Month: January 2017

Talking Trump

A certain Mr Trump was the subject of the Althing’s February debate. Speaking for the motion “Trump: we got what we deserved” were Donald S. Murray and Thor Holt. Speaking against the motion were Jonathan Wills and Ryan Thomson.

Thor Holt and Ryan Thomson were kind enough to share their post-debate reflections and analysis with Shetland Life. You can read what Jonathan Wills and Donald S. Murray had to say in the print version of the magazine (out on February the 3rd).

Thor Holt

Having experienced the Althing for myself, I’m here to tell you that Shetlanders in general, and Althing attendees in particular, are unique. Actually, I was so gratified to have been asked to speak at Althing, which has no equal I’m aware of elsewhere in the UK, that I made the trip North just to get involved.
My argument was based on what I labelled “The Pogues Effect”.
In September 1988, my younger Brother Luke gave me a Pogues album for my fifteenth birthday. The trouble was, I instantly lost it, and while searching the house, found Mum in the Kitchen feeding the unlistened to cassette into our cooking Aga.

“Mum! What are you doing?!
“Thor, I’m sorry, but this music is evil!”

To be fair to Mum, it was called Rum Sodomy and the Lash, so her assumption of unpleasantness was perhaps not without reason. Like many folk these days, by age 15 I was an atheist, so didn’t do “evil”, “the devil” or indeed religion of any kind.
What was the result of the Pogues burning incident? You’ve guessed it. I went out and bought everything I could find by The Pogues, listened to it incessantly, often while drinking. Shane McGowan would have been proud of me.
This reaction by my loving, caring Mother, who was only trying to protect me from something she saw as unpleasant, is exactly why Trump got elected. Allow me to explain…
Three parts of US society; the old legacy media, establishment political dynasties, and the celebrity plus billionaire class had an understandable reaction against ‘The Donald’, who they perceived as unpleasant or even evil. Some of this was for good reason, some for fairly evident self-serving reasons.
However, by so doing, they built up a religious fervour which just made Trump more interesting, and voters all the more likely to listen or “buy into him”. And of course, just like an underage drinker listening to music he’s been told not to, many soon-to-be voters who’d been “ordered” not to vote Trump, didn’t tell pollsters their voting intentions either! “Evil Trump” religious fervour made that too uncomfortable.
There were of course, other crucial factors leading to The Trump win. Truly pivotal were the “speak blunt truth to power” whistleblowers, Wikileaks. The fact is, Hilary was perceived as “damaged goods” and once it was leaked that Bernie never had a fair chance, the rot really set in. Trump, with his willingness to say what many felt they are no longer allowed to, attracted worker votes, including perhaps surprisingly, three times as many Muslim Americans as had voted for Romney in 2012.
With challenges like Brexit, and the migrant crisis, many parts of Europe are becoming increasingly insulated, as individuals only engage online, and won’t select to hear opposing points of view.

Thor Holt is an executive coach, trained actor, and former TEDx speaker who believes everyone should be free to make a bigger impact. In 2011 he founded a communication training business www.thorholt.com to serve the energy, legal, higher education, and entrepreneurial sectors.

Ryan Thomson

When I was asked to speak at the Althing on the topic of Trump, I accepted without thinking twice. I was delighted to have been asked. I also thought, given I am standing for Council for the North Isles ward in May, that the opportunity to practise some public speaking wasn’t something I could pass up. Naturally, not being a Trump fan, I chose to speak against the motion, believing that we did not get what we deserved.
It was a very cleverly written motion, and much of the debate was spent picking through who “we” actually were. The UK? Shetland? The attendees of the Staney Hill Hall that evening? Mankind?
The foundation of my argument was that we could not possibly have deserved Donald Trump, simply because we were not able to vote or affect the vote in any way. We gave warnings to our cousins across the pond and the very highest politicians in the land informed the USA they would not like to see Mr Trump as President.
I gave examples of Mr Trump’s personality, providing evidence through numerous quotations as to the man’s character, touching on the fact he received 3 million less votes then Mrs Clinton thus losing the “popular vote”.
However there was nothing myself or my partner, the experienced Althinger Dr Jonathan Wills could do to persuade the attendees that evening that we did not deserve Mr Trump. Indeed, it was the excellent arguments of the equally experienced Donald Murray and his partner Thor Holt who won over the audience and eventually the debate.

Ryan Thomson is the director of Tagon Stores in Voe. In May this year he will stand as an independent candidate for the North Isles ward.

The inside story: Vaila Fine Arts

February’s featured photographer, the talented Liam Henderson paid a visit to Vaila Fine Arts.

Enjoy Liam’s stunning portrait photographs of gallery owner Dorota Rychlik (and her dog, Olga) and read about Dorota’s fascinating life story in this month’s Shetland Life.

Living the dream

This issue hosts a wealth of inspirational tales: from Dorota Rychlik’s opening up an independent commercial gallery in Lerwick, to the stories behind Keepsake Castings and Shetland Cleaning Crew. We feature some very young local entrepreneurs (such as Gavin Bell and Regan Williamson), and some whose slightly more mature vintages prove that it’s never too late to try something new.

If you are considering making your long-held business dream a reality, you’ll find plenty to inspire and advise you in this month’s Shetland Life.

You can also take heart in research findings (published last year) that UK wide, Shetland start-ups have the best chance of success.

Why is this? Surely Shetland should be disadvantaged by its unforgiving climate and its great distance from the mainland. Yet, these two factors may account for your average hardy Shetlander’s resourcefulness and enterprising nature. These islands (where during windy periods a short walk becomes an endurance test) nurture grit and determination. Shetland is an inspiring and energising place to live: and this is reflected in the entrepreneurial spirit which is on display wherever you care to look.

Island Connections

If you haven’t already done so, make sure you go to see Vivian Ross-Smith’s show at the Bonhoga Gallery. Vivian’s work has received positive reviews in the local press recently, and this exhibition is well worth a visit.

Vivian writes about the inspiration behind her work and shares some beautiful photos of her residency in Finland in February’s magazine.

Then and Now

John Coutts has kindly shared some wonderful photographs from the 1960s, when Up-Helly-A’ was all about squad meetings, preparation and making suits and props. In this photo by Dennis Coutts, Ernie Lockwood and Douglas Coutts are working on paper mache masks.

Intrigued by John’s selection of images for January’s Shetland Life, we decided to catch up with some of the people in the photographs. For interviews with Douglas C. Smith, Ronnie Gair, Rae Leask and George and Lorraine Jamieson, don’t miss this month’s issue.

In the hot seat

This month’s Shetland Life offers you the chance to see this year’s Lerwick Guizer Jarl as you have never seen him before!

It was a real pleasure to meet Lyall, and to be a fly on the wall for an “in the hot seat” interview with his niece and nephew.

If you’re wondering about what the Jarl’s favourite dinner is, or what his wrestling name would be, look no further than January’s magazine.

The Shetland Life team would like to thank Lyall very much for taking time out of his busy schedule to help us, and we wish him and his squad all the very best for his big day.

Finally, don’t miss our super-exciting bairns’ competition this month. You can win a tour around the Galley Shed with Lyall for you and some friends. Don’t forget to look inside the magazine for details on how to enter.

January Issue Out Now!

We are already being advised to brace ourselves for “Blue Monday” aka the 18th January, the day which the pundits have designated as being officially the most depressing of the year. Why? The nights will still be long, spring will seem an eternity away, our carefully made New Year resolutions will, by then, already have been broken, and our bank balances (hammered after the Christmas spendathon) will be urgently in need of a boost.
Shetland, however, is one place where the January blues don’t seem to hit quite so hard. It’s not easy to feel glum amidst all the Up-Helly-A’ cheer. If you’re directly involved in preparing for the festival, the whole month will fly past in a happy blur; even if you’re just a spectator on the night, anticipating the magnificent fiery spectacle will give you a much-needed lift. And if Up-Helly-A’ isn’t your bag, you can still admire the many fine beards on display and know that with each local UHA festival we edge ever closer to spring time.
This month’s Shetland Life has plenty to offer the Up-Helly-A’ enthusiast, but it’s not all about Up-Helly-A’ – this issue is crammed with lots of other great content. We are very pleased to announce a new bi- monthly column from the gardeners at COPE. We also have a crafting activity from Ana Arnett, Chris Percival’s reflections on winning last year’s Cooking Challenge and Chris Cope on the success of local band, The Trookers.
So, if Up-Helly-A’ isn’t enough to shake off your winter blues, Shetland Life should keep you smiling until February. See you then!