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New Shetlander - Hairst 2007 issue

Issue 241 - Hairst 2007


The Hairst issue of the New Shetlander delves into a wide range of subject matter, with several major articles to attract attention. Angus Johnson of Shetland Museum and Archives writes Tom Anderson and the journey of the fiddle in Shetland, and considers Tom’s legacy in music tuition, and in his collection of recordings, now accessible to the public. Gordon Johnston, inspired by his own family research, contributes Winnie Balfour and the story of education in Shetland, describing the complicated events leading to the establishment of the first school in Aith, and shedding light on the early twentieth century education system. 


The two previous magazines have featured important articles on aspects of Shetland’s geography and climate over the centuries. Now we have the intriguing article Tsunami hunting in Shetland, by Professor Alastair Dawson of the University of Aberdeen, whose book on the climate history of Scotland will appear soon. His research at Scatsta and Basta Voe will interest many readers, as will his conclusions and his photographs. It appears that tsunamis have happened here.


A Scotland-wide study is currently going on into the reading habits of people born before 1945, the importance they attach to reading, and the effects that reading has. Linda Fleming of Napier University was recently in Shetland carrying out interviews as part of her research for this project. She tells us about the research itself and the nature of the findings so far.


The editors consider Shetland writing, and the lack of the great Shetland novel. But poetry is in good heart locally. The magazine highlights the remarkable situation in Unst, where two poetry collections are appearing within weeks of each other: one by the late Mackenzie Cash, and the other by Jack Renwick, whose first collection was published in 1963. Good new poetry appears here too. Also two fine short stories, very different in style: After the War, by Jim Taylor, and A few following loud, by Matthew Wright. And some of the primary age prizewinners in dialect writing at the Waas Show make delightful contributions.


Wendy Gear presents a lively reconstruction of a disagreement at a Yell crö in 1862 which resulted in a court case. Christopher Jamieson, a UHI student, details findings from his recent survey of attitudes to the dialect among young people in the North Mainland; the results may surprise some. There are the usual book reviews, and the Wadder eye muses on topical subjects.


The current writer of the Wadder eye coined some lightsome dialect collective nouns in the last issue. A good crop of further examples have now been invented by readers! A selection of the best appears, complete with cartoon illustrations by Smirk.


The striking cover picture is a painting by Gail Harvey. The Hairst New Shetlander is priced at £1.90.


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