Letter to Shetland 2018
It is nice that you still have Vikings after everyone else has stopped bothering. I understand that they have given up raping and toned down the pillaging quite a lot which is good. It is not so good that they do not have pointy horns on their helmets. I know you say that they never did do, and that this whole pointy helmet thing is a made-up thing, probably by Hollywood, because Hollywood likes making things up, but it is a very strong brand and people expect it. As you now seem to have the only Vikings left in the world, you could presumably institute a change. After all, even Vikings need to keep up with the times and if the times demand horns you should think about it.
Anyway, I am satisfied that there is more to Vikings than horns. There is also axes and shields. I was very impressed with the axes. They are very shiny and seem to be made of proper metal which must make them very heavy to wave around and also makes me wonder whether the original Vikings could have made things out of steel. But then your Vikings are contemporary Vikings so this probably does not matter. Can I just say that, other than the axes, and perhaps the shields, there were a few times when the Vikings looked a bit like Roman Legionaries? Not that I know what Roman Legionaries looked like, because I am not that old, but I have read Asterix. Horns on the helmets might help to make things clearer.
Did Vikings really not have sleeves? I imagine it makes Axe-waving easier but it is very cold in the North Sea, and Norway too I think although I have not been there (note to check and confirm in future Jambo Gringo letter when visit has been completed) and hairy arms might not be enough. If I was Jarl (Note for those ignorant of Viking ways - the Jarl is the guy in charge - he has wings on his helmet, but still no horns) I would have sleeves and possibly a scarf with a dragon-boat motif.
Or maybe a puffin motif. Vikings like puffins.
I was very impressed by the boat burning. It was a pity for the boat, of course, which was a lovely boat, but nonetheless, it made a lovely barbeque. Although the inferno and fireballs still didn't make it very warm.
They, and the firebrands, did make it very smoky and sparky. I had not realised how fast sparks can travel in gale force winds and how they draw lines in the smoke clouds even when you are not watching on TV. I imagine firing fireflies from a shotgun might have a similar effect. Talking of TV, everything was very photogenic, but it is hard to get picture without someone's bobble hat appearing in the bottom corner. This is probably not your fault but you could help by taxing spectators according to the size of their bobbles. Just a thought.
I think carrying a firebrand led some of the parade to think they didn't need to put on so many clothes. I suspect this was a mistake. Cross-dressing men with beards and flaming torches still get cold if they don't wear tights. It was good of you to call them guizers because without the word guy being said a lot it would not be clear that they were all men. I am not going to enter the debate about whether girls can dress up as women and carry flaming torches too, but I suspect they can. Maybe the women would like to have horns on their helmets? I don't have a view about that. You could ask them, although listen carefully to the answers because they mostly have strong accents.
And it was nice to see the guizers doing their dances though the night. Not all of them were as good at dancing as they were at dressing up in drag but that didn't matter. I have always been fond of the gay gordons. I am less good at the dashing white sergeant.
I am sorry I had to leave at 3am. It is because I am a soft southerner and my eyes were still stinging from the smoke. The soup was nice though. It was right to take the lamb bone out before serving - Have you considered thickening it with some puffin? Talking of puffins: I didn't see any. Do you keep them somewhere special? I had a look in an old ruined round tower but there weren't any there amongst the rotary querns. The horses were nice. What do they do all day in the hail, sleet and storms? Have you considered introducing children's jousting as a sport? Perhaps with axes and a burning longboat. I suspect you would not have the health and safety concerns which might give others pause.
Oh - and the violin playing was very enjoyable. Not least because it took place indoors. Still not sure you should call it fiddling. But everyone was very skilful and I felt slightly jealous until I remembered that I don't want to play the violin. So three cheers for Up Helly Aa. Although it might help to find a role for some puffins. And I think it is time for a T-shirt campaign to get horns for Viking helmets.
Jambo Gringo 2018