Voluntary Action Shetland   Voluntary Action Shetland
Voluntary Action Shetland

Issue 245 Hairst 2008


The hairst New Shetlander, number 245, is a packed issue. The lead article, ‘Averting climate catastrophe?’ is written by Dr Richard Pike, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry. It summarises the key messages in his well-attended lecture in Lerwick in June. Dr Pike’s informed opinions on energy provision and global warming may sometimes surprise, particularly as he reflects on current popular ideas on the subject. This is a substantial and very important article for our time.


   Another major article is David Waters’ ‘Radar on Saxa Vord: the wartime years’, describing the construction and development of the Admiralty Experimental Station, its work, its problems, its staff, and its sometimes uneasy relationship with its close neighbour, RAF Skaw. The details help to bring people and their circumstances to life.


Linda Riddell has been researching the early nineteenth century construction of two of Shetland’s best-known buildings: Sumburgh Head lighthouse and Symbister House in Whalsay. The Peterhead builder John Reid worked on both buildings, not without difficulty, as Linda relates in ‘John Reid and his travails at Sumburgh and Symbister’.


In his article ‘Good health’, J.W. Irvine reflects on the effects of the introduction of the National Health Service, 60 years ago. The editors take up the same theme. A keen ‘wadder eye’ ranges over some of the features of our changing society, from weddings to to the process of public consultation.


The poetry is particularly exciting in its range of style and content. Poems include Christine de Luca’s ‘Rites o passage’, inspired by two Finnish paintings, and Jim Mainland’s Shetland versions of poems by the Australian Les Murray. Lise Sinclair’s hairst poems ‘Shaeff, stook, skreevlin, skroo’ are striking to look at on the page, and rich in the vocabulary of corn and hirdin. They read like a loving commemoration of a vanished way of life.


Four local poets, all members of the New Shetlander committee, were recently involved in a collaborative project with visual artists, and with writers and artists in Orkney. ‘Island mailboats’ explains the nature and progress of this unusual project. Morag MacInnes from Orkney also wrote a story for bairns on the ‘mailboat’ theme. It features here, complete with Morag’s illustrations. Meanwhile, Orkney poet Yvonne Gray describes ‘Gunnie day’ at the Pier Arts Centre in Stromness, an event held to commemorate the life of Gunnie Moberg.


As usual, there are several book reviews. The New Shetlander is priced at £1.90.

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