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New Shetlander - 279 Voar 2017

Cover 279 The New Shetlander Voar Issue 2017

The editorial of the latest New Shetlander – No 279 – quietly makes a remarkable announcement: Voar 2017 marks the magazine’s 70th anniversary. It was founded by the writer Peter Jamieson in 1947, and its long life is something of a record: cultural magazines are often comparatively short-lived, and such longevity is very rare.

The work involved in establishing the New Shetlander is shown here in a copy of a letter written by its founder in 1947, canvassing for contributions. He states his aims and intentions for the magazine, and describes his progress so far.

In this Voar issue, Ian Tait contributes ‘Buoyant earnings’, an account of wartime finds on beaches, but with a difference. During the Second World War, some of the flotsam consisted of bales of rubber, which were valuable, and were therefore always declared to the authorities. They became a useful ‘cash crop’. Ian’s article makes extensive use of the Unst and Yell records of the Receiver of Wreck, and features some good photographs and a detailed map.

In January 1937 the croft at Lingness in Nesting was swamped by a tremendous storm. In the Shetland News, D.H.Sandison of Nesting wrote a vivid description of the events and the resulting devastation. His article, ‘Galemath’, is re-published here.

In humorous contrast, the modern young woman in Barbara Fraser’s ‘Da fisherman’s problem’ is exasperated at her fisherman boyfriend’s superstitious ways, while the article ‘Why so blate?’ by Jim Mainland, describes the imagined extent of Shetland’s influence in the world, and uses many famous names to prove it!

Several writers are in thoughtful, commemorative mood. Icelandic poet Aðalsteinn Ásberg Sigurðsson has sent a poem in memory of Lise Sinclair of Fair Isle, and Christine De Luca has translated it into Shetland dialect. Jim Mainland’s poem ‘Just a note to say’ has made use of real letters from a fallen First World War soldier. Dorota Rychlik has contributed ‘Some personal words’ for her friend, the late Cushla Bretton, who passed away recently.

Willie Thompson’s keen ‘Wadder eye’ analyses current events and the nature of democracy, alongside memories of Lerwick life and friends. An intriguing short piece by Jimmy Milliken, entitled ‘When Thatcher came to Shetland’, reflects some other aspects of that day and time (1980) as well as the PM’s visit itself.

Linda Riddell looks much further back in time, at the 1711 publication Description of the Isles of Orkney and Zetland, by Sir Robert Sibbald. She explains how Sibbald gathered and selected his information, analyses the material he presents in his book and the comments he makes, and assesses him as a source for today’s historians.

Poetry topics vary greatly, from the spelling of Waas/Walls to the stages of building a ship. There are book reviews as usual. The striking cover picture is ‘Alison Kay heading to Lerwick to land the catch’, by Kevin Ritch.

The 70th anniversary edition of the New Shetlander is now on sale, and costs £2.


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