The cover of New Shetlander Number 258 looks snowy and seasonal this Yule. Inside, there is plenty of fare to sustain readers. The range of material is wide. A striking and thought-provoking story leads off: The Fáilte Policy, by Raman Mundair. Anchored with a sure touch in modern Aberdeen, the story depicts vividly what the term ‘asylum seeker’ really means at the level of the individual.

Brydon Leslie reflects on the origins of Lerwick’s most famous event in Up Helly Aa: an ancient Viking festival? He presented this paper at the St Magnus Conference in Kirkwall in April. Geordie Mainland left school at the start of the Second World War, and was immediately involved in war-related work. Here he recounts some of his memories in Fair Isle and after: my first employment. Fair Isle features again in Anne Sinclair’s lightsome article, A Tall Ships tradition revived, which deals with the Isle’s kep-knitting and bartering project this past summer, involving the Tall Ship Sørlandet. There is a photo of a wonderful display of the Fair Isle keps.

North Roe is also highlighted, with a photo of the school bairns at Christmas last year, when they revived an entertaining play written by former head teacher Louis Johnson, Flukkra an da seeven trows. An excerpt from the script is included here, depicting the seeven trows at home in the area of the Bjurgs, where the lovely Flukkra finds refuge.

Shetland women in centuries past were, like women everywhere, usually without much legal power. Brian Smith has contributed a major article on some unusually powerful women: Some Shetland heiresses, 1360 – 1660. It is based on a paper he gave at the Shetland Women’s conference in 2007. The heiresses come from Nesting, Papa Stour, Unst, Yell, and Cunningsburgh. The richest of them died of poisoning after a royal wedding in Copenhagen. The article is accompanied by photographs and family trees.

The editorial is concerned with the Pensions maze, while Da wadder eye looks wryly but entertainingly at modern life around us, including the task of de-cluttering in the consumer society.

Shetland’s 2011 Young Writer for ages 7-11 was Rachel Clarke. Her prize-winning story Ansel’s Adventure appears here. Derick Herning has written A gyoppm o true tales in Shetland dialect. A very short story, The day I went berserk, comes from Jim Taylor. More weather observations come from our correspondent in Whalsay, this time on Shetland storms.

There is a variety of poetry as usual, including several translations into Shetland dialect. The recent Hansel Press publication of Billy Tait’s translations of Villon’s Le Testament is the subject of a review article by author James Robertson. There are several other book reviews.

The New Shetlander is still priced at £2. Gift subscriptions are available.

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