Johnny Hughson was a retired crofter-fisherman who had just turned 70 when he was first recorded at his home in Isbister on the east side of Whalsay in 1972. Like many Whalsay men he was somewhat shy about singing to a microphone. His children and grandchildren say they rarely heard him sing songs such as these, for they would only be heard when men got together and ‘had a dram’; but it is reported that one neighbour would hear “beautiful singing coming from the family home on a Sunday, when they all sang their hymns”, for quite a number of the family were good singers. One occasion when the men met up to sing was when ‘winding simmens’ – making up ropes from bent grass for kishies (the baskets used for carrying fish and peats) or for thatching roofs. John learned many of his songs from hearing his father sing them.