What a week it’s been for women – and it’s only Wednesday. It has finally happened. The established mother of all churches, the Church of England, is finally on the way to get women bishops. Celebrations are well under way throughout the land as a new age of equality and understanding has dawned. As one exuberant lady from the Home Counties said so cutely after the vote, ‘God is smiling sweetly upon her people’.
Yippee. Small sherries all round. More tea, vicar?
How the Caw could look
The air of celebration and generosity of spirit sweeping the nation does not seem to have reached the Hebrides quite yet. There was a bit of a party going on next door on Monday night but I think that had more to do with the news that Prime Minister David Cameron had given Ken Clarke the boot. Nice one, Dave.
That reshuffle is a turn-up for the books. All those crotchety old Tories put out to grass to make way for thrusting, young women to take charge with handbags full of new, fresh ideas. We will have a whole new breed of hard-working women like, er, Maggie Thatcher or, er, well, you know, Theresa May. Heck, is this really such a good idea, prime minister? Anyone got wee Willie Hague’s number? He was alright. Call him back. He can stay. Don’t call Ken Clarke though.
There has been a surprisingly muted reaction on Lewis to the shock news that Stornoway could become a spaceport – a sort of ferry terminal of the skies for space tourists. I suppose with space tourism companies going to charge about £58,000 a head for a hurl, it won’t make that much of a difference if Flybe charges a few hundred more to get here from Heathrow.
By the time you read this it may have been announced whether places with long airport runways like Campbeltown, Kinloss, Lossiemouth, Prestwick or even Stornoway will be chosen. My money is on Stornoway or Campbeltown because I know they both have very long strips of tarmac.
In my RAF air traffic control days, I spent three weeks on exercise on the Mull of Kintyre. Yes, I saw Paul and Linda McCartney there though I didn’t actually meet them. They were too busy gesticulating across to us that we were on private property and to get lost.
Each day I had to patrol that endless tarmac at RAF Machrihanish, also known as Campbeltown Airport, making a visual inspection to make sure it was clear of stones, nuts and bolts that fall off planes and birds. We would chase off any wildlife too.
That runway just went on and on and on and on. You get the idea. It was a long runway. At something like 10,000 feet, it was the longest in Scotland. Having a Land Rover helped a bit. Stornoway has a mere 7,500 feet of the black stuff but you could easily get a shuttle up from that.
Although no one in Stornoway itself is excited, news of the spaceport possibly coming to the islands has got our neighbours quite ecstatic down on the Isle of Harris. So excited were they, in fact, that Harris Development has already begun looking to using the facility to put their own astronaut up there on the space station or even beyond. And, in keeping with the new world order, she may not be male.
I can see it now. Two astronauts from Harris in a spaceship circling high above the earth. One goes on a space walk while the other stays inside. When the space walker has finished she tries to get back in and finds the cabin door locked. So she knocks. No answer. She knocks again but louder. Finally, she hears a voice from inside the spaceship saying: “Who is it?”
At their meeting earlier this week to decide on their space strategy, I am told that a man from Stockinish spoke up strongly in favour of the plan saying there were dames with talent and expertise between Bowglass and Borrisdale. That should ensure one of them made took the controls with Richard Branson, whose aerospace company is already looking to test and train would-be astronauts. There has to be at least one Hearach lady who would make the grade for Virgin.
Mr Stockinish said he did not want to send a Hearach woman to the International Space Station. Many men have been there. He did not want to send a Hearach woman to the moon. That too had already been done. He said: “There’s something that has not been done. I think we should send a Hearach woman to the sun.”
Technical types with engineering experience gained with Caledonian MacBrayne, who have been drafted in to advise the bosses of Harris Development (Space Division) Ltd, were horrified. One said: “No way, a’ mhate. If you send a woman to the sun, she’ll burn up.”
The Stockinish man shook his head and said: “Ah well, do you really think I am that stupid? I’ve already thought of that. We’ll send her up at night.”