Sunday 15 September 2013

Winter Is Coming...


The Orkney County Show is a wonderful thing. Taking place at the beginning of August each year, it is usually a balmy delight of farmyard animals, fairground rides, stalls brimming with local produce and, most importantly, home bakes. Yet there is always a cold shadow to be felt behind the warm joys of craft tents, crab - meat baps, 'refreshed' teenagers and wee lasses on their be-ribboned ponies..

If you listen closely enough you can hear the whispers: 'County Show... then winter!'.

"Rubbish" You think to yourself every single year as you eat your third ice-cream and decide which of the roosters looks most psychopathic. "There's at least six weeks left of Summer time. My washing's out and everything. I'm only wearing one fleece for Pete's sake!".

And yet every year the old wives are proven right. The day after County show always has a nip in the air and a distinctly autumnal smell. It is September now and the sunny show season is but a distant memory.

Winter is coming...

Bagsy we're Ned Stark.

Thursday 12 September 2013

Who Do You Think You Are?

About six months ago, I walked into our search room to find Dusty and the Fonds feverishly working away at their desks.

 "What on earth is going on?" I cried, "Are you ill?"

 Both looked up with glazed eyes and dopey smiles of joy.

"It has finally happened." Whispered Dusty.

 "The dream!" said the Fonds, " It has become our reality!"

Both leaped to their feet at the same time and screamed in my face "WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE HAVE BEEN IN TOUCH!!!!!!"

I wiped their spittle from my face and fell into a swoon.

Now.  Long-term readers may remember that we have gotten a teensy bit angry at WDYTYA in the past but that is only because we love it (We have a dysfunctional relationship.) In reality, being asked to research for the show is every archivist's dream and we had just won the equivalent of Best Picture Oscar, 100 metre dash at the Olympics or best haircut at the Smash Hit Poll Winners Party.

Imagine our desolation then when we could find no interesting, original documents to illustrate the mystery celebrity's family tree.

"There must be something that proves his birth date!" sobbed the Fonds.

"I've already picked out my outfit for the filming!" raged Dusty, "There must be a photo, something, ANYTHING!"

Readers, I wept a thousand tears.

Although it is clear from records in Canada that Sarah Millican(for it was she)'s, ancestor was an Orkneyman who travelled to the frozen North East of Canada to work for the Hudson's Bay Company we could find no primary documents of our own to lure the comic through to Kirkwall.

Instead, Sarah spoke to our esteemed colleague Janette of the Orkney Museum in Stromness where John Malcolm would have left Orkney for his new, very tough life.

If you missed the programme last night, it is well worth your time catching it on BBC iPlayer, it is a truly incredible tale of bravery, stoicism and the very Orcadian thirst for adventure. It's probably even more enjoyable when not watched through a veil of bitter tears...

Never mind, we are still clinging to our long-cherished hopes that Colin Firth's family originate from the Parish of Firth. Fingers crossed.