The Banff and Buchan Collection

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Tape 1994.060 transcription

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If I told lies my grannie used tae say, 'Ye'll be taen up tae the meen tae shoo aul sheen' and if I went out after dark my mother would say 'ere's a mannie in Pennan et wints 19 heids o 20' and if you went down to the water after dark, to the sea, she said 'the watter skelpie'll get ye'.

[TMcK] Did you imagine what the skelpie would be like?

Oh yes, green covered with shag, what they called shag, you know. I've often thought, if ever I have to dress up I'm going to be a water skelpie, wi shag and bits o rope and tangle stuck tae me (can't hear).

[TMcK] There was another one. This is a real ????.

In 1893 the Betty of Malmo came ashore at Gardenstown on a stormy night and there's a poem written about it.

Twas on a dark and stormy night when the Betty o Malmo hove in sight
They tried tae steer for Inverness, but through the wind she couldna face
She cast her anchor in Gamrie bay, at nine at nicht she started tae spray
The skipper he said, ma lads if ye be wise, ye'd better look oot yer ane corks ties
That same nicht at half past nine she broke awa fae her anchor and chine
And came up the wast side o the rope and turned oot a mob o folk
Willie McKay tae the stable ran, and fixed a horse as fast as he can
He gied up the road at sik a speed ye didnae ken the horse's tail by his ane reid heid
Fan he arrived in Banff the police cried tae him, what's ado?
He says, I'm up for the apparatus tae save a crew
Well, they saved the crew and ruggit the ship and gethered the coal on Sunday nicht
Charlie Watt, the heid o the choir, said it's a shame tae wint a bra guid fire
He came oot o the kirk on Sunday nicht and gethered the coal wi a his micht

[TMcK] Who made that one?


[TMcK] And that was made at the time?

She actually ????. And I know my aunt's husband's father was standing there with this cap full of coal and still yet down on the rocks on Gamrie if the sand goes away, you know how the sand disappears, you'll get a lump of coal from the Betty of Malmo. And I've actually got a little box which my mother says was made oot o The Betty's mast. They call her 'The Betty', they all know her in Gamrie.

[TMcK] When was that again?

1893. Eh

[TMcK] And so that poem must have been made shortly afterwards?

Not long, not long afterwards.

Now there's another one. I'll give you 'Rise up Guid Wife'. This is what I used to sing on Hogmanay when we went round the town as children, well you might say it was begging for pennies.

[TMcK] Did you go from house to house?

Yes, every year well until I was maybe about 9.

[TMcK] Did you dress up at all?

No, not at New Year. We dressed up at halloween in old curtains and things like that, and I actually encourage my own children to go out at halloween and dress up. Some people think it's begging you see, but I think it is just tradition. Anyway, this is the one that we sang at Hogmanay.

Rise up guid wife and shak yer feathers
Dinnae think at we're beggars
We're guid bairnies come tae play
Rise up and gie's yer hogmanay
Awa be soos and toondy, toondy, toondy
Tommy he will pick yer pocket, Tommy he will dance
Tommy he will pick yer pocket, for a lucky chance
Roon the midden a pluckit a hennie
I'll sine nae mair till ye gie's a penny
Ma sheen's daen ma stockins is thin
Gie's a piece and let ma rin

[TMcK] I've never heard more than the first four lines of that.

There's another version, sorry maybe ye'll get someone to sing it at Portsoy for you.(can't hear). That's the old one as far as I can.

[TMcK] That's great. Did you celebrate Christmas much?

When I was young, no. Even our presents were kept til Hogmanay. We got our presents on New Year's day. Everybody worked on Christmas day. Uh huh. I think it only became Christmas after the television came, really. The other thing was if you got your Christmas presents, and you didn't get much, if you got your Christmas presents on New Year's morning, you only had a couple of days to play with them before you went back to school, you know what I mean. So maybe people started to celebrate Christmas more because of that? But we used to go out singing at Eel. Eel was old Yule. Eel

[TMcK] And what date did you celebrate that?

It wis an Eel penny. I think it was the 5 January, Old Yule. I'm not sure, I think it was the 5 of January. But would that be the old Gregorian calendar or something.

[TMcK] Yes, that's right.

And we used to just go to, you know, people round about, and knock on the door and cry 'Eel' (shouts) and you got a Eel penny.

[TMcK] And did you get something to eat or?

Oh yes, not so often, they usually just gave you a penny. Just an old fashioned penny. But sometimes if you went to a house where you were in the habit of going you'd maybe get a packet of sweeties, if you were lucky to get sweeties. More often it wis the rock that you got from eh, it was a stick of rock from Yarmouth or Lybster as they say, kept for the children you know. Because when they went down to the fishing in Yarmouth and Lybster they always took rock, ye have to save your sweetie coupons, during the war you'd to save all your coupons and given to.

[6 About To Davie]

Say my great uncle Davie now, he always went to the south fishing and so his wife Betty would say 'Davie's needin yer coupons so that he can take rock home for ye'. And it was jist magic, it wis jist magic. When the word went round that Davie was home, oh boy, and you were up there as fast as your legs would carry you, great. I wrote a poem about them, that's the one that I did 'To Davie', that's it. That gives quite an insight to the kind of thing I did when I was younger. Because my mother, I was the third of five children, with the result I probably was just left to wander around a lot myself.

[TMcK] Left to get on with it.

Yes, and I used to go to, Davie and Betsie had no children of their own and I used to go there for my Sunday lunch regularly and my tea, and I used to wander about the braes with them. He knew of all the birds nests there were to know. You know, he would say 'I'll have a smoke of my pipe, or a chew of tobacco', oh my gosh, 'I'll go and look for a bird's nest I says'. I'd would look for half an hour and I'd come back and say I canna find one. He says, oh aye, there's een in that bush ower there, and there would be cause he'd been watching the birdies. He knew, he just knew. He was great.

[TMcK] So when did you make this poem about him?

Oh just about 4 or 5 years ago maybe. Do you want it as well.

[TMcK] Yes. Do you want to have a run through first?

No it's okay. Is is 'To Davie, Mony's the Time'

Monies the time we wannered the braes en primroses jist in thicks
Bladdin wir sheen and tearin wir claes, en getherin a birn o sticks
He kent o every ??? nest fae Melrose tae the Tor
An aye there wis somethin new tae see at I'd nivver seen afore

We gethered brammles on the nows, and fine div I min far the wood grows
Up the crivvie den
He'd pint em oot wi his crooked airm at he brook on a chair fen jist a bairn
Fun buses couldnae hide secrets fae him

Monie a cannie hoor wis spent in the garrett far e nets was met
A fulled ey needles and waxed ey twine, he said I was a richt guid quine
I learned tae mend half legs, and made bumby knots
and showdied in the swing in the corner

Monies the time I sat on his knee and oh the stories he telt tae me
Eens fae the bible and ithers an a, and maybe even a lee or twa
But at didnae metter, I drunk it a in
Athin wis gospel atween me an him

Him and Betsie and me on a Sunday nicht,
fan the kirk wis in an the by a licht
It wis ower a san an up the den, roon the highway and hame again
Aye, monies the time.

See ???? It had been going round in my mind….???? These things go round in your mind for months.

[TMcK] Do they come a verse at a time, or just suddenly it's almost there?

Sometimes they just spew out, ???? wait until they are golfing at ???. I say that one when people want a good laugh. That's it there. You don't it, you want old stuff I presume.

[TMcK] Well, for the moment, but I'd love to come back and talk to you some more about making your own.

Pardon me, that's my curry coming back again. That's a good one. Hilda Stone, she was really, read that.


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