A Moment to Reflect

21 July 2020

A Moment to Reflect -67

“The Twelve Apostles” at Catacol


Yesterday, I promised you the sequel to the true story of being wakened in the middle of the night by two policemen.

Well, here it is…

The policemen who had come to arrest me for deserting from the Army (at the of 8!) had only just left our house. Everyone was still awake, although it was well after midnight. Then, bizarrely, there came another knock at the door —not quite so loud this time, but still sounding fairly urgent. My parents went to open the door, perhaps thinking that the police had decided to apologise for their mistake. But no! No policemen this time …only a midwife!

“I’ve come to deliver the baby!” she said, smiling eagerly.

“Baby? Em… I think you’ve come to the wrong house!” (I’m not sure if my parents were not also wondering by this time if we as a family had come to the wrong house to live!)

“Why did you come to this door?” they asked the midwife.

“Well, yours was the only house with the lights on—so I thought maybe this would be the house I was meant to be going to.”  Another mistaken assumption. (So, it’s not only moths who are attracted to the light. It seems that some midwives are too.)

In the end my parents were quickly able to reassure her that no one was about to be born in our house that night and to redirect her to the house of a neighbour whom they knew was in the advanced stages of pregnancy.

The wrong house… twice in the one strange night!

I suspect some of you may wonder what the photograph above has to do with my true story. Let me explain…

The row of houses pictured here can be found on the north west side of the Isle of Arran at a village called Catacol. The houses themselves are known as “The Twelve Apostles” and they have their own interesting story, one that is part of the wider story of the Scottish Clearances.

Apparently, the houses were built in the 1860s to provide homes for crofters who had been forcibly removed from their crofts in the interior of the island to enable the landowners to develop lucrative estates for deer hunting by the gentry. The displaced crofters were told they had to become fishermen. 

If you look carefully at the photograph, you’ll see that all the little upstairs windows are different from each other. The story goes that the woman of the house could send a signal to her husband while he was out fishing on the Firth of Clyde by placing a light in the window. The husband would know who was being signalled by the shape of the window in which the light was shining.

In fact, the displaced crofters, in protest at their eviction, refused to move into the houses at all and went to live elsewhere on the island. The houses actually lay empty for a couple of years, gaining the nickname of “Hungry Row.”

But I think I prefer the other nickname— “The Twelve Apostles”—because it reminds me of something that Jesus told his followers, namely that they (and we) were to be like lights in the world. 

“You are like light for the whole world. A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden, and no one would light a lamp and put it under a clay pot. A lamp is placed on a lampstand, where it can give light to everyone in the house. Make your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven. —Jesus. [Matthew 5:14-16]

So, reflect today on whether you are the kind of person that other people are instinctively drawn towards when they are looking for help, or advice, or a listening ear. Should you be?