Friday, July 12, 2019

Food Memory betrayed: Jacob's Club, ruined by the French, reclaimed by the Irish



Food memory. It’s a funny thing, our ability to recall the shape, texture and taste of  particular foods. Childhood taste experiences not only resonate down the years, but influence our adult food choices. We seek out the morsels which recreate past, innocent pleasures.

And sometimes, food memory deceives. Of late I’ve been eating Jacob’s Club Orange biscuits reasonably often, for one simple reason: my wife hates them, and so does my daughter, who was home for the summer. Therefore I could guarantee a secure supply of sweetmeats was lurking in the fridge when I came in from my daily grind of mild dogwalking, in need of a snacky sugar rush.
Memory played its part, of course. Club biscuits were as near a chocolate bar, a proper sweet, as you could get when I was a child in the 1960s, and cheaper than a Mars or a Crunchie.

But I’ve gradually become aware that the Club Biscuit is different these days. I always recall it as squat, brick-like, very chocolatey, very crunchy. It still has a hint of that that, but it has definitely slimmed down. It’s thinner,  there’s less chocolate. I didn’t realise the reasons for that, or that the Club is mired in fear, loathing, hatred, anti-French sentiment, anti- (and pro-) Irish sentiment. 
It all starts in Ireland, where, just prior to World War One, WR Jacob started producing the ‘Club Milk’ biscuit from a tiny bakery in Waterford. They quickly moved to Dublin and grew. It was a classic format: two biscuits, sandwiching cocoa cream, surrounded by thick layer of milk chocolate, wrapped in foil and then a slip wrap of paper. Within a year it was being made and marketed in the UK, from the company’s Liverpool factory. By the 1920s, the UK and Irish branches were operating separately.


The range expanded (orange, fruit, mint, plain, even a honeycomb version ) and became hugely popular in the UK, until in 1970 the Irish and British divisions of Jacobs were separated. If you’re old enough you may still remember the ‘playing card’ packaging used for the original biscuit, which provided the name ‘Club’ in the first place.

‘If you want a lot of chocolate on your biscuit, join our club.” The jingle was everywhere and there WAS a lot of chocolate on a Club. You could nibble it off leaving the biscuit layers shorn and naked. Oh, and despite many west of Scotland jokes, Orange Clubs had and have no sectarian connotations.
Disaster struck in the mid 1990s when French firm Danone bought both the Irish and British branches of Jacobs. They changed everything: The packaging (no foil, no paper, just cellophane) and the recipe. One biscuit, less cocoa cream, a different, thinner layer of ‘chocolate-based coating’. There was outrage. Sacre Bleu!

In 2004 things got complicated. Danone sold the UK arm of Jacobs to United Biscuits who reinstated the packaging but left the skinflint French single-biscuit recipe intact. The Irish arm was sold to the Fruitfield Group, and Jacob Fruitfield Foods was formed, who are now marketing the original Jacob’s Milk Club, made exactly according to its full-thickness, double-biscuit, real chocolate recipe. There are stories of legal action in Ireland to stop cheaper (and inferior) biscuits being imported. And Jacobs in the UK are apparently in frequent legal ‘communication’ with Jacob Fruitfield over the use of the name on a number of other lines (like Cream Crackers, for instance; you can see how confusion could arise). Then in 2014 United Biscuits was acquired by Turkish group Yildiz for a reported  £2bn and is run by a division of the business called Pladis, whose other brands include McVitie’s. Last year (2018) there were reports that the Jacobs biscuit factory was for sale.

As for availability of the ‘Original Milk Club’ in the UK, I know nothing, though I am hoping to source some next month during a trip ‘across the water’. No double wrapping, though, if the pictures are anything to go by.

In 2008, the massive old Jacob’s factory in Tallaght, Ireland, closed, although biscuits are still being made elsewhere. As for Jacobs in the UK, I have my Orange Club, and I quite like them. The thing is, before researching this piece, I had no yearning for the old, higher, double-sandwich, real chocolate pre-Danone version. My food memory had been traduced.

Now I want them back. Now I remember. 

A wee political domestic...




It seems nobody loves me
But you and the SNP
I know you’re quite particular
But I’m not sure about Nicola
Our relationship was full of promise
But in her e-mails she calls me ‘Thomas’
She never uses ‘Tom’ or ‘Tommy’
She's always wanting money from me
Her or that Peter Murrell
I'm not inclined to quarrel
But they don’t seem to remember
It’s six months since I was a member

At least you know how to say my name
And married life is pretty much the same
I cook your breakfast, lunch and tea
Although politically we disagree
About the basics of independence
We both hate the binary nature of referendums
(Although some say the plural’s ‘referenda’)
I detest everything about Eastenders
You never miss a single show
But there’s one thing we both know
One unifying truth we’ve been absorbed in
Neither of us can abide Jeremy Corbyn

That romantic, 1970s pseudo-Marxist
That deluded, arrogant  narcissist 
Who’ll destroy the Labour Party, given time
I don’t know why you’ve not resigned
But where would you go then?
You ask how I can defend
The posturing hypocrisy
Of the governing SNP
Navigating a road to ruin
When there’s so much they could be doing?

Truth is, I'm no starry-eyed student
And I wouldn't.
As for  the Greens and the Lib Dems
No-one gives two Tweets about them
And their fantasies of power and glory
Don’t even mention the Tories
Who - some of my best friends fear -
Could be in power for the next 15 years
In thrall to the far right
Led by a suppurating bucket of Etonian shite

Oh, it’s a crisis, all right; but let’s not make it a domestic drama
We both like Homes under the Hammer
And though, largely, I favour secession
We need to wait for a proper recession 
When London house prices start falling
And the Trotskyist Hampsteaders start calling
Estate agents in Wick
Saying: 'Buy me a shooting lodge, quick'
And Dion Dublin's advice
Is that Thurso is nice

I know, I know. It's a fantasy
Fuelled by daytime TV
So let's not argue, please
Have some more toast and cheese
Crowdie for me, and  Cheddar for you
Camembert or Rauchkässe would do
Cambozolo, Weisslager, 
Queso Cabrales or Limburger
Manchego, Roquefort, or Mimolette

At least Brexit hasn't happened
Yet.











Sunday, June 16, 2019

Trowie tragedy. Wind farm proposals blamed



(With thanks to Rev Couth Rivvens (retd) for this contribution)


As can be seen from the photographs which accompany this instalment of North Notes, disaster has struck the burgeoning community of trowies just off the main A970 near the Heights of Olnesfirth. It is understood a combination of the recent northerly breezes and marauding sheep have caused some of the trow offspring to come to grief, either through being wedged in crevasses, or simply falling over and being unable to rise from their prone positions. One trow has complete lost his (or her – it is difficult to ascertain gender among trows) hair.

The invisible presence of trows in the empty hill land between the Flossy Loch and the Burn of Eela Water has been an accepted fact for many generations, but their more public advent in recent times is thought to be connected with the prophecies of the 18th century hermit known as the Shunn of Sheenabrek. He it was who warned, in a statement made while he was being forcibly removed from a Christmas service at the old Hillswick Kirk, of ‘a great advent of whirling wheels in the sky over Hamargrind Scord’, which is now thought to be reference to the impending Contracts for Difference auction  regarding the Viking Energy windfarm at the Lang Kames. 

The Shunn also said, as he was submerged in the sea off the West Ayre by Kirk minister Rev Humpff Bailliwick in an effort to shut him up, that ‘the Trows of Flossy will stand guard against wind farm developments anywhere in Eshaness’, a  statement little understood at the time by  those watching. However, the appearance of, initially, a mother and father trow and what is clearly a flourishing offspring, followed by perhaps a dozen much smaller creatures (known as ‘micro-peerie trowies’, and once extremely common in North Roe) has caused much conjecture locally as to the relationship between windpower developments and the trowie population, so long well-nigh dormant, except in Bressay.

Suggestions that electric fencing and windbreaks be erected to prevent sheep causing further alarm, despondency and injury to the trow population have been vetoed by locals, concerned at the possible effect on the many tourists who stop to photograph and occasionally bend the knee in trowie-worship. 

A proposal for grant funding to carry out a consultation on possible trow-protection measures is understood to be on its way to the SIC, and meanwhile, anyone passing is urged to stop and rescue any fallen or wedged trows. An application for retrospective planning permission to site what is called ‘suitable trow accommodation’ nearby has been with the SIC Planning Department for, it is said, over 20 years.

There are no plans for any major windfarm developments in Eshaness. Yet. Though it is understood some steps have been taken.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Seven Waves - the finished installation


From now until September, the 'Seven Waves' installation by Erlend Brown and Dave Jackson is open to the public at St Clement's Church, Rodel on the Isle of Harris. See posts below for details.

Based on the the cycle of poems by George Mackay Brown called Tryst in Egilsay, which have been specially translated into Gaelic for this project, the spectacular sails painted by Dave and Erlend meditate on the tragic - and inspiring - events on Egilsay, which saw the martyrdom of  the Earl who would become Saint Magnus.

Seven Waves was opened on 1 June by Jane Ryder, chair of Historic Environment Scotland, the organisation which manages St Clement's.

All photographs by Lea Schuetz-Cohen






Friday, May 31, 2019

First pictures of 'Seven Waves' installation at St Clement's, Rodel, Harris



'Seven Waves' opens at St Clement's Church, Rodel, Harris, on Saturday 1 June, and will be there until September. The huge 'sails' painted by Dave Jackson and Erlend Brown to interpret George Mackay Brown's poem-cycle 'Tryst on Egilsay', about St Magnus, Earl Haakon and the murder of Magnus offer a breathtaking counterpoint to the stunning medieval architecture of this ancient Hebridean kirk.  All photographs by Lea Schuetz-Cohen.

A write-up on the project is in the latest Orkney News.


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

St Magnus sails into the Western Isles


     
Wave One: Earl Haakon, by Dave Jackson
     
     One of Europe’s greatest martyred peacemakers celebrated in Harris.     

             ‘Seven Waves’ is the first major art installation at historic St Clement’s, Rodel.


              Historic Environment Scotland (HES) welcome art collaboration  “of                               international  importance”


              George Mackay Brown’s ‘Tryst on Egilsay’ translated into Gaelic

              Interpreted by artists Dave Jackson and Erlend Brown – George Mackay                        Brown’s nephew

              Opening 1 June by Jane Ryder OBE, Chair of HES
 
Wave Six: The Men of Egilsay by Erlend Brown

The links connecting Orkney, the Western Isles and Scandinavia will be celebrated this summer in a major contemporary art installation at St Clement’s Church in Rodel, Harris – managed by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and recognised as the finest medieval building in the Hebrides.

Dave Jackson and Erlend Brown’s Seven Waves is an interpretation on a spectacular scale of George Mackay Brown’s cycle of poems ‘Tryst on Egilsay’. It’s the story of how, nine centuries ago, the devoutly Christian Earl Magnus Erlendsson, joint ruler of Orkney and Shetland with his cousin Earl Haakon, under Norwegian oversight, was betrayed and murdered on the island of Egilsay, ushering in an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity in Northern Europe.

Each poem, in English and translated for the first time into Gaelic by Ruairidh MacLean, is matched with a huge hanging canvas ‘wave’ suspended from the St Clement’s roof.

George Mackay Brown called the martyrdom of Magnus ‘the most precious event in Orkney’s history’ and Seven Waves makes explicit the Western Isles – and Scotland’s – Scandinavian heritage.

Ruairidh MacLean:

“Old Norse and Gaelic interacted a lot, especially in the Western isles. A very high proportion of the place names in the Western Isles are actually Norse.”

Dave Jackson:

“Erlend and myself have interpreted George Mackay Brown’s beautiful and insightful poetry in a way which conveys both the haunting physical landscape of Egilsay and the huge political and metaphysical power of what happened there. St Magnus’s martyrdom and his search for peace in a viciously warlike world has resonated down the ages and is as powerful a symbol today as it ever was.”

Being able to mount the exhibition in St Clement’s was both a thrill and an immense privilege, Dave said

“This is a building of worldwide historical importance and enormous spiritual and emotional power. Erlend and I really hope our art and the poems about one of Europe’s greatest religious and political martyrs is both appropriate and inspiring in this context. It is a real privilege to be here and tremendously exciting.”

Erlend Brown said his uncle would have been happy with the project:

“George would have been pleased with the translation of his poems into Gaelic as his mother (born Mhairi Mackay) was a Gaelic speaker from Sutherland and she was a strong influences as he grew up.”

Claire Whitbread, Exhibitions Manager for HES, said the organisation was delighted to be involved in the project.

“It’s wonderful to have been able to bring this truly extraordinary art installation to Harris, and to be able to stage it in such a historic and atmospheric space has really created a special experience. We have worked closely with Dave and Erlend  and believe that Seven Waves complements St Clement’s architecture and spirit, as well as bringing together aspects of Gaelic, North isles and Norse culture in an effective and moving way.”

Seven Waves is open to the public from 1 June until 1 September.


The official opening of Seven Waves is on Saturday 1 June, 6.45 for 7.00pm, St Clement’s Church, Rodel, Isle of Harris, HS5 3TW. 

Part of an earlier installation of Seven Waves at Birsay in Orkney

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 Shetland...it 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
worms.

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...