Nik’s story …

The young man had memories like mine and more.  Staying out too long for one last cast across inhospitable waters, he never made landfall again.

This assumption from the previous post was based on vague memory and the fly rod sculpted into the headstone.

I am always astonished by the kindness of strangers – in this instance, Mary from Scullomie Pages and Iain from the Melness Social History site who, giving their time, uncovered the sad truth behind the headstone at Melness cemetery.

The body of a youth drowned while creel-fishing from a north Sutherland clifftop on Thursday, was recovered yesterday. Nicholas Wyper, 18, was washed into the sea while hauling in lobster pots from Port Vasgo, near Talmine.
Taken from the Sunday Herald at the time.

This from Iain:

Nicholas lived with family in Melness and there is still family there. I have attached a few photos for you as there is another memorial at the spot where it happened. Sadly the stone and the cairn is broken, like the hearts of his family. By all accounts he was a fine young lad who loved Melness, its beauty and freedom. The site looks benign in the September sunshine, but there are dangerous undercurrents and deep water round the inlet and Stac Dhu, so a good place for lobsters, but very hard work to pull up pots on uneven ground.

1009-nikwypermemorialcairn-wordpress1010-nikwyperstacdhu-wordpress

The images are reproduced with the kind permission of Iain C Morrison www.melness.org.uk

The words on the cairn memorial read as follows:

IN
MEMORY OF
NIK WYPER
WHO WAS SWEPT
FROM THESE ROCKS
ON
29TH JUNE 1989
AGED 18 YEARS

A YOUNG MAN
WHO WILL ALWAYS
BE REMEMBERED

“GOING HOME”

Postcards from the edge – 3

I first came to New York on a business trip in 1983.  I was part of a project to link up an early distributed electronic mail system between software developers in US and the UK.  It was time consuming, complex and expensive; today I can sit on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic, email friends and neighbours and remotely pan and tilt a camera in my living room.  We have travelled a long way in just under thirty years.

So has New York.  Then it was a darker, dirtier and more threatening place, the transformation is staggering, particularly down the West Side.  In my limited experience the people seem to have changed too; once bit part players in the French Connection, now everyone is straight from a Woody Allen film, particularly the tour guides who have perfected the role of edgy friendly familiarity.  Our first was a Tony Bennett look-alike whilst the water taxi showman was late Dustin Hoffman.  As you travel downtown, unsurprisingly, 9/11 dominates the conversation.

We all know where we were; the Terrazza dell’infinito, Ravello, the most beautiful view in the world, a clear blue sky merged as one with a bright blue sea at an indistinguishable horizon; it seemed like the absolute centre of the civilised world.  Later that afternoon in a back street café, news that the modern world had changed dramatically filtered through in half understood Italian.  Suddenly, the barbarians were at the door.

Michael Arad’s Memorial is a fitting and disturbing monument.  Thirty foot waterfalls endlessly cascade on each side of two pools set in the footprints of the original Twin Towers before descending again into the central abyss.  The names of the victims are etched into the bronze parapets that surround both pools.  It is a chilling and thought provoking place to stand, particularly on a warm blue-skied September day in the shadow of the near complete 1 WTC.