It was dry and mild as I passed two joggers on my way to breakfast with Lerwick Up-Helly-A’ Jarl Mark “Evans above” and his merry men at Islesburgh Community Centre.
After Erik Moncrieff steward and Viking enthusiast raised the raven banner outside with running commentary, first to show was Clark Paton, the token Bressay man who arrived by sea from over the water. “Hope hit bydes dry da day,” he said.
The suit this year returns to a more traditional style but with some fresh takes on certain aspects of the design. The helmet sports metal wings and a serpent’s head at the front. A bright red cloak is held on with attractive brooches and there’s a dark black kirtle with red edgings. John “Peanut”
A bright red cloak is held on with attractive brooches and there’s a dark black kirtle with red edgings. John “Peanut” Johnson unfortunately forgot to put his one on for breakfast and had to hurry back home!
Grey pantaloons and intricately designed chain mail sections make up the breastplate.
A lot of the design was done on computer by Brian “Bugsy” Halcrow. The brown boots with slightly upturned toes look very suave and came from the Czech Republic.
The weaponry includes a Spanish Toledo sword blade with a dog shin bone handle – not sourced locally, squad member Arthur Hendry informed me.
The shields were the brainchild Of Kenny Johnson also a musician with the Jarl’s Squad and have a sunburst effect like those found on some guitars, this effect is repeated on the squad’s banner.
Each shield has the “Osperg Galley” design but the background is slightly different on each one.
For veteran guizer Willie “Neckie” Smith this is his third time out in a Jarl’s Squad. Once with Gordon Stronach in 1986 and as Jarl himself in 1997, this year there’s three generations, his son Gary and grandson Jackson
Old Jarlie chops himself eventually arrived fashionably late to rally the troops for what seems like a marathon ahead. It was dry for the moment when they set off down King Harald Street – the squad are already roaring in their inimitable style.