2nd June 2020
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Jarl’s Squad youngsters have a ‘braw’ time at torchlight procession

, by , in Headlines, News, ST Online

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations began last night with a helping hand from a group of Vikings from the 2017 Lerwick Jarl’s Squad.

The three-day event started with the torchlight procession which saw 20,000 people, led by the Vikings, marching through the capital’s streets.

And in a nod to 2018 being Scotland’s Year of Young People there was a special place for the junior Jarl’s Squad members, who were part of the 30-strong group that made the journey to Edinburgh.

The joined the throng as it processed down the Royal Mile, past Holyrood Palace and the Parliament to Holyrood Park. An additional estimated 25,000 people watched the stunning event. There a #ScotWord was made with the torches to launch the Year of Young People.



The word “braw” was chosen by young people to represent their pride in the nation.

The Jarl’s Squad championed their young members in their annual appearance at the procession, alongside the young #ScotWord champions who led discussions around the country to find the one word which sums up what makes young people proud to live in Scotland.

In a further celebration of the beginning of Year of Young People 2018 it was young performers from across Scotland including Pipe Idol Robbie MacIsaac who beat off three other finalists in the fierce final at Piping Live in 2017, members of Hawick Scout Pipe Band and Preston Lodge High School Pipe Band in Prestonpans that entertained the crowds.

Over 20 young pipers and drummers from Peoples Ford Boghall and Bathgate Caledonia Juvenile Pipe Band joined the procession alongside the rousing sound of talented young brass players from Whitburn Youth Band. Leith samba band Pulse of the Place kept the rhythm with their vibrant young samba sound.

The #ScotWord campaign was co-designed and led by young people, connecting with their peers between the ages of eight and 26, encouraging them to choose one word they want to say about Scotland to the rest of the world. The resounding response was #BRAW from a shortlist which also included #CULTURE #WELCOME #HAME #ALIVE #DIVERSE and #BONNIE.

2,000 torch bearers spelt out #BRAW in Holyrood Park at the end of the procession, stretching 104m long and 24m high and visible from space. Images of this launch of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay have been shared around the world putting the young people of Scotland centre stage and heralding the start of the Year of Young People 2018, a year in which Scotland will celebrate its young people and enable them to shine – in this case quite literally – on the Edinburgh stage, the Scottish stage and the international stage.


  1. Johan Adamson

    Should the headline not read Jarl squad’s young boys, not ‘youngsters’. And is it not the year of the young people 2018, not the year of the males only groups?

    • Ali Inkster

      Du must a missed da peerie lass in da pictures. is dis a case of should’ve gone to specsavers (other local opticians are available) or a case a trying hard ta be offended?

      • Johan Adamson

        There are no girls in the Lerwick junior jarl squad.

  2. Haydn Gear

    In the light of what’s happening in the world , does Johan Adamson have nothing better to do than split hairs? Or has political correctness gone completely stark raving mad?

    • Johan Adamson

      Splitting hairs?

      Girls are not voted for or chosen for the junior jarl squad. Therefore, they miss out on opportunities like this one – going to Edinburgh. Is that really justifiable or even the side we want to show the rest of Scotland, in this day and age? If you have a son, they have this opportunity, if you have a daughter it is not. More lasses play the fiddle, yet when it comes to playing for a squad, only boys will be invited. In country UHAs many lasses are in the jarl squad, the bairns are normally sons and daughters of squad members, yet in Lerwick no girls. Is this really just political correctness?

  3. Haydn Gear

    Fair enough Johan. What a pity you didn’t make those points in your earlier letter. I now see where you are coming from and it is not in my nature to argue the point just for the sake of it.

  4. David Spence

    In regard to Lerwick Up Helly Aa – when does a tradition not become a tradition for the sake of Political Correctness?

    Political Correctness may be good in most things, but to keep a tradition which is unique to Lerwick and Shetland, would only end up making this tradition a mockery, and would, I think, end Lerwick Up Helly Aa within 10 years.

    Women play a vital role in the Lerwick Up Helly Aa, and if it was not for their tremendous effort and contribution, we probably would not have an Up Helly Aa to begin with.

    Just because you are not the leading role in a play, does not mean your effort (stage lighting, props, writing, acting other roles, scenery backgrounds etc etc) is any less important.

    The sum of the parts makes the whole.

    • Johan Adamson

      Yes David Spence, doesnt matter what kind of degree you have, what your technical skills or musical ability, keep them in the kitchen, tottering on high-heels, they must be able to cline bannocks.

      • David Spence

        Well Johan, I wonder if you believe in cultural traditions or should Political Correctness as well as Technology kill off these traditions because it does not suit the political climate of the time.

        Would you ban Up Helly Aa, throughout Shetland, just because it did not suit your frame of mind in regard to Political Correctness?

        Should we incorporate people from different ethnic groups, race or religion into Up Helly Aa so that it can fit into the Political Correctness Arena?

        How far would you go to completely change Up Helly Aa until it is nothing like the original tradition just to suit Political Correctness.

        It seems in today’s climate, if one comments on the Lerwick Up Helly Aa you are branded sexist, discriminating or whatever without those even taking into consideration the tradition itself and are

        Do we not have the right to defend this tradition, Johan?

    • Fiona Cope

      You’re being politically correct David. I think the term you’re looking for is equality. 😉

      • David Spence

        but equality in what, Fiona?

        If we look at the larger picture of Up Helly Aa, women play a very important role from being hostesses of the halls, helping in the halls, helping in making the costumes, helping in the organisation of the whole event.

        Is your question of equality directly related to the actual burning ceremony?

        If change can happen fair enough, but if it, potentially, risks ending the event due to becoming too large, would this be fair?

        May be the UH Committee should conduct a survey and see what people think? If the result is people prefer the present format, would this be enough to discourage future debates?

    • Debra Nicolson

      That’s a strange analogy. I’ve been in lots of plays, most not in the leading role but the majority had male and female actors. So not sure your analogy works here.

  5. Peter Hamilton

    Well said Johan.

    Is that sexist vote still happening on school premises in school time? If so the arguement could be put that the SIC has equality of opportunity / rights of the child obligations to counter sexism.

    Boys have been baking and girls have been doing woodwork for some time now.

    2018 might be as good a year as any for this aspect of the celebration to take a small enlightened step forwards. It can be done.

    • Johan Adamson

      Yes, the vote does still take place in the school, early in the first term in S2, pupils vote for the most popular boys allegedly, but the school says its nothing to do with them, someone else comes in and does it, and no one checks the ballot either.

  6. Michael Garriock

    Never mind sexism and political correctness….

    What kind of word is ‘braw’ for Shetland youngsters, or even Shetlanders in general to be standing behind. ‘Braw’ in the ‘Oor Wullie/Broons’ type interpretation which it was presumably being used in this event, has no relevance to Shetland. ‘Braw’ is not a Shetland word, unless as an abbreviated/slang version of ‘brawly’, the meaning of which is something completely different, and meaningless in this usage.

    The god-infernal Edenburry ‘one size fits all’ plague strikes again – Connect with your peers, but only if you submit to using their language, not ours. Instead of finding a word that means the same to everybody AND is descriptive of the subject matter. GREAT!

    • Brian Smith

      I can see several dozen words in Mr Garrick’s contribution which aren’t Shetland words …

      • Shuard Manson

        Braa good! 🙂

      • Michael Garriock

        That’s as may be Brian, but its English, a language which ranks third largest globally for first language speakers, with estimates as high as second language speakers outnumbering first language speakers 3:1.

        In today’s global world, speaking at least one global language is a necessity to be understood. Especially on places like the internet, which is readily available to almost everyone of all languages (North Korea excepted).

        That said, its bad enough English was foisted upon us largely against the majority will in a time and way that made nigh on impossible to resist, before we’re now supposed to have Scots foisted upn us too, a niche langauge of a handful of million mostly located in the Scottish central belt. Its no more relevant to us than German or Norwegian, and no more appropriate to identify us by as either of them.

        Allowing ourselves to be represented by a word from a culture that are both meaningless to us makes us thieves and impostors, or then is a demonstration of our submission and assimilation in to that culture. Take your pick.

  7. Peter Hamilton

    I guess a lot of people will say “where’s the harm?” and not see (or not want to see) any possible links between how young people are encouraged to see themselves and each other whilst growing up and future patterns of discrimination in society, pay inequality and indeed violence against women.

    It is very difficult conversation to have at any time of year but if schools are meant to tackle discrimination presumably there is some reasoning behind it. Tricky, but maybe not an issue for S2 pupils to have to resolve by themselves.

    • Johan Adamson

      It would be easy to resolve some of this e.g., bending the rules to allow jarl squad members to have daughters as well as sons in the jarl squad, the junior jarl organisers to impose a quota whereby elected junior jarls have to vote for a certain number of girls to be included in the squad and allowing female musicians to accompany squads. It would be great to have a Hjaltibonhoga fiddle squad just following the jarl squad with a tune or two. Women in Lerwick do not apparently want to be in squads, fair enough then, but strange that so many country women take part in country uhas and have a ball.

  8. Gregory Martin

    As a Shetland “import” I moved here because of what Shetland is. My family and I treasure both hearing the dialect and the cultural aspects of the Islands. I only hope in the future, Shetland folk will realise they are an ethnic/cultural group themselves, with a unique heritage removed from the UK and should protect that very identity before it is completely lost forever.

  9. Graham Fleming

    The auld Shetlaun wird braa is cognate with the Scots word braw.Which probably came to Scotland from our Norse/Swedish ancestors who use the word bra ,meaning very good,today.For the bairns tae use their ain culture in their ain country – what seems to be the problem!.

    • Ali Inkster

      Maybe the headline should have used “braa” if it wanted to represent Shetland culture and language. Or are the headline writers so removed from it themselves they don’t know the difference?

    • Michael Garriock

      The problem, Graham Fleming is evolution in common usage.

      The Scots common usage has evolved to mean great, grand, impressive, or as you say, very good. Whereas the Shetland common usage, has never meant ‘very good’, only the ‘very’ part has ever applied, which in today’s common usage has broadened to include meanings such as significant, quite etc.

      Possibly the biggest issue is that common usage evolution has put ‘braw’ on the neutral to positive half of Scots terminology, but on the neutral to negative half of Shetland terminology.

      ‘Braw’ can be quite correctly used and have meaning as a stand alone single word statement in common usage in Scotland, but in Shetland, it can’t. It only becomes grammatically correct and has meaning in Shetland when used as part of a multi-word statement which qualifies it.

  10. David Spence

    I was watching a documentary, and the words the narrator said ring so very true within the UK, these words being ‘ The best way to kill a culture is to kill the language ‘.

    When you are forced to speak another language from your own at school, sooner or later, the original language will die out. This strategy, on behalf of the English, has work immensely well throughout the UK over the past 150 or so years…as demonstrated, dare I say, by the text of the language being presented here.

  11. Haydn Gear

    David Spence is so right. Many years ago the English incomers to Wales did exactly that. Even though native Welsh speaking children did not naturally speak English at home, they were forced to speak English in school and failure to comply was met with physical punishment. In that way the culture was undermined. However, the English underestimated the determination of the Welsh and not only was the culture reinvigorated but the language too is recovering. Ni fyddwn yn tanseilio. !!

    • David Spence

      It is amusing Haydn, when you see programmes on tv about Shetland, they always go on about our strong Scandinavian heritage, history and our world famous Up Helly Aa, depicting our viking roots. However, it is amusing with such a history Shetland has, Shetlander’s speak English.

      I know this may sound contradictory, and has possibly been lost in the mists of time, but did Shetland ever have a language it could call its own or was it mainly based from the Scandinavian languages?

      May be somebody can shed some light on this matter and ascertain Shetland did indeed have its own language, and what connections this may have had with Scandinavia?

      I believe Jakob Jakobsen did what was called ‘ The Shetland Norn ‘ an analytical look at the Shetland language and where this was placed in regard to other Scandinavian languages and beyond?

      The Shetland language should be taught in Schools and further afield as part of our history and cultural origins within places of academia around Shetland.

      An example, replacing the Scottish places names on road signs with the original Shetland/Scandinavian place name first, and then the Scottish/English name in smaller text.

      • Stuart Hannay

        Before moving to Shetland, I lived in the Catalan region of France, near the Spanish border. I only knew a few older people there who spoke Catalan and French and it was taught as a ‘second’ language in the school. Many parents objected to this as a waste of time which was sad. Just across the border in Spain, or rather Catalunya,, the language is thriving again after being banned by the Franco government following the civil war. You could have been arrested for speaking catalan in the street but the language continued in the homes. I find the Shetland dialect fascinating and would wholeheartedly support it being taught in the schools as a distinct dialect. I recognise that, as an incomer (and worse, one of the dreaded ‘English’ refered to above) I may only contribute to its decline but would hope I contribute to Shetland in other ways. The thing is, we all have to communicate with each other and so eventually end up moderating our speech – language is never static but it pays to value what you have, I’ve learned many dialect words that have enriched my vocabulary and helped me understand the distinct Shetland culture.

  12. Haydn Gear

    I have read and heard it said that the Picts predated the Vikings in Shetland. The Scottish Picts apparently spoke a Celtic language not dissimilar to Welsh, Breton and Cornish ( all three sharing a common root). I wonder if there is evidence to show the probable line of development which took place before links with Scandinavia were forged.

    • David Spence

      Unfortunately Haydn, there is very little evidence of the Picts language, as it is believed they did not write or document events or whatever in the written form.

      There is certainly plenty of evidence they were a sophisticated race of people in their art and religious relics in terms of jewellery and similar artefacts which have been found across Britain.

      The famous Old Croghan Man, discovered in Ireland, is dated around the Iron Age, 362 BCE and 175 BCE, making him over 2,000 years old. It is believed he was a human sacrifice?

      Whether the language origins of Shetland, before the vikings, had any influence on the vikings themselves and it was, partially, incorporated into the Scandinavian language, I am unsure of.

    • Ali Inkster

      “Scottish Picts”? The Scotii came to Alba displacing (ethnic cleansing) the Picts, in Shetland on the other hand there is ample evidence of the Norse and Picts living side by side but this does not suit the current narrative.

      • Brian Smith

        The late Tommy Watt had an amusing routine where he portrayed a Shetland Pict greeting a Viking with the gift of a sampler. Tommy didn’t share Ali’s hyper-sentimental view of local history.

      • Stuart Hannay

        What language did they communicate in?

      • Ali Inkster

        So pray tell us o wise and wonderful one how norse women are mentioned on pictish stones?
        If anyone is skewing history to suit themselves Brian it is you.

      • James Watt

        Apparently it’s not just Tommy Watt who doesn’t share Ali’s views.

        “In response to the threat of the Viking invasions, the Picts and the Scots became even more unified. Giric, son of Donald Mac Alpin, Kenneth’s brother, is the last ruler mentioned as `king of the Picts’ and, after his death in c.899 CE, the Picts are not mentioned in history again. McHardy writes: “the tribal peoples of Pictish and Scottish origin combined to form the new political entity of Alba which in turn became Scotland” (175). Dr. Gordon Noble supports this claim, stating there was “an increasing amalgamation of Picts and Scots – probably because of increasing Viking pressure on the native kingdoms of northern Britain” (Wiener, 3). The Picts of the ancient world did not disappear nor were they conquered and destroyed; they remained, the indigenous people of northern Scotland, and their ancestors still walk their lands and fields in the present day”


      • Brian Smith

        Glad to help, Ali old son. There is only one stone that could be interpreted in the way you propose: the Bressay stone. But it’s a very weak clue to base your theory on. If you look at Michael Barnes’s book on Shetland Norn you will find that the word ‘dattr’ on it ‘might after all be a Pictish word or element, given that so little of the inscription otherwise is comprehensible’.

      • Ali Inkster

        Perhaps it is mr McHardy and Smith that have the overly sentimental view of the scoti invasion of alba, this added to the sewed accounts by christian monks of events as they unfolded leads to a misconception of history.

      • Brian Smith

        Goodness, what’s a sewed account, Ali? Another of your theories …

      • Ali Inkster

        Imagine that James right after the scoti arrived the natives decided to stop all use of their own language and rename their land scotland in gratitude. what wonderful folk those first scoti must have been. of course we now this from the written words of christian monks as to this turn of events, and according to them the vikings arrived in fire breathing dragons and ate babies.

  13. Peter Hamilton

    Indeed Johan, but there would need to be willingness for change. It is strange no Lerwick women want to participate in a squad. Perhaps they feel they wouldn’t be welcome. Space could be made for a women’s squad if the squad with the worst act was asked to sit out for a year.

    David’s comment ( 5th of January ) about defending tradition is also a little strange. If the tradition had never changed then the guisers would all still be clean shaven.

    David asks: “Should we incorporate people from different ethnic groups, race or religion into Up Helly Aa so that it can fit into the Political Correctness Arena?”. Where to start… Is there a ban? Wasn’t the original purpose of UHA to bring people together?

    What is the fear here that makes some people think minor changes would bring it all to an end? Traditions are made by people and happily people can and do change them, and their attitudes too, otherwise we’d all still be blacking up, laughing at gays and demeaning women like we used to in what some folk may regard as the good old days. Bring back flogging for them I say! Only joking.

  14. Haydn Gear

    Maybe some attention should be paid to Esperanto, the language devised by the Polish Jewish man called L L Zamenhof in the late 1800s. This could promote easier understanding between people without threatening cultures,native languages or aggression.Everything we know and value could be retained without fear of being erased from existence. I think it’s the concerns that are felt by small populations in particular which prompt defensive and unyielding postures. It is amazing that such a huge number of languages have been devised throughout the world with 22 of the major ones being used in India alone using 720 dialects. Relatively speaking, we’ve got it easy !!

  15. David Spence

    I take your point, Peter. As far as I know, the whole purpose of Up Helly Aa in Lerwick, was for people of Shetland to celebrate their norse heritage…1. Shetland’s Scandinavian heritage, 2. The ending of the Yule Year (ok, stretched until the end of January) and 3. A viking burial ceremony (minus the sacrificial maid).

    Up Helly Aa (modern version) is not that old, the first being in the 1870’s I believe?

    The modern version was, I believe again, devised by J.J. Haldane Burgess (the famous Shetland poet) who wanted the Shetland people to acknowledge and celebrate their Scandinavian heritage/history. He was also the composer and writer to the Up Helly Aa song(s).

    I also believe it was to replace the previous version of celebrating the new Yule New Year, as it was seen to be a rather noisy, violent and ruckus event.

    My information may not be 100% accurate, and possibly Brian, could shed more light on Up Helly Aa?

    Why J.J. Haldane Burgess, decided it should only be men in the event, I do not have an answer to this.

  16. Peter Hamilton

    Hello David,

    Thanks for this balanced and moderate response.

    I have been having a look at the Common Ridings in the Boarders, some of which go back far further. A woman has beeen given a senior role in Selkirk and a I believe young Scot of Pakistani heritage has been the Bonnie Laddie in Gala(shiels). Btw. did anyone notice the BBC news that some Vikings were thought have been Muslims?

    I suspect diversity has long been with us and that we have become the better for it. I am fairly sure the DNA of the folk of the Western Isles shows that those who rocked up there in times past came from far and wide, but I’ve yet to meet someone who chose where they would be born. It would be great if we could become a little more relaxed about all this and think how much more good UHA could do for Shetland into the future if wee changes could be considered now.

    • Graham Fleming

      All festivals in the Boarders allow female particIpants with the exception of Hawick which may change this year.Some of the traditions date over five hundred years and a lot of the ride outs mark the boundaries of the common lands of the various touns an burghs.As toun events,females participate at all levels barring the Hawick rideoots and as for Galae the leading lad is called the- BRAW (sometimes pronouced braa) lad,in Jethart -the Callant,Kelsae- the laddie,Hawick – the Cornet etc and other names for each borders toun.Like the Shetlaun fire festivals each toun event promotes it’s local identity and culture here’s hoping Hawick and Lerrick can evolve to allow everybody to participate. That would be jist braw,braa or as the aald Nordmen micht hae said veldig bra.

  17. Haydn Gear

    Couldn’t agree more Peter. Only those who are intent on endlessly bickering would disagree. Solving problems is hard enough but reaching out to and then receiving reasonable responses from some people is far more difficult.

  18. Peter Hamilton

    Opps, that should have been “perrie” not “wee”. Stuart Hannay has it right – we should all be supporting the dialect, though I have felt a little awkward using it sometimes in the past, as if I were reverse knappin. Lets hope the Scalloway use of jamp never dies out. How far across Shetland does that jamp extend?

  19. Haydn Gear

    Peter. I suspect you meant to say PEERIE not PERRIE !! I recall that I first heard the word when I visited Foula many years ago. It also appears in a book by Sheila Gear called “ Island west of the sun”. What a great place that is.

  20. David Spence

    I take your points Peter and Haydn, but like a house, you can do what you want inside in terms of rooms, decoration etc etc as long as the main structure of the house is not altered. Once you start to change the structure of the house, it ceases to become ‘ an original design ‘.

    I use the analogy with the house to this of Up Helly Aa. We can incorporate this and that, but as long as the main body and meaning of Up Helly Aa still stays intact.

    As said ‘ When does a tradition not become a tradition for the sake of Political Correctness ‘?

    If we have to change the original format of Up Helly Aa so much to suit political correctness, then we may as well not have it in the first place.

    • Johan Adamson

      including bairns of both sexes is not going to bring the house down

      • David Spence

        Point taken, Johan.

        I am curious if there is any documentation, maybe in the Town Hall or with the Up Helly Aa Committee, where there is the original format of Up Helly Aa, in terms of rules and regulations, and why it is only men that are allowed to take part in it?

        I suspect J.J. Haldane Burgess, may have known the role of women within viking culture and also, probably, knew women did take part in fighting, but decided it should only be men due to, dare one say it, the social climate of the time?

        If such a document exists, it would make interesting reading?

  21. Johan Adamson

    I asked my lasses last night and they said it came over the tannoy in the new school “would all S1-S3 boys interested in being in the junior jarl squad go to the hall …”. One of my lasses said – I did wonder why lasses couldn’t go – I said you could have gone, I said there is no reason why you couldn’t be in the jarl squad (the Adamsons after all claim blood all the way back to Norwegian royalty).

    See, wir lasses have been visited at Tingwall School in the past by Nesting and Scalloway jarl squads, which includes young lasses and boys and they won’t understand why there are no lasses in the Lerwick one. They also put their trust in teachers to include all pupils. The organisers of the 2018 Scotlands Year of Young People would never have thought there would still be boys only groups in existence.

    Next year any other mother of the same mind and teachers of S1 to S3 classes should encourage daughters to go to the hall with the boys if they want to be included in the jarl squad. And the Lerwick UHA committee need to tackle this because if they dont, folk will only come to UHA to laugh at us – how un PC, how quaint, no women (do they have internet? Phones? running water?).

    • Darren Johnson

      “The organisers of the 2018 Scotlands Year of Young People would never have thought there would still be boys only groups in existence.”

      The Boys Brigade, Girl Guides to name just two such organisations.

      • Johan Adamson

        There is also a girls brigade and girl and boy scouts (sister orgs to guides and brownies)

      • Fiona Cope

        “Some Companies welcome girls as well as boys.”


  22. Haydn Gear

    Johan’s advice should be heeded and acted upon. All too often unacceptable actions are prompted by unthinking dyed in the wool individuals who need to be dragged into the 21st century. Many years ago when my daughter and son were making subject choices in school, assumptions were made by teachers that they would fall into line based on gender. They didn’t, much to the discomfort of the teachers! So, my daughter chose Design and Technology and my son did Home Economics. This has served them well since she can do technical things and he can cook food very well and I’ve helped them to make good any imbalances that happened along the way. It is most important that young people, whether male or female, should be included not excluded in order to engender equality of opportunity.

  23. Peter Hamilton

    The past year has seen these issues take on increased significance. It is not so long since our own tourist office criticised the treatment of a Blue Peter presenter visiting to report on UHA. Were that to happen again the media coverage could go beyond national and damage Shetland’s reputation as a welcoming community.

    We are all stakeholders. Please do not leave this to S 1-3 lasses to sort. The education department is at fault but could ask Shetland’s children’s rights officer to step in. This is not an issue of being PC for the sake of it. It is about including people or discriminating against them. Do we really want to be represented by a festival that needlessly discriminates against girls? It is time to step up our intolerance of this boorish needless and outdated discrimination. Let’s see the lasses carry torches and be done with it.

  24. David Spence

    Just finished watching the latest episode of Vikings, and the life of Ragnar Lothbrok (and his sons) the Guiser Jarl of the Scalloway Up Helly Aa is portraying, and in the latest episode, it has women in battle fighting other vikings.

    So, it does beg the question, Why are there no women in the Lerwick Up Helly Aa ?

    It is a contradiction to my previous statements, and it begs the question, At the time of the first Up Helly Aa, in the 1870’s, were they aware women also took part in fighting or was it, at the time, sociably unacceptable to envisage women in such a role?

    However, I believe, the first Up Helly Aa with a Jarl Squad was in either 1905 or 1906, the same time Norway became independent from Sweden? Why was the decision made to have only men in the Lerwick Up Helly Aa?

    If the Lerwick UHA, is supposed to be portraying vikings, surely one must also incorporate women, since they also were in the battlefield fighting along with men?

    In saying this though, how much would it cost, if there were 2,000 guisers, in terms of organising, safety etc etc???

    • Allen Fraser

      Up-Helly-Aa as envisaged at the start had nothing to do with any factual Viking history, purely an an imagined one.
      In the Victorian and Edwardian eras when all this began women were regarded very differently, and the ideology of Separate Spheres was the rule of the day –
      “The ideology of Separate Spheres rested on a definition of the ‘natural’ characteristics of women and men. Women were considered physically weaker yet morally superior to men, which meant that they were best suited to the domestic sphere. Not only was it their job to counterbalance the moral taint of the public sphere in which their husbands laboured all day, they were also preparing the next generation to carry on this way of life. The fact that women had such great influence at home was used as an argument against giving them the vote.:
      From: https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/gender-roles-in-the-19th-century#

  25. Peter Hamilton

    It would likely start gradual David, with permission given for a women’s squad to form and for squads to be mixed if they wished. If space needs to be made just make the squad with the weakest act to sit out the following year. If they put in another poor show when they return then axe them for good.

    Returning to the Junior Jarl, there is of course more to it than just handing out some more torches. Things are done to a pretty high standard and those involved are putting in their own time and deserve recognition.

    Maybe they have some willingness to change but are confused about how to start and worried about the extra work involved. Perhaps all that is required is for some P7/S1/S2 parents in the AHS catchment area, or indeed others with something to contribute to step up.

    That said, the SIC’s education officials cannot allow the Junior Jarl election to take place unchanged for much longer. The bottom line is that the UK has signed the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child. Articles 2, 3, 4, 12 and 42 are a start.

  26. David Spence

    Oh gosh Peter, this is now taking another turn in getting international law involved. lol

    Mind you, I am surprised UHA throughout Shetland is not banned on Health and Safety grounds, and a line of hand rubbing lawyers waiting to pounce to sue the UHA Committee for somebody getting slightly burned or their clothes slightly marked with all that flying sparks all over the place.

    I believe it has already been mentioned about women having their own Up Helly Aa, and by the same token, there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm for it on the grounds of…

    It does pose the question, if a person was to complain of ‘ gender discrimination ‘ because they were not allowed in Lerwick UHA, would this potentially end the festival due to the legal implications and the fact our legal system, after Brex*hit, will be in par with the USA, where the ‘ compensation society prevails for even breathing in the wrong direction ‘ ?

    I sincerely hope UHA does not go down this road. The irony being the politically correct enforcement resulting in the demise of the Lerwick UHA. If we cannot join, nobody can, thus end it?

  27. Peter Hamilton

    It shouldn’t get to that point but the UNCRC informs Scottish law and therefore what the SIC can and cannot allow in Shetland’s schools.

  28. Michael Garriock

    You’re descending in to a purely theoretical argument here.

    The LK UHA is, and has been for a long time at a state of the aribtarily decided maximum manageable numbers of participants and squads. There is, I am led to believe a waiting list of both guisers and squads already, effectively the only way in is to ‘fill dead mens boots’.

    There is nothing ‘banning’ females from participation, its just no female has attempted to participate yet as a guiser. If some female wishes to, she’ll either have to join a pre-existing squad or get together with other like minded females and form a squad of their own, and join the queue for space to become available.

    Its not a public event, its a private party held partially in public, its not about ‘putting on a bad show’ or otherwise, its about participating. ‘Forcing’ in a female squad for the sake of being PC is positive discrimination which solves nothing and is as bad as the other type.

    A route exists for all adults to participate, regardless of gender. Until a female attempts to use it and is prevented on gender grounds, there is no issue to address.

  29. Johan Adamson

    There are Lerwick families who do not get involved with UHA because of the discrimination. Women could stop running the halls altogether of course. This is happening already – it is difficult now to get folk to become hosts, and I can only see it getting worse as women withdraw from the whole thing and a lot will say – why are you interested? Nothing to do with us, just why bother? It will be something to do with all of us when we are branded as the most backward and golliwog loving part of the UK. With bairns who believe that tradition is an excuse for excluding women and other minorities from anything and everything.

    • Michael Garriock

      You’ve illustrated the ‘problem’, as your perceive it, very well, but what ‘solution’ do you propose that does not involve employing positive discrimination?

      Personally I am completely indifferent to everything UHA and have nothing to do with it, but as an ‘outsider looking in’, so to speak, this self same debate gets rehashed every year around this time, but never moves ahead, and that’s gotten old.

      The UHA organisers claim there is no ‘rule’ preventing female guisers. No female or group containing females have stood up and said ‘I/we tried to become guisers but weren’t allowed because we’re female’. If folk are boycotting the event due to their belief its sexist, only the females involved can justify why they have chosen not to ‘break the ban’ by attempting to become a guiser themselves. Without a subject and a test case, nothing can happen.

      Is UHA any different to a professional league football team or a fishing boat crew etc, where if no female attempts to join them, the result is the virtually wholly male dominated nature of those positions which we have.

      The ‘no women guisers’ is a perception, an allegation, not a fact, until proven differently.

      • Johan Adamson

        I think I have suggested things above – first girls and boys with their dads in the jarl squad – who are very organised and always have bairns with them, second, Junior jarl squad – either no more tannoys at school for boys only to join or teachers and parents to encourage lasses to go as well as boys to become junior jarl. Im sure if lasses go to hall they will be asked to join squads but if not then impose quota – say 4 lasses to be in junior jarl squad, third, allow women musicians with squads, fourth, have Hjaltibonhoga mixed fiddle squad with jarl squad who will then need at least two buses, positively encourage squads to include women when looking for new members, at least tell them they can.. If women do not want to form squads for the Lerwick UHA then ok, whatever, but those that do should have the choice. Dont think it will be the end of male domination or that the sky will fall in anywhere.

      • Ali Inkster

        What happens if the junior jarl does not have 4 female friends as it is them that picks the squad, or if 4 females don’t come forward and want to be in the squad will we then draw lots for 4 unlucky girls who will be forced to go out in the name of diversity. What about the jarls pals will they be stopped from going in the squad because numbers have been reached with the 4 female members? setting quotas in the name of diversity is never a good idea it will only breed resentment and surely that is the opposite of what you want to achieve.

      • Brian Smith

        Excellent contributions by Johan. Someone told me about an occasion when someone broached the subject of girls having access to the junior UHA at an AHS teachers’ meeting. One of the teachers present muttered: ‘Sacrilege!’ That’s what you’re up against: a religious syndrome.

      • Ali Inkster

        Someone told me something about somebody and I’m now going to present it to you as fact.
        Are you a historian or a hysterian Brian?

      • Sheila Tulloch

        I spoke to a couple of guisers this week Michael, who told me they didn’t see anything wrong with women being in squads, but feared that if they let women join their squad, they would be banned from Up Helly Aa. So no, not convinced the ‘no women’ thing is a myth..

    • kenneth Groat

      It will be something to do with all of us when we are branded as the most backward and golliwog loving part of the UK.

      Golliwog loving ? explain please.

  30. Gordon Johnston

    I can confirm what Brian Smith says about a teacher suggesting that the Junior UHA Jarl’s Squad should be open to girls as well as boys. I was at that staff meeting when the suggestion was made, as ,long ago as the 1970s. A single word- “sacrilege” – uttered by an elderly gentleman in his low seat, brought any possible discussion to an immediate end! It seems absurd as well as discriminatory to continue the male -only policy. The rural and island UHAs or fire festivals have never had a problem with mixed-sex squads, why does Lerwick persist in banning women and girls?

  31. kenneth groat

    Johan does golliwog lovers and backward relate to anyone who takes part in Lerwick UHA ?.
    I fail to see a connection in relation to a shop in the sooth end of Lerwick selling golliwogs in 2013 and Lerwick UHA in 2018 please explain further.

    • Johan Adamson

      It is to do with negative press. The rest of the world commenting on us

      See what happened this year in Wales when one lot blacked up:


      We will be mocked for not allowing girls to take part.

      • Allen Fraser

        So from your argument the rest of the world will see that:
        any UHA squad that blacks-up their faces will be racists;
        any UHA squad that wears masks depicting someone from an ethnic minority will be racists;
        any UHA squad that wears a women’s dresses will be anti-feminist;

        Where will it all end? Will skymp be banned? Will Lerwick’s “Transvestite Tuesday” need to become “Transgender Tuesday” to stop the seasonal UHA greetin?


  32. David Spence

    It would be interesting to look at other traditions in the UK or within Europe, and to see if those traditions were only male or only female taking part, and why this was so?

    Did these traditions bend to the politically correct lobby or were the local people taking a stance and saying ‘ No, we want to keep our tradition as a tradition which is part of our history and culture ‘.

    Should the traditional mens and boys ‘Ba Game ‘ held in Kirkwall also incorporate women/girls to suit PC or is such a tradition regarded as ‘ too rough ‘ for women/girls to take part in?

    They were 2 Ba Games where women took part, 1945 and 1946 but it was scrapped because it was deemed too violent. Regardless of injury, should we re-introduce it for the sake of PC?

  33. Erik Moncrieff

    This is such a cracked record. Each year somebody appears and self-righteously starts blethering about how Up Helly Aa has to change to suit their agenda. These attacks are extremely tedious as they invariably stem from positions of ignorance on even the fundamental facts concerning the festival. Last year, in an attempt to clarify some of the more ridiculous ideas, I took part in the Althing. It appears to have been a pointless exercise because I note the same impossible ideas being proposed again. There is much I could say on this matter, and at some stage an article may be written, but for now please note the following basic fact. Any kind of gradual introduction of female guizers into the senior festival is now impossible due to such a move being illegal. Lerwick does have a rule restricting guizers to be male, and that is 100% legal. Were it to allow female guizers, they would have to have identical status to males immediately. Partial inclusion, as happens in many of the rural events is illegal. This is not a wishy-washy grey legal area. Read the act, it is black and white. Due to this, Lerwick won’t be changing.

    • Sheila Tulloch

      Is the act you are speaking aboot, da 2010 Private clubs & associations equality act? I hup you’re no suggestin Lk Uha fits in dere when da whole day is a public event an night tickets are sold tae da public for da Toon Hall. But whatever. I wondered whit da ‘impossible ideas’ ir, dat you ir referring tae?
      Hey, whit if dey said ‘yis!’ an women were included completely as men ir noo?!
      Da practicality is – whit wid actually change?

      I gaddir dirs a long queue for men tryin tae git places in squads, so da women wid joost hae ta join dat queue.
      Maybe women could go as squad musicians when needed.
      Maybe da Jarl could bring his daughters (sisters, etc) as weel as his son’s oot ta share his big day.
      Surely dis kind o things could do no more as enhance da event?

      Dis goes far ootside da toon. I am heard tourists comin up thinking dir is only ever 1 Up Helly Aa. In da toon. So all da folk day say ‘o but dey can go oot in a squad in anidder Up Helly Aa’ doesna count for da tourists. The perception in da National media is dat Shetland as a whole exclude women an see wis aa as ‘backwards’ as far as equal rights go.

      • Erik Moncrieff

        You may scoff, but the Lerwick Up Helly Aa Committee most certainly is a private association and thereby operates subject to the corresponding regulations within the Equality Act 2010. Holding processions in public is entirely irrelevant to such status.

        The oft screeched “what about bad press” angle cuts no ice for several reasons, but mainly because the opposite is actually currently happening. Each year the committee are inundated with international organisations wanting a part of the action ranging from the biggest media players through death metal bands to monks. It is ridiculous to think this huge interest UHA is likely to subside, but I assure you if it did wane, we would not be remotely disappointed. Up Helly Aa is something we do for ourselves and those who like it. When tourist bodies, SIC, media firms etc. want to share in the enjoyment of our event fine, but we would still do it if nobody else cared.

    • Johan Adamson

      Apologies I missed the Althing. My argument would be that giving females identical status would not actually change much as females in Lerwick do not want to guize it appears. It would just allow the small number that want to take part – such as daughters of the jarl squad, to do so.

      Is there a reason the junior jarl squad cant have girls?

    • Johan Adamson

      Which Act?

    • Johan Adamson

      Thanks for the clarification Erik. That certainly explains the nepotism as well. So there is no place for this private organisation within the school then, or at Scotland’s year of Young People, which is the point I was making originally. If you are a private organisation then please don’t dress it up (excuse the pun) as a community event.

      • Malcolm Henry Johnson

        I agree that nepotism should not be tolerated and private organisations should not try to dress up as community events. (No. I am NOT being sarcastic.) As you are a host, can you please tell me when tickets for your hall go on sale to the general public as I know lots of people who would like to buy one. (Now I’m being sarcastic.)

      • Erik Moncrieff

        So, now you move onto a different pejorative and accuse us of nepotism. Harsh words and quite insulting.

        It is a well known characteristic of Up Helly Aa that individuals from several families have a close involvement, but there is no nepotism. My expectation is that you don’t actually know what the term means. Perhaps both of you will present some kind of logical explanation of how the organisation of UHA is nepotistic, or indeed how you think it might be. I will then explain why it is not.

        You have every right to insult me if it pleases you, but I fail to see what benefit it serves.

        And then the accusation of falsely posing as a community event. Again, my expectation is that you simply have a faulty understanding of what the term means. On what basis do you find the concepts of “private association” and “community event” incompatible?

      • Johan Adamson

        The only tickets are for the Toon Hall. It is invites only for the other halls.

      • Johan Adamson

        Surely it cant be a community event if it is not inclusive? You cant have it both ways? Do you then have a democratic election? If you are a private group then obviously you can do what you like really, if you are public, you can’t. You need to make it clear to all those concerned in funding trips or inviting you away that you are a private men only group, and let them make up their own minds.

        You cant exclude young girls from being in the junior jarl squad and being with their dad in the senior one, or being fiddle box carriers and then masquerade (there’s that pun again) as an open community organisation.

      • Erik Moncrieff

        Absolute rubbish. We do not masquerade as an open community organisation. There are countless events organised by private associations and clubs which are enjoyed by communities. These are clearly community events, but not according to the narrow definition you are using. Have a look at how the word is defined. It is quite clear there are various types of communities, not just an “open community” whatever that might be.

        Yes we do have democratic elections, and whenever other bodies invite the Jarl’s Squad somewhere, they are perfectly aware they are dealing with a male group.

        It is interesting that you make no attempt to clarify your nepotism slur, but provide no apology either. Not very nice.

      • Johan Adamson

        Interesting that you find the nepotism a slur but the sexism is Ok. I apologise wholeheartedly if I am wrong about the nepotism, I am a nice person, just a hostess dutifully making the sandwiches – do I get a vote?

    • Johan Adamson

      Erik “Any kind of gradual introduction of female guizers into the senior festival is now impossible due to such a move being illegal. Lerwick does have a rule restricting guizers to be male, and that is 100% legal. Were it to allow female guizers, they would have to have identical status to males immediately”

      Im not sure that is actually taking into consideration the spirit of the Equality Act

  34. Peter Hamilton

    The Blue Peter presenter, whose parents hail from Bangladesh, “fled the islands in tears”. Maybe her ethnicity as well as her gender drew comment. Even a chrome and purple celebration of Viking blood risks reinforcing xenophobic views if these are otherwise left unchecked. UHA is, of course, about much more and happily still brings folk together.

    Ill treatment of women, however, does follow on from boys being repeatedly told they are more important than girls – a message which we know is reinforced annually in at least one Shetland school.

    Shetland’s education department, and those councillors on the overseeing committee, have an individual and collective responsibility to prevent this, not condone it.

    These arguments will be rehashed louder each year until someone in a position of responsibility says it is needing looked at.

    Is it so hard to imagine each S3 tutor group electing two bairns to a mixed squad which can choose its own Jarl?

    The best interests of children are meant to guide official decision making and, in law, come before outdated, invented and otherwise pretty spectacular tradition.

    Peerie changes are PC – Perfectly Compatible with what Haldane Burgess would have wanted. Hope they get a good night!

    • David Spence

      Peter, I may be wrong, but are you referring to the celebrity (said loosely) John Noakes, of the 1970’s Blue Peter, who asked if he could become the Head Guizer Jarl for Up Helly Aa, and was promptly told ‘ No. ‘?

      I am pretty sure he was given his marching orders………..oot da sooth end? lol

  35. kenneth Groat

    Johan we live in Shetland not Wales both are completely different in there cultures. A perceived hate incident a bit harsh is it not ? could that also apply to the Lerwick mid summer carnival and all other carnival floats throughout Shetland ? that would make it a Shetland wide problem not just the toon. Interesting point made by local man Luke Summerfield “so are we now living in an era where we can’t dress up as our favourite movie character? you are creating more of a problem instead of living in harmony”. That still does not explain where the goliwog lovers comes in relation to Lerwick UHA or for that matter backward!.

    • Johan Adamson

      I have tried to explain. These are incidents where innocent behaviours or customs have been in the press because someone has taken offence. Would it not be better to change UHA before the national press (Radio 1’s Newsbeat next week) decides to highlight the sexist nature of the junior UHA and its election? But its up to you, certainly, not me, to change this for the better.

      • kenneth Groat

        Johan again you have not explained why anyone taking part in the Lerwick UHA would be golliwog lovers and backward. You carefully side stepped the issue of carnival floats which take place throughout Shetland regarding a perceived hate incident in Wales, and concentrate on Lerwick .It would appear to me you are on a personal crusade to try and force change to your way of thinking the format of Lerwick both junior and senior UHA . Do you intend to contact Radio 1 newsbeat and indeed the National press regarding Lerwick UHA ?.

      • Johan Adamson

        I did not say that anyone taking part in UHA would be golliwog lovers and backward. I was making the point as already stated. Please stop trying to bully me by continuously misunderstanding and trying to make me change my words. I actually like UHA and am a host. I just want to see lasses in the junior jarl squad and daughters in the main festival with their dads, that is all.

        No I dont intend to contact Newsbeat, but I would reckon one of the first ports of call for them will be the school and if they interview the bairns I would imagine even the boys would wonder why lasses are not allowed to be in the junior jarl squad.

  36. Brian Smith

    ‘Were it to allow female guizers, they would have to have identical status to males immediately.’

    O my God!

    • Erik Moncrieff


      This comment is not particularly useful, in part because it appears to misinterpret the point I was addressing.

      Contemporary society has come to the decision that there are situations where discrimination has a valid place, and situations where it is unacceptable. Accordingly, legislation has been developed to follow these norms.

      It is really quite simple. A group of people can restrict membership on the basis of a protected characteristic (race, gender, disability etc.), but can not do so partially.

      Within the ideas provided by Johan Adamson is the following:

      “…impose quota – say 4 lasses …”

      Brian follows this with:

      “Excellent contributions by Johan.”

      I fail to see how contributions which propose illegal quotas can be “excellent” or in any way helpful.

  37. Haydn Gear

    Erik’s point is an interesting one but I have some questions. At some point in the past the legality of the act was established. Does it follow that this act or any other for that matter cannot be modified and adapted to suit and serve the needs of a changed society? Or is there some notion that rules and regs are set in stone? If the edicts of the flat earth society were thought to be correct at the time of their inception, who has the right to say the Earth is not flat? I feel sure that Daniel Shenton would have something to say on the matter. Is he or is he not up a gum tree?

  38. Peter Hamilton

    It now appears that the Junior UHA has long planned to move the festival away from the AHS. If the move was intended to deny the right of Shetland’s female children to participate as equals in their cultural tradition it would be pretty sad.

    Then again, perhaps once they have broken with the tradition of all male elections they will break with the tradition of all male guisers. Lets hope so.

    Last word to J.J. Haldane Burgess’s closing verse of The Up Hella Aa Song.

    Our galley is the People’s Right, the dragon of the free;
    The Right that rising in its might, brings tyrants to their knee;
    The flag that flies above us is the Love of Liberty;
    The waves are rolling on.

  39. Brian Smith

    The Regulation of Masculinist Entertainment Undertakings Act, 1924.

  40. kenneth Groat

    Johan the point you were making involved all taking part in lerwick UHA as it stands being seen as goliwog lovers and backward to me that could be seen as a racist comment to all involved. bullying you ? strong words , I am not the person stirring up trouble what you have put in your comments regarding how both lerwick UHA is run, and including the article from Wales has opened a few eyes to your views. Not only could that article be used in the way you want against the toon UHA but all others in Shetland as well as carnival floats and last but not least party buses. Imagine a bus load of young females enjoying there day out all dressed up black faces getting off the bus in the middle of toon outside the Thule bar. they make a bee line for the Thule this could be any time of year, and tourists are watching with interest. Now to me that’s all good fun and I am sure most people would agree but what about the tourists? do they see this as racist ?

    • Johan Adamson

      I was not saying that at all. I was saying that not allowing lasses to take part in UHA is sexist and could be attacked by the worlds press. That is all. Go back and read what I said again.

      • kenneth Groat

        Go back and read it again ? this could go forever but as the comments are still in this post there’s no point as people can make up their minds as to what was and was not in your comment. What about the Wales article regarding lerwick UHA ? carnival floats birthday buses no answer there ? conveniently lost for words on that ?. There is a far better way of going around what changes you want regarding both lerwick UHA and that’s to sit around a table with the people concerned who organise them and a nice cup o tea thereby putting your views across in a sensible manner. Your choice stir it up from the outside or speak to those concerned in organising both.

      • Johan Adamson

        I’m not responsible for what happened in Wales and I never said I agree with it, or what happened with any of the other stories – you are just shooting the messenger here. Ok which table would you like to sit around? And can we discuss the junior jarl squad? And does that mean that I will have a hearing and a decision will be made once and for all?

  41. kenneth Groat

    Johan I never shoot messengers, I would suggest a round table and the people you would need to meet to discuss the changes you want are both junior and senior UHA committees.

  42. Peter Hamilton

    Whoa. It looks like Kenny was telling Johan when, where and how she should voice her opinions back there. Hmmm. Apparently a nice cup of tea will help her put across her views on a sensible manner. Bless.

    Perhaps he has some totally non-patronising thoughts to share on how the committees might best proceed for their part. Come on Kenny boy, sharpen up!

    On a more constructive note I think there is a community mediation service that works out of Market House which can help promote constructive dialogue, but it takes two to tango. Let’s not imagine for a minute though that Johan is only speaking for herself.

    • kenneth groat

      Peter I suggested what I would do but its Johans choice the only person trying to patronise anyone is yourself, you seem to have all the answers so get on with it my boy.

  43. Johan Adamson

    That would be splendid, looking forward to it.

  44. Peter Hamilton

    Thanks Kenneth, I guess 😉

    Ok, look Haldane Burgess was writing for his time so we can but guess what side he would have taken on Votes for Women, over 100 years past when considering “the People’s Right” he decided to sign off on in the vast verse of the Up Hella Aa song (above).

    Our sages, looking at his powerful sentiments, would probably say one person’s freedoms can’t be bought at the expense of another’s. That’s tyranny.

    Just apply it to the right of young people of all genders in the town to participate in their culture on an equal footing and all else will follow. In time the lasses will have a range of role models to follow in the festival like those, for example, in the Ness have. It will be the new normal and treating them as less important will then quickly be thought to have been outdated and wrong.

    I hope if there is to be a round table discussion with committee representatives that Shetland’s Children’s Rights Officer will be joined by education officials and will press for reforming the tradition of AHS pupils voting for the Junior Jarl rather than breaking with it.

  45. Shuard Manson

    Here’s a mad idea. Why don’t the women of Lerwick organise dir own Up Helly-Aa? It would be brilliant.

    • David Spence

      I think this has already been mentioned in the past, but ironically, but there has been a distinct lack of enthusiasm by some of the women of Lerwick, I believe Shuard?

      May be their way of thinking is ‘ If it ain’t broke, why fix it ? ‘ lol

    • Sheila Tulloch

      Hi Shuard, have you ever wondered why da idder Up Helly Aas dunna need a Women’s version??! Looks like you still have da dividing line doon da middle, because what if the line wasna there an it wis a mixed event? Dunna get me wrong, no expectin ‘gender balance’, dirs no room for dat. But joost openin da door a chink….

      • Shuard Manson

        Well do something about it if it means so much.

      • Shuard Manson

        Dirs no room for gender balance……Wow……

      • Shuard Manson

        I reckon a change is gonna come

  46. ian tinkler

    Viking warrior Queens. “There were once women in Denmark who dressed themselves to look like men and spent almost every minute cultivating soldiers’ skills. …They courted military celebrity so earnestly that you would have guessed they had unsexed themselves. Those especially who had forceful personalities or were tall and elegant embarked on this way of life. As if they were forgetful of their true selves they put toughness before allure, aimed at conflicts instead of kisses, tasted blood, not lips, sought the clash of arms rather than the arm’s embrace, fitted to weapons hands which should have been weaving, desired not the couch but the kill…” (12th-century Danish historian, Saxo Grammaticus, not a feminist!!! ).” Perhaps “Transvestite Tuesday” is best left to the testicularly challenged. Who else would fear to integrate the ladies? Just why are the big boys so frightened?
    As a mere Englishman, I rejoice in Boadicea, why do Lerwick Shetland men fear their ancient warrior women, if you wish to play at being Vikings at least try to follow the history?

  47. Morag Macleod

    Shuard, in relation to a previous comment on here about the ba in Orkney, women didnt participate with the men. That would be impossible with a close scrum situation. From what I was told growing up the womens ba was stopped after somebody died falling down the steps at the Royal Bank. It may well start up again with better health & safety.

    • David Spence

      God forbid if Health and Safety should get involved, Morag. This would surely bring an end to the, dare I say it, tradition? lol

    • David Spence

      I apologise for the late response, Morag. Thank you for the information.

  48. Peter Hamilton

    …and let them have their own busses, park benches and schools too Shuard? That changes the “Love of Liberty” from the right to join in to the right to p off.

    Here is a mad idea. Let the lasses join in on the Junior Jarl event and the future will look after itself.

    • Shuard Manson

      Well Peter,do has all da answers. Pity do does little aboot it.

  49. Brian Smith

    There are two things about this situation that need more discussion. First, as some people have acknowledged, many women don’t feel attracted by Up Helly Aa. Partly that is because of the overwhelming maleness of it; but there is also the point that it never changes. It is exactly the same ritual each year, apart from a minute change or two to the viking costumes. That’s not an argument for excluding women, of course: I have no doubt that they would make the occasion far more interesting.

    The second point is more startling, and deserves study. A woman pointed out to me last week that, despite the unwillingness of the lads to let women participate – ‘sacrilege!’ – a large proportion of them feel the urge to dress up as women. It is almost as if they feel a need to represent both sexes. Of course, they draw the line at klining scones and making lentil soup. It reminds me of Monty Python’s Lumberjack Song …

  50. Haydn Gear

    The Romans looked pretty good wearing skirts and Scots guards wearing kilts always impress.

  51. ian tinkler

    I entirely agree, Haydn, but I would still rather die in battle at the hands of Lagetha than a hairy Scot in a kilt. Also, I would rather see a few Lagethas in the Jarl squad than the usual hairy bunch. Enjoy Haydn,

  52. Haydn Gear

    Ian, I’m assuming that you have looked at the “photographic model” used to display Lagetha’s image on film but what are the chances that the figure of legend was rather less than beautiful. ? Personally, I’d take no comfort from knowing that my life was about to end at the hands of a sword wielding woman rather than a hairy Scot in a kilt. When you’re dead , you’re dead.

  53. Johan Adamson

    So my S1 lasses wore their best claes and came to the hall. They noticed several boys being fiddle box carriers. They said – he’s in my class, he’s in my class and he’s in my class … – they said sitting around in the hall was a bit boring. They asked why it was just boys in Lerwick and I replied it’s just a stuck in the past tradition. Why are we teaching the boys its Ok to go out and the lasses to sit around the hall? Just what are we telling our bairns at these private parties? And just who is Wagner? They said.

    How many squad members are now travelling in from south to be involved? Having non locals in squads is better than having women in the apparently full squads?

    • Michael Garriock

      This raises the rather curious question.

      Why do your children wish to participate in a part of an event, where it would seem to be reasonably clear that they would be unwelcome by the majority of the other participants?

      Your other comment elsewhere raises the equally curious question, why would you feel a proud mother seeing them in such a hostile environment?

      Inclusion does not guarantee tolerance or acceptance. Forced inclusion as often as not encourages and magnifies rejection, hostility and defiance.

      If your children were bored by the hall, there is a very good chance that participating in the procession etc would have bored them considerably more, and made them miserable.

      I understand that they find the idea of participation attractive, and as a mother you naturally want to help them achieve that, but its worth remembering that the reality of all too many things fail to live up to the dream even with the best will in the world.

    • Johan Adamson

      I dont think they would be unwelcome by other participants – the boys dont understand why lasses are not in it either. No hostile environment.

      Being a fiddle box carrier didnt look boring – although maybe a little scary

      I would expect a few lasses to join in – they would not be alone (I would expect the boys to be looked after too).

      • Michael Garriock

        You may well be right Johan, and I hope you are. The attitudes of both participants and those within the town with an interest may well have changed since I had first hand experience of such things, as that wasn’t yesterday, but I remain far from convinced they have from the views expressed both here and elsewhere.

        If the push for change was coming from existing participants in such numbers that the organising committee(s) felt they had to act upon it, I would expect more or less universal acceptance. However if change is forced from the outside, and I’m far from convinced given what the event is, that ouside pressure should be allowed to have that kind of influence on it, I would expect it to be given minimal lip service.

        Like I said, the town’s attitude towards UHA may well have changed, as may the general behaviour of early teens, but if it hasn’t, I’d expect all Junior UHA participants to appear to accept publically a change pressed upon them, but for the hostility of the opponents, and of their peers with similar opinions, to surface randomly in other situations and circumstances over an extended period.

  54. Haydn Gear

    Johan , It’s an annoying state of affairs for the females on Shetland and for females world wide but, thanks to likes of Carrie Gracie of the BBC, changes are definitlely on the way. For reasons closely linked to religious patriarchs , women have long been subjugated and made to play subservient roles. That is one of the shortcomings of
    tradition—— mindlessly rooted in the past for no rational reason. There was a time when female teachers were expected and indeed obliged to resign if they got married. No doubt an edict dreamt up by men. Madness. At some point, the men who dominate procedures on Shetland will be forced to forfeit their undeserved and unearned dominance and that will then lead to equality of opportunity and a fairer society. But , stubborn people tend to resist so they may well have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

    • Johan Adamson

      I get sad when I see the junior UHA photos cos I want to be a proud mammy as well but we are excluded.

      • James Watt

        Are you sure you want to be telling everyone that your pride in your children is partially dependent on their participation in someone else’s festival? If your lasses find it boring then what meanie is forcing them to go out?

      • Ian Tinkler

        Sometimes I am in dismay of my gender. It is a case of all testicles and no usable or used brain in some. The preceding comments so prove my point. However, times are a changing.
        I would further add as an observation of “Man”, the owners of the least used testicles usually oppose women’s rights, funny that.!!!

  55. Peter Hamilton

    “Someone else’s festival”. What does James mean? Shetland’s fire festivals are celebrated and contributed to by mothers, wives, girlfriends, fathers, boyfriends and children, all of which is also true of the eye-catcher event in Lerwick. These are not men-only events by men for men serving as a Victorian-era inspired initiation ceremony.

    It is plainly unfair that the only role for girls ( and but a handful at that ) in many of Shetland’s fire festivals is the historically questionable “princesses”. The unfairnessess represents discrimination which in turn requires and reinforces prejudice – and that is the problem.

    The trouble is that this is not seen to be a problem by some of those who run some of these community events. Luckily they are not discriminated against or underpaid or likely to be verbally/physically/sexually assaulted as a result of their gender. And it is just a matter of luck for them that they were born male.

    Prejudice and discrimination are harmful. It is surprises some that a public building such as the town hall is and can be used for a discriminatory. Change will come.

    • Fraser Cluness

      Are you saying the Town Hall can’t be used by the Brownies Guides and swri or Womans Aid in the future too?

    • Malcolm Henry Johnson

      Ironically, the Town Hall is the most inclusive part of the event. Even if you succeed in achieving a perfect gender balance in the festival, it will still consist of a collection of private, invitee only parties. Your right to attend these is entirely in the gift of the social elite who host the events and priority goes to their own friends and relatives. Tickets are not available to the public even when the event is being held in a building that is owned by the public. Please do not think that I am trying to undermine your campaign or detract from its importance but if you are serious about turning Up-Helly-Aa into a genuine community event then those leading the debate (Adamson, Hamilton, Gear, Smith et al) really need to widen their definition of social inclusion.

      • Johan Adamson

        I agree. To be socially inclusive tickets would have to be available to the public from the box office

  56. Haydn Gear

    If the last two lines of Peter Hamilton’s comments are taken on board and acted upon then that’s all that matters. The rest will just fall into place automatically.

  57. Peter Hamilton

    The SIC’s Equalities and Diversity webpage commits to “promoting equality of opportunity”. Its Policy and Resources committee has what it takes to deliver this to a man 😉

    Most councillors will lack a burning desire to limit who should get to use the Town Hall on any given Tuesday night in January. So, does anyone locally have an obligation to comment on the council ‘s silent support for discrimination?

    According to Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems, Jo Swinson MP, gender inequality is “such an ingrained deep cultural issue that we need a call to arms because we need people in their everyday lives to take action too”. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09pjgrq

    The LibDem website says “We aim to reduce inequality, fight discrimination and protect freedom”. Jo though says “gender inequality and sexism is embedded throughout society and throughout all of the institutions of society” including the Lib Dems. She encourages people to “fix the bit that they can”.

    Town Hall aside, would Shetland’s LibDems be being true to their colours if they decided not to address gender discrimination in UHA’s processions and squads? A statement from Shetland’s LibDems, or even a personal comment, could make quite a difference. Speak up.

    • Johan Adamson

      Yes, by using council buildings and closing the streets they are legitimising the whole thing

      • Shuard Manson

        Don’t forget the Shetland Times profits either

  58. Johan Adamson

    So positive news yesterday that the junior jarl squad committee are going to discuss letting lasses in (again).

    Can hardly wait for my lasses to be in it. Im going to take Lots of pics like the mams of the boys do.

    • Fraser Cluness

      Don’t hold your breath, the can like everyone on here every January talk lots but doesna mean that anything will actually change. I do think because of the onslot every year the more ‘we’ go on about it, the more less likely it will happen because of the massive big deal your all making. its their event and they will deside when and if it changes and not because of all the letters from moaners every year.

  59. Peter Hamilton

    Don’t hold your breath Johan, the UHA committee have the final say and have yet to be persuaded. Sorry. Would but that some of those who understand that the sexism of excluding girls is harmful to them and to boys too, and makes for problems later in life, would actually speak up and do so quickly.

    Do we really want a society in which boys are told to axe for what they want and girls are to watch passively and think this normal? What are we telling them?

    This is a smaller part of a bigger problem but it can be dealt with, and quickly, so long as more folk will dare to speak up. And, yes, I mean dare. UHA has passionate defenders. Some of their arguments speak to another age and rely on some pretty scary ideas, hence the need to challenge needless sexist discrimination, the attitudes it relies on and thereby limit the ills that really can and really do result. There is just no need for Shetland’s boys to be told they are more important than girls year on year or for Shetland’s girls to have to hear it. Yes? No? Eh? Whit? Hello? Speak up.

  60. Haydn Gear

    Johan, it may be that somebody has just got wind of the name Emmeline Pankhurst! As she once famously said “ Deeds not words” Hopefully the Jarl committee will bear that in mind as they discuss the issues in hand.

  61. Wayne Conroy

    I believe UHA would be vastly improved by having women – Im sure they would add a much needed boost to many acts/outfits.

    They say as a male event Lerwick UHA follows the law and to continue following the law AND be inclusive it would need to allow many women in and not just a few – this would mean ousting out squads so women could participate. I dare say it would also feel a little unfair to those that have waited years to take part going further back on any list.

    I took a friend from south to Lerwick UHA. They were very impressed by procession but when in hall they spent half the night shaking their head thanks to half the so called acts/lazy outfits. (squads of men in dresses/boilersuits with crap written on it shouldnt be allowed in my opinion) Thankfully not all squads are lazy and they enjoyed the dancing so not all was lost.

    Perhaps the only way forward is to kick out the lazy leaving those that truly make an effort. That would make space for women and awaiting men and perhaps make the whole of UHA into something to be truly proud of.

    • Kenneth Groat

      Wayne how would you determine a good squad act ? would we need to fly up the strictly come dancing judges to satisfy your idea of a good act ? , what one mans thoughts are on acts someone close has a very different outlook.I would like to know how many people that have proposed for females to take part in the senior UHA in this post were born in Shetland and live in Lerwick The reason I am asking is quite simple, Having been brought up in Lerwick with several females in my classes all the way through education we have discussed how the junior and senior jarl squads were formed how we watched the processions what every ones thoughts were at different stages in life so far. We are of one mind that the present set up although in some peoples mind is racist has done no wrong and both females and males in the halls have enjoyed UHA as it is today. In Lerwick growing up taking part in our UHA has been and still is a good time to meet old friends who travel back to their roots to take part. To all those parachutists who came from outwith Shetland who so self righteous cling to anything they can find to change the way UHA is run which although might exclude the female in squads is run without any trouble think again equality has its place along with common sense, but not at any cost to bring in the changes proposed will cause untold problems within squads. To try and force squads out of UHA could mean the end. But then again is that what they want ?

      • Wayne Conroy

        Well Kenneth… That’s quite a reaction. Loved the ranting about people from outside Shetland and how you and women you know could understand it being considered racist but not sexist.

        As a Lerwick man who has not only taken part in UHA (from fiddleboxer to squad member) but also seen it from an ‘outsiders point of view’ after leaving squad I can assure you I know many locals that have a different view to your opinion. At AHS 30 odd years ago there were girls complaining then.

        As for determining good squad acts… C’mon now… If you go out you’ll know the acts im talking about or you can carry on wearing rose tinted glasses! (or beer goggles?) The squad/members that end up in a state too drunk to do act, ones that put no effort into act and no effort into costumes etc. The UHA committee should already have weeded out most of the worst offenders years ago. There are plenty of locals that would happily take their place to go out and offenders could go to back of list again.

        Or you choose to carry on wearing those shackles of “tradition” while the world passes you by… whatever!

    • Johan Adamson

      Each to his own Kenneth. I have never suggested turfing out squads. There are not that many women wanting to go out, just a small number who want the choice. Calm desell, this is not a revolution. This is – change the rules – include your whole family – wont make much difference to anything but clean up the act for UHA as a community event for the future good of everybody.

      Who from south is wanting you to change things out of existence? Aren’t there folk from south in the squads?

      • kenneth Groat

        Again both UHA are not community events put on for a community they are run by independent committees and some of it takes place in public areas. who from south are wanting to change things ? come come Johan to remove squads completely and make way for females as mentioned in previous comments. Remember equality in your way of thinking would need a squad made up of equal numbers of both female and male members. And who decides which squads get removed ? yourself perhaps. The squad members coming from south have already been out before they left shetland . Again how many people wanting to admit females into the senior UHA were born in shetland and live in Lerwick, youself perhaps Johan ?

      • Johan Adamson

        How come these events are not put on for a community but take place in public areas? How does that work?

    • Johan Adamson

      Thanks Wayne, more and more people every day are agreeing with your first sentence

  62. Peter Hamilton

    Regarding views from folk born south, if I may, Scotland’s governing party states on its website: “There is no place in Scotland for prejudice or discrimination – everyone deserves to be treated fairly regardless of age, disability, gender, gender identity, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or sexual orientation. We want all children and young people to be able to learn in schools free from discrimination, so that they can learn and reach their full potential.”

    Kenneth, I post this as former: barman in the Lounge, Lerwick taxi driver, worker at Staney Hill Hostel, Craigielea and former teacher at the Anderson High. How very dare I 😉

    Shetland has a Scottish Green MSP. On gender equality the Greens say: “Equality is a core Green value and we work to embed the aim of equality in everything that we do. Reducing inequality in society, in terms of income and wealth, race, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation and religion, benefits all of us. More equal societies are more successful, both economically and socially.”

    Does Kenneth believe no one in Lerwick voted Green, SNP or LibDem with a wish to see an end to discrimination? I wonder what Ruth Davidson and Scottish Labour think.

    • kenneth groaat

      Peter you have confirmed what I thought you were thank you, equality along with common sense has its place in life, You want to force through equality on The grounds there are no females taking part in UHA. Remove squads that don’t live up to your views in life, therefore attempting to make space for females to take part. Several people have come to Shetland in the past trying to enforce their way of thinking and failed. You will no doubt find yourself being one of those.

  63. Wayne Conroy

    “Shhh… I think theres a girl outside!”
    “didn’t you put the ‘no girlz allowed’ sign on the door?”
    “maybe she cant read”
    “shhhh… maybe she’ll go away”


    • kenneth Groat

      Wayne you have your opinion and I have my own yes it should have been sexist not racist but most people will have noticed that fiddle box carrier to full squad member wow! and are you still going out or were you thrown out ?. I would be very surprised if anything changes with lerwick UHA lets wait and see.

      • Wayne Conroy

        To be honest Kenneth I stopped going out after I quit drinking heavily as I got fed up with the overly drunkeness of the whole event.

        As far as UHAnot changing… well you’re probably right!

        I just think its a shame that Lerwick is missing out on what could be a good thing. Let women in and it could transform the whole event into something truly great and something for the whole community to be proud of in my opinion. The addition of some female influence would no doubt add a lot more creativity and opportunity to enhance acts which, lets face it, is much needed.

  64. Peter Hamilton

    “Today we give thanks to those women of courage and bloody-mindedness and we recommit ourselves to finishing their work. There is much still to do.” So said Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson in Holyrood this wee.
    She followed hard on the heels of Nicola Sturgeon acknowledging that “even today, it is not always easy for women to speak up in public life” and saying “It falls on us and our generation through deeds, not words, to complete the work that the suffrage movement started, in order that we ensure that no longer is gender a barrier to any woman achieving her dreams”.

    After this, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said of the party’s founder. “Hardie believed emphatically, as his 1905 pamphlet on this topic attested, that it was: ‘Only by removing the disabilities and restraints imposed upon women; and permitting her to enter freely into competition with man in every sphere of human activity, that her true position and function in the economy of life will ultimately be settled.’”

    In keeping with the spirit of the times perhaps women house owners over thirty could be allowed to carry an unlit torch behind next year’s procession.

  65. kenneth Groat

    Peter just for your information,( as a well known Port Controller would say ) people who try and force things through very often end up failing. People who sit down and have a sensible discussion with a nice cup of tea very often prevail.

    • Johan Adamson

      Im still waiting for that invite for that cup of tea. Im easy to get hold of

  66. kenneth Groat

    How come these events are not put on for a Community, but take place in public areas ?. How does that work ?.
    Think about it Johan its not that hard to work out.

  67. Erik Moncrieff

    You just don’t get it, you really don’t.

    Pontificate away all you want, but while you refuse to take on board the fundamentals of how the various UHA organisations are constituted, operate and interact, you’ll keep churning out face-palm inducing spam.

    It isn’t just the idea that you think females have a right to guise, but you really seem to believe local government has a duty to vet legitimate organisations hiring their facilities. They do not have any such duty, and the same goes for holding public processions. Indeed if you bothered to actually do some basic research you will discover the onus actually operates the other way. Organisations have legal rights to hold processions and ceremonies, and that even includes provision for the carrying of dangerous objects.

    As for the right to guise, females do not have such a right, nor do men. Taking part in Up Helly Aa, in whatever role, is always a privilege.

  68. Peter Hamilton

    Sorry Eric, you are sheltering behind established procedures which can be challenged and changed. How about considering what is right? Is it right or wrong to exclude girls from Junior UHA?

    In Shetland less that one in four of councillors are women. Might there just be a link between this, Sturgeon’s comment that it is not always easy for women to speak up in public life and a local festival with a huge cultural impact honouring men and limiting the participation of women?

    Is society as it is, with unequal representation and unfair pay and abuse and violence against women acceptable or do we want to see change? Lerwick’s UHA committee can ignore the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child if it wishes, but the idea of equal right to participate simply will not, really will not, totally will not go away. It is 2018 btw.

    Rather than excluding them, why not extend the “privilege” to participate in the Junior UHA to girls Eric? Why not? What is the reasonable thing to do? Please try to reason it through for yourself without relying on the red herring of tradition or rules established by men for men.

    • Michael Garriock

      Peter Hamilton,

      What is right, is usually what the majority of folk with an interest decide, democratically is ‘right’ – not some academic or theoretical interpretation of ‘right’ forced upon people by some, perhaps well-intentioned, but misguided person or entity. Doing so is pretty much guaranteed to come across as a ‘I/we know what’s best for you better than you know it yourselves’, which is equally pretty much guaranteed to get everyone’s hackles up, not just those directly affected.

      Yes, UHA may well give the impression that it is sexist and nepotistic, but where is the evidence to support that it is by intent and design rather than circumstance/accident? Just about everything on this thread is either theoretical or ancedotal, no one has stood up and claimed to personally be a ‘victim’, the suggestion of a rival/alternate UHA fell at the start, and the suggestion of introducing change via the Junior UHA is nothing more than doing it by the back door, and using the impressionable and still relatively naive to achieve it. Which, IMHO is considerably more reprehensible and repulsive than the sexism you claim exists, if it exists.

      • Johan Adamson

        I have said plenty times that my lasses are being excluded from this event in school and you still ask where is the evidence? It matters not if the discrimination is intentional or accidental. It exists. Full stop. Ask the bairns in school what they think, that is not using them but consulting them. And the discrimination in the UHA does affect all of us.

  69. Johan Adamson

    I dont think any of us has yet heard a reasonable reason for excluding women for guizing. Guizing is a Shetland tradition which you can’t take away from Lerwick women and girls of age 12 and up.

    Eric you’ll know better than us but is there not a rule that local authorities are not allowed to support male only organisations? In any case are you not the last bastion of male only groups? How many are left?

    The junior UHA is no longer in the AHS. Is that what you wanted? Why not just let girls go out (instead of having to make up numbers with P7s) and get it back in the AHS?

    • Kenneth Groat

      Johan I think you have just had a good reason put across well from Michael Garriock

      • Johan Adamson

        You might have to explain. What good reason?

    • Erik Moncrieff

      No, local authorities are not subject to such a rule.

      Specifically quoting guidance provided by the Government’s Equality Office:

      “The Equality Duty does not require public bodies to treat everyone the same. Rather, it requires public bodies to think about people’s different needs and how these can be met. So the Equality Duty does not prevent public bodies providing women‑only services – for example,…”

      “The Equality Duty does not require public bodies to make services homogeneous or to try to remove or ignore differences between people.”

      Pretty clear, and, if that is not enough for you, the Council itself recently confirmed:

      “The Council is satisfied that its involvement in the Lerwick Up Helly Aa does not contravene the Equality Act 2010.”

      I will address your other questions when I have more time. We are in the midst of the season, so I hope you will appreciate I have many more pressing issues to deal with.

      Please also note, I am an Erik, not an Eric.

      • Johan Adamson

        One slip of the Eric and (I think I am the only one who has properly noticed the k) you get upset.

        Did you see my point above about not having women not really being with the spirit of the 2010 act?

        Is Lerwick UHA not done with for this year? Tiresome is it?

  70. Peter Hamilton

    Regarding nice cups of tea, Millicent Fawcett met Asquith in No. 10 some 43 years after the first parliamentary debate on votes for women and got nowhere.

    The sexist exclusion of women and girls has been a known issue for years. Junior UHA can’t change without UHA committee approval and Eric won’t state his opinion.

    Don’t be surprised Eric if people quietly resort to deeds not words if there is no change this coming year. All it would take is a couple of Stonehaven fireballs swung down King Harald Street between the two processions for a headline grabbing protest. A single Comrie Flambeau would also send a fitting visual message. They might be combined for maximum effect. Excluding women and girls is an ongoing insult that may yet be returned in unwelcomed ways. Just saying.

    Let’s hope that Eric does not speak for how all those most concerned wish to preserve the future of a community celebration of which everyone should feel proud.

  71. Haydn Gear

    I believe that I said all that you have said in my submission of February 1st. Maybe you feel that it is a message that needs to be repeated many times in order to secure equality for all. If so, then I am in agreement.

  72. Peter Hamilton

    Michael, if you cause offence you have a couple of choices. Either reconsider your behaviour or don’t.

    For some, exclusion is a type of bullying. For some, UHA’s exclusion of women and girls is offensive. Sorry if I am the first to let you know.

    Have you seen the women swinging their homemade fireballs in Stonehaven or watched them in the procession in Comrie? I have in person but you can online if you can cope with the thought. Shocking I know but they seem to have been having a pretty good time, the sky did not fall and no one is harmed.

    Telling girls that they can not do what boys can do is telling them they are less important. That is harmful Michael. Harmful. Harmful and wrong. Bad for girls and bad for boys. Stop it. Nice and simple. Stop it.

    What is right is not a majority decision. It was not in Germany in 1934 and it is not amongst a restricted group of enthusiasts in Lerwick in 2018 who are on the verge of looking pretty bloody stupid now that the SICs education officials and some in Junior UHA are of a different mind. Stop it.

  73. Peter Hamilton

    Can they invite Johan for tea and expect her to make it? Doesn’t quite seem fair somehow… Pity them in their modern day gender segregated etiquette maze.

    How would it work?
    1. Welcome Johan inclusively.
    2. Put down axe and shield.
    3. Fill kettle.
    4. Remove shiny breast plate and use reflective properties to check beard for seal blubber. Neat.
    5. Comment on the weather on the crossing (a little small talk always helps).
    6. Mak tea and leave pot to stew or up to 50 years.
    7. Try to find some common ground… Ireland maybe? Nope- too close to Bigton and SMUHA’s devilry. Somewhere central then. Tingwall Loch? Can’t possibly. Loch is not a Shetland wird. Tricky, but at least they are trying.
    8. Now time to decide who should pour. Real Vikings can’t possibly be mother – everyone knows Vikings didn’t have mothers – but they did invite Johan over for a cuppa…
    9. Remove helmet and scratch head thoughtfully whilst looking meaningfully at pot then cups.
    10. Cough politely and wait for Johan to crack first.

    It’s all too hard really. Maybe should have just stuck to impailing the locals and complaining about the speed bumps. Bless.

    • Kenneth Groat

      yawn some rant that Peter I hear 2019 could be the year o the man …….

  74. John Tulloch

    Johan, are you still the treasurer of Shetland Labour Party? If so, are you speaking with the party’s backing? Their support would be invaluable for your campaign.

    Will Robina Barton have this in her manifesto at the next election – assuming she’s standing, that is, there was a suggestion that she has moved away?

    • Johan Adamson

      I am speaking here on my own right but yes, they do agree

      • Kenneth Groat

        Johan you say The labour party in Shetland want’s females included in UHA ? interesting……

      • John Tulloch

        Why isn’t Robina backing you up in your campaign? I’d have thought a woman Labour candidate would have been pushing hard on this issue?

      • Johan Adamson

        As Peter said above, all the parties have equal opportunities policies

      • John Tulloch

        OK, Johan, I’m thinking that you’re avoiding my questions about Robina who I think has moved away, in which case Shetland Labour will be looking for a new candidate?

        A locally-based person would be good and Peter Hamilton is a former Labour candidate who is showing strongly on this issue. Will you take him back for another go, now that he has wearied of his dalliance with the SNP?

        Problem is, when Peter picks up issues in his uber-virtue-signalling way, he kind of gives the impression that he’s playing political football with them. Last year it was his Shetland Charitable Trust campaign with J Wills, while he was still masquerading as being with Labour, then later confessing he had voted for Danus Skene after campaigning for Robina in 2016 and of course, he strongly supported the SNP’s Miriam Brett, last June.

        Playing political football to advance one’s own aims is a bad principle, IMHO, don’t you agree?

      • Johan Adamson

        John, I have let Robina know she has been mentioned and she might choose to speak for herself. She is not a prospective candidate at the moment – no one is.

      • John Tulloch

        Oh, I see. That’s fine, I couldn’t help wondering, that’s all 🙂

  75. Peter Hamilton

    Double standard alert. Michael would have it that letting lasses join in on Junior UHA would be “using the impressionable and still relatively naive” to achieve change “through the back door” in a “reprehensible and repulsive” way. The boys who get to participate are not at all “impressionable and still relatively naive” or being used in any way to secure the status quo and that there is nothing “reprehensible” about that at all.

    At lest we agree that young people are impressionable. This is a key reason why schools are told not give boys more opportunities than girls. Girls should not be told to be a subservient wife there to please their man and boys should not be told girls matter less.

    An ASN teacher at the Anderson I was impressed with how well Junior UHA included some of our students but was troubled that the boys were influenced by UHA’s overtones of male power and privilege. Something similarly worrying was evident the lasses who didn’t feel able or encouraged to “axe for what they want”. It is concerning that some folk see no harm in this social conditioning but helpful that Michael recognises it as “repulsive”. Thanks Michael.

    • Johan Adamson

      Yes you cant let a 12 year old girl be a fiddle box carrier, but its ok for 12 year old boys.

  76. Haydn Gear

    It appears to me that Johan has become the ball in a knockabout game of ping pong. It’s all very (or maybe very mildly) amusing but it’s possible that she reluctantly occupies the position she finds herself in. Perhaps she’d like to make her feelings known. If she’s unhappy with it and says so then the Montcrieff / Hamilton feather spitting tantrums should cease..

    • Johan Adamson

      We have to keep the conversation going. Only with talking about it all will it eventually resolve itself. I have supporters but mostly out of fear they dont comment here. No matter what Erik says, there is no justification for keeping women from guising in the Lerwick UHA (if they want to). He says the SIC does not contravene the Equality Act – that is with the road closing and the civic reception. But they should not legitimise and support a male only group. The school is no longer supporting the junior one, and Im sure there are other ways folk can make their feelings known about this, and they will. Our MSP should boycott the whole thing for a start.

  77. Peter Hamilton

    MIchael was looking for “victims” earlier. Johan says she has supporters who don’t comment out of fear. Critics of UHA are intimidated. There is something not good going on here. It is almost as if reinforcing sexist attitudes year on year could somehow be a bad thing. Hold that thought.

    There’d be no need for a boycott or any other future contentious action if the committee could simply signal a will to make some of the minor changes that have been politely mooted for so long. It would of course be nice if any MSP or councillor could comment on the Junior UHA procession as a start – but they are likely fearful too. Taking it away from the AHS is plainly a backward step. An important decision is pending and those who could give community leadership are looking the other way.

    The reason why the UN says it is everyone’s responsibility to speak up for the rights of bairns is that bairns can’t secure their rights by themselves. It is pretty shocking to think that in this year, of all years, folk would be fearful of standing up against sexism and in favour of the rights of children.

    • kenneth Groat

      Changes that have been politely mooted ? you mean demand , you want to force change in nearly all your comments you demand change not ask for it . because of sexism you claim exists.

  78. Peter Hamilton

    Kenneth, do you think the Liberals don’t want to see women and girls included? That would be interestingly illiberal of them.

    • Kenneth Groat

      I think its time I looked to more pressing things in life, Peter you can carry on having a rant to yourself my boy. Swinging homemade fireballs down King Harold street for a headline grabbing protest ( good luck with that one ). But what else would you expect from extreme loony lefties. I look forward to another successful UHA in 2019 with no changes.

  79. Haydn Gear

    Well, that’s OK then. Johan has made her thoughts and feelings known so there is no need to change tack if she feels comfortable. There clearly needs to be sustained opposition to the essence of the objections ——- unfair treatment to people based on gender. In the light of moves to divert folk away from archaic attitudes and blinkered thinking unswerving determination must be maintained. Personally, I find the lengthy correspondence in these columns worrying since there is , without doubt, a long way to go. As that old dictum goes “ there’s none so deaf as those who will not listen”.

  80. Allen Fraser

    188 comments on this subject already and we’re only half way through February – proof that Up Helly Aa is indeed a burning issue.

  81. Peter Hamilton

    …and some folk can’t even see sexism when it stares them in the face. I am not “claiming” sexism exists Kenneth. I am pointing right at it, but lets humour you…

    So what should we call it, Kenneth, when girls are banned and boys get invited: circumstances beyond our control? an act of God? the girls’ fault for being born female?

    There’s a habit of pretending that the festival just happens to have sexist elements, yet for years men in Lerwick have deliberately decided not to change UHA; their misguided and mistaken choice yes, but nonetheless their proud choice to continue a fabulous traditional festival without changing the clearly sexist elements.

    Look, if you are a sexist how about just being open about it? Its your choice, but now there is no “inadvertently sexist” option for those who could change Junior UHA, but won’t. In 2018 sexist discrimination is a nasty thing, a nasty thing to say (which in part explains the fear) and no doubt to be told, but please try to stop pretending that UHA just happens to discriminate as if it were a meteor which just happened to hit your garden shed. It’s deliberately sexist, for now.

  82. Johan Adamson

    Kenneth – before you go please explain why you are so anti change?

  83. Haydn Gear

    It might seem to be too obvious to be worthy of mention but I’ll still say it. The matter of gender bias against females has not ( as far as I’m aware) made any reference to the disservice being made to the male faction. Do we really want young lads who will become big lads and then men to be lumbered with the idea that they are somehow superior to the females? Should boys be encouraged to hold sway over their sisters? The demarcations of the past are no longer relevant so efforts should be made to make good the shortcomings of yesteryear. Never forget —- votes for women were hard won.

  84. Allen Fraser

    Wow! 192 comments and counting – correspondents are getting all fired up on this hot topic.

    • Malcolm Henry Johnson

      I count less than a dozen comments Allen and half of them are irrelevant to the argument. However, as a couple of them have been repeated ninety times, your overall total of 192 is probably about right. I’m old enough to remember when sending comments to the paper meant sitting down with an Imperial typewriter and carefully typing out a letter, putting it in a stamped envelope and then walking to the street to post it. There was just too much effort involved to bother repeating the same comment over and over again but now I’m getting nostalgic.

      • James Watt

        Agreed. It’s really more a handful of obsessives refusing to let anyone else have the last word. I’ve had to refill my popcorn twice already!

      • Brian Smith

        Get off the fence, Malcolm.

      • Malcolm Henry Johnson

        What fence Brian? I hope you don’t mean the fence between socialism and nationalism. I’ve never been on that one.

        On 26th January, I agreed with Johan’s comments and used capitals to emphasise this. On 4th February, I acknowledged the importance of Johan’s campaign. (Not the debate, but HER campaign.) I did not mean to be evasive: I think that women should be able to take part in Up-Helly-Aa as equals.

        On both occasions, I then tried to widen the debate on social inclusion by pointing out that achieving gender equality would not turn Up-Helly-As into a community event. Invitations would still be in the gift of Lerwick’s social elite, so it would still be a series of private parties to which lots of people (including hundreds of working class women) would be excluded. Sadly, Johan was the ONLY person who agreed with the need to widen the debate. On 4th February I even mentioned you by name as someone who appeared reluctant to move towards a wider definition of inclusion but the fence was still there and you stayed firmly on it.

        Would you like to take this third opportunity to get off the fence and comment on the wider issues of social exclusion that plague our winter festival, or would you rather restrict the debate to the narrow gender-based definitions that fall within your political comfort zone. Within your own social group, I’m sure that this would be much less controversial.

        p.s. I stand by my later comments about the futility of endless repetition and I have no idea why this upset you. Were you confused because I used the words “Imperial” and “nostalgic” in the same post?

      • Brian Smith

        Malcolm thinks that there is a ‘fence’ between socialism and nationalism. This is a doctrine taught at secondary school, but things are much more complex. James Connolly is worth considering. There is, however, a major boundary between socialism and fence-sitting!

      • Malcolm Henry Johnson

        Nice attempt at deflection Brian but astute readers will have noticed that you still didn’t answer the question. Maybe you could arrange your fences together and use them like a hammock. That would make your comfort zone even more comfortable. Clearly, you intend to stay up there for the duration but I suppose the top of a fence is a good place to be if you want to pick cherries.

        In the meantime, good luck with your project to merge nationalism and socialism into a single ideology. It’s been tried before and it didn’t end well but do let me know how it turns out. I am perfectly familiar with the works of James Connolly and was a member of the JCS in the 70s but unlike you and me Brian, James did not have the benefit of hindsight.

        In any case, Johan has asked us to stay on topic so let’s respect that and get back to the Up-Helly-Aa question.

  85. Peter Hamilton

    Not promising to swing fireballs down King Harald Street but I wouldn’t be surprised if something less flamboyant happened, if girls are again excluded from Junior UHA.

    Something quiet, more in sorrow than in anger, might happen – a blinky lit saunter?

    How about a funny faced or balaclava-ed flash-mob parody during the civic reception? Without the fake boobies though, so not all would see the funny side 🙁 Someone once rode a horse into a council meeting so why not?

    Its impossible to predict. Even a peerie sit down disruption might occur – who knows – a 17:00 cuppa, and very civil and thoroughly amicable discussion if one hasn’t happened by then… on the Monday night on the Co-op roundabout perhaps? Hopefully no-one will see a need by then.

    No doubt any protest whatsoever would draw down huge complaints of bringing Shetland into disrepute and of taking life too seriously.

    Interestingly I heard the two terrorists who burnt down the Bath Hotel in Felixstow in 1914 have now been honoured by that same town. In all likelihood we’ll be able to look back at these strange times very soon and wonder why change didn’t come sooner. Or not.

  86. Peter Hamilton

    It is a really important point Hayden, and difficult to address, but men who abuse women presumably think themselves superior and entitled and think women are of lesser worth which is why many people who have thought about it think sexism needs to be confronted, challenged and changed not celebrated – hence the (hopefully temporary) separation between the AHS and Junior UHA.

    The “where are the victims” or “where is the harm” question looks for a direct link between the festival and any one incident. It is a bit more complicated than direct links but of course we don’t do young men any favours by filling their heads full of outdated notions. The least that might happen is that they’ll get a knock-back or a slap but they could be heading towards endless unfulfilling relationships or time in jail.

    The festival sends messages, subtle and unsubtle, and these do feed into ways of seeing things and behaving. It is also very impressive, loved dearly and pulls people together so it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that most local politicians haven’t got the guts shown by the secretary of Junior UHA and won’t stand up and be counted.

  87. Peter Hamilton

    Got any good arguments why it is OK to discriminate against girls, James and / or Malcolm?

    • Malcolm Henry Johnson

      None whatsoever. Did I say otherwise ??????????

      Do you have any good arguments why tickets to Shetland’s biggest “community” event should be controlled by a clique of business people and white-collar professionals like yourself? You have strenuously avoided commenting on this side of the discrimination debate so I can only assume that you are happy with the status quo.

      In my most recent post, I implied that it was counter-productive to post multiple, carbon-copy comments without ever trying to widen the debate because it just bores everyone and puts them off the subject. In what distant planet does this comment amount to an attack on women’s rights ?????????? Also, you clearly don’t know which people I was criticising. Your assumptions says more about you than it does about me.

      If I have not thrown myself into the gender debate it is only because I disagree with your assessment that Shetland women are cowering in their kitchens, too afraid and timid to speak for themselves. Consequently, I have not felt the need to get on my white charger and gallop behind you to their rescue.

      • kenneth groat


        Is Johan not a Hostess ?, I am not aware of her owning a business but I could be wrong. Maybe there are three classes of Hostess lower middle and upper ?. Most Hosts and Hostesses I know are what one would term as normal working people, two of my nieces are Hostesses and they don’t own a business . Without the hard work and dedication by Hostesses and hosts with there volunteer helpers there would be no UHA as we know it. I wonder what Hostesses and Hosts have to say to your comments on here ?.

      • Malcolm Henry Johnson

        I never said that every host owns a business or that they don’t work hard. My argument is that tickets for a public festival should be available to the public and not be in the personal gift of your nieces and their social clique. Nothing you said alters that. I’m not going to spend the rest of my life quibbling over the precise occupation of every single host, nor am I going to lie awake at night worrying about what they think of my comments. In any case, it doesn’t matter: The moderators of this thread are uncomfortable with the whole class argument and have decided that it is outwith the scope of their inquiry so we will have to carry on the conversation somewhere else. No prissy cups of tea for me please. Vodka will do fine.

  88. Ali Inkster

    Strange is it not that when folk say there is a difference between males and females the lefties all seem to think this means males are better. Whereas those of us not subject to fits of hysteria know that it just means different.

    • Brian Smith

      I had a feeling Ali would be an admirer of the no-change Phallic Festival.

      • Ali Inkster

        I couldn’t care one way or the other brian. Yet again you’re telling everybody what other folk think and as usual you’re wrong.
        For the record I prefer the country festivals because they are not so rigid and no one gets on their high horse when squads take the piss out of local events or personalities.

  89. Peter Hamilton

    Hi Ali, what difference is there please between fourteen year old girls and boys that means girls can’t vote for Junior Jarl and shouldn’t carry torches ? It sounds more like something is being done to them than something they couldn’t do. Have you got an argument for why it is OK to discriminate against girls ?

    P.s. Ali, you might want to reconsider the historical use of your insult of the moment “hysterical”. It tended to be used against women by er. oh never mind.

    • Ali Inkster

      Oh dear o me it seems to be endemic with you lefties to infer meaning to others words that just is not there. The lerwick festival could not go ahead without all the hard work by hundreds of women. The festival as it is is hugely popular with the whole community and it is up to all those involved as to how it should proceed, it is not for a small minority snipping from the sidelines to dictate to the majority as to how things should be. So until a majority of those putting in the effort to make the festival what it is demand change then it will carry on as it is.

      P.S. I could not care less as to the historical use of a word, if it fits and in this case it certainly does I will use it. 🙂

    • Ali Inkster

      Tell us Peter is there any other words on your banned list? what about books are they banned too in your lefty utopia?

  90. Johan Adamson

    Anyway, thanks guys for all the comments deflective or helpful. Back to the original point of my objection to the story. Did you know that one of the outcomes of the Year of Young People 2018 (a Scottish Government initiative) is actually gender equality?

    • Fraser Cluness

      You looking for boys to join the brownies, guides or close them down as they can all go to the cubs and scoutds already? Men in the SWRI and Womans’ Aid to help male domestic abuse victims too?

  91. Haydn Gear

    Sounds promising Johan.Hopefully positive results will soon be on the cards. That of course is assuming actions follow words. It’s all too easy to think that giving the matter an airing is all that needs to be done.

  92. Ali Inkster

    Here’s a thought maybe Peter Brian etc if they are so concerned should get involved put in the effort and hard work and shape the future of the festival from the inside. If they are not willing to put in the effort then maybe they should not be so critical of those that do I await the announcement of their involvement with little hope of it coming to pass

  93. Peter Hamilton

    Sorry Ali, are you saying there is a difference between girls and boys that means you support the ban on girls or not? Great attempts at deflection here, but you introduced the “difference” notion and haven’t yet explained what the difference is, why it is significant or indeed answered the question “why is it OK to discriminate against girls?”.

    It is not OK by me that girls are excluded so I won’t try to fix this from within thanks, but will you answer my question: “Why is it OK to discriminate against girls?”. Alternatively will you just act as an apologist by doing anything to avoid answering this question?

    It is a straight forwards question Ali. Why is it OK to discriminate against girls by not allowing them an equal role in Junior UHA? That is either OK by you or it isn’t. Currently it looks like it is. You are in this discussion. What is your opinion? Can you justify it?

    Is it OK by you or not? Why?

    Go on Ali, you love to have a go. Have a go. What is so different from girls than boys that they can’t vote and carry torches. Just try.

  94. Ali Inkster

    Yet again you put forward what you claim is my position then proceed to argue against it. And yet again you show your willingness to project your ideals on others but are not prepared to put in the work and effort to accomplish your desired outcome but expect others to do it for you. There is a saying those that can, do. And those that can’t, preach.

  95. Johan Adamson

    The question is tho, who got it wrong – putting a boys only group in The Year of Young People 2018, which is meant to promote gender equality – the organisation of the events or the JUHA?

  96. Peter Hamilton

    So Ali, you’d like for girls to be allowed to join Junior UHA then? You don’t think it is OK to discriminate against them? The committee will shortly be considering what to do with this. Would it hurt you to state your opinion? Nearly there Ali.

    • Ali Inkster

      What part of it is none of my business or yours for that matter as to how the Lerwick Up Helly Aa conducts their business. And I will reiterate for you just so there can be no mistake. You want change but are not willing to put in the effort to bring about that change, so why should I bother explaining myself to you?

  97. Johan Adamson

    And who thought to publicise it? We would have been none the wiser if they had said nothing.

  98. John Tulloch


    I’ve had nothing to do with Up Helly-Aa(UHA) for over 40 years and I strongly support equality of opportunity for all UK citizens. However, I must protest against your unfair projection of negative attributes on to Up Helly-Aa (UHA) organisers.

    You and your “born yet again”, so-called-Labour ally Peter Hamilton have attempted to make social pariahs of the men who run UHA.

    Recall however, UHA is a colossal feat of voluntary organisation, started by and organised by men for well over 100 years. Now you want to apply “gender equality” to capture an equal right to participate, including becoming Guizer Jarl. Ok.

    All we hear about is women being disallowed to take part in the big fun night. What about the other 364 days? Will they participate on those days, too?

    It isn’t just carousing on UHA night. Will 50 percent of “galley boys”, “torch boys”, safety marshalls, etc., be replaced by women?

    Guizer jarls work on the committee for c.15 yers and (literally) spend a fortune. Do you want 50 percent of jarls to be women? Then they must do the work and fork out the cash.

    That’s nearer the “whole truth” than your version, don’t you agree?

    • Johan Adamson

      No one wants to make social pariahs of anyone. We want to join them, on the same terms. Letting women join in will certainly mean more manpower (yes), more money and more volunteers. No one is taking away from the supreme effort. Let us join in on all fronts – and Im expecting men to man the tea pots too (as they do). This way the event will be on a world stage with no detractors. Would that not be good?

      • John Tulloch

        “Sexism”, “nepotism” and allusions to “golliwogs”? You say you don’t want to make them “social pariahs” but you and Peter have had a good go at doing so.

        Please recall that without the unstinting efforts of all those people over the last hundred-odd years, there would be no Up Helly-Aa for you to carp about.

      • Johan Adamson

        I apologised for the nepotism comment if it was not true. Also the golliwog comment was not directed at the organisers of UHA, it was an example of bad press from innocuous events (as explained several times). You dont think this thread includes insults the other way – along the style of ignorant girl go away? I have been accused of thinking that I thought all guisers were blacking up – which I didnt say, I have had words put in for things I did not say – like you bringing Labour into it. When I am writing for someone else I will say so. I think Ive shown a lot of patience.

        We are eternally grateful for the unstinting efforts of the last 100 years and as said a million times it would be a positive step to be inclusive. Magnanimous even.

      • John Tulloch

        Johan, you are an office bearer of Shetland Labout Party and cannot escape from your public statements being associated with the Party. Especially, if you fail to make clear that you are expressing a purely personal view.

        So it was a perfectly reasonable clarification to ask for. You replied:

        “I am speaking here on my own right but yes, they do agree”. Really?

        I put it to you that they do not agree, at least, not strongly enough to come out with it.

        In particular, it’s clear that overturning the current UHA regime is not Shetland Labour Party policy. Otherwise, it would surely have been appropriate for them to have issued a statement expressing support for your campaign.

        So when Peter Hamilton criticises Tavish Scott for not clarifying his position, he is also, by implication, criticising Shetland Labour Party as they have not made their position clear, either.

      • John Tulloch

        Peter Hamilton wants to bring Jo Swinson up to clarify the LibDems’ position. How about bringing up RIchard Leonard, too – to clarify Shetland Labour Party’s position?

      • Brian Smith

        This is hardly a logical argument. Shetland Labour Party doesn’t make statements about any issue.

    • Johan Adamson

      Tell me where I have unfairly projected negative attributes?

    • Sheila Tulloch

      I think your version o da ‘whole truth’ is closer tae a fairy story John. I wid expect da only squad needin 364 days tae prepare for Up Helly Aa is da Jarl squad, wi da obvious detail dat goes in tae dir suits.
      When you start wi your tall stories you lose credibility. You are suggestin dir wid be 50/50 men & women in da procession, when we ken da numbers ir already fit ta burst. An for a future Jarl tae join da committee he will probably have ‘served his time’ in a squad for aboot 30 years an mebbe been a torch boy/galley boy or both? So a wife joinin da committee is never goin ta happen in my lifetime!

  99. Johan Adamson

    Tavish on the radio (R Shetland Public Platform 15 Feb) says there is no groundswell for change to UHA – how does he know? He enjoys it so much he doesnt want change – why can he not see that women too want to feel his passion? Is he not a leader of this community and should he not promote equality?

    • John Tulloch

      Just as “one swallow doesn’t make a summer”, even Johan Adamson and Peter Hamilton don’t make a “groundswell”. 🙂

      • Graham Fleming

        Wir Shetlands position on the debate? or do they accept Westminsters all knowing dictat –
        equality favours the few.

    • Fraser Cluness

      The usual moaning every January/February wont make any difference for the boys running UHA, its their thing and nothing will change, anyone moaning to the press will make no difference, so next year it will be the same. Save your breath as no one inside UHA is listening to you. Knowing those involved they would rather stop all together first and you can do it yourself. Which you could do now if your that bothered about it

      • Johan Adamson

        Ok – byde in the past, but its a shame this will come up every year and detract from a really world class fire festival. Women were vikings too and they have the ability and money to do it too. Why should the women of Lerwick have to go to the country to guise in another UHA?

      • Fraser Cluness

        Don’t think those that run UHA care, they will rather stop than change it to suit a few Moaning Minnie’s in the paper every year. We will expect you and others moaning next January and again it will make no difference. You might think its the past but for the Lerwick UHA its the present and it will be the future as it is. Why not set up your own one? I will never take part in it but support those who want it and do it so well that people come from all over the world to see it.

      • Wayne Conroy

        Fraser… I find it sad you believe starting own UHA is the answer instead of trying to make changes to existing festival so it is more inclusive.

        Dont you realise its attitudes like yours that are the issue here! Calling the likes of Johan “moaning minnies” when they speak out against the sexist behaviour of the existing festival? Im the sort of person that says it the way it is… The existing UHA is nothing but a boys club with a stupid “no girls” sign on the door. As seen above many put down all who oppose their way of thinking and accuse them of being outsiders or not understanding the “way things are here”.

        The UHA committee says they are a private club… for a private club they seem to use a lot of public buildings/resources imo… police/public venues/blocks public streets etc. Did they not even get council money to help with st sunniva st??? (maybe someone in the know can confirm if im right on that?)

        I love most things about UHA… I truly wouldnt like to see it destroyed! Unfortunately if the UHA committee refuse to move with times I ultimately see it as UHA’s downfall.

      • Erik Moncrieff

        It’s not a matter of the Committee “saying” they are a Private Association, they are a Private Association. This is absolutely the case, an objective fact. You may prefer the situation to be different, but refusing to accept reality helps nobody.

        I’ve opinions on the various aspects of UHA which are reasonably well known, but everything I have posted here has focused on the clarification of factual errors. Until the core facts are taken on board, it is pointless to proceed to the discussion of subjective opinions.

        To clarify the allegation of public money subsidising UHA, I reiterate this is not so. The opposite is actually the case. All costs incurred by the SIC are recovered. Moreover, as the SIC hires out many of the halls, overall they are in profit. This has been publically confirmed by the SIC.

        With respect to the matter of the galley shed, that is another misunderstanding. When the building was being upgraded in the 80s, the SIC made suggestions relating to the enhancement of the summer UHA exhibition. These were accepted and arrangements reached so they could be incorporated into the project. The Committee has been extremely astute in keeping the festival independently funded.

      • Wayne Conroy

        Thanks for your reply Erik. In regards to the UHA building could you please explain what you mean by “the SIC made suggestions relating to the enhancement of the summer UHA exhibition. These were accepted and arrangements reached so they could be incorporated into the project.” I cant help but feel by the way this was worded that the council did indeed provide money/assistance for/with the building.

        Could you also please clarify the situation with the police. Do you pay for them to spend the day blocking roads and helping to police UHA instead of getting on with the job they are paid by the public to do?

        I feel it only fair I should point out that I realise money taken in by Shetland as a whole would far exceed any spent for those not involved in UHA as well as those that are.

        Unfortunately as things stand nothing will change the fact that during UHA women are left behind the scenes working to provide the food and staff the halls while the male guizers get to gallivant from hall to hall having a good time! These women of course choose to do this but I feel they are given no other option if they want to have any involvement in UHA. Until this is addressed I will always be a firm believer that UHA is indeed sexist and unfair.

      • Erik Moncrieff

        The essence of the arrangement was that the council were keen to have a much better summer exhibition. At that time the facilities were decidedly primitive, and opening hours brief. Funding was provided to enable this to happen.

        Arrangements with the Police vary each year depending on their local staffing situation. The general case is that the remit of the Police and the other emergency services covers assisting with the holding of events like Up Helly Aa. Although you do not appear to be familiar with it, you will find this is a common and well understood principle, and identical for all such events.

        Whenever the Police indicate that due to staffing issues it is necessary to bring additional officers north, these extra costs are covered by the Committee.

      • Wayne Conroy

        So funding was provided by the council towards the galley shed and the police are paid for by the public. Thanks for clearing that up Erik.

  100. Peter Hamilton

    Is there a groundswell of support for discriminating against girls?

  101. Johan Adamson

    Im trying to redirect this thread back to its original point:

    Who got it wrong – putting a boys only group in The Year of Young People 2018, which is meant to promote gender equality – the organiser of the events or the JUHA?

    And who thought to publicise it? We would have been none the wiser if they had said nothing

    • John Tulloch

      No word from Robina yet? I was hoping she might give us a reference on Peter Hamilton’s credibility as a tub-thumper for “gender equality”?

    • Erik Moncrieff

      Whoever had the wish to highlight the junior members of the Jarl’s squad, it is highly unlikely to have been the Junior Up Helly Aa organisers, as there was no involvement by them in the Hogmanay event whatsoever.

      The report mentions the “junior Jarl’s Squad members.” These are the junior members of the Jarl’s Squad, not members of the Junior Jarl’s Squad. There is a difference.

      • Johan Adamson

        But still boys only, at an event to promote gender equality

      • Johan Adamson

        Does this mean it was you Erik?

      • Erik Moncrieff

        Of course not, why would I even remotely care? As I have already stated, we do not proactively promote UHA. No press releases, no adverts, no hype. All that stuff is generated by other bodies who want to be associated with what they increasingly feel is an interesting and popular event. What we do, we do for fun, not for fame or the furtherance of any social agenda.

      • Johan Adamson

        Yes but some one must have applied for the youngsters to join the Year of The Young Person 2018? The press could not write that they were in it if they had not been put into it?

      • Ali Inkster

        Why would some one have to apply? maybe they were invited.

  102. Haydn Gear

    Peter , Do you mean —. Is there a groundswell of support for NOT discriminating against girls ?

  103. Peter Hamilton

    Such a bizarre argument from Tavish really. There wasn’t a groundswell of support for Votes for Women amongst men. Didn’t make them right.

    So Tavish, like Ali and Fraser wouldn’t give a personal opinion? There is leadership for you. I wonder if he favours discriminating against girls or if he will only speak against it if there is a groundswell of opinion.

    • Rosa Steppanova

      I’m disappointed by Peter Hamilton’s harsh treatment of Tavish. The poor man probably not only finds it difficult to change the habits of a life time but may also be in agony. Imagine spending all those years sitting astride a variety of fences. His bottom and other parts of his anatomy I shan’t mention in a family paper must be pretty sore and squashed by now. Don’t you think he deserves a modicum of compassion Peter?

  104. Peter Hamilton

    In the early 1990s Shetland was still pretty homophobic. There were homophobic assaults.

    By then Jim Wallace MP had built up a proud parliamentary voting record on gay rights, but you wouldn’t have known it from anything he had said locally or that was reported in the local media.

    Had he spoken up others would have too. Shetland could have become less homophobic more quickly. Fewer folk would have been beaten up and not so many would have felt the need to leave and build their lives elsewhere. Wallace had a very safe seat, nothing to lose and was paid to represent people who were suffering genuine harm as a result of deeply entrenched unchecked social attitudes.

    I can’t quite bring myself to believe Tavish Scott doesn’t see a problem with the discrimination against girls.

    Maybe the Lib Dem deputy leader Jo Swinson MP should be invited up for the next UHA. As she said, gender inequality is “such an ingrained deep cultural issue that we need a call to arms because we need people in their everyday lives to take action too”. Allowing discrimination against girls to go unchallenged when asked for comment is beyond illiberal. Its irresponsible.

  105. Allen Fraser

    This fiery topic is generating more heat than light; overheated arguments flaring up between correspondents carrying a torch for girls’ participation and those who think girls can’t be torch bearers.
    Gie it a rest (I’ve run oot a’ puns).

  106. ian tinkler

    ! am perhaps the least politically correct person on Earth, but what are the hairy macho morons so frightened of. Lasses with better-looking legs stealing their thunder (Thor would turn in his grave). For God sake, take courage macho hairys, are you really men or mice?

  107. Ali Inkster

    Leaders lead where others want to follow Peter. You on the other hand are trying to force everyone down a road not many seem to want to travel. Indeed it is a road you have stated you have no intention of ever travelling yourself. Very much a case of do as I say not as I do.

  108. Peter Hamilton

    Well folks, it turns out Tavish Scott is a feminist, when he is in Edinburgh at least!

    Just last month he was eloquently pressing the First Minister to do more to get men into the Early Education and Childcare sector, telling Nicola Sturgeon, a more “diverse” workforce was needed. He was also busy saying there needed to be “a consistent drive to encourage girls and young women into engineering”. Isn’t that marvellous?

    So it looks like Tavish will understand how the changes he expects others to deliver require challenging gender role norms, aka normative assumptions, which restrict what people think girls and boys can be allowed to do, though he consistently refers to boys first for some reason.

    Still, at least he is trying to be seen to say the right thing whilst he is down the road, although maybe it is just to curry favour with the female parliamentarians. Would you believe it though, the Scottish Liberal Democrats, who have no female MSPs, have changed their rules to make sure women get in next time? Isn’t it great Scottish Liberal Democrats back changing rules to secure more equal representation? I think I might change how I vote. Bold stand!

    • Kenneth Groat

      What change again Peter, surely not let me know which party you intend to vote for so I can stay well clear of it!!!.
      But ill bet your 99.9% in with a shout of appearing in a squad next year, one way or another…..

  109. Haydn Gear

    Ian , do you suppose Sif ,goddess of fertility as well as being Thor’s wife, had him under her heel ? Sorry to disappoint you but as far as political incorrectness is concerned you are not the best contender for that title. However, you do come a close second to the infamous Mr Trump. That should bring you some consolation !!

  110. kenneth groat

    Malcolm your right about one thing the moderator certainly makes sure comments fit his way of thinking

  111. Erik Moncrieff

    “hairy macho morons”?

    Yet another less than helpful contribution.

    • Shuard Manson

      Erik, how can’t you see how macho men who wear dresses are??? :-). Its likely Transphobic or something.

  112. Johan Adamson

    John, the Labour party is a democratic party, we have not voted or asked members about this issue. Like the other parties they do not to be controversial – like the story of Jim Wallace Peter puts up above. I agree, if we were more honest, stuck our heads above the parapet more, that would be good.

    Im not actually a good feminist either. it has taken me 50 years to write all this. I coulda joined the group in the 1980s, then again in other decades. It was only when they tried to promote a boys group outside of Shetland I saw that as outrageous, and then when it affected my lasses. How come no one else noticed or acted on the sexist tannoys before now? Even the Scalloway bairns have been coming into lerwick for a few years now to S1. We all let this happen.

    And in writing all of this I have risked being shunned, long term friendships, relationships with the up in arms JUHA mams. If more spoke out and came from under their covers maybe the groundswell would be more obvious.

    • Malcolm Henry Johnson

      Johan, you do not need to apologise to anyone for taking too long to do this. You are doing it now and the only thing needed is for others to register their support. There are lots of Shetland Times readers following this thread and I would like to ask them three simple questions, if that’s O.K.

      (1) If girls could join the Junior Jarl Squad next year, would your daughter(s) like to do that and march alongside their male classmates in Lerwick and maybe Edinburgh too?

      (2) If they did take part, would you feel proud of them?

      (3) If you answered “Yes” to both questions, would you not feel even prouder if you knew you had done something to help make it possible?

      There are no women in my household so my support carries no weight. What is really needed is for parents who have girls attending school in Lerwick to say what they want for their own daughter(s). It’s your support that really counts. Peter says that you are too intimidated to speak up. I disagree. I think you are just too lazy.

      With the best will in the World, Johan can’t do this by herself and a pack of angry men arguing in the background isn’t helping so this is my last post on this subject. Anyway, I have nothing new that I can contribute to this thread without going into endless repeat mode. What Johan needs is for NEW people to register their support. It’s easy as sending a text message, so how about it?

      • Kenneth Groat

        Malcolm Henry Johnson

        You might well have a problem finding people to register there support from lerwick most of the people that have complained so far live outside lerwick, were never born in shetland and never have nor want to take part in UHA, But want to change it because they see it as sexist as no females take part ? so were waiting to see how many. And Wayne you never mentioned if you were thrown out or left your squad. You did however mention heavy drinking at the time ?.

      • Sheila Tulloch

        Malcolm, it would be splendid if girls could join any Lerwick Junior squad!
        My daughter has already been a member of one of the other Up Helly Aa Jarl squads and no, she wasn’t a princess – she had a sword & shield the same as the men. A very proud mammy day… And again when their squad took part in the Orkney Folk festival that year. When all the other events allow them in, Lerwick just gets more conspicuous for the wrong reasons….

      • Johan Adamson

        Kenneth Groat what exactly are you adding to the debate? Just making personal attacks is not advancing the UHA cause very much at all.

      • Johan Adamson

        And why Kenneth Groat when you were leaving the debate are you still writing yet you haven’t answered my question about why you are so anti change?

      • Magdalena Gibson

        hi Malcolm,
        I can answer “yes” to all three of your questions. My daughter is in S1 at AHS this year and she would love to be a Viking warrior in next year’s Junior Up Helly Aa. She always felt it was so unfair that her older brother was in Jarl Squad a few years ago, but she couldn’t be. She is more enthusiastic about UHA than any of her older brothers and has been recently learning in school about role of women in Viking society – and she is not the only one among S1 girls who are unhappy with things as they are.

      • Wayne Conroy

        Kenneth… Again you ask if I got thrown out?

        You asked the first time after I had already stated “after LEAVING squad I can assure you I know many locals that have a different view to your opinion.”

        Then you say “And Wayne you never mentioned if you were thrown out or left your squad. You did however mention heavy drinking at the time ?.”

        My response to the first time you asked… “I stopped going out after I quit drinking heavily as I got fed up with the overly drunkeness of the whole event.”

        Its a shame… Maybe if you were to take off your blinkers and start actually reading others replies instead of personally attacking people with a different view and continuing with your negative attitude towards anyone not born in Lerwick you may have noticed.

        Try twisting things around any way you want Kenneth. Nothing is going to change the facts… Womens part in LUHA consists of behind the scenes working while men gallivant from hall to hall having a good time. Their choice that may be… but its not like they have any other option to be included in UHA as things stand.

      • Karrol Scott

        I don’t have a daughter but a son at the Anderson High in S3 who struggles to understand why some of his friends are excluded from LJUHA just because they are girls. I also struggle to understand in 2018 why this is still allowed to happen. I fully support Johan in her campaign for equality in LUHA
        I know that Johan does not have a problem with support for her campaign the reasons why more people do not speak up is written for all to see on these pages

  113. Peter Hamilton

    Picking up on Ali’s thoughts on leadership: “Leaders lead where others want to follow”, I looked to see who had said something similar. Only a women I am afraid, and a non-Shetlander too. The former First Lady of the USA, Rosalynn Carter said this: “A great leader takes people where they do not necessarily want to go, but ought to be”.

    She also said: “I believe that one of the most important things to learn in life is that you can make a difference in your community no matter who you are or where you live”. What Ali’s position has in common with Rosalynn’s is that leadership has a shared aspect. I hope Johan takes some heart from this.

    Speaking out against discrimination many see as not just normal, but part of their identity, is really hard, but Johan is showing leadership and is working towards a happier and healthier community. Ultimately sexist attitudes result in the abuse of women just as homophobia results in assaults on gays and racist attitudes result on assaults too, verbal and physical. I see there are two recent Shetland court cases involving racism and homophobia. Surely it is everyone’s job to challenge discrimination?

    • Shuard Manson

      How many guisers at the Lerwick Up Helly-Aa are you suggesting are homophobic rapists Peter?

      • Ali Inkster

        You forgot the misogynists Shuard. give St Peter the credit for all the lost Shetland souls he is saving.

  114. Peter Hamilton

    John Tulloch asks for the thoughts of the Scottish Labour leader. I thought I had provided some but here is more from him, writing in the Scotsman, and a comment from Willie Rennie, Scottish LibDem leader speaking in Holyrood about the centenary of Women’s Right to Vote.

    “A century has passed since women won the right to vote. We should not let another century go by before women and men are equal in all things”. R Leonard.

    “I have a choice- a choice to make change.” W Rennie. Fellow Lib-Dem, Tavish Scott MSP, as a public servant, on the public payroll, has a choice too.

    Kezia Dugdale asked what Suffragette leaders would have made of today’s society saying :”Would they believe that women are still underpaid for the work that they do? Could they believe that, 100 years on, two women would die every week at the hands of their violent partners, that 80,000 women a year would be raped, that 400,000 women would be sexually assaulted and countless more harassed?

    This is the cost of people minding their own business. Its the cost of letting sexism stand unchallenged. It’s also a Shetland problem and needs a community response.

  115. Haydn Gear

    Never fear Johan, if friends of yours shun you for making a heartfelt plea in a wholly reasonable way, then they are not real friends. Differing opinions should be considered for their inherent worth . If they ( and you ) agree to disagree over all manner of issues then that reflects intelligence and maturity. To get in a huff and be opposed to a friend who has a different point of view indicates that important social qualities are lacking and relationships are barely skin deep. I ‘m sure you won’t overlook the fact that the young lasses of today as well as those not yet born will be the beneficiaries of your efforts along with those ( like me) who agree with your aims and objectives. WELL DONE YOU.

  116. Hazel Adamson

    I don’t have children but if I had any, girls or boys, I’d want them to be able to do anything or be anything they wanted. If I had girls I’d be proud if they were in the Junior Up Helly Aa. I’d be proud of them for wanting to celebrate their history (mythologised of course) in any way they wanted. I look at my friends who have girls and see them teaching them to be proud of who they are and what they can do. Anything other than guize in the Lerwick Up Helly Aa.

    Tradition is no argument. It’s a nonsense. I fully support Johan.

    • Sally Huband

      Well said Hazel and Johan. I have a boy and a girl at school in Aith and each year some of the children are taken to see the Lerwick UHA. This is the first time my daughter has encountered a situation in which she has seen girls prevented from doing something just because they are girls. She is UHA mad. There must also be girls in Lerwick schools that are also UHA mad.

      Children from throughout Shetland need to see girls in the Lerwick JUHA squad. It is THE fire festival, we all see the photos, even if we don’t get the chance to see the procession in person. Otherwise, year after year, we are teaching girls in Shetland that there are limits to what they can achieve.

      We need the initiative to come from the junior UHA squad committee on this, with the full support of the adult committee, both need to actively encourage girls to take part, make them feel welcome.

      Traditions need to change when they are damaging, full stop.

  117. Peter Hamilton

    Three very good questions from Malcolm Henry Johnson yesterday at 18.33. Lets hope they get a big audience.

    To paraphrase the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, we have a choice, a choice to make change.

    Everyone’s support carries weight. You never know which point will help another person to see things anew but Malcolm’s three questions are of inescapable relevance.

    It was actually Johan’s point about women feeling intimidated I was picking up earlier but I believe it to be true. People get very defensive, and aggressively so at times, when they feel something they hold dear is under attack.

    One way forwards would be to make sure the festival’s reputation doesn’t need defending by making a handful of small changes. This could be much easier than trying to defend the needless and sexist exclusion of women and girls year after year after year. It would also be better for Shetland’s reputation as an open-minded forwards and outwards looking community which in turn could help the recruitment of G.P.s and dentists and the promotion of Shetland as a good place to set up businesses, work and study – not that anyone in Lerwick should care about that of course.

    • Ali Inkster

      Peter I am surprised you decided to moved to such a homophobic sexist racist place like Shetland. I guess we are so lucky that missionaries like you are willing to come here and show us the error of our ways. Please have patience with our backward ways it will take many generations before we become the wholesome well rounded citizens of planet earth like you. But please don’t stop in your efforts.🙊🙉🙈

  118. Anne Brown

    I support Johan. I don’t have any girls but have a small boy. I would like him to grow up in a society that values both sexes equally and allows individuals choice. I would be proud to see him standing in a mixed group.

    I’m deeply saddened that this topic thread has degenerated into political mud slinging and nasty comments. There’s even the odd thinly veiled threat in there. Addressing folk in this manner is exactly why they don’t speak up.

  119. Peter Gear

    My peerie lass loves Up Helly Aa. I asked her earlier if she would like the opportunity to be in the Junior Jarl Squad and she gave an extremely emphatic yes to that! She is hard-working and enthusiastic, level-headed, and will be in S1 next year. The festival is an incredible spectacle, a credit to the many people who work so hard all year to make it happen, and she would love to be part of it.

    Personally, I think that if females are given the opportunity to participate on 100% equal footing, in the juniors and the main event, there will be imperceptible change. It will stay essentially the same, there will not be revolutionary upheaval. A handful of happy guisers joining the ranks, and these rather ugly arguments will completely go away. Definitely not a threat of any kind to what’s an absolutely brilliant and glorious spree. 🙂

  120. Haydn Gear

    Ali Inkster’s jibes directed in Peter Hamilton’s direction are so pathetic. I’d like to think they were said with tongue in cheek but my suspicion is that he really means it. Is it any wonder that there has been and there still is such a lengthy battle of words on what can be summed up as gender equality ? If only he could clamber off his high horse and devote his undoubted abilities to help in what is a serious and civilised cause. What is it they say about sarcasm ??? Certainly not the highest form of wit. 😇

  121. kenneth groat

    Johan I have never been very good at being told what to do asked maybe, you and others want to force through change regarding females taking part in lerwick UHA .

    when I receive insults I tend to reply, I have received many insults from feminists out with this online discussion since I started to comment ( I was expecting that ) directed at me on my own no problem. But i will not and i mean not accept insults shouted at me while my daughter who is disabled and is in a wheelchair is present she does not understand and is distressed when it happens. I hope your happy with what you have started.

    And this is my last comment you have my word on that.

    • Johan Adamson

      Im sorry about that Kenneth. That behaviour is unacceptable.

    • Hazel Adamson

      I can understand you not wanting to be insulted publicly, especially while your daughter is present. However, I’m disappointed that in a comment above you referred to someone drinking heavily. I think that’s not necessary. You have no idea where that person was in their life. We can discuss things without flinging jibes surely.

    • Johan Adamson

      And I didn’t start this, the discrimination in UHA did.

  122. Debra Nicolson

    I am in full agreement with Johan. I remember not so fondly the Working Man’s Club I attended many years ago and was horrified that women were not allowed to play snooker. Another similar place I went to women had a small separate part of the bar to use and all around the men’s only bar area, there was a white line that women were forbidden to cross. I don’t see much difference here with LUHA. I’m completely shocked that women are not ‘allowed’ let alone encouraged to join in such a celebrated event, that, whether the committee admits it or not, is seen as representative of the whole of Shetland.

    • Erik Moncrieff

      I wholeheartedly agree with you that the club incidents you relate are heinous, but completely disagree that these are no different to the Lerwick Up Helly Aa. Those situations are perfect examples of the kind of behaviour which society has decided to proscribe, whereas UHA differentiates according to the law

      As I explained in an earlier comment (21st Jan) the spirit of the Equality Act is that restriction must be all or nothing. Male golf, female golf, or gender neutral mixed golf, but never, ever mixed golf where either gender has enhanced rights.

      • Brian Smith

        It might be the letter, Erik, enforcible by powerful parties, but definitely not the spirit.

      • Johan Adamson

        Just let women participate with equal rights?

        How many other male only Private Associations are left in the UK?

      • Ali Inkster

        Which just proves the incompetence of those that wrote the law Brian.

      • Fraser Cluness

        Wonder how many female only groups are they? I can think of quite a few

      • Johan Adamson

        Fraser I don’t know of any female groups that prohibit men from joining but in any case what has that got to do with the fact that it looks like Shetland is the only place which has a problem moving with the times?

      • Fraser Cluness

        srwi, brownies, guides, woman’s aid, eastern star, there’s a start and all in Shetland on every week too all year around. you can have it both ways

      • Michael Garriock

        Johan Adamson,

        I’m curious, lets suppose for the moment you got your wish, and UHA was opened up to all genders to participate in any role they felt like. Do you believe that anyone would see any difference in the 2019 procession, or even the 2029 one for that matter?

        I’m talking about the senior UHA only here, as the junior one, is, as we’ve seen, a wholly different matter, where (s)he who signs the cheques/shouts loudest, calls the shots.

        I would tend to argue, that if you believe a change would be noticable in a year, or even 10 years, is to not understand the mechanics of how the event works.

        If those already ‘in’ it, don’t want to change it, they won’t change it, and nobody can force any change upon them they don’t want. Anybody could very easily stop UHA from happening in its present form, certainly, but ensuring its continuation as something different than what it is right now, without first having the support of the majority those currently ‘in’ it, is impossible.

      • Johan Adamson

        No, any change wont happen overnight, so it is up to those in power to do the right thing now. Those who think admitting women spells disaster are wrong, it can only enhance the festival in the future.

      • Michael Garriock

        Who are ‘those in power’ though? Numerous people have some power, but nobody has absolute power to dictate the structure of UHA.

        The Council could ban them from public streets and buildings unless certain terms were met, but the event could move to private property instead of complying. The Committee could amend rules, but without the support of at least a majority of already participating guisers, they’d be ignored and have no means of enforcing changes. No other individual or group holds enough power to makes changes on their own.

        Personally, I couldn’t care less whether UHA exists or not, or who does or doesn’t take part in whatever role. The point I’m trying to make though is, unless you have the support of a majority of existing guisers, the only changes that will occur is those they want, not what anyone wants to impose upon them. Its those individuals you need to appeal to and win over if you want to effect change, not the rest of the population, who largely, I think it would be fair to say, aren’t too bothered about UHA one way or another, and are content to let it be whatever it is.

    • Ali Inkster

      Let us not forget the Notre Dam high school in Glasgow, it refuses to admit boys and tonight they cited “tradition” as a good enough reason to carry on with this policy. And unlike LUHA we all pay for the school

  123. David Spence

    It is interesting to note that in the Faroe Islands they have a fire festival very similar to Up Helly Aa, to celebrate the New Year, which is called ‘ Gott nýggjár ‘.

    This fire festival incorporates the burning of a boat, but more importantly, both men and women carry torches before the torches are thrown into the boat.

    Here is the link : https://www.facebook.com/VisitFaroeIslands/posts/1074895365952345

    In just a few hours the show is on. Hundreds of torch carriers will gather in the Faroese village of Vágur in Suðuroy, and walk in procession from the center of town to the Triangle (Trýkanturin) where an old wooden boat is waiting to be set on fire.

    The torch carriers line up around the boat and throw the torches on the old boat after singing ceremonial Faroese songs.

    The event also features a lot of fireworks and “if there is one place in the world that will give you a memory for life, it’s the New Year’s celebration in Vágur”, said a guest to CNN while attending this unique Faroese way of bringing the New Year a warm welcome.

    With this Faroese New Years video we wish you all Happy New year, or as we say in Faroese:

    Gótt Nýggjár

  124. Peter Hamilton

    Does anyone know who Janet Courtney was, before she is forgotten? I know about the Twageos Widow’s Homes, and the hostel, but who was she as a person, where did she get her money and why did she use it to help other women?

    I’ve tried to look this up on-line. The dearth of information’s puzzling, unless we have lived through deeply misogynistic times and have a history which reduces marginalises and negates the role of women. Maybe it is time for different rememberings and other stories to be told?

    The late Andy Irvine of Asta, as Scalloway’s councilor, once spoke at a public meeting that was up-in-arms that what is now Blydoit would be used for the oil industry. Things would change. Unken folk would arrive to the village in droves.

    “Whit aboot da wimmin?” Andy was asked anxiously amidst the uproar.

    “I remember during the war,,,” he apparently answered, slowly as ever, “a great deal of unken men came to Scallowa,,, and da wimmin had a whale o’ a time!” Much laughter followed.

    Maybe the questioner’s anxiety explains part of the anti-change psyche. Must all participating women be confined to a hall? For whose benefit, historically you understand.

  125. David Spence

    This may help a little, Peter ?

    James Shearer of Dunfermline, 1939. 3-storey over partially-exposed basement, 9-bay asymmetrical flat-roofed International Modern hostel comprising stair tower breaking eaves at centre with 5-bay elevation partially overlapping at left, and 3-bay elevation recessed at right. Roughcast walls over stugged squared and snecked sandstone base, with concrete dressings, all painted. Cill and lintel courses at basement; eaves course. Projecting cills at windows.

    This building was a gift of the Carnegie United Kingdom Trustees. It was immediately requisitioned for military needs, delaying its opening for the accommodation of country boy students until October 1947. The overlapping planes and Art Deco influenced tower are strong architectural features of the period, their impact somewhat lost due to the view from the E being obscured by recent additions to the High School complex. Despite the contrasting styles, this building makes an impressive companion to the High School and Bruce Hostel when viewed from the sea.

  126. Peter Hamilton

    Thanks David. I was forgetting the Art Deco aspect. It is also visible in the elegant Fraser Park gates in Scalloway.

    I wonder if there is any evidence of that architecture being criticised back in the day for the evidently non-Shetland artistic influence? Did anyone ever criticise Peerie Willie’s music as having taken on board too much from non-Shetlanders? Ali’s latest contribution somehow set me wondering.

    OK, it seems Janet Courtney was a trustee of the Carnegie Trust with little connection to Shetland. According to Wikipedia she was also a “scholar, writer, and feminist”. There was me thinking only men could be sages…

    So the name of the buildings would have maybe been an honour to her by her fellow trustees. What was that? Wir Shetland buildings honouring feminists fae sooth! Plainly “extreme loony lefty” nonsense wasn’t too radical for wir 1930s Shetland…

    i’m remembering the impressive mural above the canteen in the old AHS of local people at different times across Shetland’s history. Remarkably enough there wasn’t a single women amongst them. Shetland’s history sometimes looks like it is being dangerously distorted by a festival that also honours a time that never was.

  127. Peter Hamilton

    I’ve just looked at Alistair Carmichael’s equalities record. Impressive.

    In government he worked with Jo Swinson MP (mentioned above) to commission a report into women in the economy.

    True to his support for Amnesty International he has raised the issue of LGBT rights – specifically transgender awareness week and remembrance day – and has spoken up for same sex couples entering civil partnerships saying “I do not believe that discrimination is something that is in any way Christian”.

    I am in absolutely no doubt that were Alastair asked for comment about the ongoing discrimination against girls in Junior UHA he would condemn clearly and categorically it without missing a heartbeat.

  128. Peter Hamilton

    Erik, my apologies for previously misspelling your name. I am heartened the spirit of your 21st February comment. It means you understand the feelings of those concerned by the way things are.

    Your 21st January comment on the 2010 Equalities Act is intriguing. You say one thing, Shelia another. Has impartial legal advice been received? Does anyone see a way forwards?

    Is there anything about the law and the UHA Committee’s regulations that prohibit Junior UHA, as a separately managed association which is dependent upon the support of the UHA Committee (unless I am wrong about that), from including girls on an equal footing?

    Thanks for thinking about it – the last question in particular.

  129. David Spence

    Peter, this information is from Wikipedia, so it may not be 100% accurate.

    Janet Elizabeth Courtney (born Barton-on-Humber 27 November 1865; died London 24 September 1954) was a scholar, writer and feminist.

    She was a daughter of the Revd George Hogarth and Jane Elizabeth Uppleby; sister of the archaeologist David George Hogarth. She was educated at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, 1885-1888 and was awarded a first class degree in Philosophy.

    She first had a part-time teaching post at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, then worked as a clerk for the Royal Commission on Labour, 1892–94; was the first superintendent of women clerks of the Bank of England, 1894-1906; Librarian of The Times Book Club, 1906-1910; and on the editorial staff of the Encyclopædia Britannica 1906-1914 and 1920-22. She was joint-editor for indexing of the 11th and 12th editions and contributed 700 of the shorter biographies for the former and signed articles on women to the latter.

    In 1911 she married William Leonard Courtney, editor of the Fortnightly Review and chief dramatic critic and literary editor of the Daily Telegraph.

    She was adviser on staff welfare to the Ministry of Munitions 1916-1917 and in the latter year was awarded an OBE. She was also a JP. She was a Board member of the Executive Committee of the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust from 1913. Following the death of her husband in 1928 she became acting editor of the Fortnightly Review from November 1928 to June 1929.

    She was the author of a number of books of aspects of feminism as well as several volumes of reminiscences that contain valuable insights into her working life at the Bank of England, The Times and the Encyclopædia Britannica.

    I hope this helps?

  130. Peter Hamilton

    Thanks again David. It seems Janet made quite a strong national contribution and deserves the recognition.

    Her books included:

    The Modern French Drama.
    The Woman’s Library 1903 In Vol. 1. “Education and professions: The higher education of women”
    Pillars of Empire
    Freethinkers of the nineteenth
    The making of an editor
    Recollected in Tranquility
    An Oxford Portrait Gallery
    Countrywomen in Council
    The Adventurous Thirties
    The Women of my Time
    Simple Annals

    The naming of a building in someone’s honour is meant to be a lasting tribute.

    I am wondering now if it is right to take the honour away from Janet, and who determined it should be removed and on what basis. There is obviously more to her that we should know. It may be the honour is removed because she never came to Shetland (and maybe she did) or wasn’t a Shetlander (which seems clear), thought would that be fair? Glasgow has a Nelson Mandela Square and hopefully will have for many years to come.

    Keeping the hostel name unchanged would in way also be a tribute to “Free Thinkers of the Nineteenth Century”. Presumably the library has that and all her other works in stock.

    • David Spence

      It is interesting to note that the original Anderson High School, founded in 1862, was named after Arthur Anderson (1792 – 1868) a famous Shetland Business man who also founded the company P & O (Peninsular and Orient) Shipping company (Ferries) in 1837.

      However, I am surprised that the new school is still named Anderson High School, despite the said person having nothing to do with this building. It does beg the question ‘ Why is this building still named Anderson High School, when Arthur Anderson has no baring on it ? ‘.

      It is a bone of contention, locally, but may be as time progresses, it may be renamed?

      There is no doubt Arthur Anderson’s contribution to Lerwick and Shetland, should be recognised, and it is through the name of the original school as well as Widows Homes, but one should also, I think, move with the times, and another Shetlander given the accolade for the new school?

      I know we have digressed a little from the original subject, but it is good how a debate can travel from one subject to another. lol

  131. Peter Hamilton

    Wow, just noticed these responses from Shuard and Ali or Ali-who-has-yet-to-comment-on-whether-discriminating-against-girls-is -OK as I think of him.

    “How many guisers at the Lerwick Up Helly-Aa are you suggesting are homophobic rapists Peter?” Shuard.

    Erm, where to start with this. Are you trying to say sexism isn’t problematic Shuard?

    “You forgot the misogynists Shuard. give St Peter the credit for all the lost Shetland souls he is saving.” Ali.

    Gosh, Ali, why not add sectarianism and xenophobia too?

    Your coordinated contributions do this debate a huge service.

    One of the things in the mind of some folk who would like to see change is that the festival as stands breeds reactionary attitudes. I’d love for UHA to be freed from that association, but what are folk to think when those who defend the Status-Quo ape attitudes that hark back to before the formation of the band.

    My apologies are extended to any free-thinking simians who may have been offended by these comments.

    p.s. As a European, born in Belgium, with a British passport, schooled in Edinburgh and married in Shetland, I am not a practising Catholic. I generally include “Shetlander” as one of my identities although it isn’t always easy.

    • Shuard Manson

      Du does better desel. Du should come and hiv a spik.I bow down tae dy judgement

      • Shuard Manson

        Peter, how many Shetland Up Helly-Aas Fire Festivals has du been involved in?

    • Shuard Manson

      And recently it seems if you support the Labour party you are an anti-semite. I really dinna think you are.

  132. Peter Hamilton

    So how old is Faroe’s fire festival Gott nýggjár then David, and is the participation of women new I wonder?

  133. Peter Hamilton

    Objecting to men not being allowed to join the brownies Fraser? Seriously?

    That takes the biscuit!

    Wanting your cupcake and to eat it here perhaps… 🙂

    • Ali Inkster

      He wasn’t objecting Peter just pointing out a fact.

  134. Johan Adamson

    I think its a great pity more folk did not answer Malcolm Henry Johnsons questions, and thanks to those that did. I hope it’s not another 30 years until someone else thinks – I should’ve answered – all those daughters and grand daughters missing out. My guess would be that more than half of Lerwick don’t care (but they should care as UHA is top of the list in promoting Shetland and we should care what form that festival takes that is so heavily promoted). If the committee decided to admit women, I would not expect any outcry, I think it would be accepted – think of it that way around.

    The committee have all the power here, it is up to them whether they wield it responsibly or not. Achieving gender equality requires the engagement of women and men, girls and boys. It is everyone’s responsibility (Ban Ki-moon).

    Im still bemused that men guising, dressing up as vikings, parading the streets, burning a boat and creating a public holiday is a private activity (I got that twice that they dont care what the rest of us think) and they dont care about the publicity.

    An FOI to the SIC to find out exactly what they get from UHA (or not) might make quite an interesting read.

    • Erik Moncrieff

      Freedom of information request?

      Get it here:


      As you will see, significantly more income than spend.

      You consider being called “ignorant” an insult, but ignorance of easily obtained information is a recurrent theme throughout this so-called debate. Whenever I decide to add my voice to a discussion I first research the matter as fully as possible. I believe this is morally incumbent on myself, especially when I am speaking for other people. I truly wish others followed this principle.

      The statement that you are unaware of any female only organisations is particularly incredible. A consequence of this is that you must clearly have no knowledge whatsoever as to why so many of these valuable organisations are organised in such a way.

      • Johan Adamson

        Erik how would I have known about a raingeeseandselkies blogspot?

      • Johan Adamson

        It takes all kinds Erik

    • Steven Jarmson

      It’s not up to the committee.
      There is actually a voting system within UHA.
      I think that you’re right, over half of Lerwick probably dont care, and that includes the women!
      This is just the usual once a year PC brigade trying to bully everyone to think how they think.
      The fact no one cares is the point. That would imply either satisfaction with the current situation or complete not fussed-ness.
      Either way, half a dozen moaners does make a majority.
      What if there was a vote to allow women in UHA and the vote was no, what then?
      A sexist rant claiming men are sexist and backward, trying another bullying tactic.
      There is no winning this discussion by either side.
      Allowing women in will change UHA, and it may not be for the better?
      What if it ruins the event? Will the PC nutters shut up and let things change back? Nope. They’d dig their heals, because that’s the PC ethos, change at ANY cost, who cares who gets hurt they along the way?
      But to get back to the point.
      I think the lack of responses says it all, no one cares.

      • Wayne Conroy

        Steven…Like many above you seem to insist on using labels of “pc brigade, bully, moaners” on the people I would suggest are actually standing up against a form of bullying. One could even go as far as suggest that your reply was a form of bullying to get people to stop posting about this matter by calling them the likes of bullys and pc nutters and put them down saying their cause was pointless etc.

        People will all have their own reasons for wanting change… I myself think women would improve the festival, Johan wants her little girls to be included in something they want to do, etc. Johan obviously does care about UHA, is a hostess in a hall and has at no point bullied anyone in the course of the above. Yet you would brand her “pc/bully/moaner” for expressing her point of view?

        I think there may be a couple of people here that yes, are indeed just pc and have little care for whatever the outcome but feel its unfair of you to label all that speaks out during this discussion as such.

        You are justing showing another good example of those that oppose any change.

      • Johan Adamson

        You aren’t getting this. It’s not about you or me its about the future and the bairns.

    • Karrol Scott

      I did answer Malcolms question but my comment was not included Johan, what I said was that I fully support you and know many others that do too. I also said that although I dont have a daughter I do Have a son who attends AHS and struggles to understand why some of his friends (who are girls) are not allowed to take part.
      It is particularly poignant this year with it being designated as Year of the Young Person with a banner flying outside Islesburgh to that effect my son and his friends chose not to take part this year and indeed a number of children choose not to attend school on this day.
      What saddens me even more is that rather than include girls the UHA committee choose to remove it from the school.

      • Johan Adamson

        Thanks Karrol. My bairns did come home from school and say no one was going to school on Tuesday – but I thought they were being pro UHA and wanting to attend the events – how wrong can you be.

        I think it is pretty serious and the Education Department should take this seriously if bairns are unable to attend school because of the discrimination in the junior and senior UHAs. Now that the JUHA has been removed from the AHS, the school are not even going to have an assembly to discuss it. But the bairns deserve more than that – its been taken away and they are not even allowed a frank discussion of the issues which they are well capable of understanding. Why don’t we have lasses in the JUHA and bring it back into the school?

  135. Ali Inkster

    Having enjoyed the Winter Olympics over the last two weeks I am left wondering why Johan Peter etc have been silent about the blatant sexism where women are forced to compete separately from the men. How much more inclusive it would be if all competitors were treated the same and qualified on their sporting prowess and not what was between their legs. Sure we would only have a week of competition but oh how inclusive it would be. 🙂

  136. Peter Hamilton

    What is curious, David, is that the new school kept the original male name and the new hostel didn’t keep the original female name. Why? It seems there are few enough buildings named after women. Who took this decision to axe Janet? The SIC’s all-male policies and resources committee?

    Regarding Arthur Anderson, it always surprised me how little was made of his advice to “do weel and persevere” in my years at the school. I always read it as a plea to do good for others e.g. contribute to the common weel – the common good, rather than as advice just look out for your own selfish interest. Both Janet and Arthur seemed to have valued that.

    • Ali Inkster

      “Regarding Arthur Anderson, it always surprised me how little was made of his advice to “do weel and persevere” in my years at the school. I always read it as a plea to do good for others e.g. contribute to the common weel – the common good, rather than as advice just look out for your own selfish interest.”

      And yet Shetland always far outstrips your native scotland when donations to good causes are sought. Maybe a closer look without the blinkers is needed.

  137. Peter Hamilton

    Count the contributors on this thread. To date those favouring change outnumber those defending discrimination against girls in the Junior UHA by 3:1. Of the seven defending discrimination none have explained why it is ok. Half a dozen folk haven’t come off the fence.

    Steven has just show us how hard it is to defend all this without getting offensive. His 21 “PC nutters” (not 6) are only talking about a Partial Change. Noone is suggesting that that the guisers should hop backwards away from the Galley with unlit torches whilst singing peace songs 🙂 Enforcing that, were it even possible, would kill the festival.

    Malcolm’s questions were:
    (1) If girls could join the Junior Jarl Squad next year, would your daughter(s) like to do that and march alongside their male classmates in Lerwick and maybe Edinburgh too?

    (2) If they did take part, would you feel proud of them?

    (3) If you answered “Yes” to both questions, would you not feel even prouder if you knew you had done something to help make it possible?

    A similar question comes to mind. If you had a daughter that took part in the future would you and they feel proud?

  138. Haydn Gear

    It’s a well established fact that whenever people resort to using offensive language rather than acceptable modes of rational reason it’s because they know they are on shifting sands and in desperation curse the beach. Steven Jarmson probably realises that he will eventually be swallowed up. Shades of Custer’s last stand are staring him the face.

  139. Erik Moncrieff

    Ms Adamson suggests a Freedom of Information request to the SIC on their financial involvement in UHA “might make quite an interesting read.” Despite having been widely available since last March, she apparently is not aware this is old news. It is available on Ms Hubands blog posted on March 14th.

    As for being interesting, I think it certainly is, though unlikely to hearten anti-UHA campaigners. As you will see, it shows significantly more income than spend, and does not even include income from squad meeting hires, hostel full for a week, Jarl’s squad breakfast etc.

    • Johan Adamson

      Thanks have read it – http://raingeeseandselkies.blogspot.co.uk/2017/

      I actually think the other way around. The SIC make money out of a festival which includes discrimination and that is not good.

      • Ali Inkster

        Maybe they could donate the profit to the SWRI. Or would that be sexist?

  140. Brian Smith

    Erik, you’re not telling us that the Council makes the Jarl’s breakfast!

    • Erik Moncrieff

      I am indeed saying that the Jarl’s squad breakfast is made by the council. I say this because it is true. This has been the case for many, many years. Straightforward commercial transaction of course, and a tidy sum for the Islesburgh café.

      Incidentally, with respect to the Shetland Times comment submission system, I note it seems to be behaving somewhat strangely. My original comment clarifying the FOI situation submitted on the 23rd didn’t appear, which is why I resubmitted the information yesterday split into two comments. The first appeared within minutes, but the second part of the submission has not. As the original 23rd comment has now turned up, perhaps part two will also.

      I see above that Ms Scott also reported weirdness with the comment system behaviour.

  141. Peter Hamilton

    Ali accepts Arthur Anderson’s appeal to do what is best for other folk (women included?) but he also “others” me by addressing me separately as a native Scot when pointing out Shetlanders contribute generously to children in need. Is it this simple? Can’t folk be both Shetland and Scottish if they choose, or Scots born (or from other parts) and become Shetland after developing a sense of loyalty, concern for the greater good of the community and belonging ?

    Regarding the Olympics, Ali conveniently forgets that women and men, representing a shared passion (for sport), walk in procession together from their communities (countries) ahead of each Olympic Games. He also forgets there is no sporting competition involved in walking along the Hillhead as a bairn with a torch and if there was to be the lasses would likely win: as a group they are taller and more coordinated at that age hence many a sore boy’s ankle in any S2 girls versus boys hockey match.

    However Ali still does not (and maybe cannot) explain why the current JUHA discrimination against girls is OK by him.

    Gie it anither go Ali, go aan, ye ken ye want tae!

    Just try.

    • Ali Inkster

      When you explain why discrimination against men in sport is ok. A man has to run faster, jump higher, longer, hit harder…… etc to qualify for funding than a woman does. I wonder why you find this acceptable if absolute fairness not based on between legs appendages is the name of your game.
      And Shetlanders do donate more than scots, it was you that claimed we were self centred and selfish, to go with your misogynistic racists slurs. You have also failed to answer why the school in Glasgow won’t allow boys and we pay for their sexism.

  142. Peter Hamilton

    Hello Erik. Your aim for accuracy is helpful. Are you speaking for others in a specific capacity?

    Whilst I can appreciate your frustration with having to repeat information previously provided please don’t typify all pro-change contributors as “anti-UHA campaigners”. We aren’t.

    People have mixed feelings. I felt proud to be asked to join a future Jarl Squad. It is possible to find the festivals impressive overall and find aspects of one of them deeply disturbing.

    Having read through some of the links in the excellent blogspot http://raingeeseandselkies.blogspot.co.uk/2017/ I was heartened to see that you are OK with the idea of change for Junior UHA. Can you expand on your thoughts and provide some transparancy over / insight into the process that lies ahead? This may reassure.

    You may have missed it but I earlier asked:

    1. Regarding the 2010 Equalities Act, has impartial legal advice been received?
    2. Does anyone see a way forwards?
    3. Is there anything about the law and the UHA Committee’s regulations that prohibit Junior UHA, as a separately managed association dependent upon the support of the UHA Committee (unless I am wrong about that), from including girls on an equal footing?

    Thanks Erik!

    • Erik Moncrieff

      I did not miss your questions, I simply have a lot to do just now and am not inclined to provide rushed responses.

      With respect to “specific capacity” I speak on behalf of neither the Senior or Junior Committees. I am obviously an insider, but of no great importance.

      The idea that UHA could be being run without on-going access to impartial legal advice is amazing. The professional thoroughness of the UHA organisation is continually applauded by the Police and SIC, it really is very impressive.

      The Junior event relies on the support of the Senior, but as the organisational remits of the committees are fundamentally different, each have their own requirements. Operationally, they coordinate very closely, but remain independent organisations. The key aspect is smooth and consensual collaboration. Since the Junior and Senior associations are constitutionally distinct, the male only legal status of the Senior would not be affected by modification of the Junior’s eligibility criteria.

      “Does anyone see a way forwards?” Certainly, UHA 2019 is scheduled for 29/01/2019.

  143. Peter Hamilton

    Calm yourself Ali boy. I have not claimed we Shetlanders are self-centred and selfish, misogynistic or racists, only that some of us are and some are xenophobic sectarians too.

    On sport I suspect there is more money available to men and that your know fine well your argument is a pure distraction.

    Now if you have a problem that your government funds an all-girls Catholic school – which may also educate girls of other faiths, I don’t know – then you may want to take it up with your MSP. I hope you get further with him than those who would like to see him take a stand on the annual discrimination against girls in Lerwick that it appears you condone.

    One real locally divisive issue – JUHA – lies within the power of our community to fix. Whats the problem with fixing it Ali? Are you going to answer or are you going to provide another telling diversion? The latter I suspect.

    • Ali Inkster

      So you arse happy with daily discrimination in Glasgow that puts boys in the local area at a severe disadvantage compared to girls. You are happy that our tax money pays for this discrimination but you will write close to 100 letters to the times protesting a private event that costs us nothing but contributes to the local economy once a year.
      You have over the course of your many many contributions to this debate insinuated if not outright accused those folks that give up their free time to organise up helly aa of bigotry, misogyny racism and more. You claimed the AHS taught us to be selfish and blustered when it was pointed out how much more generous we are compared to your country of origin.
      Your low opinion of Shetlandetrs is only matched by your high opinion of yourself.

  144. Ali Inkster

    One more thing for you to consider peter, leaders lead dictators tell others what to do. Which one do you think you are?

  145. Johan Adamson

    It would be so much better if folk could stick to the topic and not conduct smear campaigns against others. I’m expected to know about every aspect of UHA – I never said I was an expert – I just recognise unfairness where it exists, I just want the bairns in school to continue their inclusive experience so far into S1. I’m also expected to know about any female only groups. I’ve never been a member of any of them, I don’t know why these would exist and I’m fairly sure that even Women’s Aid (mentioned by Fraser) would welcome any male who is abused too, and the SWRI takes male members. Why bring up the Eastern Star? Just weird. I can’t take on to fix them all. Where I work and who I am treasurer for is also not relevant – unless you really think da Choral should have an opinion on this.

    It would be really good to know who can fix this. I’m being told the committee is not all powerful – so that means it is down to who? What is the SIC doing about this in the Education department and at policy level? Have the JUHA committee met yet? If so, is the event to include girls?

    • Erik Moncrieff

      If you are intent on conducting a crusade against the concept of male only groups, it would be a sensible idea to become acquainted with why the concept of single gender organisations is not actually bad, and has many benefits.

      For a start I would recommend looking into the statements of Girl Guides’ supremo Julie Bentley. Her CV ticks all the boxes in terms of high profile voluntary sector jobs. Clearly a sincere and prominent feminist.

      She calls the Girl Guides the “ultimate feminist organisation,” but also stated:

      “One of the things we consistently hear from our members is that they value the fact we are girl-only. Just last week I was visiting a guide group on the Kent coast, and they were invited to tell me one thing that they wanted to stay the same in Guiding. It was unanimous – girls only, please.”

      Does that not cause you to question your absolutist attitude?

    • fraser cluness

      I think if your going to do a lot of shouting wanting into the boys club you have to make sure the girls clubs are opened too. It’s equal to all or is all your interested in is getting into uha? but not interested in try equality across the board? lets just leave the girls and boys clubs to get on the way they get on. Until next year and all of the above people will re-appear and we to more talk than actions again, year in, year out. Going on the fact this ‘blog’ is only a half dozen folk including myself, giving off white noise its not going to change a thing.
      See you next year!

  146. Haydn Gear

    I have just read that Mrs Maggie Sandison is to be the new CEO of the SIC. That should be cause for rejoicing among those who seek gender equality and fairly distributed opportunities !!

  147. Peter Hamilton

    Ali should look back to see if I said I support gender segregated schools. He is interpreting way too much into my comments, possibly because he is angry and possibly because self-righteously going on the offensive allows him to again avoid answering why discriminating against girls is ok. Possibly a bit of both. Rather than being angered by the question he could always just answer it. Maybe he is afraid to.

    Does anyone has any useful advice for people who actively want the JUHA sexist discrimination against girls to continue but don’t want to be regarded as sexists. Maybe it would be something to do with ending the, erm, oh gosh this is so hard… no it escapes me.

    Sorry for that lowly wit. There is a way forwards here and I am pretty sure is has occured to many folk who are passionate about LUHA, JUHA and Shetland. Move this ugly debate forwards by keeping JUHA elections in the AHS whilst ending the discrimination against girls. Noone has really yet said why that rationally should not happen. If there is a good reason why not surely it would have surfaced by now. I’m beginning to feel quite optimistic.