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, 25 March 2012


Yesterday, as Shetland was shrouded in thick fog, which is still persisting as I write this, my sister Mary and I joined the rest of the mourners at the funeral of our first cousin Jeemie Nicolson.  About 150 people gathered in the Scalloway Hall for this occasion, which was more enjoyable than most funerals I've attended.  True, there were a few tears, but the singing was excellent, led by the North Ness Boys, with their mother Lorna playing the keyboard for the service.  We all gave Jeemie, who had been so able physically and intellectually for most of his life, but had been largely absent in mind for the last few years, a rousing send-off as he embarked on his last voyage.

My memories of him will always be of a very able and talented man.  I recall, as a boy, looking at his photographic slide-show of Sierra Leone, where he had been working as a mine geologist during happier times for that country in the 1960s.  Later, when he took a share in acquiring Shetland's first purpose-built pelagic purse-seiner (the "Wave Crest", built in 1969), I used to go for trips to the herring fishing with her.  How I enjoyed these overnight trips in pursuit of the shoals of herring. Slightly physically disabled, I would complete my day's work at the Bank of Scotland and, still in my bank suit, I would go aboard the boat for another adventure.  I would witness the spectacle of two or three shots of herring being found, ensnared and brought aboard, and be back in Lerwick in time to start another shift at the bank in the morning.  Happy days indeed!  Later, Jeemie sold his share in the boat and began a new career as a successful author, columnist and editor.  Then disability took possession of his mind, as it has taken many another brilliant one, but at least his writings remain as living testimony of his ability, for all the world to see.

Disability, whether in mind or body, is a subject fairly close to my heart.  I had to remain seated for the whole of yesterday's service, as the hall seats were too low for me to get up quickly enough to stand for the entrance of the cortege and the hymn-singing.  Someone in the row behind me (to whom I owe a debt of gratitude), along with Mary, lent the necessary assistance to get me on my feet again at the end of the proceedings.  Disability is socially embarrassing!

My brother and my nephew still smile when they think of our niece's (or cousin's, in the case of our nephew!) wedding in the Long Room at Busta House, Brae, in late February of last year.  They sat either side of me at the ceremony, and grabbed an arm each every time we were called to stand - it was so well done, I think that no-one noticed it was happening!  Regrettably, neither of them could make it to Shetland for yesterday's service - despatches tend to be more difficult to plan for than matches.

My "krang" is host to a whole catalogue of minor ailments, all of which embarrass and debilitate to a degree.  I have been asthmatic since pre-school days, and have also suffered from a condition known as miatonia congenita, which manifests itself in the form of a muscular spasm triggered by any sudden impact or movement.  It has caused me to fall over on countless occasions when able-bodied people would just have staggered before quickly regaining balance.  As a young man, I did my best to minimise the drain on confidence, which stems from this condition,  through taking on jobs which involved physical labour, although I'm not sure what my bosses thought of my work performance!

After contracting mumps at the age of 11, I have been completely deaf in one ear (yes, this 'ere ear - and all the other jokes!).  This means, in effect, that I hear in mono, whereas everyone else around me has stereo reception.  In normal one-to-one contact, this presents no problem, but in social situations this can be crippling.  At parties, even with a moderate amount of back ground noise, I can see people looking at me with their lips flapping, but I can't hear a word of what is being said to me.  In my "courting" days, my ex-wife was highly amused by the lengths I'd go to to counteract this.  If I found myself seated on the wrong side of her, I would develop an odd and intense interest in the wall behind us, in order to get my right ear inclined towards her!  I suppose the fact that I was once married to a beautiful woman is tribute to the success of my efforts to counteract this disability.

At parties, after beginning to try lip-reading what everyone is trying to say to me, I tend to tire of this effort after a couple of hours and a few soda-pops, and drift off into a world of my own, this earning me the reputation of being either stuck-up, anti-social or just plain stupid, all of which are simply untrue.  Debilitation and embarrassment go hand in hand here, and I avoid going to parties if I can.

Over the years, I have added a broken pinkie on my left hand (sustained at work in 1978 and undiagnosed by the overstretched A & E staff at the hospital), and an extremely painful condition in my right knee, which appeared suddenly in the spring of 2006, was only treated in late 2007, and which has left me a legacy of back problems due to the counteractive measures I took to maintain some sort of forward momentum on foot during the eighteen months I endured the pain from my knee.  I've never quite recovered my former strength of limb, and it's this that makes getting to my feet, from a low seated position, so difficult.  Exercise helps, but I'm stuck with the social immobility of disability, and I empathise with others who are similarly affected.

My mother, now well through her 96th year, returns from a fortnight's respite care tomorrow, and I hope to be able to help her settle in back home at Whiteness.  She has suffered from arthritis (including numerous replacement operations) for at least half of her long lifespan, and has had severe mobility issues for the last two decades.  For now, I'll settle for being fit enough to paint pictures, post to this blog, and give my mother the help she needs to make her life tolerable.

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