Saturday, 4 August 2012

Shetland is not a

"remote" place. Kate Davies talked about this on her blog "Needled" this week and I have to agree with her. 
I do not have an i-pad so I cannot download the offending e-magazine (available on ly on Apple) and read the article for myself but she, rightly, criticises an article in that magazine for referring to Shetland as remote, "sheep infested", windswept and the like. The author of the original article apparently gets his geography wrong too. It would cause me to question not just the article but the entire magazine.
My ancestors came from Caithness. Some of them were sailors. Shetland was just a short hop away for them. There was nothing remote about it. It might take a little more travelling for some people than others but, as Kate points out, it is easier for her to go to Shetland than it is for her to go to the Isle of Man or Guernsey - and nobody calls them "remote".
We lived on an island once. It was isolated but it was not remote. Very few places are remote. To my mind "remote" means not being able to get satellite communication - and most places in the world can get that. You can be isolated but it is not quite the same thing. People can be isolated in big cities. Island communities are often very close-knit. They once had to be in order to survive. That is not a myth but it would be equally wrong to suggest that there are not rivalries and tensions at times. Of course there are.
Kate also complains gently, but again rightly, of people perpetuating such myths about places, people and things. It is a common habit of writers and, as readers, it is confronting if our expectations are not met.
I can remember being asked by young Canadian children if Australian children rode kangaroos to school. They were terribly disappointed to discover they did not. Their romantic view of Australia was disrupted.
It is good to be reminded of myths and good to be reminded that they are myths.

5 comments:

the fly in the web said...

It is like gardening books discussing big bud on blackcurrants...there is a whole series of books describing it as being 'as big as a sixpence'....
I lost track after decimalisation, but it indicates to me one writer borrowing from another and not using his own eyes and brain.

Alison Morton said...

And the myths perpetuate. I was most disappointed when I grew up to find The Flying Doctors were not all handsome, capable and saved the world every week.

catdownunder said...

I think you are right Fly in the Web!
Alison, my GP was a member of the RFDS.He's okay to look at I suppose and capable but he certainly does not save the world every week - and says the job is anything but glamorous although the "outbackers" are (usually) very hospitable.

Sue Bursztynski said...

And I can remember being asked how I spoke such good English and if perhaps we learned the language at primary school in Australia. :-) My parents thought they would find kangaroos hopping down the streets of Melbourne when we first came here.

Really, in this day of the Internet, there's no excuse for not keeping up to date with information.

Rhiannon said...

Another of the many misused words - has come to mean "less populated" rather than "distant"?