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Voluntary Action Shetland

New Shetlander cover 260 Simmer 2012

New Shetlander No 260 is on sale this weekend. It has a brand new look, and continues to feature brand new contributors as well. The lead article, A night nor-west o North Rona,  is a remarkable and memorable piece by ex-fishing skipper Joe Kay, vividly describing extreme weather conditions at sea, and then comparing accounts of storms. The writing has the authority of experience.

Margaret Stevenson, another first-time contributor, writes Aathing passes…, a substantial fictional story set in a ruined and desolate Shetland of the future. A young New Zealander is returning to her grandmother’s former home. Through the visitor’s experiences and her grandmother’s story, we hear a twenty-first century tale of disaster verging on nightmare. The story is carefully structured and written with great feeling.

Edwin Williamson of Hull contributes The last Hull whaler, an account of the terrible ordeal of the men of the whaling ship Diana, locked in the northern ice in the winter of 1866-67. He includes details of the ship’s eventual fate.

Shetland claith: the weavers of Ronasvoe is the centre spread of the magazine, featuring four R.H. Ramsay photographs of weaver James Jamieson and his family. Brenda Scollay provides the information.

Regular contributors are well represented too. An extract from Da tune, a new play by Robert Sim, brings readers to the heart of the plot, without giving anything away. The play is set in 1975, in a Lerwick council house, and deals with a mystery attached to a fiddle tune.

Brydon Leslie celebrates the work and influence of J.J. Haldane Burgess, who was born 150 years ago. He includes the writer’s friendship with Jakob Jakobsen, and Burgess’s thoughts on Shetland dialect.

A Swiss remembers discovering Shetland 50 years ago is written by François Burnier, who remembers it clearly. He was 18 at the time, and was here for six weeks with his father, a friend and a tent. He writes a lightsome and affectionate account of the place, the wildlife and the people of 1962.

The editorial is concerned with the national issue of child poverty. John Cumming’s Wadder eye looks thoughtfully at things Norwegian, considering episodes from his own experience and then the Norwegian reaction to the Breivik killings.

There are new poems by James Sinclair, Jim Mainland, Gordon Dargie, Paolo Dante, Christie Williamson and Christine De Luca. Christine’s poem is set against a stunning photograph of da Grind o da Navir by Bill Moore. A good crop of book reviews, led by Brian Smith’s review article of Ian Tait’s Shetland Vernacular Buildings 1600-1900, completes the magazine.

The cover picture is by Mairi Hedderwick, taken from her book Shetland Rambles. The New Shetlander costs £2.

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