Bushy beards at the ready and a room rammed full of guizers – it could only mean one thing, the countdown to Up-Helly-A’ was well and truly under way.
In a change of venue, Mareel played host to this year’s final mass meeting, with singing from the stage to the seating, from the balcony reaching up to the rafters.
The Lerwick Brass Band put the men through their paces, with Stanley Manson passing on instructions for the big day and remembering the passing of former jarls Willie Black and Harry Jamieson.
A capella blasts were thrown in too, to make sure everyone was on point with the Up-Helly-A’ repertoire.
Departing Guizer Jarl Lyall Gair gave his thanks for a special year and passed on instructions for the parade and halls.
This year’s jarl Stewart Jamieson had been waiting a long time to step foot in the galley, he said, with firm instructions for guizers not to throw their torches at the galley head.
Up-Helly-A’ committee joint honorary secretary Robert Geddes read out minutes from the previous meeting, noting a bag of vampire teeth had been included in the collection, much to the amusement of the guizers in the audience.
Last night’s collection was for the Junior Up-Helly-A’ committee and the Dim Riv.
Lyall had told Stewart he wished him better weather than last January.
Stewart thanked everyone for coming and said: “I’ve got a good feeling it’s going to be a good night.”
With any other business, there was time for a quick quip from a voice in the crowd.
“Whar’s going to open the shop next Tuesday?” the man said.
“No comment,” smiled Stewart.
“There’s a sale on Wednesday.”
And with a round of applause guizers came to draw their order and folk filtered out for a dram.
Congratulations Squad 35! Your description of the squad’s act was the first to arrive at The Shetland Times.
Would all squad leaders please ensure that completed descriptions of their act and suits are returned by close of business on Monday 29th January so a full account of the festival can be included in next week’s paper. Any descriptions arriving after this time may not appear in the 16-page Up-Helly-A’ special supplement.