I often think back to my visit to the extraordinary island of Stroma. It was only two and a bit years ago, but the fact that it was such a strange, liminal place, coupled with the day trip passing like a blur, means that my time there feels like it took place in another era. My memories of it – lucid, but as if from a vivid dream – certainly make it feel like it was another world.
I have only my photos to cement the trip in reality, a rooting that is helped whenever others find them.
And that’s what happened the other day, when the picture desk of the Sunday Mail contacted me to ask to buy the right to one of my photos.
The Sunday Mail, the sister paper of the Daily Record, is one of Scotland’s less dreadful newspapers, and is absolutely not to be confused with the Mail on Sunday or Daily Mail – who I would certainly have told to clear off had they asked to buy any of my photos.
They were doing a piece on the war dead of the island of Stroma, as part of their edition that would be appearing in today’s edition – Remembrance Sunday.
They wanted a colour version of this photo – which thankfully I had taken but not uploaded to Flickr – and having made an ethical judgement that this was a paper I would be happy to sell to, I accepted.
I noted at the time in my write up of my visit that the war had a particularly brutal impact on this small, fragile community.
I did not imagine that, having read the names on the island’s war memorial, that I would come to learn anything of the stories of those killed.
Those stories are the theme of the sensitively written article in today’s paper, and I am glad to have had the chance to contribute in a small way to that piece.
I do hope the story of Stroma – and the broader lesson for how Scotland treats its rural and island communities – continues to be told.