[CB] That sound like it? Well, well. Right
[CB] The fairmer o yon muckle toon he is baith
hard and sair
And the cauldest day that ever bla'd his servants get their
[CB] Well, the theme of our presentation this
afternoon around a bothy ballad. And the bothy ballad it we'll
circle round today is Drumdelgie. Now we've already hin evidence
of a fairmer being hard and sair.
[Audience] Hard up
[CB] Oh aye, if you say so, that was their plea,
that they were aye hard up. Mm hm. Hard and sair. Ye ken the
story o the fairmer, he sent the laddie awa tae pu neeps on
a mornin something like is, a bittie frostie, and the fairmer
he came stowfin ben the dreen, he seekin the ???? [demonstrates].
He says, 'Aye, laddie, neeps caul?' 'Oh aye, fairmer they're
fairly caul'. But he says '??? ye didnae hud them ower lang'.
[CB] Aye well, there's a fairmer up in Cairnie,
up by Glass yonder, and of course Drumdelgie was a high lyin
farm, awa up hills, affa brae set, most affa brae set. Sair
tae work, and it wis a muckle toon, oh it would a been about
a thousand acres wi the rough grazing, and up ere it is frosty
awa up abeen Huntly. Drumdelgie, it's interesting to notice
that all place names have a meaning. Now Drumdelgie, now the
Drum part means a ridge, alright? And by jove it is a ridge,
yer clim'in a the wey tae the steadin tae the main road. The
Drum is a ridge. And the delgie bit means covered wi whins,
ye ken fit whins is ? fauns, fauns. And of course there is
the school boy rhyme, fauns fun? but fauns in a bad ?? is
nae fun. Whinnie ridge then. I think we'll get Gordon to introduce
us to the saga of Drumdelgie by singing it. Will ye sing it
for us Gordon?
[GE] I''ll dae ma best.
[CB] There we are, well no man can do more.
I hid a bonnet, so I could pit on. I think that's
There's a fairm toon up in Cairnie, it's kent baith far and
It's ca'd the hash o Drumdelgie on bonny Deveronside
The fairmer o yon muckle toon he is baith hard and sair
On the cauldest days that ever blas his servants get their
At five o'clock that we quickly rise and hurry
doon the stair
Tae get wir horses corned and fed likewise tae strake their
Syne efter workin half an oor each tae the kitchie goes
Tae get started tae wir brakfast, which generally's brose.
We've scarcely gotten oor brose weel supped
and gien wir pints a tie
Fin the grieve he says, 'Come on noo lads the hoor is dra'in
At sax a'clock the mull's put on tae gie us a' stracht work
Take sax o us is tae work tae her till ye could ring wir sark.
Syne efter the mull it is shut aff and we hurry
doon the stair
Tae get some quarters through the fan er daylicht dis appear
Syne cloods begin tae gently lift, the sky begins tae clear
An the foreman says, 'Come on noo lads, ye'll bide nae langer
For it's sax o ye'll gang tae the ploo and twa
tae ca the neeps
An the owsen they'll nae be efter ye wi strae rapes roon their
When pittin on the harness and gaein off tae yoke
The drift gang on sae very thick that we wis like tae choke.
And the frost had been saw very hard, the ploo
she widnae go
And so wir cairten days commenced among the frost and snow
Noo wir horses bein baith young and sma, the shafts they didnae
And they sometimes nott a tracer tae help them up the hill.
But we will sing oor horses praise though they
be young and sma
They far ootshine the Broadlands eens, that gang say weel
But it's fare ye well Drumdelgie, for I maun gang awa
It's fare ye weel Drumdelgie, yer weety weather and a'.
Aye, fare ye weel Drumdelgie, I bid ye a' adieu
I'll leave ye as I got ye, a maist unceevil crew.
[CB] And that of course is a grand example of a cornkister.
At five o'clock we've got tae rise and hurry doon the stair.
Now that means that the sleeping quarters or the chaumer as
it was called up here, was very often abeen the stable. Now
my sanction for that of course is a quotation from 'The Dying
Ploughboy'. Remember it opens 'The gloamin winds are sighin
saft abeen my lowly stable laft'. Very often the horsemen
sleepit abeen the stable. And they hurried doon the stair
withoot tyin their boots and it was there tae corn their horses.
Now they corned their horses oot o the cornkist, which of
course gave its name to the type of songs that the horsemen
sang, the cornkister. The cornkist was a wooden bin and the
horse's measure of corn was a square boxy, and ye filled it
fae the cornkist level. But afore that the horse hid tae get
a drink. That wis the first thing, they didnae get their corn
or their hay before they got a drink. And wi yer shoes, wi
yer boots rather, shoes did I say? Yer beets still unfastened,
ye took yer horse oot tae the water trouch, ye put him back
and then they got their ?? of corn.
Speaking of auld words, I believe Scots is very much alive
and will continue to be so, but of course with changing fashions
and changing systems in farming, words like leapy, well if
you asked a 10 year old country loony fit leapy wis, he wouldnae
ken because, because he's never seen horse corn, it's a attractive,
nae hairm til him. And when ye speak aboot boots wi yer laces
untied, ye dinnae get boots like at now, ye dinnae get tackity
boots now, they would cost, a pair o tackity boots would cost
aboot £50 because they'd tae be practically purpose
made. Now ye a ken fit tackits is? Yes, ye div? How would
ye describe them though, they werenae exactly studs, there
wis on studs in a lady's boot at at time, lady's boot come
in calf length, but the fairm chiels hid a patterin o tackits
in the soles o their sheen. A tackit. I eence heard an auld
man it wis, and ?? fed up wi a loonie's chik, we was coolin
hay, and he wis cheekin the auld man and the auld man turned
on him, and says 'Awa wi ye man, ye're jist like a tackit,
ye're a heid'. [Laughs.] There's the other famous phrase,
I mine on a chiel sayin tae me, he says 'Follow me an yer
tackits'll never roost'. And ??? ye'll aye get adventure.
Aye well, tackits and sheen. Of course in those days it wisnae
the case o gan doon tae the Broch, doon tae the Braes for
a pair o shoes. Ye gid tae the Souters for yer sheen, and
ye paid them at the term.
There wis a boot ca'd 'Herd laddie', die ye
mine on that? No? Ah well, but I mine, at wis een o the boxes,
o there would a been about a ??? o stew on it ye ken. Laughs.
But throw the stew and aul Willie Simpson's souter's shop,
is wis Herd Laddie. And spikkin aboot auld words now. Auld
Willie Simpson woulda fumbled among is boxes, and he'd a ???
he says 'it's a guid be dicken'. De ye remember that a 'be
dicken', a 'guid be dicken'. What yes?
I kint the word fine. I kent Willie Simpson
[CB] Did ye, yes. This is a lady who claims
tae hear ma ??? in ma pram. [Laughs.]
She's claimed tae be mair than at.
[CB] Alright, I was gan tae tell ye. Now, and
the cornkister of course got it's name from the fact that
if the lads did have a minute, and they sometimes had, not
very many of them, they would set on tae the cornkist, ye
see that wis the bench. And they would sing and they would
dir these great big boots against the side ye see. Well, we'll
have another one.
[CB] Sings (and keeps rhythm with boots)
'A New Deer ??? show ???
A child, a youth fae Methlick came
And then ye'll know the ???
The station clerk ???
Ye see, and the cornkister arrived. There's
another auld word ca'd and it's 'coonter mashers', and rather
difficult to define. It's a kind of, the wife asks ye if ye'll
ca in an ingin, or tae hing a picture. ???? Ah well, ?????
?????? Well hiv ye the haimer lookit oot? Coonter mashers.
There's aye anither wey in't. Isabel's going to recite a poem
to us that kind a illustrates the coonter mashersness of human
nature. It's funny how ither folk aye ken a wee bittie better
than yersel. Aye, well she's going to read you one of Aesop's
fables, expressed in Scots by a Peterhied loon, Dr Robert
Steven, ye've mebbe heard o him. Right, without more ado Isabel,
illustrate the coonter masherness of human nature by reading
us, is it the crofter and the donkey, and it's in here. Now
ye see ye coulda hid that lookit oot at the time at ye wis
at coonter mashers. Laughs. We've managed some forty odd year
[IB] Yes. This is the
'Crofter, his son and the donkey'
A crofter and his loon set oot for the market ey fine day.
They were going to sell their donkey for he'd etten a their
The market toon's sax mile awa,if we let him walk himsel
then he'd still be hale and hearty when we get him tae the
The loon agreed wi faither so they set aff doon the road
Wi the donkey stepping freely, withoot rider, pack or load
Fan they came across some lassies, ca'd the
??? smirk and lauch
Says ey lassie tae anither, I think they must be daft
For that muckle strappin donkey walks along withoot a pack
And the mannie and the loonie could be sittin on his back
So the crofter pits his son up, jist ye sit there ma loon
Ye can rest yer legs a bittie till we reach the market toon
They had gained anither mile or twa wi the loon upon the ass
When they passed twa bent auld mannies, playin the ??? for
Jist nae respect for parents, at's the young folk noo-adays
E loonie should be walkin the ey wi the grey beard says
So the crafter and the loonie swapit ower and on they went
Till they met a twa, three wifies wi a different argument
Ye aucht tae be ashamed for sittin on that thing
A great big strappin chiel like you, fan yer loonie runs ahin
The creatur's nearly puggled, he can hardly keep it up
We'll tell the NSPPC if ye dinnae let him up
So the crofter lifts the loonie on the donkey's
back an a
They would seen be at the market for it wisnae far awa
But a stranger overtook them as the donkey struggled on
It wis trachled wi the burden o the crofter and his son
If you don't get down this instant, they baith
heard the stranger say
I'll report you in a letter to the RSPCA. You really ought
tae be ashamed
A donkey isna fit tae carry twa big men like you, You aught
tae carry it!
By this time the weary crofter had taen more than he could
So he tied the donkey's feet up and they strung him on a pole
Then the crofter and the loonie played an unaccustomed role
They were trachled wi the burden of the donkey on the pole
They were pechin sair and chavin, fen they had
tae cross a lin
On a little shakin briggie it wis sweyin in the win
But the loonie tripped and stummled, and had to let it go
And pole and donkey tummled to the torrent far below
And the moral plain and simple of this cautionary tale
Ye canna please abody, so it's best tae please yersel.
[CB] Thank you Isabel. And JC Milne has written
about Buchan that it's made up of peat bogs and puddocks tails
and coonter masher's deals. Yes. My French teacher she used
to say that she didn't know why the French word, em ???, the
angel was always masculine. She said she thought it was some
consolation that the french word for Diable, devil was always
masculine too. We won't go too far into that.
[CB] Where were we? Ah! We're heading doon the stair likewise
tae corn oor horses, we've been intae that. Likewise 'tae
stracht their hair' with the curry comb and the ???. And of
course great stress was laid upon the condition of your grooming,
the standard of your grooming and the condition of your horse's
coat. And I have been told by an old farmer ???, by a gentleman
farmer going into the stable with white gloves and putting
his hand over the horse's rump and if the merest speck of
dust showed up on the white glove the horseman was dismissed.
Oh yes, oh yes. The fairmers of the muckle toons could be
hard and sair, but of course it was just the ploughmen knew
the score and eh, and toed the line, because of course there
was great pride of work. Your horse had to be turned out well.
They gladly spent their leisure hours in the stable, beetling
the harness, polishing and ?? till it shone. In fact there
is the story of one horseman taking the cart saddle home to
the wee cottage, ey cotterman taking the cart saddle home
to burnish it up. And to see how it looked on his horse, he
asked his wife to get down on all fours and he put the saddle
on his back to see. I kid you not! I think David ?? ???. Terrific
pride in the horse and the harness, and so much was horse
related as we see for example in one of our oldest ballads,
'Mournin braes', the story of a jilted lass. 'Fare ye well,
the mournin braes, twas there I lost my dearir. But (she says),
there's mony a horse has snappered and fa'n, or broken his
harness and fallen in the cart, and arisen again full early,
there's mony a lass that's lost her lad and gotten a new een
early'. Do you remember that one?
There's mony horse has snappered and fa'n and
arisen again foo early
There's mony a lass at lost a lad and gotten a new een early'
[CB] Everything related to the horse. As many
a horse may fall over his reins or something like that, and
rise again. So a lass will get another lad, and then there's
another ballad, aboot Auld Johnny ??? the Foreman. De ye mine
on that? His daughter is a bit of a tomboy but when she goes
tae the church on the Sunday 'her hair is daen up like my
aul horse's tail' And he says it's a pony tail in front of
Well, we've straight the horse's hair. And then
you go to for your breakfast, which generally is brose, and
we have remember the mention of brose in another ballad [Laughs.]
Meg MacPherson maks ma brose and her and me
we dinna agree
The first of oat and sign of ?? and aye ????
?????? Naebody, go as you please.
Meg MacPherson makes ma brose and her and me dinna gree.
[CB] Of course there are many versions. Where
do you think we are now then? Now well we have brose, we give
our pints a tie, points, laces. The old fashioned laces of
course for tackity boots was a thin leather thong, not like,
not like these, or not like these, but a thin leather thong.
[CB] Would have left the school at twelve, that's got to be
before 1842, eh, not, sorry as you were, that's got to be
before 1872 when the education, compulsory education act came
in. This old chap left the 'pairish skweel' at twelve. And
his first fee for six month was, (pause) a pair of boots.
And I have, and as far as I can see that would have been worth
about 30 shillings, that's £1.50 in today's money. Mind
you he was only twelve. He was a little better than a lad
in Nicky Tams, which starts
Fan I wis only ten years auld I left the pairish skweel,
Ma faither fee'd me tae the Mains to try his milk and meal.
(That's brose again)
I First put on ma nether breeks ti hap ma spinnel trams,
Sine buckled roon ma happit knees a pair o' Nicky Tams.
[CB] Now if you look at Gordon's nicky tams,
they are quite a handsome pair.
[GE] ?? buckle on them.
[CB] The grieve actually very often had a metal
tip there to denote his rank, not only the buckle but it was
metal tipped. But I think we'll let Nicky Tams get back on
to the programme don't you? ([Applause.]). Come on then Gordon,
your choice, your choice. While Gordon is getting ready I
assure you the bothy band in the old days, here we have a
lad with a tin whistle, a lad with a fiddle, two lads with
fiddles and a lad with bagpipes, must have made quite an ensemble.
[Band plays. Audience sings along.]
Aikey Brae, Aikey brae, there's been a horsemarket
for many a day
[GE] (Encouraging audience to sing)
[CB] I remember aul Menzies, this lady kens aul Menzies, that
wis my grandfather, aye, at, one of the auld Menzies was my
grandfather, but his successor auld Menzies he liket a tootie
ye ken, [Laughs.] the lads when they went tae Aikie Fair,
which was a Wednesday, and then Aikie Brae which was a Sunday,
on the Wednesday there was an auld character doon by the ???
a Jimmy Chalmers, and Jimmy Chalmers jist hid a richt good
Aikie Fair. He says '???? it's like a haerst'. Ye ken [Laughs.].
Well I mine he wisnae foo he jist hid plenty, but he wis at
at stage and of course in those days there wis the horselines
at Aikie Fair and auld Menzies was needin a horse and I mine
on him sayin tae ma father, 'I maun buy some aul balloon the
day though it costs me sixty pound!' Mebbe even though an
auld balloon, even though a horsie was broken in the wind,
do you remember yon. 'Did ye ever see sik a ?? as my auld
horse Dobbin, ye could hang up yer jacket on his ???, he wis
broken in the wind, and when he began tae run he made a noise
like a dozen ???
[Laughs.] Back to Gordon.
[GE] We wis speakin aboot this Jimmy Chalmers. Well he'd a
place at Brora, as Mr Burnie kens better than me. But him
and the wife fell oot and she was determined tae leave him
in the course o time, so ok on you go. So the day she left
he accompanied her oot the road playing 'Hey bonnie lassie
bundle and ??' on his pipes. And when he come back he had
a thoucht, played 'will ye no come back again'. Well he's
puttin a the tunes in ma heid.
[CB] At's a bonny tune.
[GE] At's the ???? [Problem with tape - speeding up.]
[GE] Now Mr Burnie made up an affa fine sang. Alec Broon,
at used tae be in e the garage at ???, he's nae ???? but him
and me played
. I was a loon, they aye took me for Alec's
son, [Laughs.] ye ken I was aye kinda flattered. Disnae metter,
that wis in bygone days. But Alec composed a tune och, mair
than sixty years ago. 'When the heather blooms in mornin'.
It's an affa bonnie tune, it is a bonnie tune, and I've played
it masel a puckle o times. He said, at's a tune deserves words,
so he composed a lot o fine words tae this tune. Can I sing
It's aboot, when the heather blooms in morning.
Ye'll hae tae tell me the wey tae start it noo.
It's not that, it'll maybe come to us. Play
the tune, play us the tune.
Oh there's the bonnie banks o Lomond, and Maxwelton's bonnie
And the hills alang the Boddam side is one the minstrels praise.
But the ??? woods o Mormond bears the ????
When the heather blooms for Mormond and a the braes are braw
Tak the braes o Killicrankie and the wids o
The banks o Aberfeldy and the Royal banks o Dee
But alang the swathes o mornin, bears the ??? them a
When the heather blooms on mornin and a the braes are braw
Noo, they say that Ben MacDhui is at twa, three
And the braes o lofty Cuillins in the misty Isle o Skye
But I wouldna change my mornin for the splendid ?? of a
When the heather blooms on morning and a the braes are braw
Noo come on a ye coothie Buchan folk, come in
and gether roon
I've made ye up a ???? a guid aul fettle tune
I may find ye cheery and guid fortune ye be ??
When the heather blooms on mornin, may a yer braes be braw
That's it. [Applause.]
[GE] It ??? I was singin a wee bittie high kin.
[CB] I thought it was wonderful.
[CB] It's amazing how many
I think we'll have our tea
at the very end.
It's great how the various versions there are
of legends, for example Gordon and Jimmy Chalmers playin the
wife oot o'er the hill a ???? bundle and go. The wey that
I got it was ???? [Tape too fast.]
That's a lovely story about husband and wife.
And o they jist had a right fa out, that was it, she was leavin.
So she got her casie stappit foo and snappit it shut and headed
oot o the door ???? aye, he says yer nae gan oot o here afore
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