Graham Garson: Grandfither o Nistaben

I’ve found and photographed (if proof is necessary) my copy of George’s first edition of The Storm. I inherited when my grandmother died – rescued it, more likely – in a box of old books that had belonged to my great-grandfather, John George Smith Flett of Nistaben in Harray. He was a gentleman farmer – a strange expression that, as he was neither much of a gentleman nor much of a farmer! He was very interested, but as a chronic asthmatic wasn’t terribly fit to carry out much of the work himself.

Instead, he busied himself with committees – Orkney Agricultural Society, West Mainland Agricultural Society, West Mainland Clydesdale Breeders, Young Farmers, Orkney Agricultural Debating Society and the likes – and writing poetry.

He was widely published in newspapers at home and south, either as JGSF, Lea Rig, or most frequently as O R Cadian. His poetry was of that heroic, Edwardian mode that GMB criticised in his chapter about Robert Rendall in An Orkney Tapestry, but there are some better poems, particularly when he writes in a more humorous and less pompous style, often reserved for the goings-on at home amongst the family. As a self-styled expert on poetry and regular contributor to the Orkney Herald, I’m sure that ‘Grandfither o Nistaben’ felt the need to support George in the venture.

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