Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Sound familiar?

All of these snippets are taken from editions of The Orcadian dated January 1978. So far, so familiar, but things were about to get worse...

Nearly all of the West Mainland and Island schools seem to have been closed for an extended period, roads in Orphir were completely blocked and impassable, the water went off in Stromness, Evie, Rendall, Sandwick and Orphir and there were milk shortages due to farmers being without water, electricity and transport. Milk was being dumped at some farms.

Mr Alastair Whyte, manager of the Kirkwall Claymore milk factory said: " I have never known so much chaos in my time."

Worst of all, there was no telly for a significant proportion of the population! The Radio was working, however, and Radio Orkney was on air for three hours one night keeping the population up to date with developments and boosting morale with music and phone-ins.

The worst Orkney power cut story I have ever heard was recounted in the staff room one day. It must have been around about 1983 when the power cut out across most of the mainland. I know this, because this is when the fabulous guilty pleasure of a mini-series The Thorn Birds was shown. The power cut happened IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LAST EPISODE.

In these new-fangled days of iplayer, youtube and dvd box sets, this would be, at worst, a minor irritant but in the early 1980s such an event was truly desperate. Fans of the charming yet ambitious Father Ralph de Bricassart  were reduced to roaming the streets, tearing their hair out and shouting "Does anyone have power? Will Ralph ever find out that Dane is his illegitimate son?!!"

Some people still tear up when it is mentioned and it is fun to prank call Orkney numbers and whisper "her dress was ashes of roses..." until the recipient of the call dissolves into confused and helpless sobs.

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