of a successful Scottish landowner or farmer that hasn’t ever claimed a grant. Indeed most farming would be impossible without them. Nor have i met one that hasn’t benefited from subsidised fossil fuels. Agricultural subsidies for fossil fuels have come on top of more subsidies for exploration and extraction which lowers the cost of fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides routinely used as an insurance for this year’s yield at the expense of soil biomass, pollinators, habitat, water quality and CO2 emissions. Does anyone other than organic farmers and a few re-wilding visionaries do anything to mitigate this? Not all parasites are made equal and some carry cultural viruses. There’s nothing more annoying than a billion hippy midgie parasites each trying to take a bite of your blood so they can sustain and reproduce. But it only takes one tick with cultural Lymes such as your lovely old lady, to skupper the host ecosystem she is stewarding for generations.

  3. Bruce says:

    Stayed in that cottage shortly after the island had been bought by the residents on a family holiday (Our 2nd time on the island, 1st time was prior to the buyout.) Certainly no damp back then & an outside loo with a cracking view (mainly because the door wasn’t too keen on staying closed!) Many happy hours spent watching the world go by and chopping wood – brilliant for tiring the kids out! We all loved it & I’m just a wee bit jealous of whoever ends up buying the place. Good luck to them!

  4. Hope-springs-eternal says:

    I’m off to see it. I work in IT and can do so remotely. Bruce it sounds wonderful – I. Just wish I’d done this when I was younger (my family are grown) and suspect they’ll prefer a bid from a young couple… but who knows! Worth a go….
    Maxwell – I’m with you snd the midgies – let’s bite those fat lazy opinionated butts! 🙂

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