Document 1405

Interview 14: Woman from Uist talking about growing up in Shetland

Author(s): N/A

Copyright holder(s): SCOTS Project

Audio transcription

F746 Oh I take it it's very, it was very different, you growing up in //Shetland?//
F978 //Oh it was, yes.// Erm I suppose it would be similar to the islands here
F746 Mm.
F978 in a way but ehm. Erm, yes, it must have be-, have been quite a lot like here
F746 Mmhm. //Yeah I'm just thinking like//
F978 //when we were at primary school, you know, that time,//
F746 Mmhm.
F978 and then after that we went to Lerwick, you know, for secondary school, //so we kind of just suddenly grew up as you do at that time//
F746 //Oh right.// //Mm//
F978 //in your life.//
F746 What, what age were you when you would //be moving away?//
F978 //Ehm, about// eh fourteen, thirteen, fourteen, two of us from the school.
F746 Mm.
F978 I went to, went to //Lerwick but they were from all ov-,//
F746 //Oh right.//
F978 different villages an from Unst an we all travelled together, //you know, going and coming home and that kinda thing.//
F746 //Mmhm.//
F978 And ehm we lived, we couldn't get into the school hostel when we, that year, so we stayed with a family in a village called Whiteness, about twelve miles out of Lerwick, //and//
F746 //Oh right.//
F978 we got to know everybody who lived there and we sort of took part in that village life and
F746 Mmhm.
F978 went to the ha- to the hall there and played badminton an eh we just got to know the people there and really I always look back on that as a great fantastic time in our lives. //It's really nice.//
F746 //Oh that's really nice, cause it seems// //seems very young to be leaving home,//
F978 //Yes.// //Yes.//
F746 //I mean,//
F978 And we didn't get home very often, just holidays. One weekend, I think we managed to get home for eh, you know, the October ho- it was just an October weekend //that the school holidays had then.//
F746 //Mm.//
F978 And it was so complicated getting because there weren't, the fe- car ferries hadn't started, //and it was just ehm//
F746 //Right.//
F978 a little ehm motor-boat kind of thing, you know, ehm //con- fi- converted fishing boat type of boat that went across from the mainland to Yell,//
F746 //Oh right, uh-huh.// Mmhm.
F978 and ehm I suppose that boat took about half an hour or three quarters of an, half an hour anyway to cross over,
F746 Mm.
F978 eh because of the tides an, could be really horrible, //boa-, sea, boat trip.//
F746 //Oh mm.//
F978 And then we had the whole of Yell to drive through to get to North Yell, because we land, you know, land in South Yell an then we'd have the whole of Yell.
F746 Oh is that, is that two different islands like Uist or is it? //Oh right, uh-huh.//
F978 //Well Yell is one land mass but then Unst lies,// you know, just quite close but adjacent so th- all the Unst ones they would come as far as part way with us on Yell and then they had to have another boat to go across to Unst! //[laugh]//
F746 //Oh [laugh].// Oh different //times anyway.//
F978 //it was, yes.// Ehm, but we never thought anything of it, you know, that was the way that it was, an just that weekend we had in October and then the ne- we didn't get home till Christmas,
F746 Mm.
F978 and we didn't get home again till Easter, and eh, so eh but that, we knew that when we started so it wasn't a big surprise. //Uh-huh, mmhm.//
F746 //Yeah och I suppose but even so.//
F978 But it was about twelve miles from where we lived in Whiteness to Lerwick to school, //so we were very well used to that journey,//
F746 //Mmhm.//
F978 but everybody, we just seemed to get to know everybody really well an the bus driver, we were great friends with the bus driver and he kind of, you know, looked after us and
F746 Yeah oh that's nice. //Mm.//
F978 //and that and//
F746 Yeah I mean even the changes over time as well, //cause obviously, like//
F978 //Yeah.//
F746 I grew up here but you know it's all T.V. and //getting lifts everywhere in the car and//
F978 //Yes, yes, yes.//
F746 I don't know, //I'm imagining it would be very different.//
F978 //Yeah, and when,// when we were at school there, it was the first time that they had Up-Helly-Aa, you know, after the war, they had used to have Up-Helly-Aa in Lerwick before the war but then it had stopped for a lo- for, you know, I don't know how long //well the war years and maybe some time after an.//
F746 //Mmhm.// //Oh that's the festival isn't it, the, mm.//
F978 //Yes, the fire festival.// And ehm so we were hearing so much about Up-Helly-Aa and ehm one of our teachers, the, a science teacher was the Guizer Jarl, kinda chief //Guizer,//
F746 //Mmhm.// Oh right!
F978 so we were all agog aboot that and ehm we had sheets of eh to, you know, to f- follow the ehm singing, "The Norseman's Home" was one of the things they sang, you know, when the galley was burning, //and "The Galley Song"//
F746 //Mmhm.//
F978 and "The Up-Helly-Aa Song" the three things, so we were all, you know, we knew all that an, and eh hearing about it so much it was just great excitement.
F746 Mm.
F978 An then the following year our headmaster, Mr [?]Blance[/?], who everybody called Dodie Wullie, because he was George W. [?]Blance[/?] an he was c- just called //Dodie Wullie, well not to his face but I mean by us, but I mean by his con- he was known as Dodie Wullie in the town an//
F746 //[laugh] Well yeah.//
F978 and ehm so we called him that, you know, but Mr Blance in school.
F746 Oh right yeah. //[laugh]//
F978 //And eh// och he was really nice, quite different from headmasters now, you know, he was so, sorta he had a big booming voice and he was very dark and eh we were just really frightened of him but, //but he was a nice person,//
F746 //Oh right. [cough]// //That's good, yeah.//
F978 //er.// //So that part of life,//
F746 //But oh it's interesting you say about the//
F978 you know eh now is so vivid, yet because it was the time when we just sorta grew up an
F746 Yeah.
F978 I really enjoyed that. //Yes, yes. The Up-Helly-Aa?//
F746 //I'd imagine the festival would be really exciting, I don't know, like I've heard of it before but I don't really know much about it or anything [laugh].// //Mm yeah.//
F978 //Mmhm, yeah it's great, it's really eh// so well organized that it's a lot of work. I mean they start having meetings about it months an months before and ehm they build a boat, every year they build a new boat an it's called, you know, a Norse name
F746 Right.
F978 an the Guizer Jarl er the Guizer, you know, the Guizer Jarl has his own group of men, squad, usually friends an colleagues an, and eh and they they, you know, they're they choose ehm or he's choo- his name is, you know, some Norse king, //usually king so-and-so or whatever,//
F746 //Right.// Mm.
F978 well you know a Norse person of centuries ago. And eh then the squad, all his eh men are sorta rigged up in that y- eh, you know, //mm eh costume.//
F746 //Oh the kind of Viking rig-outs?// Yeah. //Oh right.//
F978 //Er// and eh then all the other squads, you know, they just go out, they have a theme, every squad has some kind o theme, you know, some topical thing an eh they're all dressed upan they assemble at a certain part of the town //an where their torches are lit, you know, they have these torches, what's an,//
F746 //Mm.//
F978 don't know what they're made of, think it, big wooden, heavy, like //like fenceposts kind o thing an, you know, yes and they're they're lit an//
F746 //Oh right with the fire on top o them?//
F978 they have a time, it's usually about I think seven, five minutes past seven, lighting-up time and they, all the torches are lit and then they they march along the ehm street //along a route,//
F746 //Mmhm.// //Yeah.//
F978 //if there's a route an then// they they come along one o the wider streets, King Harald S-s- Street and ehm where it's quite wide and they do what they call the turning movement so, you know, they come up in two lines and then the other ones go back, so you see sort of like four lines of men. And they go round like that around the ehm one of the playing fields, //or public parks,//
F746 //Mm.//
F978 like that, it's quite nice and they ehm the galley, they take the galley in there, the boat, you know,
F746 Mmhm.
F978 an then they sing ehm they either sing "The Norseman's Home" or "The Galley Song" first, I can't remember, and then you know there's a signal for the torches to be thrown in //and they throw it in an it//
F746 //Yeah.//
F978 just of course goes up in a huge bonfire. //Yes.//
F746 //Oh that's amazing though.// Wow, so I mean do people in She-, that's quite interesting, I mean do people in Shetland feel close, closer to //Norse or closer to Scottish culture, I mean I know it's kinda halfway in between geographically so, or is it, is it more//
F978 //Very much, yes, yes, yes, yes, they do.//
F746 a Shetland culture which is //neither, or?//
F978 //Well, ehm// //it's a it's a bit different from the Scottish mainland because of the distance really, it's not because there's eh any,//
F746 //Mm.//
F978 you know, thing else I don't think, it's just the distance that's made it an then I would say in the last, well since we were at school that kind of thing, you know, they've revived a lot of Norse kinda ehm acquaintances an feelings an, you know, they //kinda//
F746 //Mmhm.//
F978 think themselves, I'd say, quite a bit Norse.
F746 Oh right. //oh that's int-//
F978 //Maybe I I suppose really is ehm// travel an so on has got easier that people you know, they were able, a lot o people were able to go to Norway //an vice versa come over here an of course//
F746 //mm//
F978 Lerwick having such a fine harbour and //and all,//
F746 //Oh yeah.//
F978 and er a lot of fishing and pleasure craft there and a lot of Norwegian boats. We we always knew and saw Norwegian fishermen even from a very early age //they would just, mmhm//
F746 //Oh right.//
F978 if you walk along Commercial Street you'll aways hear all these languages, and you know li- can be anything, anything. Lots of different people, eh usually they come in winter maybe to shelter if if there's bad weather an they would be ehm in, you know, in the harbour for a day or two till like that, or maybe for any other reason they had to come ashore
F746 Yeah.
F978 and eh then you would see them on the street, you know, walking along the shops and hearing all this smattering of different //languages.//
F746 //Mm.// //[laugh]//
F978 //[laugh] So it was just something that every-, you know, people were used to.//
F746 Mmhm. Yeah. //So//
F978 //They didn't make any// well somet- I suppose sometimes a- in the pubs it was, you know, if there qu- if there were a lot of eh foreign people in, it might get a bit rowdy but //I didn't care about them, it wasn't really//
F746 //Yeah.// //Yeah, aye you'd probably get that anywhere though that's the thing, you know what young men are like [laugh].//
F978 //that bad. [laugh] Yes.// //So.//
F746 //But, so yeah, so did many people,// did people speak Norwegian in Shetland at all or //was it? Mmhm.//
F978 //Yes, the-the- there there has been a big interest, I think, you know, people started to go to Norwegian classes// //in winter//
F746 //Oh right.// //Yeah.//
F978 //evening classes and ehm// an I think eh because of a connection during the war, you know, where ehm I don't know if you've heard about that book called "The Shetland Bus", you know, where they used to take ehm people to Norway or //on a fishing boat.//
F746 //Oh right no I hadn't heard about that.//
F978 And you know it was kind of cloak an dagger, //yes an it was called "The Shetland Bus".//
F746 //Oh right.//
F978 I'm sure we have that book somewhere in the house. //And eh//
F746 //Yes.//
F978 eh there's always been a kind o thing between Sco- eh Norway an Shetland.
F746 Mm. //Oh that's really//
F978 //And there's a lot of names// ehm well not, maybe not a lot but ehm I mean like the name Hans, that's a name in Shetland an it must have come from eh Scandinavia or Danish, //I don't know//
F746 //Mmhm.// Yeah and I mean obviously, like the landscape, so many of the placenames are //Norse and things, aren't they, so//
F978 //Yes, yes, that's right, yes.// //Mmhm mmhm mmhm well there's some names actually in//
F746 //so I I suppose if you hear like the names you kinda have that connection already that's kinda.//
F978 really where I was born an brought up that's similar to here, I I think, like ehm Paible here, //we have Papil.//
F746 //Mmhm.// //Yeah, the same.//
F978 //P.A.// P.I.L. and eh then there's the island of Papa Stour, //a little island down in the west of Shetland,//
F746 //Ah// //Mmhm.//
F978 //so that must have the same root// as Paible and eh Donald knew all these, //you know, he knew the place names that were similar and//
F746 //Yeah.// //I know.//
F978 //the same as//
F746 It is interesting, it's interesting how you can //trace people through that, aye.//
F978 //Yes, I mean the village where// I was born, you know, in North Yell, eh was called Cullivoe, C.U.L.L.I.V.O.E. //and oh I should have shown you, I have an old map where it has Norse, the Norse names//
F746 //Mmhm.// //Oh right.//
F978 //an it's// //sc- spelled K.O.L.L.A.V.A.G.R. or something like that, "Kollavagr"//
F746 //Oh.// Yeah.
F978 Mmhm.
F746 Oh that's really interesting. [cough] //Oh mm.//
F978 //So//
F746 But yeah. But I mean I suppose like Shetland like talkin about the language again, I know, but I suppose I mean Shetland dialect's very different //itself, isn't it?//
F978 //Shetland dialect is// very different, yes. It's supposed to have c- come from the old Norn N.O.R.N. language. //and eh//
F746 //I've heard of that, yeah.//
F978 then er I believe that eh that eh that it's there's a Danish sorta, I don't know if Norn was originally Danish, or was it a branch of Danish, but I think it's really more Danish actually than Norwegian,
F746 Mmhm. Yeah.
F978 An Morag always says that she can recognise ehm, you know, the Norwegian an the Lewis people //ehm//
F746 //Oh right.//
F978 as bein similar, whereas she thinks that the Danish, you know, she has a Danish eh tongue and Shetland that that's more similar. //Yeah. Yeah.//
F746 //Oh that's interesting.// Mm. Yeah, I don't know, do you ever find yourself using any dialect words yourself, I'm assuming like that's what you spoke as you were, or was it or //that or//
F978 //Yes the ehm// //yes since we were kind of, you know,//
F746 //do you ever find yourse-?//
F978 ehm eh the islands were more ehm, we weren't on we weren't on an off the island that much, //you know, till//
F746 //Mmhm//
F978 about the time that I went to school in Lerwick so eh we were kinda brought up with older people and they all spoke you know the old //dialect an//
F746 //Yeah.//
F978 they had such f-, what we thought when we were small, funny words, we used to laugh at some of them and eh think it was really hilarious.
F746 Oh right.
F978 Eh, let me see like ehm they were always very worried in case we went, you know, to the cliff edge
F746 Mmhm.
F978 eh when of course we always liked to go, you know, lookin at places an
F746 Mmhm.
F978 they would say, "Oh don't go there, go over", they called it the "[?]pipprie[/?] lour". //This was the cliff-edge, so we thought this was really funny [laugh] "[?]pipprie[/?] lour".//
F746 //Oh. [laugh]//
F978 And eh they used to speak about ehm our shoes, you know, we'd be wearing our shoes and we always used to get them mended in those days, you know, you used to get, go to the shop an get a piece o leather, take it to the ehm man who could mend shoes //and he used to put on the soles,//
F746 //Mmhm.//
F978 and eh I remember my granny would say we'd worn them to the "pigging welt", //surely when they were really really worn down [laugh] that was a "pigging welt".//
F746 //Oh.// //Oh.//
F978 //I I don't know "pig" had any connection to the erm leather or wh-, or how that word came but// //they were always on the "pigging welt",//
F746 //Aye. [laugh]// //[laugh] Oh.//
F978 //and they were really down. [laugh]// and ehm but th- they're funny words, oh she had so many funny words we just were always laughing but it was there every day
F746 Mmhm. //Yeah.//
F978 //language.//
F746 Was it kinda dying out or was it //was it mostly the older people? Mm.//
F978 //It is a bit because like everywhere, you know, television and eh the way that people more around now here, there and everywhere.// //Eh.//
F746 //Oh that's true, you're right enough but// yeah.
F978 An then, know, when the war years brought a different kinda people in too and a a more Scots language I would say then then. //An of course Lerwick you know, was a big fishing place at one time.//
F746 //Yeah.// //Mm.//
F978 //Big h- herring industry an// //and eh lots o people came to Lerwick to work in the herring//
F746 //Oh yeah.// Mmhm.
F978 from here, well from Lewis and ehm all that.
F746 Yeah, I suppose as well, I mean, like the oil an everything //[inaudible]//
F978 //Yes an then the oil, that brought// more an more and //it was nineteen-seventy//
F746 //Oh yeah.//
F978 nineteen se- early seventies. So it's quite a different place now with //swimming pools an wide roads an [laugh] unrecognisable in a way,//
F746 //Oh I can imagine [laugh] right!// //That's//
F978 //ferries crossing over to Yell all day,// two, and eh they just go across woof, woof, woof, //you know? An then//
F746 //mm//
F978 one goin to Unst as well from from Yell,
F746 Oh right.
F978 and ehm there's other ferries as well going to the other islands, to Whalsay mm I don't know really where else. And of course when the oil came, you know, there's the other ehm air terminals now for ehm when it started they had to have ehm air fields for their helicopters an, //so there's//
F746 //Oh right.//
F978 that.
F746 Oh yeah I know y- you must find some difference when you go back //really just.//
F978 //Yes, it was so different,// //yes absolutely.//
F746 //Mm.// //Yeah.//
F978 //We were just ehm// agog at all the news about the ehm, you know, when it's, when the oil started //hearing about all the//
F746 //Mm.//
F978 the jobs and about ehm all the buses that took people from Lerwick an all that, you know, way up the Sullom Voe and ehm where they, we used to hear about the menus and the breakfasts, all these beefsteaks an what not, [laugh] and they were all well-fed then, they had, there were so many jobs that people didn't bother looking, you know, when they left school, they didn't bother going kinda any longer to school because they just left them, //got this great jobs an lot of money an bought cars an crashed them an that, a lot o that went on.//
F746 //Oh cause they could get a job straightaway or [laugh]// //Yeah.//
F978 //It was a pity.// //Mm.//
F746 //Och aye.// mm
F978 But that phase is passed now so eh well I don't know, you know, there's not so many jobs now,
F746 Mmhm.
F978 but the jobs that are now are more permanent
F746 Oh right, yeah.
F978 in oil.
F746 Oh so that's good in a way then I suppose but
F978 Yeah.
F746 Yeah but.
F978 Yeah. But the weather in Shetland, well it's a little bit darker I suppose //than here.//
F746 //Mm.//
F978 Earlier. //A little earlier//
F746 //Oh right.// //Mmhm.//
F978 //in in midwinter an the opposite in summer, it's,// you know, in June it's light nearly all the time. //It is lovely in//
F746 //I suppose it's//
F978 summer, it's ju- well it's just like here really,
F746 Mmhm.
F978 very like here. //Yeah, yes, yes, mmhm.//
F746 //It's strange that the further north you go, cause I find that even in Glasgow it gets dark really early in summer compared to here and// I mean, it probably doesn't get so dark in winter right enough but //still it's not the same. [laugh]//
F978 //Mmhm mmhm mmhm.// //[inhale]//
F746 //[inhale] Yeah.// Oh that's strange though, did you find it kinda strange moving from Shetland to here when you did //or//
F978 //Yes I did,// yes, yes, I, when I came here first I really missed ehm //Shetland very much, missed Lerwick an//
F746 //Oh right.//
F978 people that I knew and ehm it just seemed so completely different.
F746 Mm.
F978 It was, I took a long time to settle in, //years I think. [laugh]//
F746 //I can imagine. [laugh] Oh!// I don't know, did you find like quite a different culture though in Uist eh //like in//
F978 //Yes it was,// because ehm I think, you know, because I wasn't a Gaelic speaker was a bit of a hindrance //for a start,//
F746 //mmhm//
F978 and ehm then people found my accent really different and ehm Yes, I did miss it, mmhm.
F746 Oh yeah. Oh I don't know, but I mean, I don't know //I, well I've never been to Shetland, I can't I do-//
F978 //Oh you'll have to go, you should, you should go, you'd love it.// //[laugh] You should go for a visit.//
F746 //Uh-huh I'm sure I would actually. [laugh]//
F978 It's fourteen hours in the ferry from Aberdeen which is a long time but it's a really, //in summer it's a lovely trip overnight.//
F746 //Mm.// //Uh-huh//
F978 //You meet a lot of people.// //Well I do, because it's usually Shetlanders travelling there. [laugh]//
F746 //Oh of course, you know them so. [laugh]//
F978 Usually catchin up with somebody. An it's only an hour, hour flyin time from Aberdeen to Sumburgh //in Shetland, mmhm.//
F746 //Oh that's good,// that's not not too bad at all.
F978 And then eh oh I think you would like it.
F746 Mm.
F978 Well Lerwick is quite an interesting place too, you know, because some of the buildings at ehm, along the harbour edge, are right in the water, //you know, because they call them, some of the buildings though are called lodberries.//
F746 //Oh right.//
F978 They were used apparently well I suppose in, I was going to say last century, but er, the century before for smug- they used to smug- I think there was smuggling from the continent //an they used to bring bring eh//
F746 //Oh wow!//
F978 you know brandy an I don't know what else //there an so//
F746 //Mmhm.// //Oh right, so so what//
F978 //I'll have to show you some// pictures an things, right in the water, I'm sure that eh I mean some o them are still dwelling places
F746 mmhm
F978 but I would imagine must be quite damp, //cause you would hardly be able to get that.//
F746 //Oh yeah you would//
F978 You often see pictures eh taken around the harbour and you can see these ehm buildings //right in the water.//
F746 //Oh//
F978 And then the harbour itself, you know, there's an island that, the island of Bressay lies right across the harbour so that it makes it really sheltered. It's a very sheltered harbour, //and ehm.//
F746 //Oh right so that's why it's such a good harbour then really or,//
F978 Pardon?
F746 so that's why it's such kind of a good //harbour, that's why it's//
F978 //It is. It's great lots of peo-, you know, that's why,// you know, if there were fishing boats in that area //they used to come in//
F746 //mm//
F978 to shelter if it was bad weather.
F746 Ah.
F978 Eh but it's quite interesting there are so many different craft that comes in and eh summertime also they have these visiting eh liners
F746 mmhm
F978 come in an the streets are wi flocks of eh tourists //around the street and ehm//
F746 //Oh yeah.// //Yeah.//
F978 //an this eh// the Russian, a lot of the Russian boa- eh fishing boats and ehm come in too.
F746 It sounds quite cosmopolitan //really just with all these different cultures coming in an//
F978 //Yes yes yes yes, I remember when we, when they came, you know, for years,// well when would that be, about the nineteen-sixties, probably when, in the Cold War years when there weren't, you know, hardly any, we didn't hear much about Russia, //well,//
F746 //Right.//
F978 see many Russians I mean. But then I remember when they they were kind of allowed to come off their vessels an actually look around the street and we used to see them, you know, eh shopping
F746 Oh right.
F978 an wh- now I think it of couse now it's different, they can //they're quite, they're free now to//
F746 //I suppose they can come and live and// Yeah.
F978 come.
F746 Oh right, so you didn't get a lot of Sh- Shetland women running off with Russian //sailors [laugh] or anything like that, no.//
F978 //[laugh] No, not quite that but th- they used to be ehm// they use to s- eh they would wa- if they wanted some things, you know, I don't know what kind of things they needed, but they used to a lot of people bou- got th- these padded suits, very warm, they had to wear them //I suppose.//
F746 //Oh right//
F978 And ehm [tut] oh I don't know, some kind of boots, sometime l- leather boots and eh I suppose watches and stu- I don't know what they, you know what the kind of barter that went on
F746 Mmhm. //Oh [?]God[/?].//
F978 //[laugh]// in the early days an they took things that they didn't have
F746 mm
F978 they would get.
F746 Yeah, very different times really.
F978 Yes, I remember one of their ehm boats was eh went on the rocks in North Yell. And oh it was a very bad night, you know, really stormy night and ehm, we were really aghast, you know, it would be hard to think of these poor men all went down
F746 oh
F978 and then they sent up ehm somebody from London, I suppose from their embassy
F746 Mmhm.
F978 came up and we all went with him right over the, you know, to the point where the, an local people were pointing out where the boat had gone down
F746 Were the sailors all lost //or?//
F978 //on the rocks.// //but I mean there was- wasn't anything to be seen; the boat just//
F746 //mmhm// But no survivors at all or?
F978 Pardon? //No, no, I don't think so.//
F746 //Were there no survivors at all? Oh.//
F978 No I I think it it eh there wouldn't have been because it was so wild and
F746 That's true.
F978 nobody would have noticed them, you know. So that was really awful. //I think I have some//
F746 //Right enough.//
F978 photos of, you know, of that eh people coming up and
F746 yeah
F978 having to look and we though- we felt so sorry. //Mmhm mmhm.//
F746 //Oh aye yeah, oh I know it's horrible when things like that happen.// //[exhale]//
F978 //But I think probably some of their boats, you know, weren't very good and//
F746 Mmhm.
F978 and maybe they didn't realise it was going to be so bad and //or maybe they had come too close,//
F746 //Oh that's true.// //Oh yeah.//
F978 //or blown off course.//
F746 I mean did you find the weather as like it's stormier //there or?//
F978 //It can be wild but// strangely enough I've always felt the wind here stronger. //I think that that's//
F746 //Mm well maybe it's th-//
F978 because there's more shelter in Shetland; it's more like ehm a bit more like Skye or Harris, well not so high not so high hills as on, are on Harris but there's more parts in Shetland where y- where there are bits of shelter, whereas here it seems so flat and the wind tears along,
F746 Mm. //Yeah.//
F978 //like, you know, through the island.//
F746 I know, a few hills in the middle but it //doesn't protect the coast or anything so.//
F978 //Yes, yes, uh-huh.//
F746 Yeah, I suppose even looking out today you see see how flat //it all is an//
F978 //I know, I know.//
F746 Oh wow, right enough I mean talking about the wind, obviously the storms in //January, did you?//
F978 //Well th- th- ehm, you know, we get more snow up in Shetland// //because it's colder you see up in the north east.//
F746 //Oh that's nice though.// Mmhm.
F978 Eh they o- have snow several times in the winter. //It's just a part of the//
F746 //Yeah.// In a in a way that's nice. I've always quite, I think it's cause we don't get it much here I've always //like really quite liked snow but [laugh]//
F978 //That's right, yes, yes.//
F746 Yeah.
F978 I think it would be a bit chaotic here with the narrow roads an //if we had snow as often as that.//
F746 //Oh that's true.// Right enough actually. //[sigh]//
F978 //Oh it's so cold the snow I don't like it.// //[laugh] No that's right, no.//
F746 //You don't like it? [laugh]//
F978 I mean I know it looks nice an that an if the weather is fine an.
F746 Mmhm.
F978 But looking back to my childhood we seemed to have snow an awful lot.
F746 Oh right.
F978 It was lovely when it lay, you know, really nice an clean but then when it would start to go an I used to think that was really ugly, in my, when I was a young child an, you know, seein the snow, what we called ferns of snow, you know, the, you know, along the dy- the walls, //the stone walls an that.//
F746 //Oh,// //uh-huh [laugh] aw.//
F978 //I used to think, "Oh, that's so untidy looking". [laugh]// An then it got so grubby, you know, //then I suppose it eh//
F746 //Oh when it starts to melt an it//
F978 if we had a big downpour it ehm disappeared like that but it could lie for a long time.
F746 Mmhm.Oh yeah //I mean I know in Glasgow it's//
F978 //So.// //Terrible isn't slushy, yeah, yes.//
F746 //gets a- it's cause cause there's so many people that it it gets all mushy an// //Aye it's not so pretty right enough but. [laugh]//
F978 //Yeah.// I used to feel it so cold an we just had, you know, rubber boots to wear an our feet were always so cold an
F746 Mm.
F978 walking of course everybody walked everywhere then,
F746 oh of course
F978 when I was young, you know,
F746 Yeah.
F978 walk to school, walk home an //an we'd big//
F746 //Right, did you have// //[laugh]//
F978 //snow fights, that's one thing I remember about the s- the ehm// [tut] the snow when I was at school, we used to divide people when, if they came up from the south to the school an the ones on the north side an we used to have that's the that wa- the kinda, we have these big snow fights where you throw snow balls //at each other.//
F746 //Oh brilliant. [laugh]// //I think that's a universal thing, kids everywhere [laugh] if you see snow then//
F978 //[laugh] Yes, yes. [inhale]//
F746 [sigh] but, no it's nice. [sigh] I don't know is there anything else you part- find particularly memorable //about growing up or//
F978 //Ehm//
F746 you kind of, I mean you were talking about the older people before or like, e-e- I I know up here like obviously they had the [?]bards[/?] an they had the songs an they had the you know all the stories an that //kind of thing, is it the same kind of thing or?//
F978 //Yes, oh yes they have their stories, you know,// there's ehm old Shetland stories that's ehm similar to what the kinda, mm you know, stories they have here. Some o them are quite alike as well, //kinda similar type o stories.//
F746 //Oh right.//
F978 Ehm they had a thing just recently in An Lanntair in Stornoway. I was up eh when would that be? About the beginning of eh December, //or the end of November, I don't remember.//
F746 //Mmhm.//
F978 Ehm an I met ehm a couple. An the man was eh there i- in An Lanntair telling ehm s- stories in Shetland.
F746 Oh right!
F978 An I think they had same thing here in Tigh [inaudible] where somebody was over from Skye,
F746 Mmhm. //Uh-huh.//
F978 //story-telling.//
F746 Yeah it's strange //cause it//
F978 //And this man that I met he was from our place, so it was a surprise.// //Yes, yes, yes, I knew him really well.//
F746 //Oh right! Did you actually know him or//
F978 His father used to do the same thing. In fact he used to give stories to the School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh. //I've seen a lot of//
F746 //Mmhm.//
F978 them in the library and these leaflets that we had, //an eh, "An To-", eh what's that book? "An Tocher"//
F746 //Oh right, but you, of course you heard them in the original.// //Oh I know the one you mean, yeah.//
F978 //that eh leaflet, yeah, mmhm.// Tom Tulloch was his, the father's name an an this is Lawrence Tulloch that was, he's obviously, you know, telling the, //carryin on the//
F746 //Mm.// //The traditions.//
F978 //the story-telling.//
F746 Oh right.
F978 but music-wise it's all fiddle music //on Shetland.//
F746 //Mmhm.//
F978 An of course that seems to have ehm really grown now, an you know everybody seems to be girls now. Eh when I was growin up it was always just boys or men that played the fiddle but now //you see girls playin the fiddle.//
F746 //Right.// //Oh aye. [laugh]//
F978 //Nearly everybody seems to play the fiddle. [laugh]// //Mmhm.//
F746 //Oh it is a beautiful instrument so it's nice.//
F978 Well of course they started ehm goin round teaching in the schools, //so I suppose that kind of really//
F746 //Mmhm.//
F978 escalated the //[sigh] Yes, and probably,//
F746 //Yeah, and I suppose if you have the opportunity then why not? [laugh]//
F978 you know, television an all that, it became a fashionable thing to play the fiddle an
F746 Mm and especially I mean the Shetland fiddle as well you always //hear, you know, like Aly Bain an people.//
F978 //Yeah, it's the first mu-, yes Aly Bain, uh-huh.// It's the first music I ever heard was the fiddle. //Mmhm.//
F746 //Really?// Oh right, oh was there much kinda singing an things as well or was it always just the fiddle music or?
F978 Ehm well sometimes they would have, you know, I've heard people singing in this dialect,
F746 Mmhm.
F978 very old songs that I don't know if they do that now so much, but they used to have for instance when I was a child they would have a concert, or what we would call a concert they would call a ceilidh here,
F746 Yeah.
F978 eh at New Year. And he would they would perhaps in the concert there would be someb- body singin ehm usually some kinda comedian type man would sing a song in Shet- in the dialect an an then they would have perhaps two sketches, an that would be all in the Shetland dialect, you know, people dressed up as old men and old women or
F746 Mmhm.
F978 telling some tales of long ago. //[laugh]//
F746 //Oh right. [laugh]// //Ah.//
F978 //But ehm// they d- I mean they don't there's no, well I suppose there are bagpipes but I mean it's not the predominant kind of music so
F746 Yeah, not like //kinda not here like here at all I mean really. [laugh]//
F978 //No, no, not really, no.//
F746 No. //That's nice, that.//
F978 //I think// the music here, the singers are lovely. //They're lovely singers here an//
F746 //Oh yeah.// //There's some people with beautiful voices,//
F978 //the Western Isles, nice voices,// //mm.//
F746 //mmhm.// Yeah. I know it's really, I mean even the church say up here I think //is really//
F978 //Yes.// //Yes, yes.//
F746 //really really ni- I mean really really different as well, which// //Mm.//
F978 //That's right.//
F746 Yeah. [sigh]
F978 Oh it was real-, looking back it was a great way, I mean we had a eh great time I think when we were young and growing up I often tell the girls, you know, how, well I just feel they missed an awful lot by you know, we were so close to people and
F746 Mm.
F978 eh growing up and but it was a different, completely different.
F746 I know, the wo- the world's changed an //awful lot I mean even here and everything.//
F978 //Mmhm, I think there's// something about growing up with older people and young people and, you know, it was we just seemed to grow up with an awful lot of old- or characters around us
F746 Mmhm.
F978 that ehm that we thought was, we didn't realise at the time but looking back it was eh very kinda rich sorta
F746 Yeah.
F978 kind of living.
F746 Yeah, because I mean now //it's a bit sort of//
F978 //An people were so,// you know, we were so kind of welcome we just, you know, we didn't need to, nobody knocked on anybody's door or anything like that, we just went from house to house and we just went in here and there and everywhere //and eh//
F746 //Oh that's lovely.// //Mm.//
F978 //eh people made us so welcome when we were children and//
F746 Ah that's really good, I mean it seems especially on the mainland now there's just there's such a separation between //young people and old people, there's never, there never seems to be anything//
F978 //Yes, I know, I know// //I know, I know, mm.//
F746 //like connecting them or socialising or// //you know, that's the sort of, people are, mmhm//
F978 //That's right, you have to arrange things to see people and// we didn't know that kind of thing at all.
F746 Yeah. In a way it's it's more relaxed way of life if //you can just//
F978 //It was, yes.// //Yeah.//
F746 //Yeah.// You don't have to //schedule.//
F978 //We just// took it for granted that we were welcome anywhere and we just were from one end of the place to the other we were in and out an
F746 Mmhm.
F978 an we saw them at anything that was on in the hall, of course there weren't maybe so much then but ehm great excitement when there was anything, we saw all these people there an //[laugh]//
F746 //Yeah.//
F978 we used to be, spend our, when we were younger spend our time laughing at certain people dancing or people we knew an we thought it was really funny. //[laugh]//
F746 //[laugh] Oh no that's good though.// Oh wait so did you have the dances like they have the dances here, //the country dancing?//
F978 //Yes.// //Yes, the same kind o dances.//
F746 //The same kinda thing?//
F978 Just ehm, you know, Boston two-steps, quadrilles, used to dance quadrilles, I think they do that here too, //but not so much maybe, eightsome reels an//
F746 //Mm.// //Oh yes, yes.//
F978 //that kinda thing.// //And eh//
F746 //Yeah.//
F978 they started dancing ehm a Shetland reel, which is kind of, well in a similar way to, what's the dance that they do here? The Fuller? No, not "Fuller Reel", ehm, what's the one that they do you know when they're, //here, "Strip the Willow", that's the one.//
F746 //"Strip the Willow"? Oh yeah.// //Oh aye.//
F978 //Kind of like that but [throat].// //[laugh] Yeah.//
F746 //Yeah, I enjoy that one I have to say, [laugh], good laugh.//
F978 [laugh]
F746 [sigh]
F978 An another thing in in ehm summertime was eh regattas, an awful lot of regattas, sailing //boats and eh we used to go//
F746 //Oh right.//
F978 in the morning an we were to watch all these boats. They came from Unst and other parts of Yell, and ehm, you know, they were beautifully rigged up with sails an that and eh they had races, usually two days of eh sailing, //and then it ended up with the concert and dance in the hall.//
F746 //mmhm//
F978 And they gave out the prizes for the winning yachts,
F746 Oh wow. //Oh lovely.//
F978 //so// and then we used to go to Unst to the regattas there //because ehm//
F746 //mmhm//
F978 usually it, you know, it was all kind of organized. The boat would take us over an we'd come back at five or six or seven in the morning.
F746 Sounds brilliant. [laugh] It really does.
F978 Great fun. //[laugh] And we went to Fetlar, that's ehm//
F746 //Oh definitely.//
F978 another island. It was a bit more difficult to get there because of landing and it was more difficult to get ehm, you know, depending on the time of day or night or weather an so on but //of course when y- you were young we're determined to get somehow,//
F746 //Mm.// //Oh definitely [laugh] [inaudible]//
F978 //an we used to go there not// to a regatta but to, we used to go, we used to play badminton an they had a a badminton team in Fetlar, an we an we went there an we were at, the hall there was this beautiful hall that had been given to the people by eh a surgeon ehm somebody Lister eh can't [?]remember[/?] the name. Eh well there were they so- well there's this big house that they must, this ehm people must have built there an it had a hall in the house. And we could see in the windows; we were always goin pokin around to see in this beautiful hall
F746 Mm
F978 in there but this was a hall that was built for the people that we u- we could use, you know, //an it was lovely, it had statues all around it an oh we thought it was great.//
F746 //Oh right.// //Oh beautiful. [laugh]//
F978 //People used to hang coats on the statues an headsquares an things like that, you know, when [inaudible] night like that when they.//
F746 [laugh]
F978 We had a great night there, I remember ehm oh an old man there playin the fiddle and he was wearin these like cloth kinda shoes that they called rivlins in Shetland, I don't know if you've ever heard the word but //long ago they used to wear//
F746 //I've not.//
F978 I suppose indoors or, they couldn't wear them outside but they were //just actually cloth or knitted//
F746 //Mm.// //Oh right.//
F978 //an he was wearing this an we,// that was a great, we were always looking looking at these r- shoes, rivlins. An that was really fine going there, we enjoyed going there. An it had a beautiful garden eh around the hall, absolutely beautiful. Well it had been, I mean we we only saw it when it was faded
F746 Mmhm.
F978 but eh apparently it had been. We we used to hear people speakin about when they went over they would be invited over to kinda things, I don't know what it was, ki- not garden parties but ehm like ehm I don't know, women's days of maybe W.R.I.s //or something like that.//
F746 //Oh right.//
F978 They used to be always speakin about the gardens an the ponds an the lilies and ehm eh there was a, you know, just really beautiful sorta, rose gardens an pa- crazy paving an //all that.//
F746 //[laugh]//
F978 But at the time we saw it was just eh, you know, kind of it wasn't eh kept up or anything but it still looked lovely.
F746 Mm. That's a shame they didn't //keep that up.//
F978 //I know I suppose th- these halls are still// //used. Lister, was it Lister Cheyne that eh,//
F746 //Yeah.//
F978 he was a very prominent surgeon anyway an he must have spent eh long times in in Fetlar.
F746 Aye.
F978 It was called, that island is called the "Garden of Shetland". //Must be quite agricultural.//
F746 //Oh right are the things// Mm. //Oh that's nice.//
F978 //So that was// the, you know, the North Isle, when they talk about the North Isles I think ae the ehm these triang- eh three islands like Yell, Unst an Fetlar are kinda described as the North Isles.
F746 Right.

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Information about Document 1405

Interview 14: Woman from Uist talking about growing up in Shetland


Audio audience

Adults (18+)
For gender Females
Audience size 2

Audio awareness & spontaneity

Speaker awareness Aware
Degree of spontaneity Spontaneous
Special circumstances surrounding speech Interviewer wanted to find out about interviewee's experience of growing up in Shetland

Audio footage information

Year of recording 2005
Recording person id 746
Size (min) 44
Size (mb) 214

Audio setting

Recording venue Interviewee's living room
Geographic location of speech North Uist, Western Isles

Audio relationship between recorder/interviewer and speakers

Known via mutual acquaintance
Speakers knew each other Yes

Audio speaker relationships

Known via mutual acquaintance

Audio transcription information

Transcriber id 631
Year of transcription 2006
Year material recorded 2005
Word count 7453

Audio type



Participant details

Participant id 746
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1980
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Occupation Postgraduate student
Place of birth South Uist
Region of birth Western Isles
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Glasgow
Region of residence Glasgow
Residence CSD dialect area Gsw
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Teacher
Father's place of birth Whitehaven
Father's region of birth Cumbria
Father's country of birth England
Mother's occupation Librarian
Mother's place of birth Croydon
Mother's country of birth England


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes All circumstances.
Scots No No No Yes


Participant details

Participant id 978
Gender Female
Educational attainment GCSEs/O-Grades
Age left school 17
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Retired
Place of birth North Yell
Region of birth Shetland
Birthplace CSD dialect area Sh
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence North Uist
Region of residence Western Isles
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Crofter
Father's place of birth North Yell
Father's region of birth Shetland
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Sh
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Housewife
Mother's place of birth North Yell
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
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes