7th January


There was a fisherman in Shetland, called Luggy, who went to sea with his companions in a long, narrow boat with a mast and a sail. They might be out for days at a time if the fish were not present. Sometimes a terrible hunger would come on them. Luggy had a basket in which he kept a line with a wee lead weight on it, and when they were starving and not a fish was to be had in the whole wide ocean he would drop this line over the stern of the boat and let it out to its full extent. When he pulled it in there would be a cod or plaice, fresh-grilled and steaming, on the end of the line. He would unhook the fish and share it with his mates. None of them knew how the fish came to be cooked like that, and they did not care to ask. They were famished, and the smell was irresistible.

Luggy had another trick he liked to play in stormy weather, when he couldn’t get out to sea. His house was on the edge of a moor and he would go to a place where there was a deep, dark hole in the peat and let his line down through it, and pull up a smoked trout or salmon and take it back to his wife. She preferred a rabbit but she didn’t complain. Apart from any- thing else, there were no pans to clean.

This all happened a long time ago. Nobody would believe you if you told such a story nowadays, but back then people were ignorant and believed all kinds of nonsense. Had Luggy told them, however, that there were billions of gallons of oil at the bottom of the same sea he fished, and that the oil could be brought to the surface and used for cooking, heating, manufac- turing, powering vehicles and many other purposes, they’d have shaken their heads at him. ‘No, no.’ Especially if he’d gone on to explain that it would all be used up in less than a lifetime, every last drop. ‘Aye, that’ll be right,’ they’d have said. ‘Fetch us another fish supper, Luggy.’

Reader: Frank Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Guitar: Sorren Maclean
Subscribe here for more stories & music