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 December 2010


I learnt this startling news from my diary today, namely that the 26th December is not Boxing Day when it falls on a Sunday. Even more startling is the fact that I've gone through 63 Christmastides without being aware of this.

Well, I've just had my first warm-up of my share in the turkey "carry-out" from the family meal at Whiteness yesterday. There's still enough left for me to make a rice concoction with for tomorrow's lunch too. Even better was my sister Mary's sticky toffee pudding, the second (and sadly the last!) helping of which I warmed under the grill today. Megayum!

In anticipation of the jollification ahead, I got my artwork as up-to-date as I could, before setting off to Brugarth on Friday morning to spend Christmas Eve and Day with mother. The two commissions which I have scheduled for completion before the end of January are now well under way, with skies completed and the other features outlined. I hope to get more work done on one of these tomorrow. My advertising bills have now been paid, and the bank accounts are still in the black (just), despite the disaster of the Thursday Toll Clock stalls, which yielded only half of what I'd hoped for, mostly due to adverse weather conditions. Better luck next year, I hope! With things as nearly under control as they ever get chez the Tait Gallery, I set off to take up my duties as general assistant and kitchen porter at Brugarth, which, like the rest of Shetland, is under a foot of snow.

Mother had a late night on Christmas Eve. We had heard that my niece Elanor was playing in a recording by the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, which was being shown on BBC1 Scotland around midnight, so the home help was excused duty at Mum's that evening, and Mary was on hand to perform the bedtime routine instead. Mary's daughter Caroline was taping the programme in case Mum DIDN'T fancy staying up, so the gaps were covered. In the end she did stay up, and the three of us watched an excellent concert of classical-based Christmas music, just the kind which we have enjoyed singing together in choirs over the years, only this time accompanied by an orchestra!

The BBC have provided us with a feast of good Christmas choral music over the past week or so. I've enjoyed all of it, whether presented as a historical documentary, a service or a recital. Simon Russell Beale and Howard Goodall have both done excellent programmes and, together with the traditional Nine Lessons and Carols from Kings on Christmas Eve, and another wonderful programme from Winchester yesterday, I know that my mother has really felt a seasonal atmosphere these last few days, something she has felt was lacking in previous years. Beeb, take a bow! I know that there are probably pressures from the secular, anti-religious and other lobbies (God help us!) to cut down on the Christian output, but there are at least three people who are very happy with what they have seen and heard this festive season.

Christmas was about the coldest morning I have ever experienced. I was up at 7.30am, before the central heating had started to thaw the kitchen out, and I despaired of it being warm enough to allow mother to occupy it. I felt like starting a fire in the place - sadly it's supposed to be centrally heated! It did warm up a bit before mother got up, fortunately, and Mary and I set about preparing a feast for the same company which sat around the same table at the same time last year. And we had another jolly good time too!

By the time we had finished clearing up afterwards, darkness had fallen over the snow, and I took the opportunity of a lift back to Lerwick with Mary's son-in-law David Thomson. He was at the wheel of his father's Range Rover, which he had borrowed for its Arctic terrain capabilities. On the way in to town, the snow was sparkling in the headlight beams, as if some mighty hand had scattered multi-coloured glitter over it, a phenomenon which I can't recall seeing before - perhaps my eyes have never previously been tuned to the spectacle! Thus ended a kind of magical Christmas Day. Even though my back was sore, and I felt knackered at the end of it, I could still appreciate that it had been a special occasion, and I hope the others felt it too - I know mother did!

Now the thaw has set in - the wind has picked up to a fresh south-easterly, and it has clouded over. No doubt it will rain tonight, and, by tomorrow morning, a lot of the snow will have gone - for now! My brother arrives in Shetland for a very short break on Tuesday morning's boat. There are rumours of another feast, this time of reestit mutton soup, on Wednesday evening, and no doubt I'll be on sink duty for that too. I wouldn't have it otherwise!

For those of you who are having them, I hope your Hogmanay celebrations go well next Friday night into Saturday! A guid new year tae ane and a' - when it comes!

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