mr verge said: Those memory ledgers tend to have haunted hinges, mr mongoose, forever springing open of their own accord.
Forgive me if I've told you this before but a couple decades back, this time of year, I found myself at a select sherry gathering at the Courthouse in Kirkwall. It was a clear, cold, December night. Stars crackling in their reflections on the wet streets. Black tree skeletons. The ruins of the Earl's Palace stark against a city sky line utterly unlike Birmingham.
Well, it's difficult. Baby bones are soft, the builders disturbed the site before they realised what they were looking at, it's all churned up ...
It's looking like at least five babies, possibly more......
My colleague had told me that Orkney is a thin place, where the boundaries between the worlds are not fixed, and realities bleed through. That Orkney calls certain people to live here ...
After the Christmas sherry party, I drove home across the West Mainland, crossing the Harray/Dounby plain, on a crisp, cold, clear December night, with a yellow moon heavy and low in the sky, my car's moon shadow preceding me, absofuckinglutely terrified.
Inspector Paul Eddington of the Kirkwall force says: "We are not carrying out a murder enquiry. We are currently involved in information gathering to pull all the pieces of this puzzle together. These bones cannot be proved to have come from any particular member of a family, as they are too small and fragmented, and to suggest ownership would be insensitive."
Sad story about the babies. I dare say it was not an uncommon occurrence in those days when there were too many mouths to feed.
Down Here I've read stories of aboriginals killing babies by pouring sand in their mouths because the mob did not have enough food to go around. It sounds cruel, but its entirely logical if the objective is to maintain the fertile members, and hence the long term survival of he group, until a time when the land produces more food.
I was out to dinner with a cabaret yesterday evening, and the singer covered Bad Moon Rising -so that brought to mind that haunted night 20 years ago, driving home alone across that haunted plain, chased by long moon shadows, and the dreadful memories of the Harray Babies. Even after all that time, my dining companions still lowered their voices as they discussed the tragedy, eyes flicking around the restaurant to see if any relatives of the family, or friends of relatives, were present. You see, one baby of the unfortunate mother survived because it was a breach birth and the grandmother had to go for assistance - so the neighbour who helped knew it was a live birth - therefore the baby was allowed to live. When the whole grisly graveyard under the kitchen flagstones came to light, now a grown man, he sold his story to the media and had a TV appearance. 15 minutes of fame.
The babies weren't killed because of poverty, mr mike, unlike your aboriginals. No, this was to conceal the shame of illegitimacy. The mother was taken advantage of by local men, and the resulting pregnancies concealed. That whole isolated rural community knew about it, but everyone pretended it wasn't happening, to save face.
Concealed pregnancies and the disposal of the baby still occur. A few years back, a young woman gave birth alone, in secret, and, as soon as she could walk, took the baby into the local A&E department and left it there, deft to the protests of the nurses.
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