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Voluntary Action Shetland

Issue 291 - Voar 2020

The Voar issue of the New Shetlander has stories to tell, both factual and fictional.

Dr Duncan Sim, a new contributor, shares a family history story which will strike a chord with many readers. A merchant seaman’s life in postcards describes the career of a young sailing man from Lerwick in the early years of the twentieth century, when sail and steam overlapped.

Michael Goodlad continues his study of old Shetland letters, this time involving three reports from Methodist ministers in 1857: from Walls, Dunrossness and North Roe. They give an insight not only into church affairs but into community life at the time.

There are two contrasting short stories. John Cumming’s character Rachel undertakes a three-day solo kayak trip in varying weather conditions. Among the vivid descriptive writing, the startling reason for the trip, and Rachel’s thoughts, are explored.

Barbara Fraser’s story Baabie’s wrastle wi da iPad is pure comedy, with entertaining dialogue. The story may well raise sympathy among a certain age group – perhaps even an eyebrow or two!

The editorial reflects on the current health crisis, while Jean Urquhart’s Wadder eye looks fair and square at another major issue of our time: climate change.

A substantial article written in 1939 by D.H. Sandison of Nesting describes the Vale o Catfirth, its layout and landscape, with references to the poet James Stout Angus, who was born here; there are also episodes from history, folklore and tales of the supernatural. The failed 18th century linen mill venture, which many of us have heard of but never read much about, is dealt with in some detail.

Laughton Johnston has been pursuing Shetland connections with Sir John Franklin, discovering three local men who were actually with Franklin’s ill-fated expedition, and several others who were connected with that story in different ways.

Douglas Smith is a prolific writer on the subject of Norway in the Second World War, and its links with Shetland; he was recently officially recognised by the Royal Norwegian Navy with a Medal of Merit for his years of work. That work continues, and here he writes the intriguing tale A wartime secret! Of course, there are Shetland connections.

Poetry features as usual, and there are three book reviews. The cover painting is by Ginny Hunter. The New Shetlander is now on sale, price £3.

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