Gutter Lasses History Podcast TTT Shetland Storytelling

Season 4 Episode 12: Shetland, Herring & The Gutter Lasses

Welcome to Tea Toast & Trivia!

Thank you for listening in.

I am your host, Rebecca Budd, and I am looking forward to sharing this moment with you.

Storytelling has been with us since ancient times beginning as an oral tradition.  When writing arrived, these oral stories would find new homes in stone, papyrus, and parchment. Found in every culture and civilization, stories have taken on the form of epic poems, chants, rhymes, and song.  It is one generation gifting their knowledge and wisdom to the next generation.

My story looks back to the turn of the nineteenth century as told by the good people of the Unst Boat Haven.    

The gutter lasses have faded into history, but their story remains ever vibrant, a reminder that we are at our best when we build a community based on friendship and common purpose.  This then is the essence of belonging, to be affiliated with and accepted by others within a group.  To work together in difficult times, to share joys and sorrows, to show respect, to encourage and support each other in our personal journeys and aspirations.

 Thank you for travelling back into the history of Shetland.

 I invite you to listen to the Song of the Fishgutters as we remember a time past.

Until next time we meet, dear friends, keep safe and be well.

Shetland, Herring and the Gutter Lasses Tea. Toast. & Trivia.

By Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

19 replies on “Season 4 Episode 12: Shetland, Herring & The Gutter Lasses”

I didn’t know how far north it was until I was on the ferry from Aberdeen to Lerwick. I would love to go back and take the weaving and craft tour. Maybe one day we can meet up at Jamie’s house in Lerwick!

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Stories, very ancient, first only verbal, then more recently written, excite us as we hear of events told of long ago by our forefathers I recall listening spellbound to my grandparents from Germany and Sweden tell of their countries and experiences. Thank you for the history/geography lesson of Shetland and it’s lovely surrounding islands; it helped me visualize this beautiful place’ I am glad that you included the beautiful story of the gutter lassies who worked many hours in the day into early morning hours and made this place more than islands and ocean. Thank you for sharing their courageous story of working together, sleeping together and working with fish from the ocean with only a knife! Many exciting events have taken place on these islands and many still flock there, including the staging of a much watched movie. These islands have only begun their important place and we will see their important contribution to our world as we watch them in the future! ! Thank you for posting this incredible story!

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When I first heard this story I was reminded about the Ladies Aid and the North Platte Canteen. This was a very difficult time in history and these women responded with compassion and good food – the best way to make a difference in the lives of these young soldiers.

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Thanks you for sharing this information / story with us Rebecca.

Stories and storytelling is perhaps the most important gift we have given ourselves.

Can you imagine leaving home to work in such conditions? 40-60 herring per minute sounds insane. Living in such conditions must have been harsh, but the positive aspects you highlight would make returning compelling.

I love your thoughts on storytelling, Again, it comes back to community, doesn’t it?

I hope you have a wonderful week, as we get ready to welcome spring.

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Many thanks for joining me in Unst, Shetland. Like many others, we were enticed to visit Shetland after watching the series by the same name. The location was spectacular, and when we visited, the grandeur was immense, even mystical. But what was more poignant to me was the stories that came from a land that had witnessed so many events in human history.

Our B&B hosts told of a group of that came for the craft/weaving tour. At night, they would all congregate in main living area and watch Shetland and Jamie Perez (Douglas Henshaw).

Once you have experienced Shetland, you will want to return.

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Fascinating history, compellingly told by you, Rebecca — with wonderfully atmospheric music. The lives of “the gutter lasses” sound unimaginably difficult, but, as you noted, there were such compensations as some money and friendships.

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I am delighted that you joined me in Unst, Dave. This past week, I started reading a Michale’s Caine’s autobiography. He said that when you reached the top of whatever mountain you chose to ascend, it will feel great, but it may not be exactly how you imagined it to be from a point half-way up the mountain. His take was that family, friendships and the work that you enjoy was what made life extraordinary. The awards were wonderful but they too would fade. I found the Gutter Lasses story inspiring – a reminder of a time when I was 16 and worked in a dari-bar that sold ice cream, milkshakes and burgers. Great memories!!

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Those first jobs allow us to reflect upon our next steps, don’t they, Liz. They also provide a deeper understanding of what other people have endured. I recall my grandfather telling me how he and my grandmother planted corn by hand in their early days of farming.

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I am delighted that you listened in Liz! When I look back into history I find that the themes of community and working together suggests a high level of well-being as an outcome. I think it is because we do not feel alone. Many thanks for your encouragement of these stories.

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Hi Rebecca, this is another interesting discussion. The sharing of oral stories reminds me of the native African peoples of southern Africa who had a tradition of oral stories. They did not have written recordings until the coming of the missionaries so a lot of their history and many traditional stories have been lost. There are people who have made a great effort to interview elderly tribal members and record their stories. One of these people was David Rattray who interviewed Zulus in the local community to obtain their accounts of the Anglo Zulu wars. Unfortunately, he was shot dead during an armed robbery at his farm and died at the age of 48. We visited his farm at Fugitives Drift last year and spoke to his son. I have his book and CDs. Thank you for sharing this story and information, Rebecca. Sorry I am late this week. My family have all had covid and, while no-one has been very sick, it has still required rest and medical care.

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My dear friend, you are never, ever late. That is what I like most about blogging – that posts are available to read whenever we are able to connect. We live busy lives with many things competing for our limited resource of time. You are the most active blogger, writer, supporter, encourager that I know. You continue to inspire me, Robbie.

I am so sorry to hear that your family all had Covid. Thankfully they were not very sick and that they are well on their way to recovery.

I have found and downloaded David Rattray’s Guidebook to the Anglo-Zulu War Battlefields and am looking at the paperback for the maps and photos. Many thanks for the introduction to David Rattray. Like you, I am very interested in oral traditions and am grateful for those who record and preserve these stories. I was very sorry to hear of David Rattray’s early demise.

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Hi Rebecca, David’s death is a great tragedy. When I eventually finish The Soldier and the Radium Girl and then The Creeping Change,I have plans for a trilogy that will cover the Anglo Zulu War. I enjoyed David’s sharing of information very much, he was a natural story teller.

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