Times Past

25 Years Ago

Off the Spike: It is necessary to be conscious of sexist language – necessary because only by being conscious of words and phrases that can offend can one make sure they are not used and thus go a little way towards working for equality between the sexes. Equality, note, not the superiority of the female over the male.

However, there are feminists somewhat more ardent that me who have become so conscious that they have reduced our common language to absurdities. Take, for example, the word “chair” which has always – as far as I’m concerned – meant something which usually has four legs and which you sit on. In others words a boring inanimate object. This may well describe some of those who like to call themselves “chair” (or worse – “chairperson”), but what is wrong with being a “chairman” or “chairwoman”?

Often those who take equality to extremes seem to have the opposite of the effect to the one they hope to achieve. “Herstory” cropped up in the paper last week instead of “history”. While the sentiments are admirable – history has been written by men about men – it should be looked at from a female perspective as well – changing the language achieves nothing. For the benefit of the more militant equalitarians among us though I have compiled (with a little help from my friends) the following list of sexist words which will now be changed depending on sex.

A man affected by herpes will now be said to have hispes, misogynists (who heaven knows are normally men) will become mistersogynists. Missiles thrown by men will become misteriles and men appearing in court will now be charged with misterdemenors. Next time I have histrionics about sexist language it will be herstrionics and if my male colleagues make a mistake it will be a misterake. (I haven’t thought of a non-sexist way of saying hermaphrodite.) If you think I am labouring under a msunderstanding, msinterpretation, mstaken or msusing the language, you could be right. VW (Ms)

50 Years Ago

The Crown has claimed the St Ninian’s Isle treasure, and it may have to go to the National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh. This news will not be welcome in Shetland – but it is even more unwelcome when it is known that the man who made the claim on behalf of the Crown is a native of Shetland.

He is Mr Peter Jamison ISO, the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer, and Registrar of Companies for Scotland. He has declared the find treasure trove and claimed it for the Crown declaring that it must go to Edinburgh.

It will be recalled that the treasure was found on Shetland oil by a young Lerwick lad, Douglas Coutts, while acting as a team of student digging the ancient chapel site under the supervision of Professor A. C. O’Dell, of Aberdeen University.

The treasure was restored by the British Museum and housed in Marischal College, Aberdeen, apart for a short period in August when it was displayed in Lerwick. The university authorities acknowledged that Shetland had a right to the treasure – if they had somewhere to exhibit it.

At the moment there is nowhere it could be displayed permanently, but it is well known that there are hopes of a museum being opened in the not too distant future, however it now appears the St Ninian’s treasure will not feature in it.

100 Years Ago

There have been few contested elections in recent years in Lerwick that succeeded in eliciting less interest than the Municipal contest that came off on Tuesday this week. The truth is, a contest was not desired by the community, but forced on it, and that has been clearly demonstrated by the result of the vote, for the four retiring Councillors have been returned to office, and the new aspirant for municipal honours has been left out.

We pointed out a week ago that there was no disagreement among the retiring Councillors; that there was no question, “burning” or otherwise, before the community; and that no new policy had been brought forward to warrant the expense, little though it may be, of a contest. However, the contest was forced on, and it had to be faced. Three of the retiring Councillors, Messrs Arthur L. Laing, Robert Stout and John Smith decided to stand together, and they issued a circular to the electors, pointing out what had been accomplished by the Council during the last three years and expressing the hopes they held of further improvement in the future. The other two candidates decided to stand alone. Mr James Laing put his name to a circular which did a good deal of credit to the imagination of the combination who drew it up, but for practical purposes it was of little value, for it left out of account the fact that the Lerwick Town Council is an administrative body, not a legislative assembly. Mr Loggie also issued a circular on his own behoof, intimating that he stood as an “independent candidate” (whatever that may mean), and in it he appealed to the ratepayers on the strength of his action since he was elected to the School Board in April last. The verdict of the electors on Tuesday last might suggest that his work in the School Board had not been altogether appreciated by the ratepayers.

We offer our congratulations to the four retiring Councillors – Messrs James Laing, Robert Stout, A. L. Laing and J. Smith (we put them in their order at the poll) – on their return to another term in office. The Burgh of Lerwick is to be congratulated on its choice on far higher grounds than individual merit – the election has resulted in a decisive vote in favour not only of temperance, but of total abstinence. Messrs A. L. Laing, James Laing and John Smith are members of the local Rechabite Tent, and Mr A. L. Laing was one of those who in the early days of the order in Lerwick fought nobly and well to secure its establishment, not only in Lerwick, but in the whole islands. How successfully that end has been accomplished is known all over Shetland to-day. Mr Stout has been an abstainer all his life, and has ever been an ardent supporter of the temperance cause; and we cannot but congratulate the ratepayers upon their choice when they have returned to the Council Board four men staunch in the cause of temperance, whose private lives and public utterances will ever be directly opposed to the curse of strong drink.


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