Nelson’s column

After six months of phone calls, e-mails, letters and shouting I am finally getting a settlement from my insurance company. Last December we had water damage in our flat in Arrochar which we let out. A claim was put in straight away. Pretty soon I found out you are not just dealing with an insurance company but a service group and a loss adjuster who lazily and incompetently share information with such a lack of dedication that you have to get on the phone every five minutes to remind them to do their job. Then the group leader is off on annual leave so a subordinate has to take the file and start from the beginning. Then the leader comes back to find the claim under insured and the whole thing starts again.

We have all been there with one corporate body or another, whether it’s trying to get information from your bank or trying to get an actual removal date from the housing association – not to mention the toing and froing that goes on when MPs and “cooncillors” are deciding the fate of you local hospital, surgery or school. What is their fascination with consultation periods and re-evaluating licence applications? Then builders start blaming council regulations and suppliers for their own shortcomings.

Trying to get an answer from people is so frustrating. Once I had a home report done on my Arrochar flat; it needed repairs and a new report so I called and asked:

“In the report you say ‘any subsequent inspections and reports will be subject to additional fees’. What price a re-evaluation?”

“Er, I don’t know.”


“We haven’t actually done a re-evaluation before.”

“But you refer to subsequent inspections and reports in the home report.”

“Yes, it’s just that no-one has ever asked before.”

“So how much do you think you would probably charge to re-evaluate? Go on, have a punt.”

“Erm, £80. Or something.”

“Based on what?”

“A half days work. Probably.”

“And if we do repairs?”

“We will amend the report before it goes live.”

“How about if I was to get the estimate from the builder but decide not to go ahead with any repairs figuring it would be more financially viable to sell cheaper and let the buyer do the repairs. Can the builder’s estimate be recorded in the amendment?”

“Er, don’t know.”

And so on.

As well as the obvious frustration in these cases I am always a little bit baffled seeing as I work in an industry where things get done. They just get done.  In the arts and entertainment world there is not “lost your documents” or “my supervisor is off” or “I’m not qualified.” You have a time frame and a deadline and you do it. The deadline for this article is the end of June. I will make it. I will be opening a show in Inverness on 20th September after a three week rehearsal period. It will happen. The band will be note perfect, the jokes will be hilarious and the set will be gorgeous. That’s a guarantee.

It is because in this industry there is no such thing as can’t. It will be done. I have seen props buyers travel the country to find the perfect piece of stage dressing and manage to find it. I have acted on sets where the paint is still wet. I once reminisced with a bunch of old actor pals about how I was handed a page long closing speech at the dress rehearsal leaving me one day to learn it and make it convincing. A pal topped me by relating that the same director had handed him the lyrics to the closing number of one particular show at the interval of opening night. But it got done! It would be a good thing for the world if all industries worked like this.

You can get a taste of how it all works this month at Unst’s annual cultural festival UnstFest. It kicks off on the 12th July, running for the week previous to the Tall Ships. As part of the festivities we are hosting “Theatre Death Race.” It is being put together by Unst lass Bethany Scott who was involved in similar projects while at school in India. The public are invited to join us at 8pm on the Thursday night and are then put into teams. Each team arranges themselves into writers, actors, technicians producers and a director. You now have 24 hours to write, cast, design and produce a short play. The performance will be at 8pm on the Friday. It is true that the show will go on. I call on all the theatrical types in Shetland to join us this year for what will no doubt a gorgeous big lovey-in. Get yer cravats on!

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Sandy Nelson


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