Jarl-elect Jamie reflects on two lost years

After a second year of postponement of the South Mainland Up-Helly-A’ (Smuha), jarl-elect Jamie Laurenson paid a visit to the tombolo between St Ninian’s Isle and the Mainland, the planned burning site for his galley.

The Bigton man, 63, saw his big day called off last year and has now faced up to the fact that it will be 2022 at least before he heads the procession.

To mark the second cancellation in a row, the Smuha committee published the 2019 Bill on its Facebook page and also photos of all the ex-jarls between 2010 and 2019.

Taking time off from running his building business, Jamie said last year was the big disappointment, with most people coming to terms that this year would be also postponed.

He said: “We had to shelve it and forget about it with only two days to go. For 18 months it was our full life. Apart from going to work and going to sleep it was all about Smuha, and suddenly it was not.”

As to the future, he said there were issues to address, such as the fact that custom-made children’s and teenagers’ suits would have to be adjusted or remade as they had grown out of them.

Also some of the Jarl’s Squad members who were available in 2020 may not be able to take part in 2022.

Jamie said: “We will be ready to go as soon as guidelines and restrictions ease so if things open up we will start maybe September time as we’ll need to be well under way by October, November.

“We’ll have to see what the guidelines on social distancing are and what messages around mass gatherings are but we need to be able to have a couple of thousand folk together for a length of time for it to go ahead.”

But whenever the long-awaited festival does take place, he and his squad will be ready.

He added: “We will have to see. It is a great institution – the social interaction it has brought about between the districts is like nothing I have ever experienced.

“I’m now friends with folk I never kent before and I hope to have many more years to be able to make friends with folk I don’t yet know.”


Add Your Comment
  • Linda Arnold

    • March 13th, 2021 17:31

    I am reading this from the U.S. Please tell me what kind of a celebration is this? It sounds so interesting. I love learning about different customs, celebrations, etc. from all over.


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