WHILE most of the community shut down for a fortnight over the festive period, our friends at Shetland Life have been busily beavering away preparing the first 2009 issue for readers’ enjoyment.
The magazine hits the shops today, with Jonathan Wills delivering the first instalment of a two-part feature reminiscing over the time he spent in Unst during the 1970s, as a crofter, crewman and later skipper of the Muckle Flugga lighthouse boat Grace Darling.
A fascinating article from Marsali Taylor commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Shetland Women’s Suffrage Society’s formation, detailing the important role the group played in the battle for equality at the ballot box in the early part of the 20th century.
Looking further afield, Steven Laurenson provides a photo gallery focusing on the people, cities and landscapes of the USA, while Hector Johnson recalls both the excitement and disappointment of his first visit out of Shetland just after World War Two. There is yet more nostalgia in the form of Alastair Christie-Johnson’s account of a surprising encounter with a very lively young sheep.
Back in the present day, editor Malachy Tallack delivers a thoughtful and provoking essay asking What is a community?, in which he concludes that uniqueness and individuality are integral to a community’s being.
He asserts that the evidence of the varying degrees of vibrancy among our outer-lying islands would suggest ease of access and transport is “not necessarily a key to success”. He writes: “Indeed, by making any place completely reliant on access to Lerwick we may in fact be damaging its long-term viability.”
In his editorial Tallack also comes out strongly in favour of the proposal to convert a former fish factory in Scalloway into an abattoir, which has met with strong resistance from the village community. In making a compelling case for the slaughterhouse to go ahead, he writes that such opposition represents a certain “squeamishness” and a desire among some meat-eaters for a pretence to be upheld: “Animals should continue to be killed, but it should be done in secret, away from those who wish to eat them.”
Seafarer Andrew Halcrow puts his mind to 21 questions, and there are all the other regular columns and features including Vaila Wishart’s Comment article, Shetlink.com, Past in pictures (focused on the Esplanade in the early 1900s), Notes from a niseach and Rooin da Krangs, as well as the usual games and puzzles.
*The January edition of Shetland Life is available in all good newsagents, priced at £2.30.