Monday 21 October 2013

The Mystery of the Bluejacket Boy...

I write this post with a monocle screwed into one eye and an ill-advised moustache drawn onto my top lip with permanent marker pen. Dusty has taken the time to struggle into a mauve twin set and felt hat and both of us wield enormous magnifying glasses.

For we are detectives! And we invite you to be detectives too! Quick, pop on a trilby and light up a cigar, as we tell you the mysterious tale of ‘The Bluejacket Boy…’

One day, not so long ago, we received an email from a lady who wished to deposit an old letter with the archive. So far, so normal, but this was no ordinary family heirloom. The letter was written in 1916, in Orkney, by a young sailor to his family in Llanelli, Wales. We do not know his name as he only ever refers to himself by the nickname ‘your bluejacket boy.’

The letter was sealed and obviously intended to be posted as it bears a stamp. But. It was found, sealed, 64 years later behind a fireplace in Bridge Street, Kirkwall. His family never received it and the family who eventually uncovered it in their home have no idea how it ended up in the chimney space.

We have a few clues. He mentions various family members and asks to be remembered to them. He also mentions sending a handkerchief with a picture of a sailor on it to ‘Ethel’ who said ‘that’s Uncle Dai’ when she opened it. Is Ethel his niece? Is the Blue Jacket Boy named Dai? He talks about his sister Hannah too.

We would like to find out exactly who this man was and if there are family members still around. We shall keep you posted as we try and track the family down and do please get in touch if you have any suggestions or thoughts. Some extracts below:

For an update on information found out by Jan 2014, click here.
Mystery Solved information here.

Saturday 19 October 2013

Quiz Answers

Answers to the bird quiz taken from the Orcadian dated 3rd April 1975. As you can see, 48 bird names were concealed within the letter. How many did you manage?

Friday 18 October 2013

A Friday Quiz

Even we could manage this one, so there is no excuse... It was found amongst some old glass negatives in the photo archive.

Answers shall be posted tomorrow. If you fancy having a go then the prize is an Encyclopedia Britannica pencil (unused).

Friday 11 October 2013

Orcadian Remedies

Man, it IS cold and we all HAVE colds. Autumn Schmautumn.

We had been feeling very sorry for ourselves as we downed cold and flu remedies and stocked up on tissues until we read this list of old Orcadian remedies from the Ernest Walker Marwick collection which is stuffed with local lore and legend.

For earache they used limpet juice! For sore eyes, try pee! Roast up some mice when your loved one develops whooping cough!

The most hilarious remedy by far is for warts. You were supposed to secretly rub your warts against the clothes of an acquaintance whose spouse had been unfaithful. This must have been so awkward:

CUCKOLDED WOMAN: "What are you doing?"

WARTY WOMAN: "Nothing."

CUCKOLDED WOMAN: "Are you rubbing your arm on me? Are those... warts?...

Saturday 5 October 2013

Clootie Dumpling Week

We have blogged before about our overwhelming love for The Great British Bake Off and it was, let's be honest, completely irrelevant to the archive. We just loved it. (We were early adopters! First Series!) But, imagine our joy when pastry week rolled round and the historical section concentrated upon the Clootie Dumpling.

The show may have gone to the isle of Mull to find out more, but the Clootie Dumpling is very well known in Orkney as these recipes taken from our Orkney Room collection will testify.


( Birsay S.W.R.I's version, 1979).


(Deerness S.W.R.I's version, no date).

( Taken from 'Favourite Recipes - Sandwick W.R.I. 1976).

(Orkney Hospitals' Recipe Book, 1984).

As you can see, the ingredients vary from Parish to Parish and kitchen to kitchen, but all end with the spiced and fruited dough being boiled in a scalded cloth or 'cloot' which has been generously coated with flour.

It made us laugh that it was deemed necessary to include four recipes from the two hospital kitchens which contributed. They obviously just could not decide which one was the best. Picture the scene:

Chef #1: "We cannat hae a recipe book withoot clootie damplin' in!".

Chefs #2,#3 and #4: "No indeed!".

Chef#1:(licking pencil) "Noo. To begin, tak 4 oonces o' margarine...".

Chefs#2, #3 and #4: "WHAAT!!!!!???????".

Friday 4 October 2013

More Moberg!

Did the Gunnie Moberg open day leave you thirsty for more? Then you are in luck. A new micro exhibition of three of Gunnie Moberg's prints plus complementary material from the archive is now on display in the library.

See here for more.

3 STONE CIRCLES. Orkney Library and Archive, Kirkwall 1-31 October 2013