Cloud cuckoo land

I was watching the Scottish news on the television the other night and I could not believe my ears and eyes when the article about the Shetland film festival, a non-event if ever there was one, came on.

While the SIC is cutting music and knitting tuition for our children, the arty farty brigade are apparently given funds to show movies to dogs!

Given that this will possibly be read by ladies and minors prohibits me from using some of the more choice expletives that would be appropriate in this case.

It is utterly appalling that money is wasted in this way. I hope there are plenty of lamp-posts around Mareel so that the audience have somewhere to commune with nature.

Much better if the money wasted on such projects was ploughed into education or the basic infrastructure of roads and transport that everyone needs to survive.

Where is the bridge to Bressay, the new Anderson High School, and the answer to Whalsay’s transport ills, be it ferry or whatever? Somewhere in cloud cuckoo land along with most of our (not particularly) esteemed councillors.

Colin Hunter


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  • Bryan Peterson

    • September 8th, 2010 22:08

    Colin, as one of the ‘arty farty brigade’ I can assure you that the screening of Ken Wardrop’s five minute film, ‘Useless Dog’ to which you refer didn’t require the public purse or canine audience to spend a penny, lamp-post or not. The venue, film rights and even the dog biscuits were kindly donated, and staff time was on an unpaid voluntary basis.

    I’d question whether ‘non-event’ is an accurate description of this year’s ScreenPlay, with over 2000 attendances (not including the dogs) at screenings around Shetland of new, classic and local films, and well known guests including Jason Isaacs, Julian Temple and Mark Kermode hosting discussions, presentations and workshops over the week of events.

  • Colin Hunter

    • September 9th, 2010 22:10

    Bryan. Thanks for your enlightening reply. I feel a bit better about the doggy movie now. You have to admit that in the context of current cuts it did look a bit over the top! The whole issue is a question of “Want” and “Need”. In times of plenty we can all have what we want. Well mostly! In times of cuts and HUGE public deficit we have to fight for what we need. I consider anything that we don’t “need” to be a waste of money in this current financial climate. And that something is Mareel. I don’t blame the SIC for the state the country is in, that’s down to Blair, Brown and their so called “New” labour cronies. Failed Socialists by any other name! However I do blame them for the series of poor decisions which have led to the wastage of millions of public pounds while acheiving precisely damn all! Shetland as a whole and Lerwick in particular needs money to be spent to improve or replace the AHS, Whalsay definitely needs improved transport links or they will have even bigger problems than they now have, and the clock is ticking. Does Bressay need or even want a fixed link? The jury is still out on that one. The fact that the only major project to make it through the Town Hall recently was something that a vociferous minority wanted rather than something that everyone needed is condemnation enough for me. Have the lunatics finally taken over the assylum? I am a born and bred Shetlander and I find the prospect of remaining in the place that I love less and less attractive as years pass.

  • W.J. Yockey

    • September 10th, 2010 15:10

    I am happy to see this debate.

    My vocation is guitar education and I have been at it for almost 20 years teaching workshops in London and as far away as Tokyo.

    I moved to Shetland in June because I like Shetlands music and my family is Scottish. If you think playing guitar for 44 years would help you to find a way into a guitar festival here then think again.

    Funny thing is I have been jamming with Brian Nicholson for almost 2 months and when I contacted Shetland arts several times without an answer I finally got an email from Bryan Peterson saying he was finalising a list for the Guitar Festival and he would consider me, and I could visit “Our Guitar Guru” Brian Peterson. When I said I had and Brian had asked my advice on playing American Jazz since Bryan asked for a way to “know” about my music, I thought it would be enough.

    That was July 27. A few weeks later I emailed again. Nothing. Finally I sent a CD with music from my CD. Still being ignored as of this writing. That does not bother me that much. What I find disturbing is that a young inexperienced non-musician would have the power to decide a line-up over a guitar festival in the first place.

    Maybe this explains why he is teaching a “Pro Tools” course for adult education (pro tools is the new computer way to record music and hiring a hack to do it is not hard) is Bryan’s part time interest as well. Which is it Pro Tools computer music or Shetland Arts Music Officer?

    As for my disease here (I have also been ignored by this lot on a Blues Festival, and the arts programme you mention Colin so the response you received seems fitting) I can only put it down to something akin to the Time Magizine article “The Death of French Culture” in 2007, and how government subsidy sucks the oxygen out of creativity in France today. Check it out.

  • Bryan Peterson

    • September 15th, 2010 14:14

    Mr Yockey, since you have chosen to post your message on both the Shetland Times and Shetlink websites, I think it appropriate to respond likewise, and in addition to the email I sent to you on Mon 13th September. To anyone who reads my response elsewhere, I apologise for the repetition.

    To put this response into context, I receive over a hundred unsolicited promotional emails, phone calls and items in the post each week from agents, bands and musicians looking for work. Regrettably, it isn’t possible to listen to every piece of music, respond to each sender and/or provide them with the requested work. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day, although I endeavour to reply to as many people as I can.

    The first record I have of correspondence with you is an email you sent in July seeking teaching work. I responded on 27th July, offering advice and recommending individuals and organisations for you to contact. I also requested some examples of your playing so we could consider you for inclusion at the Guitar Festival. You responded the same day stating you would copy some tracks from a CD that you would “get to” me.

    The CD you sent did not arrive until over five weeks later, on Friday 3rd September. I picked it up from my pigeon hole the following Monday, and four days later, before I had a chance to listen properly to your CD, you posted your Internet message claiming you were being ignored.

    Unfortunately, the programme for the mid September dates of the festival had been finalised some time before your CD arrived. However, I thank you for your submission and you will be considered for further events later in the year.

    You state you thought that since you have jammed and chatted with a renowned local guitarist, that would be “enough” for inclusion at the Guitar Festival. In a community with a large number of exceptionally talented guitarists, some evidence of your playing is a requirement.

    The rest of your message contains a number of inaccuracies and assumptions, which I am happy to clarify.

    You state that you find it “disturbing” that I, a “young inexperienced non-musician” decide on the Guitar Festival line-up. I’m 34, a musician and my levels of experience are such that my employers feel I am qualified for this job. The Guitar Festival is a Shetland Arts’ event for which I am lead officer, and I consult with a programming group on the line up. Many of the visiting artists come on the recommendation of members of the public, and examples of the recommended artists’ playing are required too.

    You then go on to criticise my interest in “computer music”. Firstly, my interests and how I spend my evenings are my own business. However, it’s a subject I’m happy to talk about and it is relevant to my profession.

    You state that “Pro Tools is the new computer way to record music” – it is in fact the industry standard audio production platform used in recording studios of all types and sizes throughout the world, the first incarnation of which was released in 1984. To give this perspective, the first commercial music CDs were produced two years earlier.

    You refer to Pro Tools engineers as “hacks”. The (oversubscribed) Pro Tools training you refer to is being primarily delivered by two highly skilled local individuals (I’m administering the course) who have completed four separate intensive courses and the requisite exams in order to achieve the industry recognised ‘Pro Tools Operator’ status, which qualifies them to deliver the certified courses in question. They’re certainly not “hacks”!

    The answer to your question “Which is it Pro Tools computer music or Shetland Arts Music Officer?”, is firmly ‘both’, and I’m at a loss as to why you see the two as mutually exclusive. I believe that music technology is an important aspect of music development in Shetland, hence my personal and professional interest.

    You then go on to say that you have been ignored by “this lot” (presumably Shetland Arts?) “on a Blues Festival”. The Shetland Blues Festival is organised by an independent committee, not Shetland Arts, so I suggest you get in contact with them.

    You finish your post with a recommendation for an article. Thanks for that, it was very interesting and I echo your recommendation. The article can be found here –,9171,1686532,00.html

  • Ron McMillan

    • September 19th, 2010 7:27

    I think Bryan’s response to Mr Yockey is reasonable in the extreme. Mr Yockey, it seems, might benefit from restoring to the correct order these words: ‘big boots too your own for’

  • Ted Knight

    • September 24th, 2010 13:07

    Mr Yockey (sounds like Spanish for jockey), coming from a Scottish family is no recommendation for acceptance by indigenous Shetland folk.

    I’m afraid, sir, that you fail (miserably) the Shed Test, and must thus be forever cast to the bleak environs of all “soothmoothers”.

    You miight, however, put aside your guitar and take up the humble Shetland fiddle; but no, on seconds thoughts why not relocate with all due haste to London or Tokyo?.


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