20th November 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

A berserkers’ breakfast

Rolling out from out under the covers, to cover the early shift of the festive mid winter bash, I soon discovered it was a dark “drushie” day.

At Islesburgh my first encounter with a Viking was with one of the “men in black” – Michael Groat, one of the six spearmen in the squad. His car had failed to start, but “good old Harry” was there with his van.

We passed Erik Moncreiff who seemed to be setting off with a raven banner.

Into the building and the main body of guizers began to drittle in showing that this year’s suit is genuinely something different, the main colours being a bottle green and earthy brown.

There’s definitely a touch of the <i>Lord of the Rings</i> in the design, this impression is maybe strengthened by the lack of horns or feathers on the helmets.  The shields are certainly a different shape this year incorporating an impressive star-cross.

Guizer Tommy Watt showed the very impressive ceremonial weaponry, “takin’ nae chances” which is supremely crafted. With original designs the weapons are multipurpose – a double headed axe’s handle doubling as a dagger. Soon among the tea and bacon butties it’s tattoo time with Celtic designs being applied, remember its just temporary.

A request, for my cheek, for a butterfly transfer which sits with the curvy celtic designs goes unheeded.

Carn Gibson originally from Lerwick is home from Edinburgh to take part in the festival and was upbeat considering he was made redundant from his job with Pelamis Wave Power on Christmas Eve. He wishes Wave Energy Scotland would do something and get their act together. But at least the “waves are rolling on” I tried to reassure him.

Another squad member Magnus Leask has pulled his back but is undeterred, it’s a light suit as they go, but the old hacking implements are pretty solid this year.

As they cue up for their Tuesday tattoos, Michael Groat tells me of the advice he was given by ex-jarl Mitnee Simpson: “Niver give your real name, niver spik tae da police an’ niver hae yir photo taen!” he chortles. Thankfully he relents and two out of three is not bad.

On exiting Islesburgh there’s a chance to catch a word with the “Emperor Penguin” himself, Jarl Robertson is looking in good fettle in his various accessories, the sea green cloak looks very fetching.

Being a mild mannered berserker he thanks Smirk for the shield he has designed for his galley. Smirk replyied that he is always glad to see his work go up in flames at Up-Helly-A’ for such a worthy cause.

It looks like the Jarl Squad are in for a good day after being fed and watered at Islesburgh and their suits definitely have a refreshing design and colours to stand out on so far a rather driech day.

About Stephen Gordon

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