"Orkney: A Special Way of Life" can perhaps best be thought of as the culmination of Richard Clubley's long-standing love for of the archipelago. Back in 2014 we reviewed his "Scotland's Islands", a beautifully written book in which he discussed the origins of his "islomania" in a truly inspiring way. Then in 2017 we reviewed his book "Orkney: A Special Place", which we described as " a love letter to an archipelago... an explanation of why he and his family have chosen these islands above all others as the place on which they are building their home."
Well now he's moved permanently to live in Orkney and there's a sense in which "Orkney: A Special Way of Life" is the logical successor to what has gone before. The result is a lovely book that we'd highly recommend to anyone with any interest at all in Orkney. This is a very special place and Richard Clubley has written a very special book that provides a unique set of insights: and is certainly quite unlike any other book about the islands (and not written by him) that we've seen before.
The rear cover blurb sets the scene. "After moving to the island he's always dreamed of, Richard Clubley here sets out to capture the experience of life on Orkney, from the history of the Neolithic sites to a future in renewable energy, telling the stories of countless Orcadians along the way. Determined to travel further afield than his home on Mainland, Richard takes to the Outer Isles to meet the people who live there and tell their stories."
The book comes complete with a section of colour photographs, while the text is further brought to life by a series of lovely black and white illustrations by Liz Thomson. In terms of content, The first hundred pages or so are home to 29 short chapters looking at different aspects of the author's experience of Orkney. These range from the magical to the mundane. The travails of dealing with utility companies are exemplified by a verbatim transcript of the author's phone calls to a "well known electricity supplier" in an effort to get an electricity meter fitted at his hew home. We then move on to look at "The Orkney Way of Life on the Outer Islands", eight short chapters each devoted to a different island; and to "Living by the Sea", nine short chapters looking at different aspects of the seaside experience. The book finishes with the five chapters forming "Conclusions, Looking Back and Looking Forward." I challenge anyone to read Richard Clubley's inspirational book without feeling just a little drawn to the idea of throwing a suitcase in the back of the car and heading north.