f o r e t a s t e

00:13 thursday 14 october – rosevear , st agnes

my very first night in rosevear , though i shall not move in until next week . this is a wonderful house , an ancient granite and ramm dwelling to which extra rooms have accreted over the years . at its heart is a big open kitchen in which the rayburn mumbles away . i photographed johann installing it in the spring . he has now stripped it down and de-coked it ready for the winter . it heats the house , provides hot water , two hobs and an oven . wonderful iron machine !

from the kitchen extends a long light studio at one end and the sitting room at the other . the bathroom is off to one side . upstairs there are three bedrooms , in one of which i repose now as i write .

i came over from st mary’s this evening to attend a meeting in agnes’ little school . though it currently has ten pupils , the islanders are facing the prospect that this will drop to zero over the next six or seven years . numbers have fluctuated constantly since the school was set up by augustus smith , then lord proprietor of the islands , in 1830 or thereabouts . but this is the first time it has faced such a serious crisis .

the same situation occurred on bryher some years ago , the only island with a population smaller than agnes’ . indeed in the fifties there was some speculation that bryher would cease to be viable as a community and would be depopulated , an eventuality which has happily been avoided . but the education authority decided to close bryher’s school , promising that it would be re-opened as soon as the island had children once again . the years passed and children were born , but the school was never re-opened . instead pupils cross daily to be taught on neighbouring tresco .

the people of agnes are determined they shall not lose their school . tonight’s meeting was to start working out how . about twenty-five people turned up , a third of the population and the nearest thing to a full island meeting to have occurred so far this year . the discussion was focused , intelligent and constructive . i sense that the island will not only succeed in preserving its school but that wider benefits may also emerge in the process . this will be a major focus of discussion here over the winter , and one to which my experience may be relevant .

tomorrow morning i return to st mary’s . roger lorenz , one of the islands’ two telecoms engineers , installed two lines into rosevear this morning , so everything is ready for me to set up shop . but the lyonesse lady ( the inter-island freight launch ) is currently laid up alongside the quay at hugh town for maintenance of some kind . hopefully she’ll be in service early next week so i’ll be able to pack up and shift everything across .

i’m quite excited about being in this house for the next three and a half months , being back amongst this community and this landscape . i don’t think i’ve ever looked forward to a winter so much as i do to the coming one . there’s an awful lot of work for me to do .

22:50 saturday 16 october – scillonia digital workshop , st mary’s

just got back here after supper at watermill . feeling pretty down on computers . last night my jaz drive , my primary storage device , bit the dust . it’s the second time this has happened and i only bought the wretched thing in march . hopefully i won’t have lost any data but i won’t be able to get at anything until iomega gets a replacement drive to me . this took a couple of weeks when the last one died at the beginning of june . it couldn’t have chosen a worse time .

but i’m able to continue some bits of work in the meantime . this afternoon i put together my first stab at photographic despatches :

http://www.charlesarmstrong.net/1999/10

it’s a start .

: cH

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