Sunday, May 19, 2019

Ollaberry Hall Sunday Teas: the summer of feasting begins

Martha arrived in a wet and misty Shetland at 9.00am off the NorthLink ferry Hrossey, and the islands were looking grim: grey, grumpy and not even slightly summery. It was no welcome for a returning Northmavinite on a week's break from medical work. And scant reward for a night on the uneasy North Sea.

But light and lusciousness were looming on this dreich Sunday. My daughter is 25, and so for a quarter of a century ( she began young) she has known the scintillating glories of Shetland Sunday Hall Teas. And Ollaberry is the king. Or queen. Or democratically elected community leader.

Some will say the teas on the West Side of the Shetland Mainland are as good. Others that the legendary island of Whalsay offers more and better baking. But I am not allowed to go to Whalsay (it's a long story) so I am unable to judge. BBC Radio Four made a documentary about Shetland Sunday Teas and did go to Whalsay. It certainly sounded good.

The truth is that all the Hall teas - where local folk, mostly women, get together to produce savouries, sandwiches, soups and homebakes in spectacular style and quantity, raising funds for the hall and local charities - are fantastic. My own local hall, Hillswick, is superb. It's just that Ollaberry, in my experience, has the edge.

In the book my son James and I wrote about our love for Shetland and its way of celebrating through food, Ollaberry and its teas feature heavily (so do Aith and Walls, actually). I know this is a sensitive subject. But today, all roads led to Ollaberry. For Martha, the holidays were set to begin there.

And as we dropped off an old steam ironing press at the Bruckland SCRAN recycling centre, the cloud and haar began to lift. As we arrived at the Ollaberry Hall, just beating a bus party of tourists, the sun began to shine. And inside, a very heaven of sweet and savoury delights awaited.

This was Ollaberry at the top of its game. From the array of sandwiches, including gluten free options, through other breads, cajun and sassermaet sausage rolls, mini pizzas, vol-au-vents, savoury bacon buns, quiches and other such pies, I tried to restrict myself and failed. But the cakes. The fancies, as they're called in was the delicacy and precision as much as the amount. And just when my plate was full, my tray teetering, there were the puddings...

To drink? Tea, coffee, and..."do you still do Coke floats?" asked Martha, wistfully remembering all those childhood Sabbaths.

"Of course," said Frances. "We haven't been asked for one for a while, but..."

And there it was. Forget your Proustian Madelaines. A dod of ice cream in a glass of Coca-Cola and suddenly the past was rushing through the bloodstream (I had to try it) helped along the way by some unexpected Pasteis de Nata action. Because in Ollaberry, baking does not stand still. Fancies are internationally renewed, constantly reinvented.

Damn, I forgot to mention the scones, fruit loaf, home-made jam, and of course the raffle.

The holidays begin in the Ollaberry Hall. You should definitely try it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

It's over. It was all a lye

Shetland. Rife with murder, people trafficking, lye, lies, floating bodies, injurious writing implements and Glaswegian actors pretending their glottal stops are actually aspirated fricatives. And an insufficency of sheep, in this series. What is Shetland without sheep? Well, Ayrshire, actually, where large lumps of this bizarrely-scripted mish-mash of Taken, Baptiste, 1000 Acres of Sky and the first series of Trapped were actually shot.

Anyway, here we are again and after that drone shot last week of Drunken Duncan waking up on a beach to find a whole heap of bodies floating ashore, the end is well and truly nigh. This is where we find out who's been leaking, where the red herrings (or salmon, cod, whiting, piltocks or whaddocks) have been lurking, and if we're going to have to put up with crew and cast descending on us again in the summer. Or whether they'll cut their losses and film the whole jing bang  in Glengarnock.

But, hey, suspend/upend your disbelief this instant! And Tom, dissipate your cynicism! This is television for those who don't live in the actual Shetland, or indeed anywhere bonny. It's a fantasy, a cozily spectacular character- landscape where all the horrors of the world can be dumped, allowed to send delicious shivers into those Farrow and Ballsed living rooms and then solved, wrapped up, packed comfortably away by Taggart-channelling coppers in pea jackets and Barbours. Not so much Brigadoon as Brigadoom.

Off we go, then. Big bad beardieman is deid. Zezzi is still missing. And there's an incident at Spiggie Beach (Drunk Dunc's bed for the night, and what a title for a novel: The Spiggie Incident). "Four men, death by drowning" says fantasy physician Cora, who knows her stuff. Three from the middle east, one of North African origin. And there's a leak on the team. Or Gallus Alice. Wait a minute, though, what about male model semi-detached hubbie Chris? He used to work in Angola. That's in Africa. Or Anguilla. Which isn't. Can't tell from the accents.

Security camera image of someone stuffing a knife down the drain at the guest house, thus implicating Olivia in some murder or other. Cassie's off on the ferry with her smitten junior polis cadet.

Sandy still hasn't been suspended. But he knows about the mysterious Nigerian Black Axe Gang of Benin (note: this is a real gang). Wait another minute! The Chief Constable has recommended that Sandy be suspended. But Jeemie isnae going to tell him. He's the only native Shetland speaker on the force! He can't leave! Tosh meets her paramour, Nerdy Boy, who it now appears is working at the fish factory and has proof that workers there weren't getting paid. Or something. Instead, Northlands Ltd was getting paid - and it's registered in the name of Alice! Background check on Alice and Chris, immediately! Don't tell Sandy he's gonnie be upended.

Oh ho, and if you will, ah ha - Chris was sharing a tattoo parlour or something in Glasgow with Dodgy Mrs Boyle! And he worked in Nigeria, not Anguilla . Alice, what do you think? Nigeria? Isn't that a country in Africa where there's a mafia gang called The Black Axe? Says so on Wikipedia. Alice, confess!  Do you think I'm trying to compromise you, Jeemie? Nah, ah pure fancy you, doll. Right, let's pick up Chris and get him out of the way.

Hey Chris! Ever been to Benin City? You wouldnae be trying to ruin me so you could steal my wife? WE HAVE NOT SHAGGED! How dare you suggest such a thing!
Oh, Chris hasn't been offshore at all. Well, actually he has, but he's been in Yell (an island in the Shetland group), trying to upgrade his house. Let them have builders! He was not employing slave labour either. This is harassment! Jeemie doesn't buy it. Not without a surveyor's report.

Might be a bargain, though, so off he goes to Yell for a gander. Chris is free to go, followed by an unsuspended Sandy. Not in the least obviously. Unsuspected. Aye, right.

Jeemie's in the suspect hoose in Yell. Chris is in The Lounge (a pub). Olivia's taking pills in the bath and is heading for oblivion. Zezi has written her name in sawdust. But more important than that THERE IS LYE UNDER THE SINK! Zezzi's in a cupboard. She's safe now. Jeemie phones Olivia who marvellously, magically and entirely stupidly awakes from her drowned state. Sandy (still unsuspended) is to arrest Chris Brooks "I need backup at The Lounge, now!" How many hundreds of times have I spoken those words? Chris has done a runner from a completely different pub in Ayrshire. Och well.

Zezzi identifies Chris as a seriously bad man whose house in Yell is definitely not worth offering on. Also, your brother's dead. Do you want to see your mother? No. Bring Alice Brooks in for questioning. I wish to flirt with her in a doom-laden and tragic way.

"This doesn't make any sense! You must have got this wrong!" Alice, we know the feeling. It's television, get used to it. Jeemie and Alice look like they're not going to shag after all. And neither do Tosh and Nerdy Boy Runrig fan.

Duncan is selling up "Is that your idea or Graham Benson's? You're being played." Chris is down by the harbour. On a boat. It's the big confrontation between Chris (who's got a knife) and Jeemie. "Call that a knife? THIS is a knife!" Phallic symbolism agogo. "Ah didnae wreck yer marriage Chris. You did when you started trafficking people!" Tell that to the marriage guidance counsellor. Come ahead, McQuillan! Or don't bother. But he had nothing to do with Hayes case. Of course not. Charge McGuire, Laird and Brooks, says Rhona. "It's just a drop in the ocean," says Jeemie. Is he trying to be funny?

As for the Hayes, it's back to the CCTV. Try the camera in Market Cross...Oh hang on! Isn't that...Rosie! Turns out it was all Jeemie's idea in the first place. Or Jamie's. Jamie (not Jeemie) and Rosie were in on it together and Rosie killed his mum and brother. But he pure fancied her anyway so he (Jamie not Jeemie) didn't care.

More murders in Shetland this series than in the last 100 years or so in real life, by the way. Good grief, there's still ten minutes to go. Zezzi and her mum have to meet. They do. Sunny day on the Knab. What is this? "I would give you a pullover again to keep you safe." What? Oh, I would give you up all over again." Or maybe there was a real need for knitwear. There often is in Shetland.

Sandy has been suspended! At last! Steven Robertson might be heading for proper acting again! That looks like an awfully final flounce out.

Tosh and Nerdy Boy - "stay and sleep with me though I wear socks in bed," she says, romantically. Alice blames herself. Her and Jeemie? "But you suspected me of murder and people trafficking! And this is Shetland, where vikings burn their wives!" Our secret's out, folks. Remember that if you're thinking of moving to the isles. "Come over and I'll cook you dinner and we can talk about your lying murdering husband over some lasagne" No. Och well, there's always Duncan, waiting at home. And pizza. There's some football talk. World Cups. Scotland. Don't go Duncan. Ah pure love you! Take ma money, I want to be a partner in your bistro. I know some people at the licensing court. Ah'll dae security.

And that's it. It was all a dream. Or a lye.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Episode Five: "I just want to integrate into the community!"

First off, and seriously: The loss this week to fire of the Fair Isle Bird Observatory (as featured in Shetland Series 2: Blue Lightning) is a major tragedy for the island and especially for the wardens and their family. The building was fully insured and all the Observatory's 70 years of records were digitised and preserved. But if you'd like to help the Parnaby family, who lost everything, there's a GoFund Me page here.

But back to the Archipelago of Death, and European Centre of All People Trafficking, where the tech boys are trying to crack a phone. Jamie's been abducted by Olivia. Blonde woman is in jail with only a tattoo for company. Meanwhile, back in Watsness, Zezi's alive and Nikki is dead. Rosie's got no idea where Jamie is. Sandy still hasn't been suspended.

Wisnae ma fault!

Blonde Boyle woman wants protected. "From who?" Jeemie, it's "from whom"? McGuire will kill Zezi if he doesn't get paid. She tells them where Watsness is and with Sandy (still not suspended) and Tosh, Jeemie heads for the house. A dozen uniformed cops are transferred there by magical means and appear suddenly at a brisk trot. Jeemie opens a Sinister Door very slowly. Zezi was there. She had chalk. It's a clue! Sandy says they need to see something. Nikki.

The house is rented from Duncan Holiday Rentals. Duncan, Jimmy's love interest/housemate/fellow dad. "You'd better not be getting into bed with these people Duncan." McGuire is on the run with Zezi. Blonde wummin was just doing what she was telt.

But there's been a sighting of a blue Suzuki. Jimmy sends Tosh to the guest house, which seems unwise. Sandy's ready to see his chances of promotion going down the rain. Probably wise. Tosh is retrieving a knife from a drain at the guest house. And it now looks like Olivia killed the Hayes. Whoever they were. I've forgotten. Oh, Jamie's mum and brother. So Jamie's in danger. And a social work report belatedly reveals that Olivia had a history of violence.

Duncan fancies a job on the oil rigs. He asks his pal, Alice's man, who's at last suspicious about Alice and Jimmy. Sandy is studying for his exams, or rather the investigation. "Nobody, least of all me thinks you were negligent," says Jeemie. Aye, sure.

Tosh's pal saw McGuire down by the fish factory. "Every nook and cranny". Gavin Laird, you're nicked (Not the General Secretary of the AEEU). Olivia's driving Jamie off a cliff, nearly. Where's my daughter? Meanwhile Gavin (real Shetland accent, or pretty much) admits he knew McGuire and was involved in a blackfish scam. Off we go to Eshaness, where Olivia is still driving Jamie over the cliff, nearly. Here comes Jeemie and Tosh. Jamie says Prentice...oh, I don't know. Something or other. Jeemie stands in front of the car, and swears he will find Olivia's daughter. Several times.

Alice and almost-cuckolded husband Chris talk turkey, or whether or not she fancies Jeemie. "I just want to be part of this community." Integration: always easier if you shag a cop.
She just wants to integrate into the community!

Jeemie and Olivia in the jail. No tape recorder, no second cop, no realism whatsoever. But hey, talk to me, Olivia. Your file is just a list of self-destructive behaviour. Why? I was angry. No-one believed me. I was abused from the age of 11. I saw the same thing coming for Daniel and Zezi. But the social workers said I was violent. I gave them up to keep them safe. But they weren't. I didn't kill the Hayes. Oddly, Jeemie fails to ask why there was a hidden knife down the cludgie of her hotel. She won't be charged because...because Jeemie likes her.

Chris has walked out on Alice. Jeemie's ready to help her integrate. you getting yourself into something, says  Rona Fiscal. I don't want to be the guy who breaks up a relationship. It's already broken, says Rona.

Tosh has worked out that a landing of immigrants is imminent. And at last, Sandy is facing a tribunal. Even though he's still not suspended.

Cassie wants to go back to Glasgow. She's a worry. Duncan - ever thought about early retirement? Dodge can always find another sheriff. You can gallop off into the sunset with Alice, integrating like mad. Wow, here's Chris. I don't want to get in the way if you two want to be together. I recognise the need for community integration. Wimp or what?

McGuire is off in the van (that's not a blue Suzuki!) on that same stretch of road that's been in every episode, Zezzi in the back. They're going to offer the ransom and get her back. Alice and Jeemie by the sea. Almost a snog but not quite. Looks like some winching is definitely on. The community is safe!

Sandy's interview is finished ."What do they expect us to be? Mindreaders?" And now, the panto romance between Tosh and gleckit nerdy digiboy. Cheer up everyone!  Duncan is pished, watching the mirrie dancers. "Did you know that's what they call the Northern Lights?" Aye, because despite  my Glaswegian accent, I'm from here. "Naw, ye're no." Duncan and Jeemie have a quiet, calm, sensible chat. "Ye pissed it all away one lie after another."

Right, endgame approaches. Olivia calls McGuire. I have the money. McGuire answers the phone in a petrol station. Doesn't he know how dangerous that is? He'll call back. Aye sure. And yet he does. Meet me at an empty byre near Toft. Come alone. Of course I won't. Several hundred police are hiding behind dry stane dykes as McGuire's van approaches. It's a trap. Mcguire has been tipped off. I suspect Alice. Who else knew? Another chase is on, in grim weather, Volvo versus Transit Connect. That's never going to end well. Crash. And it's a sunny day!

Duncan wakes up on a beach. He's feeling a trifle unwell. Never mind, a wee swim will wake him up.

There are bodies in the water. Zezi? Nope. Turned out nice again.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Hey hey, we're the Krankies...

Sandy's still not suspended, despite basically killing Calum Dundinwoodiewiddie. But hey, that's not important right now. Because I've just realised...
You're nicked, pal. 

...Perez and Tosh are The Krankies. I am now unable to get the thought out of my mind. Also, was it really fair to put a trail for Line of Duty, one of the most potent pieces of drama on TV, just before one of the Krankiest? And with Fleabag's soul-ravaging brilliance still fresh in the memory? Not to mention the fact that Derry Girls starts in 15 minutes.
Hoy Jeemy! Huv ye read the new Ian Rankin?

Onwards! Droneshot. Drones. I hate drones. Bring back helicopters and Jimmy Jibs. Bad beardy man and trafficked women (that makes three major series with the same plotline, roughly - Trapped, Baptiste and this. Concentrate! A cage has been rattled and Cassie's being targetted by Evil Weegies so she's back home. Have you seen Taken, Cassie? It would appear nobody involved with this save the scriptwriter has. Liam Neeson. He's awfy tall. Here's Jeemy's much younger assistant. He's old enough to be a proper cop, despite the braces and short trousers.

Sandy's still not  suspended.

Look, a blackboard with big photographs and chalk arrows connecting up the main suspects! Thus must be a murder inquiry! Somewhere they can't afford modern stuff, like felt pens and a whiteboard. Och, back to Burra. Calum's wife doesn't know anything. "Morag, it's important." She's no' helping "I think somebody's got to her. Watch her house!"

Sandy thinks he's a scapegoat. Never mind, there seems to be an unlimited supply of detectives on Shetland, and Cassie's got a baby one to herself back at the Lodberries. Sandy's calling his union rep. Carla was working for Benson, probably. Does anyone care? The Krankies are off on a trip to talk to Carla's son. He knows nothing. Oh wait, he knows Benson - his mum's pal. They saw each other a couple of weeks ago. Just good friends though. Like Jeemy and Alice. And suddenly we have wee Rosie with Jamie. She's the former caravanner/prostitute, he's the brother of Evil Prentis and son of Cassie, I mean Carrie. No, Carla. She has nowhere else to go. Damn, Derry Girls has started. It's on catch-up.

Olivia is still smoking those Capstan Full Strength. Jeemy's upset. Alice turns up with wallpapering husband in tow. Embarrassing encounter ensues. Back to Morag, who was warned, an evil female voice declaims on the phone. Cassie wants to know about Jeemy's reading habits. Suggests Love in the time of Cholera is better than The Broons. What's going on with you and Alice? Nothing worth talking about. Morag waits to get murdered in the dark.  It's OK, though she'd going to keep her self occupied with some DIY. Somebody's trying to set fire to her house. Och, the hammer'll come in handy. A domestic tool in the first act is always involved in repairs later.

Jeemy arrives. "What's happened?" In a flash his lightning mind appraises the situation. "The house has been on fire. Someone petrol bombed it." That explains the smoke, fire and burn marks. Either that or an Up Helly Aa procession got out of hand.

The two lasses are still being prisoners, despite the fact that by now about 30 pairs of neighbourly binoculars are trained on the house they're held in. Morag's in a council house organised by Alice. Cassie tells her minder to go and help his wee sister, she'll be fine. No she won't. Here's Benson. He's an acquaintance of her dad's. Cassie's generation works too hard, he says. Does she know his daughter Ellie, who lives in Ruthven Street? Funnily enough...

Morag was threatened by a woman with a Glaswegian accent. That could be anyone on Shetland, where everyone has a Glaswegian accent except Sandy.  Calum was forced to dump Daniel's body at sea. This had a traumatic effect on him, for some reason.

Sandy's still not suspended.

Marine Scotland have closed down their fish processing plant! They're scaling down their operation! Billy, find me Graham Benson. Donnie fancies Tosh, but we knew that.

Benson wanted to see Duncan, not Jeemy. "See whatever it is you're up to. I hope for your sake it's legal." Fortunately for Jeemy, adultery isn't a criminal offence. Alice. A kiss is more than just a kiss. It's a bloody mess. She can't stop thinking about Jeemy. What if she left Chris? Does she still love him? She doesn't know. Go and figure it out and let me know, says Jeemy. Chris and Duncan wander in and catch them not smooching though in a suspiciously soulful way. Ciabatta is served. The long night of Italian food begins.

Sandy's still not suspended.

McGuire is cooking Pasta Puttenesca for the two lassies he's holding prisoner. Lemony Snicket. There's beer. Tosh finds Donnie, living in what looks like Ayr. She has pizza and wine. A series of unfortunate events. Duncan tells Jeemy "there's no profit in womanising; you just end up on your own with everybody hating you." He doesn't know Benson, he claims. But then, he's pished. And asleep, unlike McGuire who's raging along with Guns and Roses while the girls plot their escape. Hard blonde Weegie woman arrives and has them locked up again. Everybody in Shetland knows where they are. Except the cops. They don't have binoculars.

Donnie is making breakfast while wearing a snorkel and singing along with Runrig. "Dinna diss the Rig" The first time that phrase has ever been spoken in the history of the world.

Sandy's still not suspended.
Fancy a gemme o' rounders?

Blonde woman is Mrs Doyle. Tea, Father? No, a can of petrol on CCD will do nicely. Her rented flat has sinister music and pink rubber gloves.  And a drawing of a butterfly. And, jings, there's Mrs Doyle. Cut her off Tosh! She's getting away! She's in the `Malakoff with a big huge stick. This reminds me of a Peerie Willie Johnson story I can't tell you here. That's no stick, It's a metal bar. Jeemy's no feart: "Tosh, gait her." She's goat. There's a petrol can and rags in the boot of her car. Jamie is kidnapped by Oliva in a most, ahem,  realistic fashion.

Meanwhile, Nikki's dead. Jamie's with Olivia. She's insisting on chips from Frankie's in Brae. He wants to go to the Happy Haddock.

Sandy still hasn't been suspended.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

My shirt is ruined! And meet Detective Chief Inspector SandieBoy Trafficking-Unit...

Note to self: Look at the Shetland credits to see if the writer of the first series of Icelandic Fat Cop
Bearded Perez thriller series Trapped is given any kudos. Because the similarities aren’t just
thematic. Leaving aside the illegal immigrant/refugee/washed-up body parts content, there’s a
copshop threesome dynamic, with an HL (Hapless Local) who in Trapped allows a prisoner to
escape due to hopeless haplessness, and Shetland (Sandy is the HL) allows a prisoner to stab
himself not-quite-fatally with a pen due to hapless hopelessness. Shoulda given him crayons,
Sandy, wax crayons. The kind you use for your reports. Stop licking your fingers,
you’ll get orange lips. Suspended, obviosusly, along with entire station. Oh. He's not. They're not.

To be fair the second series of Trapped (now on BBC4) appears to be an absolutely dreadful take
on Shetland seasons two and three, so the ‘influence’ goes both ways. Perhaps writers of doomy
northern island pseudo-Scandic drama meet periodically for brainstorming sessions on Faroe or
North Ronaldsay or, given Shetland’s propensity for faking the Shetland landscape in west central
Scotland, Wee Cumbrae.
Awright, whaur's the dinosaur gone? Embra? Whaur's yon?

Anyway, Sandy’s ruined that shirt. “Let’s give these guys some room to work, “ says Jeemy,
as the laundry operatives descend. The pen-selfie-stabber’s no’ deid! Hooray! But “he’s lost
a bit o’blood and of course I did a risk assessment! I value this shirt!”

“Inform the custody inspector! Get that shirt cleaned! Ya numptie, that was mah good pen!”

Wife in hospital, just in time for Calum to arrest. As opposed to be arrested. He’s deid.
Poor Sandy. At least he’s got a clean shirt. “This could get messy for Sandy!” What, hasn’t
he heard of Bold Biological?

I’m still going to Glasgow, says Jeemy, Ah pure need a Morton’s Roll. Aye, all right then.
Turns out Rona the Proc Fisc (oh, bring back Sutherland’s Law) has been having a do with
deid Carla. “Ye shouldie said! I’m still gawn tae Glesca.”

Here’s Olivia, wanting to pay a ransom for the return of her daughter Zezzi. “You haven’t got a clue,
Jeemy!” Naw, I need a decent flat white, ah’m oaff!”

Jeemy’s in Glesca, looking for banter, some decent batter, bad banter and some Byres Road
bohemian bean action. The production’s in Glesca because it’s cheaper to film there. For some
reason he appears out of Buchanan Street Underground like a levitating slow motion ninja. To
anyone who knows the city, this is a truly bonkers rendezvous. Jeemy’s contact -
DCI SandieBoy Trafficking-Unit (odd name, easy to confuse with Wir Sandy, and I hate hyphens)  
then walks many hundreds
of miles from a pedestrian precinct to a lane no-one can ever park in except on Sunday mornings,
when this bit was presumably filmed, and if you work for STV, which fortunately they do, even
though this is on the BBC, which is All Wrong.

First Brexit mention: Bringing in Eastern European women to marry Pakistani men so
they can get EU passports is coming to an end, so they’re busy.  Lots of social comment.
This is serious stuff. McGuire wisnae in Shetland for the fresh air. That’s a pure Taggart line,
by the way. Mark! We need you Mark! Off to see McGuire’s wife, who’s super sharp and an
estate agent. Perfect Homes. “Any decent hooses aff Wilton Street, rid sandstone, nae mair
as wan up, mah knees are knackered?” I’ll see what I can do.

Och, she’s not an estate agent, she supplies household staff. How suspicious is that?
Just use The Lady Magazine for your au pair, Jeemy, like all the other polis. Here comes  
THE BUSINESS CARD! Ah’ve goat wan and ah ken hoo tae use it. What's it say?
'Perez Counselling Services: Ah Nivvir Judge'...

Back in Shetland, Sandy’s coat’s on a shoogly nail. Shirt still clean. “Do you think I’m in trouble,
Rona?” I’ll have to wait until I’ve asked the PRC/US if you’re AC/DC or just pure DUMPED!”

Meanwhile, Jamie’s talking to Tosh about his brother Prentice. Everyone hates us. We ate

Back in Glasgow, those Chicago locations, Sunday morning again. Call from Tosh. Could
Jamie’s wounds be self inflicted? Don’t ask Cora, she’s just a pretend doctor.

Tenement close following McGuire’s wife. This is no the west end! Or it’s Yoker, and that’s TOO
west. A flat packed with illegal immigrants. No Zezzi. Is this flat for sale? Five bedrooms!
75 per cent mortgage, Jeemy: Ah’ll take it!

We’re looking for a woman with a caravan who’s got a snake with two heads. Oh, it’s a
tattoo of a snake with two heads and a caravan. It’s branding, apparently.

Back in Shetland, deid Calum’s wife is told to keep her mouth shut if she wants to see her
kids grow up. But Jeemy’s in the Radisson Blue Hotel in Glasgow (contra deal alert, free room
for somebody!) Possible Shetland squeeze phones  WITH HER HUSBAND LISTENING, and
Jeemy’s offered “always something left to love” as a summary of Gogol’s The Idiots or the new
Broons annual, or Wittgenstein's Tractatus. Jeemy wishes she was there (Glesca). She has to
go as her husband is needing a massage or a pint, or a takeaway. Dodgy sofa.

Glesca, and handily, Jeemy’s daughter is in toon. Are we heading for Taken territory? You
ain’t no Liam Neeson, Jeemy. Your skillset is pure bowfin. By the way. Like that jaikit.

Oh, Cora, shut up. Cheers for that. McGuire, first name Dougal is with Zezzi, still in Shetland
I’d guess by the state of the plasterwork. Mair Kingspan! Zezzi escapes through an
unsmashable double glazed window into the ineffably sparse landscape of Shetland.
Back in Glasgow, DCI SandyBoy Trafficking-Unit knows all about tattoos. We’re into ink.

Shetland and Sandy’s got a raging Calum’s wife to deal with. Tosh’ll talk to her. You’ll
have to contact the Independent Review Commission. Business card! What is this,
Monopoly? Do not pass Go. Do not collect any reestit mutton bannock soup.

Run, Zezzi, run! The very idea that no-one would pick up a hitcher in Shetland.
Suddenly we’re in a...castle in Scotland. A man with butterfly paintings. He’s an evil
capitalist tattooist. Do you have outhouses? Ones built on slavery for the Confederate
Army in the American Civil War? Yes! What of it?  And Zezzi is with two-headed woman
and back in the nasty pebble dashed Shetland prison. Turns out dodgy castle owner is
from Scalloway. He’s a Scallywag. Who didn’t mention the Hays. I have no idea why.
Oh, a photograph. Or something. Are they making this up in the edit suite?

Sandy’s shirt is in deeper trouble. Seems Calum’s wife is determined to have it remain
bloodied. Oh well. Olivia’s after Jamie to give him money to give to McGuire or deid
Prentice. Sandy’s depressed. There now follows a completely insane panto misunderstanding
re a date with Donnie. You wouldn’t get that in Trapped. Absolutely hilarious, but there
should've been a trombone on the soundtrack.

Jeemy’s daughter’s being threatened by Glesca neds. Haven’t we had enough of this
Big-Bad-Glasgow-Threatening-Women stuff in previous seriesesez?  
Och, let’s threaten anyway, in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and (almost completely ruined in the
redesign) Museum, bonnie lassie oh. Jeemy’ lost. Cassie’s OK.
But she’s not safe, not right now. Is it safe? IS IT SAFE? Call a dentist.
Back to Shetland. Duncan’s having a pint with Alice’s
renovating husband, who's shattered after plasterboarding. Cassie’s coming home.
The Neeson moment has passed. Liam, you have a lot to answer for, you and your skillset.

Sandy tells Morag she’s lashing out at the wrong person. He cried, he tells her. Och, no, he
TRIED. MY SHIRT! WHAT ABOUT MY SHIRT! Did Calum tell you anything at all? Calum
dealt only in men. OK.

Benson the expatriate Shetlander owns the McBay Hotel. He is a BADDIE! Despite
being a Shetlander. Impossible. Despite having a smoothie Glaswegian accent.
Jeemy, Jeemy, that’s an overreaction. Taking the eyes oot yer effin heid? Next flight home pal.
Liam would never have said that. He'd just have broken his arms, casually.

Duncan and Cassie, back in Lerook. Zezzi in the Pebble Dasherie. McGuire will
kill her if she tries to escape. Donnie and Tosh get together, apparently in a pub in Dreghorn.
Jeemy and Alice meet in the rain. It’s a snog. The husband is wallpapering, or
doing an advert somewhere. I have to go, Jeemy, there’s skirting boards to gloss!
Goodnight, sweet lady! Goodnight, goodnight...

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

No tears, no lye, no alibis: "Three murders in three days, Jimmy?"

Plot, right, we need a plot. Can’t use the books - too long, too clever. What about this? Chopped up body parts turn up on beaches. Usual isolated community, weird characters, flawed cop, spectacular scenery. Contemporary issues, well, maybe some people trafficking from, say Nigeria. Sorted! Shetland Series Five.

Well, actually, that’s Trapped, series one, from 2015, set in Iceland and very watchable on Amazon Prime. It has the kind of budget, scenery and weather (the latter two captured in phenomenal filmic detail), that makes Shetland-the-show look like a commercial for a certain frozen foods retailer. Trapped is very like Shetland, though, in its structure, characterisation and sheer daftness. Not a word of a lye.
"See if you look that way on a clear day, doll? You can see Iceland!"

  Back in Lerrick and environs, it’s episode two and the drain cleaner/flesh dissolver (selling like hot Izal medicated toilet paper from wir ain Shetland Janitorial) known as lye has evaporated.

Two more murders, Prentice and Carla Hayes. I suspect the copious fridge magnets, but no clues, even in the freezer compartment. Jamie didnae dae this, says Jimmy. But did Olivia (Daniel’s mum)? She has blood on her Primark. Quick test, white boiler suit. It's Hayes blood but they were already dead when she got there. She didn’t call it in because she needed  a top up on her phone. Pay as You Go, never a great idea.

 Wait a minute, here’s the daughter, Zezzi. Where? Dunno. Here’s Jamie, dead as well? Dunno. No, looks like he’s alive, just. Fake forensic elderly doctor locum person Cora: “Three murders in three days, Jimmy” She sounds delighted. More than in the last century in Real Shetland, if it exists anymore. I’m beginning to doubt it.

 Anyway, people trafficking. “I just find it hard to believe that it’s here on Shetland.” Me too, Jimmy, me too. And suddenly we’re in flirtatious mode with a woman with a part-Irish, part-Welsh accent who used to work for Shelter and is therefore empathetic and sympathetic and besides, her husband's off doing up a house. Let them have builders!

 Procurator Fiscal Rona “People are scared there’s someone going around butchering families.” Not Olivia. Jimmy thinks there’s something much bigger behind it. People Traffickers.Are you sure about this? No. Neither am I, Jimmy, neither am I.

 Illegal salmon processing plant. Manager in Oxfam suit was driving a van up by the Hayes’ place, searching for runaway smolts, or on sea lice patrol. He saw Calum Dinwoodie’s boat the Silver Darling nearby, the captain suspiciously reading a Neil Gunn novel. Jimmy’s on board the boat now. I’m thinking Keith Floyd or Rick Stein may be in the galley, cooking up some illegal salmon, possible marinated in lye. No, there are no chefs in the hold, just a handy credit/business/key/Monopoly card. Here’s Zezzi and Bad Beardy Kiernan (false identity) Man, with what looks like one of the Away Day Caravan girls from Episode One, but isn’t.

 OK, Calum was moving people about in his boat, Jimmy thinks. Better check out his house. Morag the wife is there with the weans, but the music says Calum is lurking suspiciously. That looks like a Kia. Could anything be more suspicious than a Kia? Only a Dacia Duster. Sure enough, here he lurks. It’s Volvo versus Kia. There can only be one winner, especially when Calum dunts Jimmy about the fizzog. He’s huckled. In one of the least procedurally accurate police  interviews ever seen on TV, Calum admits he landed the refugees off Scrabster. Presumably not the one in Caithness. These people could, it seems, have Calum killed in a heartbeat. These people are everywhere. Jimmy is "just some guy standing on a rock in the middle of the sea". Morag might be at risk. Send Sandy! He’s got a penknife. Or a pen...

 To the hospital, where Jamie Hayes, it seems, is ready to talk. Actually, nobody’s told him his mum and brother are dead, so he’s a bit upset. Sandy tells Calum he’s heading up to Morag’s. Calum is somewhat concerned. Jamie, remarkably recovered, describes what happened. He was stabbed by a silent someone in a ski mask, but his mum saved him. Jimmy (not Jamie) then tells Olivia all this, in a room with green wallpaper. Lots of talking this week. Lot of talking about that talking someone else has been talking about.

 Back to the Lodberries, where Irish Shelter Welsh Alice woman is here to see Jimmy. What are your plans for tonight, oh, married woman? I will never turn down a free meal, she says, when my husband is wallpapering. 

 Tosh is back at the Hayes house. She finds a picture of an old cottage which is probably where Zezzi and the tattooed not-away-day girl are being held. Unless it isn’t. Meanwhile Jimmy and Alice the Welsh-Irish rugby woman are having dinner and romantically discussing people trafficking. she used to work for Shelter, you know. Anyway, Alice likes talking about people trafficking as it shows there are folk with worse problems than her. She now sounds  sort of Dublin-American. Isn’t Jimmy tired of playing the grieving husband, she demands? Jimmy’s upset and goes for a walk. Dearie me, there’s an awful lot of talking this week. If this was Trapped there would have been a snow plough crash, a mass lobster crisis, a mad photographic stalker and at the very least an avalanche by now. We need MORE LYE!

 Och, Tosh, wandering around a sinister cottage in the twilight. You really should know better. Lights! Action! Jings, it’s Prentice’s cannabis farm! Such a thing could never exist in Real Shetland. Ahem.

Duncan tells Jimmy Alice fancies him and that he, Duncan is his housemate and not even slightly jealous. Sandy is threatening Calum.  Give me the names! Sandy gives Calum a pen, which is not a good idea. You can do a lot with a pen. Give me twenty minutes, says Calum. He writes slowly. Jimmy  needs a minute to speak to Alice. Good friends are allowed to analyse the shit out of each other, apparently, and flirt like crazy, even if one of them’s married. This is how they roll in Lerrick.

 Jimmy wants to go to Glasgow. He thinks you can get better espresso there. He's hankering for the West End. Byres Road syndrome. His boss doesn’t want him to go, not with all these new cafes opening in Commercial Street and needing the business.

 And finally we're back in the cells, or cell. I knew that pen was a bad idea. You should never have tried to work out a new plot twist, Calum. It takes more than 20 minutes and leads inevitably to extreme frustration. Now look what you’ve done.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

You wouldn't let it lye! Shetland returns. With the worst jukebox in the archipelago

Here we go! (Warning: many spoilers coming up; but they shouldn't make any difference, really.) 

Those are unsuitable clothes for a Shetland moor, if it is in fact not Ayrshire, where large lumps of Shetland are shot. But there are no trees, so it could well be the mythical state of Zetlandica. Or Narnia, post-apocalypse. Actually, here’s a fairly recent Land Rover Discovery, so it can’t be Shetland. We only allow Range Rover  Evoques here, maximum one year old.

Theme music, which sounds oddly like Emmerdale’s. It’s a sheep thing.
Right. Here’s Tosh, she’s having a psychotic episode. No, she’s just got her ear plugs in. Jimmy wants to know if she’s been out last night, when he looks as if he’s consumed about 20 pints of Jagermeister and a vat of sassermaet klatch. Face like a rhubarb crumble.  Or maybe it’s an allergic reaction to that next-the-skin gansie. C’mon, you were warned about that. Wear a vest.

We’re on Bananaman Beach, where there’s an arm, apparently uneaten by bonxies, otters (who are nothing like as cuddly as you may like to imagine) or the wandering packs of dogs Bananaman is famous for. Here’s Sandy. He can tell.

“It looks like it’s been…severed just below the elbow!” Yes. “Look at the fingers! No finger prints! They’ve been burnt aff!” Do you know what? I suspect lye. Sodium hydroxide. Don’t ask me why. Available from Shetland Janitorial, who also sell mugs and Henry Hoovers. Hey, Tosh what do you think?

“Any chance he’s still alive and bleeding out somewhere?”

Either this is a really dark joke or Tosh, you’re sacked. Or it’s a lye.

Right, here’s the Oldest Doctor In The World, pretending to be a forensic scientist. She knows her lye.  Someone tried to dissolve this limb. I told you about lye, didn’t I? Forearmed is forewarned.

Worse is to come. Glutinous slicing of peat, and, tushker laid aside, one man and his dog find a head washed up on a different beach. The Old Fake Forensic Doctor opines:
“It looks like he sustained a head wound.” Indeed. More of a neck wound, I would say. Like an AMPUTATION OF THE REST OF HIS BODY.

Right, we’re back to the lye. Sandy has discovered that the paper mill uses it. Good grief, how would Shetland survive without that paper mill, the only outlet for the pulp from all of our millions of trees.

Now we’re off to see a scrap metal dealer. All TV scrap dealers are sinister, especially ones with boiler suits and shaven heads. He’s called Prentice.. Jimmy instantly identifies blue barrels with tiny labels as lye containers. Has Prentice been selling that lye? Is he an illegal lye dealer? Tosh has her usual insight, though. Trust Tosh. If he were to use his own lye “he’d be daft as a doorbrush”? A doorbrush? What is that? Shouldn’t it be a hairbrush? Or a hydroxide brush? Or a toothbrush with DNA? I think that's coming up...

To the bus station -  one unlike anything which really exists in Shetland -  where that ancient detective trick of the pencil shading showing up the impression of previous writing is deployed to devastating effect. Pipelines.  Blame the pipeline! (People smuggling alert!)

Here’s Calum Dunwoodie or Dinwuddie, captain of the Silver Darling (one of several clumsy literary allusions: Gabriel Garcia Marquez alert) He’s Glaswegian and suspicious. (You're not making money. YOU MUST BE A DRUG SMUGGLER!) But not as suspicious as the fish processing plant which is up to its ears in black whitefish, allegedly. One big problem. That’s a salmon processing line. Farmed salmon. Ain’t no quota for farmed salmon. Tosh wants to dig a bit deeper she says. She’s suspicious. It’s whaddockgate! I suspect a red herring, though. Always suspect the red herrings, mackerel, skate or ling. Wow, the Shetland Catch folk won't be liking this quota-busting/blackfish theme. It wasn't pipes, by the way, back in the real world. It was conveyor belts.

Daniel – the dismembered body is Daniel – comes from Nigeria, but his mum is from somewhere else with a Spar Shop, possibly Wick or Thurso. In a flash she’s in Shetland, and upset. Good acting. Even Jimmy seems convinced. He buys her what looks like a pint of white wine in the derelict Westings, where Charles Trenet’s  La Mer is playing on the juke box, and not Steve Earle or Lynyrd Skynyrd. This is probably the least realistic thing in the whole production.

OK, here's the scooby: black woman, nasty wee white (peely wally) Prentice (shaven head, pickup, Confederate flag on windscreen). I think he may be a racist, Father. Oh yes. Is that a white hood in the back seat? Or just a seat cover?

“All the single men in Shetland are single for a reason”. There’s a Tinder joke. Someone’s stealing Marjolein Robertson’s lines.

Let’s introduce some prostitutes. In caravans. They’re not from around here. ‘Awayday Girls’ in Shetland to turn tricks for the druggy, sex-obsessed oil refinery workers. They arrive on the ferry, sleep with druggy sex-obsessed oil refinery workers and then go away again. Of course they do. And Prentice is providing them with boxes of tinned food, or drugs, or lye. My money’s on lye. They need it to dissolve things like, I don’t know: Nail varnish, or bodies. Maybe hedgehogs. There’s a major hedgehog problem in Shetland. They’re a menace when they eat the magic mushrooms. You're liable to get spiked.

Tosh is going on about Pablo Escobar’s Facebook Page. She’s having a psychotic episode. TAKE YOUR EAR PLUGS OOT, HEN! Tosh gets all the witty/most stupid lines.

Back to the scrappies, where there’s blue barrels galore full of lye. I want those blue barrels. Cut the tops off and they’re great for planting stuff in. You know, illegal plants. Like...kale. Or comfrey. If it wisnae for the lye. Washing is essential. Do you dissolve humans in here? No, don’t get ahead of yourself Jimbo. Only animal carcases. Like horses. And unicorns.

Possible dodgy love interest for Jimmy arrives, wife of somebody who used to do a lot of adverts who’s suspiciously renovating a house. Meanwhile, that Mark Bonnar, the gay love interest from last season, is moving back in with Jimmy as his wife has left him for a lye dealer sooth. Typical. One Hundred Years of Solitude arrives, as this is a crime show with literary pretensions (no mention of The Shipping News, which lurks beneath every barrel of lye and box of black salmon). That and Craggy Island. Those blue barrels are very small, Jimmy, not far away.

A mysterious internet video of Daniel’s sister pleading for mercy, help, money and a selfie stick pops up conveniently on a cop computer, where Tosh has been on Tinder (only works on a phone, dear, keep up, swipe left). See her and that laptop? That’s a Mac’n’Tosh! (Sorry. At least I didn’t say ‘a big hand, please, for Inspector Perez…)

 La Mer is playing in the background (copyright free music, budget saving move). Sandy knows his ProTools, and in a flash works out that there is only one juke box in Shetland it can possibly be on. The Worst Juke Box in the Known World. Next, Nana Mouskouri!

(Wait a minute. Was there a slow-motion car chase a few hours ago? Like Bullitt only on Tramadol and Stugeron, with Health and Safety rules ruling? Maybe. Who cares? Jimmy didn’t write off that Volvauxhall, which is the main thing. But why didn't the airbags go off? Cheapskate production values. Next you'll be saying half of this was shot in Ayrshire.)

POLIS RAID! To the Westings, which has clearly been HQ to a people trafficking operation, as there are sleeping bags and a message saying ‘Dear Inspector Perez, I am Daniel’s sister but I am no longer in residence.’ Which is just as well as there are more episodes, God help us.  Daniel’s mother has blood on her face. She shouldn’t have drunk that pint of white wine. It wasn’t even Prosecco. It was…it was…

Sunday, February 10, 2019

A whole heap of uploads, downloads, talk and music, podcasts and streaming

Apologies for presenting these in a lump of digital noise, but there's been some catching up to do.

First, apologies for the absence of 2 February's Beatcroft Social, which was inadvertently unrecorded...9 February is available now on the site with all the video from that dark and fairly calm (but cloudy) night, or you can listen to the whole thing streamed via Mixcloud here:

So there's that - plenty of interesting and reasonably pleasant music, some quite coherent chat, and Clive Munro's three tunes from the New West catalogue - and there's the Passing Place Podcast - speech (mostly; we add one out-of-copyright tune every week) from me and my neighbour Drew Ratter - the world and our lives, nattering and chattering from a Shetland perspective.

There are now three episodes - first one is just Shetland and poltics, the second is Up Helly Aa (local viking fire festival) and Brexit, and the third, just out, is Kindles, Martin Cruz Smith, books, God and the Gospel. Two very different journeys from faith to forgetfulness through Marxism and music journalism back to God again, sort of. And all available here: