Document 1395

Saands o Maywick

Author(s): Laureen Johnson

Copyright holder(s): Laureen Johnson


The story is based on a true incident which took place around 1880, and is described in ‘The ships’, by Robert Leask, Shetland Folk Book vol. 7 (1980) Names have been invented.

Weel, I never forgot dat day. Such a lang weary day as he wis, yea, an night tö, come ta dat. Geordie never spaeks aboot it, an maybe he's forgotten, but I canna tink it. Maybe he just pits it ta da back o his mind.

But it's just da wye, isn' it? Da men says at you're no ta worry. You're no ta mak a wark. Dönna cöllie aboot dem. Da sea is a hard rodd, but dey're been weel laerned, an dey hae ta geng. So you mak maet tae dem, an you mak claes ready ta dem, an you bait lines ta dem, an you watch da sky. An awey dey go, an dan you wait. Wait for da sail ta come back inta sight. Dö your ain wark, look ta da bairns, keep da aald eens plaised, an wait. An aa da weemen, up an doon da voe, is waitin da sam. But you say naething.

Hit wis been a lang weet hairst, an a braa strug ta get baith coarn an tatties. We wir wrocht in weeks, every wan at wis able, aald an young, an at lang last hit dried enough ta get da last skroo biggit, an da hidmast tatties cam oot o da grund wi da hail puckles staandin aboot dem - ida mont o October! An wi da wadder at he wis efter dat, dey wirna able ta geng aff very far efter fish.

But ida first days o December, hit faired up a scaar, an wir Peter wis determined at he wid go aff tae fin cod, him an John fae next door, an peerie Seemon wi dem. Geordie seemed ta tink at dis wis aa right, so I said naething. Dey were taen da boat as aften afore, an dey wirna hed da chance o a right fishing trip in a braa while.

Dey set aff ida first o da day wi a laar o wind fae da nor-wast, just what dey wir needin, an Geordie began ta say at he wid a geen tö, hed it no been for da treshin an da varg we were haein wi da coarn. It wis a braaly busy day, an everyeen lightsome, wi da better wadder, an it wisna for oot troo da efternön at I noticed at da wind wis geen aroond aesterly. Geordie noticed tö, an he never said onything, but eence or twise I wid see him takkin a look oot ower da sea.

Da wind it cam up an up, blowin aff o da laand, an nae sign o Peter an da boat. An hit widna be muckle langer light. An finally I guid an said ta Geordie, ‘Foo far aff wis da boys gyaain?’ He lookit at me sam as I wis stupid, an he says, ‘Weel, du kens whaar da cod'll be. It's nine mile. Dönna be fairt, dey'll be comin. Dey ken what dey're döin.’

But I could see, as da sun guid doon, at he wis kinda towtful himsel. I guid oot apo da toonmils an scrimed oot ta da wastird, an be dat time hit wis blowin a proper gale. I lookit alang da side o da hill, an dere wis John's midder staandin lookin. An I kent if I'd been able ta see dat far, at peerie Seemon's midder wis watchin tö. An we aa kent da time it took ta haal lines fae da boddam, nine mile aff, in sixty faddom o watter. An we kent at a 13-fit boat wisna dat gritt, an at ida teeth o da wind dey wid hae ta teck nine mile twise ower, an mair, ta reck hame, an he wis comin dark. An dey were still nae sail.

I stöd for it wis dat dark at I could see naething. Da bairns ey cam ta me, an ey I sent dem in ta der graandmidder. I couldna a shifted as lang as I could see at all. Peerie Mary Ann stöd aside me for a while, but shö wis aye dat feelin-herted at it did her nae guid, an I telled her ta geng in an mak maet. Dan Geordie cam oot himsel, an laid his airm aboot me shooders an he says ‘Come du in, lass, we'll look ageen when da mön rises.’ An he said nae mair, an I wis ower blyde. Hit wis come in me mind at even if da boys could win ta da laand, da warst danger o aa wis da flanns aff o da banks, an foo could dey even see dat comin, ida black dark?

Weel, da time guid on an da mön raise, an you could kindawye see a scaar ageen oot ower da sea, but da wind nedder aised or shifted. An be dis time, we kent da whole place wis waitin an winderin da sam as wis. Dey were fokk alang da banks an up apo da Taing, an Geordie guid dere tö, but somewye I couldna move fae da hoose, an I just stöd furt an watched.

An dan, oh my heevens, da cry goes up, an I hears dem shoutin da wan tae da tidder, an some peerie boy comes flyin every fit fae da banks, wi a lantern in his haand, roarin at da pitch o his voice, ‘Dey're ida Soond! Dey're comin in apo da Saand! Dey're here!’

Weel, hit's not ta be sayin at I ran for da beach. I fell, an raise, an fell ageen, an ran on. An aa roondaboot me, as I wan ta da banks broo, da fokk wis runnin tö, an some grippit me haand, an clappit me on da back, an een o da first at I met wis John's midder, an shö clespit me till her hert, an da pair o wis laek ta greet.

An dere dey wir, da tree o dem, lowerin da sail ida laebrak, ida light o da lanterns an da mön, an lookin fairly disjaskit, an yet no onnly dat. An da men aroond aa sayin, ‘Boys, you're dön weel. We're blyde ta see you.’ An my Loard, I towt, lookin at wir Peter, what is du, boy? Thirteen year aald, an skipperin a boat, an me worryin me hert oot.

An Guid bliss me, I started ta flyte apon him, for everything fae da oor at he left ida moarnin ta da wye at he sood a paid mair heed ta da wind, an maybe even for haein da notion ta ever set oot in da first place. An I wisna da onnly een, for dey wir a lock o weemen on da beach, midders an sisters an graandmidders, an aa pitten in a anxious day.

An dan wir Peter turned him fae da sail, an stöd ida boo o da boat. An he drew him up tae his height, an he says, wi da very wye o his graandfaider, ‘Dis is nae place for flytin weemen da night. It's strong men an kishies at we're needin, for we're fillt her wi fish.’

An he looks doon at me, an he smiles, an recks doon his haand, an he says, ‘Geng du hame, Mam. We're fine, an I'll be hame when we're feenished.’

An dat wis dat, an hame I guid.

A hunder an sixty-six cod dey wir gotten, a guid supply o winter fish, an wan hame safe against da gale an da darkness.

Thirteen, he wis. He wis sailin da world at forteen. An you ey worry, but you say naething.

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Cite this Document

APA Style:

Saands o Maywick. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 25 July 2024, from

MLA Style:

"Saands o Maywick." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 25 July 2024.

Chicago Style

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Saands o Maywick," accessed 25 July 2024,

If your style guide prefers a single bibliography entry for this resource, we recommend:

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 1395

Saands o Maywick


Text audience

Adults (18+)
General public
Audience size 1000+

Text details

Method of composition Wordprocessed
Year of composition 2004
Word count 1333

Text medium

Magazine (e-zine)

Text publication details

Publication year 2004
Place of publication Shetland
Part of larger text
Contained in The New Shetlander, No 228, 2004
Editor Laureen Johnson and Brian Smith
Page numbers 30-31

Text setting


Text type

Prose: fiction


Author details

Author id 969
Forenames Laureen
Surname Johnson
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1940
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Retired teacher
Place of birth Lerwick
Region of birth Shetland
Birthplace CSD dialect area Sh
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Voe
Region of residence Shetland
Residence CSD dialect area Sh
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Clerk / crofter
Father's place of birth Voe
Father's region of birth Shetland
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Sh
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Machine knitter / housewife
Mother's place of birth lunnasting
Mother's region of birth Shetland
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Sh
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes In formal situations, or wherever required
French Yes Yes Yes Yes As appropriate
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes Incl. Shetland dialect. At home and elsewhere