Sunday, December 16, 2018

Beatcroft social as winds batters the Attic of Obscurity

Not that bad, to be honest. perhaps tipping 70mph at its worst, which is not quite up to the 120mph-plus winds of yore. This 300-odd-years-old house is still up, anyway, though it did shoogle and vibrate during the night. We're just about 20 of your old feet from high water mark, and in the past, the kitchen has been three feet underwater.

There's been rock armouring put in since then, and flood protection, but our power sockets are all above waist level on the ground floor.

Anyway, we struggled to get this show on the air, using a different system from the one deployed over the past few months. We just can't seem to get enough bandwidth, hence the lack of a Beatcroft camera and the audio-only nature of this programme.

And then the software we use, DJ Pro, began playing up, weirdly centred on a single track by Yvonne Lyon, which not only refused to play but also stopped any other track being uploaded for a period. After a bit, it was as if we'd cleaned the electronic pipes through which the music and chat flows, and it all began to work.

So get past the strange squeaks and blips of the first two tracks, and it settles down. I promise!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

A brand new Beatcroft Social

Here's a brand new Beatcroft Social (25 August) featuring the debut of Clive's Collection - a regular weekly feature with legendary Lerwick record shop owner Clive Munro choosing three favourite tracks.

Oh, and also a link to the page belonging to faithful companion Zetdogg, which includes the show and a brand new diatribe about 'cruisists', whoever they are.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

The latest Beatcroft Social show and some hitherto unseen pictures!

Here's the Mixcloud player for the Beatcroft Social from 4 August 2018 - and some pictures from round and about, taken this morning (early Sunday 5 August) on my 2004 Fujifilm E550 compact camera (6.3 megapixels, as you're asking). Old CCD digicams are capable of amazing results.

The badge on my hat, by the way celebrates the excellent band Aberfeldy and the Sandy Wright song they used to perform about the late, great Tom Weir. In case you were wondering.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Beatcroft Social, from Hillswick, Northmavine, Greater Zetlandica, 21 July 2018

Some pretty good music I think - Squeeze, Shearwater, Greta Van Fleet, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Roxy Music and a slightly more 'heritage' direction than usual... Also available with the webcam footage from Saturday night at 

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Going to Unst and Yell, Shetland's northern isles? Some hard-won, practical and very personal advice

Unst and Yell are two of my favourite places. In the world. Both are blessed with extraordinary coastal scenery, wildlife, heritage, craft outlets, artists, unique botany and generally fine folk;  Unst in particular is probably the best single location anywhere to see  early monastic Christian missionary and viking archaeology. Better than Orkney? Uh huh. And it is The Northernmost. The Ultimate Isle. Try the Westings, Or Lund or Norwick. It's like Game of Thrones only better. Without the bloodshed. Skye but no pesky mountains. It's got a Cold War Nuclear bunker! Maybe a spaceport in the future. There's a viking longboat and you can climb in!

In winter, things slow down in these redoubts of the dark-sky experience. And if you're a connoisseur of storms and winter wildness in a place where daylight can be the merest blink, I recommend an off-season stay. But in summer, with endless daylight and (this year) balmy weather, these islands are simply glorious places to find relaxation and stimulation.


Despite Unst's perennial status as a tourist destination, you need to prepare for certain...restrictions. Getting to and from the islands can be tricky. And you need to give Yell a chance, and not rush through it on the main road, thinking 'this looks like a giant peat bog'.

As for Fetlar, I'm aware I haven't mentioned it. That's because I haven't been there in  30 years. I will rectify this in due course. Or maybe not.

Anyway let's start with ferries. There is a ferry (big) from Toft on the Shetland Mainland to Ulsta in Yell. There is a ferry (wee) from Gutcher at the top of Yell to Belmont in Unst. The Shetland Islands Council inter-island ferry service appears to be managed  with inspiration from an early episode of  Thomas the Tank Engine.

Really, if you're taking a car and unless you want to queue for ages, with increasing panic if heading out of Unst or Yell that you may be stranded, you should book, and you can do that online. The website is a shambles, recently revised and now worse and much more confusing than previously. It's a 17 mile drive through Yell to the Unst ferry. Allow plenty of time between your ferry bookings. Don't race. There are loose sheep and some local islanders are permitted to drive without ever having passed a test. In cars which don't have MOTs. In fact, take a day (or two) and explore Yell slowly. I'll come back to this.

Also, you CANNOT PAY ONLINE. You pay aboard the boat. Worse, no ferry accepts cards, digital payment services or anything but cash and something called 'a cheque', pronounced Czech. I know, it's insane. There may be a reason for it. No idea what it might be.

If you have (or haven't) booked, the queuing system is confusing at ALL the ferry piers, the lane markings obscure or erased. And be careful, at Ulsta, the vehicle marshalling area is actively dangerous for pedestrians. Oh, and there is an inexplicable nearly two-hour gap every lunchtime when there is no way into or out of Unst save levitation or swimming.

Having said all that, at the moment you pay only once, to get to Yell from the Mainland, with the onward crossing to Unst and Fetlar free. Two people and a car is £19. Ask for a receipt (they're not given automatically, and you have to hand your ticket over on the Unst/Fetlar leg).

Unst. Take a packed lunch. In fact, if you're staying in Unst, prepare to cook all your own food if you're coming in a camper van, camping or self catering (for example at the excellent Gardiesfauld hostel or rather great upmarket Belmont House - disclosure; I do PR for Belmont). Hunting, killing and roasting stray sheep is frowned upon.

There are excellent places to eat out on the island, but accessing them can be difficult or impossible. PHONE FIRST. On my recent (4 July) trip, the excellent and much anticipated Victoria's Tea Rooms was inexplicably shut at lunchtime 'for a private function.' The advertised cafe at the former RAF Saxa Vord is shut. The bar  there was shut at lunchtime. The (highly recommended) restaurant at Saxa Vord was apparently booked every night for the next two weeks, and open only at weekends in winter (bookings only). The Baltasound Hotel, the only one on the island, is either not open to non-residents or the restaurant there is fully booked. Access to it as a resident from autumn onwards is uncertain. The Final Checkout  (garage at Baltasound) was overwhelmed when I was there - good soup and toasties if you can get a seat) and we were saved by Skibhoul Stores' self-service bakery and sit-down make-your-own tea service. Good quiche.

But really. On 4 July? On the island recognised as one of Europe's top tourist destinations? Yes, we could have visited the distillery, the brewery, the wonderful Heritage Centre, the stunning Boat Haven, walked to Hermaness, gazed at Edmiston's Chickweed, seen some otters. But come on. I NEED A CUP OF TEA! AND CAKE!

I must point out that during the terrific UnstFest later this month, at least one community hall will offer food every night for the assembled celebrants. and there are regular visits from the Lerwick Chinese Takeaway, operating from one of the local halls.

There are marvellous, welcoming B and Bs on the island but you'll have to arrange evening meals in advance. Self catering? Not so much of a problem.  Don't expect to eat out or plan months in advance. There are three shops, a really fine bakery and a post office; all of them very good and quite distinctive in their own way. The Final Checkout has the best selection of rare malt whiskies in Shetland. But bring particular perishable groceries, craft beers and fine wines with you. Access to fresh fruit and veg can be a problem. Mangos are scarce. As an old friend of mine from Unst told me, "until I was 14, I thought bananas were black." You ain't in Kansas anymore. Or Lerwick.

Now, Yell. Yell, I have to say, has flowered over the last couple of years like a rose, or a chickweed, or an oyster plant. At least you can get a pizza or a burger or a scone or breakfast OR DINNER in Mid Yell, at the highly recommended LJ's Diner in the old school. There are some of the greatest shops on the planet. A bakery. The Gutcher Cafe and shop has now reopened  as Geoffrey's so there is the possibility of coffee or lunch while you wait for the ferry to start running again. You can access bar services at weekends via the Mid Yell Boating Club or various  halls (I think). The superb Shetland Gallery at Sellafirth has a Nespresso machine (but you may have to buy something!). And there is the Old Haa at Burravoe.

You'll need to check opening times, but the Old Haa is one of the jewels in Shetland's crown. An art gallery with a programme of interesting exhibitions. A craft shop. A fine community museum and a beautiful garden.  But crucially, a fantastic tearoom with the best homebakes you can imagine, soup, sandwiches at lunchtime and proper strong Shetland tea.

And to get there, you need to take The Mystery Road from either the ferry at Ulsta or Mid Yell. There are other amazing byways in Yell, which open up some extraordinary beaches (notably beyond Cullivoe at the Sands of Breckon), cliffs, and overwhelmingly moving pieces of history, as at Gloup. It's virtually impossible not to have a good time in Yell, in my experience. But remember - there are no public bars, and no hotels. I travel with a sleeping bag, a tent, a Trangia stove, some truffles, a Stinking Bishop cheese and a case of good  Claret AT ALL TIMES. And usually a dog.

I may add to this post as other things occur to me, or as the flak descends. But I suppose it can all be summed up in one line.

Go to Yell and Unst. They're great. Check ahead. Book. Plan. Prepare. Take your own teabags.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Beatcroft Social, from Glasgow and Shetland, 26 May 2018 - technical details follow (and music!)

This was an experiment, or I should say yet another experiment in the continuing saga of experimentation which is The Beatcroft Social.

We have the site up and running, and thanks so much to all of those who pledged cash to support the development of our coastal webcams project. Your merchandise is on its way! New hardware has been purchased and camera installation will be underway soon.

This week, though, and for the next few weeks, the audio (ie, me and my choice of music) has to come from Glasgow, where I am engaged in some building with me using some dodgy west end of Glasgow wifi, a Macbook Pro, an AKG D230 microphone, an old Logitech camera, the iRigPre interface and a set of Koss PortaPro headphones, we set to work. I normally use DJ Pro to play out the music (which can come from lots of places - iTunes, Spotify, downloads, Mp3s, CDs, vinyl, cassette, Soundcloud) and using the virtual desktop app Teamviewer I was able to control, with almost no time delay, the Mac Mini with DJ Pro on it in Shetland. To connect my voice, grizzled countenance and occasionally my dog Dexter to our Tricaster system and assorted gubbins so we can vision mix all the webcams and relay them to our various worldwide servers, it was just the simple online web service VMix, accessed through the Chrome browser.  This requires no extra software or hardware.  It's like Skype.

To our astonishment, it all worked. Sometimes not brilliantly well, and there were a few glitches and dropouts. You'll hear all this on the Mixcloud audio. We're working to improve the sound of my voice, but the hospitals are all booked up...different microphone and possible 4G instead of BT wifi next week.

Meanwhile, The live video went out smoothly, for the most part, and Andy went walkabout in Lerwick with his iPhone to see if we could send in remote video and audio. That worked too. Next week we're really stretching the boundaries, but my lips are sealed...

Meanwhile, here is the link to the full video-and-audio show at shetlandwebcams. com, the 60N Radio tab.

And here's the Mixcloud audio:

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Beatcroft Social rebooted! Full playlist and Tom checks out of hospital specially…

Well, I must say...that was an interesting experience. Easter Saturday: The rebooted Beatcroft Social is due to go out live for two hours on the launch of the renewed and rebooted Shetland Webcams website, and key to our six-week crowdfunding campaign ‘Redeye’ aimed at securing the future of the project.

A new binaural audio setup at Sumburgh Head; loads of work done by Andy and Iain to get the show
on the digital road; much preparation by yours truly, a great playlist (in my opinion) and…

I’m in hospital. Have been since Good Friday night. Complications (suspected) from my angioplasty
after Christmas. Will I get out in time? Have a heart!

Well, it was all looking good at 10.00am, but by 4.00pm, still in my jammies, still in Ward 3 of the
great Gilbert Bain Hospital, I was becoming concerned. I had been given the go ahead to present the
show, but there was a blood test and drugs to get...if the blood test was normal, all was, if you will, go.

It was. Prescription filled, not at the Chelsea Drugstore, and off I trundled to the studio. Not in my
jammies. Though I’m not sure that blinding orange fleece was much of an improvement.

And we had a great night. I hope you enjoyed it if you were watching and/or listening, and of course t
he entire show is streaming (audio only) on Mixcloud here

The weather was wonderful, and the cameras, from 7.00-9.00pm (Shetland Time) showed some truly
spectacular scenes, including a ‘supermoon’ rising over Bressay, a wonderful sunset and the
beginnings of the season’s bird activity at Sumburgh Head. Heard binaurally due to our new and
excellent audio tech.

It was brilliant to hear from folk throughout the world - Hawaii, California, all over the UK and Europe
and beyond - and the generosity of supporters worldwide in giving to our ‘Redeye’ crowdfunding
campaign has humbled us all. Thank you so much. Anyone who wants to contribute can do so
here. And remember there are all sorts of incentives - mugs, T-shirts, a special, private
midsummer online gig - as well as namechecks and belonging to our exclusive Redeye club.
If we have a club, which I’m sure we do...

We’re back live next Saturday, with our regular Shetland Sunday Teas round-up and more
features. I’m sure my health will hold up, but hey, the Gilbert Bain Hospital is only a couple of
minutes from the studio.  Meanwhile, here’s the playlist for Saturday night. Happy to try and
fulfil your requests, by the way, if they’re not too obscure. Thank you all so much
- and thanks to Shetland Broadband for sponsoring the show. See you soon.

The Jam: That’s Entertainment
Brinsley Schwarz: What’s So Funny (About Peace, Love and Understanding)
Paul McCartney: Wanderlust
Martin Stephenson and the Daintees: Wholly Humble Heart
Wilson Pickett: Let’s Get An Understanding
Rod Stewart: You Wear It Well
Chris Difford: 1975
Glenn Tilbrook and the Fluffers: The Best of Times
T Rex: Jeepster
Kim Richey: Wreck Your Wheels
Gretchen Peters: The Aviator’s Song
Manic Street Preachers: Dylan and Caitlin
Tom Russell and Eliza Gilkyson: The Sparrow of Swansea
Any Trouble: The Trouble With Love
Elvis Costello: Pump It Up
Flamin’ Groovies: Shake Some Action
Culture: Two Sevens Clash
Lee Dorsey, Betty Harris: Love Lots of Lovin’
Dropkick: Out of Tune
Rubinoos: I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
Shocking Blue: Send Me a Postcard
Incredible String Band: The Hedgehog Song
Son of the Chief: Seasons Change
Richard and Linda Thompson: I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

This is the end, beautiful, come on guys..Shetland, Series Four, the final episode. It was all a dream

Douglas Henshall issued a warning on Friday night that this final episode of Shetland, Series Four was going to be so disturbing you should "be around people you like." Possibly because you'd be so upset by the sheer dramatic potency of the experience, and therefore needing succour and comfort. Or perhaps so infuriated by the storyline's bonkersness you'd lash out in fury at anyone you didn't like, potentially providing some business for your local Perezes and Toshes...put that empty bottle of Shetland Reel gin down...slowly...

Anyway, I hope you found a suitable shoulder to weep on/an enemy to shout abuse at/a cat to kick/wall to headbutt. 

Also on Twitter during the week, this interchange: Ian Rankin claims - claims - to know nothing of any beach barbecue or Rebus having a fling with twin sisters called Killiecrankie. A likely story!

Note: Broch, not a kiln. Nor, for that matter, a tattie hoose or sheep fank, both of which are quite, quite different from a kiln. Unless you're making a TV crime show, of course.

Before plunging recklessly into the peat bog of confusion and misdirection which is the final episode of Shetland, Series Whatever It Is, a word: and that word is Lerwick, or Lerrick. Or as Minnie Mouatt from Unst told me, Lerook. Doogie (if he was here he would tell you) and other members of the cast have been told to say Lerrick, which, in the casual mouths of deep-dyed non-Shetland dialect speakers, (reverse-knappin' is the term, as opposed to knappin, which is when native Shetlanders speak precise English) sounds ingratiating and incorrect. The accents are a hilariously semi-Skoattissch mess, in truth, apart from the indefatigable and woefully under-used Steven Robertson, who Really Does Come From Here. Not that this will bother Douglas Henshall, according to top thriller scribe Christopher Brookmyre (SWEARINESS ALERT!)
Thanks for that Douglas. Always a pleasure. Right, here we go:
Yooz talking' tae me? Ah'm the oanly wan heer pal. Who the hell else wid ye be talkin' tae? Help ma boab!

Chilling, says the continuity person, it's a chilling series finale. Don't know about you, but I am chilled. And cue the drone, the eye of God: It's the Volvo, giving it Scandic car all over the place. Jimmy's pea jacket meanders moodily towards the Wildlife Sanctuary (where are the animals?) and a hunted looking Donna Killick. And we're looking at the beach barbecue on 8mm (transferred digitally; film is always better. Go Analogue!) Alan's father? Gone by then, says Donna. 'Duncan and Lizzie seemed quite close, don't they?'
 Dunc's in trouble!

'Who is Duncan, anyway?' Over to you, Tosh. Take a deep breath: 'He was DI Perez's late wife's first husband, the father of his step daughter.' Chinatown without the sordid bits! No wonder scary Glasgow eyebrows detective is looking shell shocked. And here's Jimmy at Duncan's house. Picture of the deadly scarf that strangled LIzzie Kilmarnock's deffo Duncan's. We've seen the video.

'Any idea how it got wrapped around the neck of a dead girl?'
Dunno. Maybe the scarf is...haunted? Like...a magic scarf? Shetland knitwear has special powers, after all
'You're going to have to tell me about you and Lizzie Kilmuir.'
Perez is looking hungover, very unshaven and in need of some blood pressure tablets, or a drink. Or both.
'Cassie's Alan's half brother, isn't he?' Well, yeah. But naw. wont't mind giving me a DNA, ya swab? Let it go, Jimmy, we love each other.
 Naw. Ah cannae dae that Dunc. Geeza a swab ya bam. It's Chinatown! Nope, It's Taggart, baby, but with seagull noises.
It wisnae like this in Line of Duty

And here's Thomas Malone, lurking at what is clearly  Loch Thom, just above Greenock,  with trees and a shotgun, giving it beer can destruction all over the place. Never mind, he'll be back in Shetland momentarily. Doubtless via Gourock and the Dunoon ferry.

Dunc gets swabbed. Eyebrow tec is upset at not being kept in the loop. Julie the Stern Fiscal says wait and see. We're at Lizzie's grave with Kate and her daughter. And then we're not.

Sandy breaks the news to the team:  It's Duncan's DNA on the scarf and he's Alan Killick's dad, and unless I get more to do in the  next series, I'm off. Possibly to Wick, or worse, maybe River City. 

Well, holy genetics, Batman! It's Second Dad! Does Mark Bonnar want out that badly? Does Craiglang beckon for him too?
'He's just another suspect'. Aye, right. Let's head off to the awfy dear Fjogstad kit house with the balcony. 
'Duncan Hunter, you are being detained because it clearly wasn't you.' Nice house. Good beard. Jimmy wants a beard like that. He's been trying to grow one for six weeks.

'This is Shetland so it's always personal.' Aw come on, no way is dad interviewing dad. I'm with eyebrow woman and every other real cop watching this. Anyway, to the interview, and Duncan  admits having a do in 1993 with Donna Killick (and getting her pregnant) but he didn't do the dirty with Lizzie. He gave her the scarf because she was cold. A real man would've given her a jacket. Yes, he sort of half-guessed that Alan was his son. Did Sally McColl know that Duncan was Alan's father? Dunc offered her a lift home after the folk festival, but she turned it down. 'Do you really think I murdered Lizzie and Sally? - it wisnae me!'
Eyebrow woman: 'Well, somebody did.'
Do they seriously expect us to actually say this stuff out loud?

Jimmy to Cassie: Look pet, it's like this: Alan's your brother, Duncan's his dad, Duncan's been arrested, I've arranged some psychiatric help. Oh, and he was with your now-deid mum when this was going on. Chinatown! But in a decent, Scottish sort of way. Nobody gets their nostrils slit here.

Molly Killick comes to see Malone, her phone set to record. This is really messed up, as we all think he's HER dad (she's 23 and still at the Anderson High School, as often happens)  and he's mainly wearing a towel. Thank God he's putting on a shirt. Why did you leave flowers at Lizzie's grave? Because she was my friend. Jings, she's trying to seduce him, clumsily. Entrapment. Will violence ensue? Find out in a minute.

Now we've got Duncan in jail. Jimmy: were you sleeping with Lizzie? 
'Naw. I did not kill Lizzie. I did not kill Sally. And when I say that to you Jimmy I expect you to believe me. Because I love you. Sally knew I was Alan's dad - she had a go at me and said I should tell him. I was ashamed and I didn't want to Cassie to know. I swear on Cassie's life...I do not want to go to River City!' And, hell, that's enough for Jimmy.

'Well, I think he's telling the truth.'  And possibly the best line in the whole series: 'It doesn't make complete sense...'
Well, anyway. Donna told Sally that Alan's Duncan's son.

A BIG CLUE! A hitherto unchecked picture from Sally McColl's pen drive that she got in Norway from a woman...oh never mind. Anyway Donna Killick is in the background of said picture, which was  taken on the Unst ferry in 1993. Easy to tell as they were still using sail and oars back then on the Bluemull Sound. It was Donna dunnit. Course it was.

Suzuki Jimny sighted! Hooray!  Kate's at Thomas Malone's where Molly is unharmed but upset. I wanted to make him confess, she confesses, confessionally. But he didn't.
'Boath of yeh get oot noo.' Oh, and another thing, says Kate, casually. They've arrested Duncan Hunter for Lizzie, just so you know. WE KNOW! 

Donna Killick interview. The clue was in the name all along. Kill. Ick! Though it could have been Kill More, or Muir, obviously. Subtle. 'I didn't know what else to do! It was her or me!' Just to be clear are you saying...YES! YES YES! YES!

I think that's a 'yes'.

'But not Sally. I don't know who that was'.


Malone's off wandering with his shotgun. Clearly he's going to want to kill Duncan! Nurse, the Atenolol!

So, it turns out that the photographs  proving whodunnit  went to (and were destroyed by) former copper Drew McColl ( who was having an affair with Donna Killer, remember?) He's a golfer! Very suspicious. Conclusive I'd say. Mashie! Niblick!

I know you buried evidence and framed Malone, says Jimmy. Donna Killick confessed, Drew, yoo durty ex-busy yoo. Put down the five-iron. 
'She's trying to protect me. I killed her! It was me!'
'No, you didn't.'
'Och, Okay then. Enough. I need to shave and so do you. I loved her. I was doing us all a favour. Malone's beard needed hidden from the world. Oh, and by the way I killed Sally, even though she was my daughter. Because....I just didn't like her very much.'

Meanwhile, what is Malone listening to on those orange headphones as he patrols the Market Cross with his gun? I vote for Daniel O'Donnel or possibly The Great Sydney. Now he's in Duncan's house and it's looking like nae mair Cassie's other dad. Mark Bonnar must have got a better offer right enough. But there's going to be a lot of talking first, of course

Dunc: You think I killed Lizzie?
Ah don't think. Ah know. Stephen Walters (Malone) is Liverpudlian.

Jimmy arrives. Thomas, Duncan's telling the truth. Thomas isn't convinced.  Don't do it Thomas! Cue standard face-off/talkdown/weeping/taking the gun off him scene. Sobbing. The beard is swimming. There, there. Jimmy has the gun and Duncan...he lives! Still ten minutes to go though. somebody's got to die, surely! Somebody we care about, or what was the point of that MISLEADING TWEET, Henshall? I'm guessing Sandy. Steven Robertson must be fed up with this.

'You know ,Thomas you've been very badly treated.' Tosh knows. Tosh cares. And we care. Arrest him for firearms offences, for goodness' sake.

Wait a minute! Thomas is having a neart attack. Has nobody checked his cholestorol? He's spilt his coffee. Drip, drip. His life is dripping away. Let me repeat that: His LIFE is DRIPPING away like the COFFEE. This is not going to look good. Police brutality! Paramedics, more coffee dripping. I can tell you that (1) The real Shetland NHS would have saved him, no question and (2) I'm not supposed to be giggling. But wait, birds are tweeting and his spirit is flying free in a drone over Lerwick like...a silent drone thing! It's like...his eyes have become a camera! Or a bird. Or a helicopter. Or an angel. A bearded angel...

Never mind, Duncan's alive, Cassie's OK (kinda) Jimmy's OK (kinda) and he loves Cassie though he still hasn't shaved. 'You're gonnie huv tae speak tae Duncan. Your maw wid want ye tae forgive him, and Alan's gonnie need the boath o' ye.' he comes! The Silver Shagger, father of at least 20 children the length and breadth of Shetland! River City is postponed!

The End

But wait a minute:

So you're telling me that the entire fascism/deaf artist subplot and the Norwegian trip was all a red herring? Lars, Whitrit laddie, Matthias, the portrait of the dog, the whole Wes Anderson thing? Just so you could get a jaunt to Norway? After all, the crucial Sally McColl thumb drive was already in the cop shop.

And you THREW AWAY the was-Malone-Molly's-dad/was Kate really Lizzie theme. Cowardly. Or perhaps you realised 23 was slightly old to still be at school. Doh!

No pulleys in this episode. Shameful.

But wait, here's continuity woman: Shetland will return next year WITH A NEW SERIES!

May God have mercy on us all. Who will Duncan have turned out to be the father of next?

Thank you for bearing with me through all this. Your support is valued. We shall speak again in a year or so. Possibly.

Walk in the footsteps of Jimmy P:

WARNING: There is apparently A SOUNDTRACK ALBUM! It WAS Daniel O' Donnell!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Shetland, series four, episode five: "Is this the social work department?" Killer heels and what's more, Thomas Malone has a shotgun in his house, which "I didn't search because I have delicate sensibilities and didn't want to mess up my handknits"

Hooray,  artist woman Jo Halley is not deceased! Which is good because we'll maybe see some more of Ruth Brownlee's excellent landscape paintings, used to illustrate the fact that Jo Is An Artist. Have a look at Ruth's website, which is here.  And that means you'll be able to see the pictures properly...

Anyway, Sandy is very upset. He's sitting on a rock, and that's how you get piles, my mother used to say.  He's feeling guilty. And cold. That jacket's useless for Shetland, even in the summer. Jo's at the hospital. Alan Kilmarnockintilloch arrives, but the abusive ex-husband is much on Jimmy's mind. Still,  Alan bothers him. He's "like a bad penny, that boy". And of course Alan is hanging out with Cassie too. That's Jimmy's daughter, and Duncan's in case you'd forgotten. Keep up!

Thomas Malone is in his kitchen. With shotgun cartridges, which he smells lasciviously. Jimmy briefs his team, glumly. The heavy mob, all Primark and Slaters Menswear, arrive from Glasgow, preferring their planes a little bigger and their runways a little longer. And their eyebrows a little more defined. Please tell me you searched Malone's farmhouse? No, I didn't want to catch my hand-knits on the skelfs and besides I might find he had an unlicensed shotgun. "Have a I stumbled into the social work department by mistake?" Not one bounded by any local government legislation I'm familiar with, darling.
Leave my eyebrows out of this, copper!

And so the suited and booted Glaswegians break into Malone's while Lars ("is he here to take a statement or make a  statement?") is in the shop of cops, grooming his upswept quiff in a suspicious manner.

(I'm grateful to emininent film critic Paul Anderson for pointing out the resemblance between Dodgy Lars The Whitrit (stoat-faced) Norwegian and Morten Harkett from the band Aha. Personally, I feel that's unfair to all Mortens, and indeed Mortons.) 

Wow, here's Downing, abusive ex-husband, completely out of the blue, not so much a red herring as a fish so out of water he's evolving into an iguana. Who it turns out was in Shetland all the time. For ALL FOUR PREVIOUS EPISODES! Apparently Jo wanted to see him, he says, to apologise and maybe start over. Do you know what? I don't believe you, says Jimmy. You're right, I don't believe myself, says Downing. I only read this stuff out. I did hit her when I was in prison but I've been to counselling and turned my life around and saw the light and I'm now a Buddhist with artistic tendencies and I came up here to see if she'd take me back. He lapses into cockney:

Oy nevver laid an 'and on her, guv, and that's ver god's honest troof! 
Most convincing accent in the entire series.

Stiletto Glesca woman: Malone wasn't there, any idea where he is Jimmy? Walking, maybe. Walking back to happiness? Wow, snappy dialogue, it could be Raymond Chandler. Or Glenn Chandler. Or Chandler from Friends. Or none of the above.

Here's Cassie and Alan, having a tete-a-tete on the beach next to Jimmy's house (actually Bain's Beach next the Lodberrie in Lerwick) Jimmy asks him if he was at Jo's last night, beating her up. No, he was walking on the beach next to the Wildlife Sanctuary, where nobody saw him. He turned up in the morning to ask Jo if she fancied some breakfast. As you do. Those breakfast dates are a big in Shetland. Sassermaet  is so romantic. And so healthy. (It's like Lorne Sausage, if you're wondering. Square slice but hairier).

Sinister Lars grins at Tosh, who's too busy for sassermaet, wisely. Lars thinks Jo made up 'this whole thing with me... I mean the Norwegian guy.' And suddenly Tosh realises that Lars has been here before, last week in fact. He's a wee liar. SOMETHING IS HAPPENING! It's the penultimate episode! I see glimmers of a plot. A taxi picked Lars up from either the airport (first scene) or ferry (second scene). She tells Jimmy, which is a relief. Because Tosh is really the only person in this whole show we care about. Jimmy phones blonde Bergen cop person and yes, Lars was lying. He's off to the airport and Must Be Stopped. Or maybe the ferry terminal. Planes, boats: what's the difference? It's an island!

Jo's awake! Sandy's with her 'You're safe now' What, with you, Sandy, are you joking? Even though you know kung fu. Look out, Lars is at the hospital  and Sandy's gone 'to fetch someone'. Careless.

OK, this really is pushing it a bit, scriptwriters: There's CCTV of Sally which seems to show her being given something by a woman in Bergen. Then there's INCREDIBLY detailed CCTV at Sumburgh Airport. 'What's that on her keyring? It wasn't there in Bergen!' Hang on a minuite, let me look''s a microbe! It's a rabbit's foot! No, it's a memory stick which handily, they have at the police station in Lerwick. Or Lerrick as Jimmy calls it, wrongly. Footage from this memory stick is shown.  'Looks like a meeting of far right groups' and...there's Lars! He's a Nazi And he is still in the hospital Come on, Sandy, you know kung fu! 
Aw, naw, that sassermaet sandwich is pure bowfin'

Lars is heading for the ferry. He's at NorthLink, trying to sneak past security onto the MV Hrosseyland. Has he got a St Magnus Lounge voucher?  Did Tosh really just say someone was on their way from Lossiemouth, and would be at least 30 minutes? By supersonic magical voodoo rocket manifestation, presumably. And now we're on the boat. (I always have the  Shepherds pie and 10mg of Phenergan.) Lars is in the kitchen and he now has a knife.

Tannoy announcement. There will be a delay leaving Lerrick. IT'S LER-WICK! Unless you're from Vidlin.

Car deck. Lars is hiding from Jimmy. He steals a car and the shortest and cheapest car chase in the history of TV crime ensues. He drives into...a police car, before running up the stairs. Exciting! Put the knife down, son, you're nicked. Here somes Sandy and  he knows kung fu. They've got the Whitrit!

The Glesca polis arrest Malone for wearing out of date 1980s orange earphones. Looks like Jimmy and co have got Lars for killing Sally, who was intent on exposing his membership of the Nasty Nazis, and for assaulting Jo, who saw him at the folk festival. But what else is on that fascist footage? Glesca poliswoman isn't having it. 

Lars being interviewed. No comment No comment, no comment.  Then OK, comment: He was trying to protect his country by preserving the Norwegian way of life. Eat more puffins! Suddenly we're invoking Anders Breivik and the Utoya massacre which I can't imagine the real Norwegians, big fans of this show, liking one bit.  'Our race is being destroyed! Our blood is being polluted!' Jimmy: 'My blood's already diluted - clue is in the name.' Lars is shocked, because he hates the Spanish. 'We are going to kill even more than Andres Breivik did.'

Turns out the target is a ferry being used to house Syrian migrants. Quick call to Bergen and that's sorted. Lars is in the jail, and now, so is a very shouty Thomas Malone. Calm down Thomas, says Line of Duty wannabe stiletto cop. We're from Glasgow and speak in a very strong Glaswegian accent, from, oh, Knightsbridge. Not Kelvinbridge. Where were you the night Sally was killed? I was out walking.  Time for Jimmy to have a word: What about Jo, Thomas? 'Nobody needs to know anything about me! I'm a free man.' 

Err, no, Thomas, you're not.

So where did you go ? 'The cliffs. The cliffs. Maybe I'll just let myself go - but I WANT TO LEEVE. I DESERVE TAE LEEVE!' Or possibly live.  Even if I have to wear this godless combat jacket all the time.

Anyway the refugees are safe. Lars has nothing to be ashamed of, he says. He took Sally's laptop and her phone. He didn't kill her but he did beat Jo up. And as for Sally, the last I saw of her she was arguing with an older man at the festival. But not Thomas Malone. It was...shock horror, because Jimmy has a picture of him as a screensaver on his phone and they LOVE each other...Duncan The Second Dad! Good grief. This could ruin their relationship!

Speak of the devil, Duncan meets Alan, apparently in Greenock or possibly Gourock to ask if he'll withdraw his offer a job to Cassie at the Wildlife Sanctuary, which is not in Renrewshire, in order to protect Cassie, who may be in Largs. I CAN SEE DUNOON! Mysterious. Now it's Duncan and Jimmy. I've got a witness says he saw you arguing with Sally at the festival! I offered her a lift... she seemed upset. Did anybody see you leave? I forgot I spoke to her. Jings. No alibi, but surely not Duncan with the silvery hair and the enormous bald patch? Aw, come on have a drink. Naw. Ah dinnae luv youse onymair.

Right, here's Kate Killick. In a kitchen. Is there a pulley? Can't see one. Wow, more sculpted eyebrows. She's in this 8mm film with her sister, dead Lizzie,  and Duncan Hunter, Jimmy tells her. There follows some completely incomprehensible stuff, but basically Kate was jealous of Lizzie. Absolutely. 'My feelings towards Lizzie are quite complicated.' On that day Lizzie was flirting with Duncan. oh...kaaaayyyy...

Back at Jimmy's house, he finds  an old picture of Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono. No, it's Duncan and Lizzie, or maybe Kate. Or somebody and somebody else. Cassie says he should go and watch the football.  There's Duncan wearing that tartan scarf, the one Lizzie was strangled with, the one that has an unknown person's DNA on it. Or wait a minute, is that Thomas Malone with a scarf? Or somebody else with a beard and a scarf? Frankly, I have watched this series more closely than anyone else I know, and I have absolutely no idea.

As Jimmy would say, ma heid's nippin'.

Final episode next week. We want:

More pulleys! More ponies!

More Volvos and possibly a Saab or two!

Sandy to demonstrate his kung fu skills properly.

Jimmy to shave!

Check out locations, background information and think about following Jimmy's footsteps at