You know what makes me grumpy? All the Grumpy Old Men who appeared on the BBC TV series were younger than me, that's what makes me grumpy. Mutter, mutter....

The Grumpy Old Artist

The Grumpy Old Artist
Would YOU pose for this man???

Exhibition Poster

Exhibition Poster
Catterline Event, 2011

Oil Painting by Jim Tait

Oil Painting by Jim Tait
Helford River, Cornwall

Oil Painting by Jim Tait

Oil Painting by Jim Tait
Full-riggers "Georg Stage" and "Danmark"

Other Recent Works

Other Recent Works
Fordyce Castle and Village

Hay's Dock, Lerwick

Shetland-model Boats at Burravoe, Yell

Tall Ships Seascape

The Tour Boat "Dunter III", with Gannets, off Noss

The "Karen Ann II" entering Fraserburgh harbour

Summer Evening, Boyndie Bay

1930s Lerwick Harbour

Johnshaven Harbour

"Seabourn Legend"

Greeting Cards!

Greeting Cards!
Now Available in Packs of Five or in Assorted Sets of Four

Sunday, 26 September 2010


Shetlanders are very fond of a bit of free entertainment, and it arrived this week in the form of "Stunts 'R' Us", a quasi-scientific terrorist group otherwise known as Greenpeace. Members of this noble organisation gratuitously attached themselves to one of the anchor chains of the oil-drilling ship "Stena Carron", which had been lying north of Lerwick harbour for the previous couple of weeks while preparations for a forthcoming drilling operation west of these islands were made.

While the television, and, for all I know, the newspaper media (I never read the daily papers), gave the action of the "activists" the oxygen of publicity on which they thrive, for a couple of days at least, the islanders appear to have been less than sympathetic to their cause. The locally-based internet forums have been inundated with proposals as to how to respond to this unwelcome intrusion into the lawful daily business of the oil-drilling vessel. Suggestions included the employment of guns, harpoons and torpedoes, and the idea of dropping the anchor at regular intervals was also mooted. Personally, I thought winching up the anchor from time to time would keep the uninvited guests honest and regular.

In the end, nothing much came of the stunt. The rig operators obtained an injunction against the "activists", and both parties to this incident seem to have gone elsewhere - at least the drilling ship and the Stunts 'R' Us mother ship, "Esperanza" have disappeared from my Ship AIS map of the islands. Best of luck and safe operations to the former, and good riddance to the latter!

While islanders are as concerned as anyone about the risks involved in offshore oil exploration and recovery, it is the undemocratic modus operandi and arrogance of the protest group which gets up Shetland noses. Like other people around the world, we all watched in horror as events unfolded in the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding shorelines earlier this year. We had our own incident about seventeen years ago, when the fully-laden tanker "Braer" was wrecked on the Garths Ness rocks. Accidents can and will happen in the best-regulated households, so what do you do? Cease all of man's endeavours which involve an element of risk?

(Incidentally, the "Braer" incident was unconnected with any oil operations around Shetland. It happened because Shetland lay on the north side of the Fair Isle channel, through which the tanker, on her way from Mongstad in Norway to America, was about to pass, when she lost power in worsening weather conditions. The rest, as they say, is history, and the event has been fully documented in Jonathan Wills and Karen Warner's book "Innocent Passage", to which scholarly volume I have little of value to add.)

The consequences of oil exploration operations going wrong are undoubtedly grave. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in Siberia, where huge areas of land have been destroyed by Russia's land-based oil extraction blunders. The scariest story of the week, for me, has been the news that Russia has laid claims to huge areas of the Arctic Ocean, with intent to exploit the enormous oil reserves which lie beneath it. If there is a country with a poor record on accident prevention in the oil industry, it is surely Russia. I could suggest this as a more likely source of an oily Armageddon, and a more appropriate venue for a Greenpeace campaign, but I doubt if they will take up this challenge and, even if they do, their protests would fall on even deafer ears than those of the Shetland Islanders.


AnfinsenArt said...

enjoyed your article, and the lovely artwork. My husband still has family in Norway, but I have few relatives left in Sweden and Denmark. We now live in Fort Myers, FL and were spared the oil slick mess in the gulf. The same people who protest are the ones driving around in oil-guzzling vehicles enjoying the benefits of oil wealth! Go figure?

Judy Adamson said...

I, too, enjoyed your article because, as ever, you put the whole thing into perspective.

@AnfinsenArt - of course we all deplore the mess in the gulf but I'm glad to learn that I'm not alone in noticing the hypocrisy of the gas-guzzlers' protests; their 'whiter-than-white' attitude irritated me to put it mildly!

BTW, I've visited your blog and see that there's a lot I really shall enjoy reading when it's not quite so late at night! So I've 'followed' and will add your blog to my bloglist.