The Banff and Buchan Collection

close window to return to index

Tape 1994.061 transcription

Word Search page:
      PC Control+F
Mac Command+F

Eh, Ian, he's pipe major o the ????. Ian's fifteen year older than Gordon ye see. Aye, so eh, pipin came up after at ye see, in the, since the war pipin really developed and they started teachin pipin up at schools up er as well, but during the 30's there wis nothing. No, very very poor. There wis only big Davie. The Turriff band tried to do somethin ye see, and the great Robertson, that wis the first tutor at Ian had at Turriff was James MacDonald, James Robertson, the janitor at eh, at Banff Academy. He wis retired er at time and he wis in the Gordon Highlanders and wis captured at Mons.

[TMcK] He was the one that wrote 'Farewell to the Creeks'?

Yes, aye. And he, he wis a tremendous piper and a judge, and writer of pipe music, and eh he was taught, that wis the sort o thing, the thing they were taught in the army in his young day. They were very strict in their, in their teaching, in their writin o music and the ways they hid wi music. He wrote the first twelve tunes at Ian had, he wrote em out ower wi a quill pen, this wis how they were taught ye see, and very nicely embellished and beautifully done in scroll you know, at is wis the first at he presented Ian with. But Ian wis only there 9 month ye see, he went back and fore wi the bus fae Fyvie, but Mr Robertson took ill and died, he must have been approachin, 79 I think he wis, aye. But he wis a tremendous man and eh, fan the Germans took him prisoner he wouldn't work for em, they imprisoned him aboot two year, very frugal food and everything and I think they'd tae let him home in the end, he went away tae nothin near. But he wouldn't do a thing, they imprisoned him away from the rest and still he wouldn't do a thing. He wis jist that type o man. It's all in the Gordon's, ye'd get that information in the Gordon's history actually aboot Jimmy Robertson

[TMcK] Were you in the army yourself?

No, I was in the airforce. I joined up in, see, everybody hid tae, when ye approached 18 in that particular year, there wis nobody got any deferment for any, say farm work ye see ye got deferred if ye wanted, but that particular age group in 1943, they winted them all, there wis no deferments at all. So I was being called up intae the Gordons, and eh, I went away and joined as a wireless operator, air gunner ye see. I thought that was more exciting, in the Air Force and eh, I was let down, I got a ma, I got a ma signals training which took near nine month, but they pulled me out for eyes ye see, ma left eye wisnae quite good enough, still nae good enough, never was. So I was givin planes their bearins, went abroad as far as France, at wis nine month at Lyons and various places. Gien planes their bearins on hill tops an at ye see.

[TMcK] So what age did you first left home?

Well I left home eh, actually, for the air force ye see. I wis at home up to that point

[TMcK] Were you still in school?

No, I wis, thocht the greatest thing on earth was to leave school at 14, at wis the leavin date fan I wis a boy, leave school at 14 and gied right on tae the fairms and what better than work at hame ye see. And I wis jist treated wi the same discipline as the fairm workers wis afore me ye see

Did your father have hired men

Aye, he aye hid two ye see, a foreman and a, and a loon. Then he did a lot o work himsel, though he didnae lift anything, he, my father poo'd neeps, he did everything possible, he rose in the mornin and he gied, acted as the baillie himsel ye see, the baillie fed the cattle, he give them their turnips and their eh, and their stra and the like o me, fen I started ye see there wis anither loon fan I wis there, there wis anither loon tae help me, and eh, we mucked oot the beasts ye see onto a big midden up a hill, up a brae. And ye got quite, ye enjoyed is ye see, this is fit the young generation's missing, a this enjoyment o work and activities. Oh, my god, ye wis never short o work, at at time ye never even got Saturday aff, there wis no Saturday off. And eh

Were the hired people in a chaumer

Aye, a chaumer, the foreman and the loon ye see, in fact I was in the chaumer an a ye see, I wisnae in fair enjoyed it. There wisnae, in the summer evenins there wis quite a lot o leisure activities, playin fitba an at ye ken.

And the local minister used to come roon in the winter time and rope ye a in for something ye see, he required plays an at and we aye gied tae the dancin classes in the winter time. Which wis a mannie biket oot seven mile or six mile fae New Deer tae Millbrakes Hallie, the hallie's still there, and he wis an endearin character at Craigheid, he wis postie er and he did a good shot ??? ye ken, and files he, he he wis never unable tae play the fiddle, he played the fiddle unaccompanied ye see, and he wis a very smart man, ramrod straight back and I'm sure it must have been army service at did at ye ken, because eh well, a lot o that, yon dancin in the army, taught dancin in the army tae ye see, a very smart dedicated man, and he'd quite a bit o humour tae, but every now his patience snapped ye see because we wis qypin aboot maybe and he'd a gien ye ower the heid wi his bow ye see.
       And some o thon lads ye see, they were no use, they come er maybe every year, we gied there every year anyway for a fun ye ken, and meetin a the quines an at it wis great fun, and eh, it wis something to do on the winter nichts and you enjoyed it. And you'd a big class, sixpence a lesson he took, and quite an endearin character. And then fan the end o ball, he'd aye an end o term maybe every three month, dancin ye see. He'd an end o term ball. At that time there wis a big vast population, they turned out in their, o literally swamped the place ye see. If there wis a dance on. And you'd old Bill Rennie, a local man on the cornet and eh, somebody on the fiddle and maybe ma mother on the piano, and there they went, hammer and tongs. And eh, of course he'd the delicate figure o eights ye see, he'd a this genteel ways o doin the eightsome reels and the quadrilles and the lancers, all this fancy ways of doin which was rapidly forgotten aboot fan everybody …????… thegither wis fantastic. But of course Willie, as I say, he died quite a young age and kept very much till himsel. He didnae ???? himself at the final do, you could dance any way you liked, and Bill, Bill, eh that eh Bill Rennie, wis the local character, he hid a place at Lethenty, he fairmed in Lethenty and he ran a local dance band, he hid nivver aye the same folk ye ken, he nevver a set people at played for him, wis aye different folk played for him, but they enjoyed themsel. And eh, Bill likit a nip tae in a function o at kin, and he woulda, he woulda played is eh is cornet ye see, but he missed oot, missed oot great bits far the ither boys woulda fiddled awa ye see and then he woulda jined in anither bittie. I dinna think he wis fit tae play a the time bit he aye jined in wee bitties. But eh, ye'd tremendous characters roon aboot.

Wir local postmaster, he wis, he wis 9 year in the Gordon Highlanders through, lang afore the Boer War, and through the Boer War, ??? Allan. And aye fin he hid a dram in he would a refer tae the Boers or something ye see. And he would be makin a speech, I remember he wis makin a speech one day in the, in the hall, introducin people an at and ye see a beer bottle had burst roon the back, wis a big bang and he says, never look, a good soldier never looks behind when he hears a shot, this wis ??? Allan. And eh he, I used tae aye stop wi him when I wis at the school. He hid a wee sheddie on the road hame. I hid aboot a mile o moss road tae ging throu the nearest to oor farm ye see. And I used tae aye stop wi Allan noo and again, he'd a been smokin his pipe and he'd a telt ye aboot the auld days. He wis in, he wis at Ladysmith ye see, the whole year, they were beseiged at Ladysmith by the Boers. And eh they were down tae eatin, they et a their horses at wis left and even eten rats he says in the end. But they were relieved ye see after a year and, and eh they didnae suffer a lot o casualties fan they were, fan they were there, they were jist out o the way, they couldna get oot and that wis aboot a. Aye, he wis een o this characters.

And the point that I'm eh, the point that I'm secretary o the Gicht Games Committee, now Gicht games had a flourishin games until the war, and then they hid one after the war as far as I ken, they'd mebbe two I canna min. They hid is een efter the war onywey, but Allan was retired er at time. And eh, that een, in aboot 1938 he got affa foo, he got affa foo, and eh, there wis twa lads fightin jist at eh, at eh, outside the hall, they'd a big marquee dance ye see tae finish aff, and at wis at the height o summer at at time in June ye see, and eh, well June or July I canna min the date now. But ye see it wis complete light near at midnight ye see and this twa lads started fightin and he says, halt, stop er I go over and stop is fight, and this man at wis wi him, Sandy Philip, said I heard a smack an at wis Allan laid out! [Laughs.]

And at's anither great character, Sandy Philip, had a farm at Blackhillock and his father wis a whaler captain out o Peterhead. And he wis a tremendous strongman at Philip's father. He put doon a mutiny on his ship aparently, awa in eh, eh at wis awa on the Arctic circle of course. Hard times. And he also succeeded upending Donald Dinnie at the, at the wrestlin. Aye, there wis a wrestlin ye see at at time, and he competed at Mintlaw Games and he upended Donald Dinnie, so he must a been a strongman. But eh, Allan, Alec Philips himsel he came oot o Biffie o Mintlaw that Philips as far as I ken, and eh he'd a tremendous knack o tellin gory stories, a terrible man for telling stories and eh emphasised wi a stamp, he lost a finger.
…And I heard a scream and here wis a boy holding on till a rat up his leg, he was lowsing he says, and there wis a rat up his leg and it had bitten him ye see. And o course they got at rat despatched onywey and that boy had lasted bit a few days ye know he died.

And is wis big black rats, that had, they'd been seen leavin a ship at Peterhead. He went like is ye see. They'd been seen leavin some Algerian ship at wis unloadin slag er ye see. And anither een wis aboot a mill had been at eh, somebody had slipped intae the mill ye ken, and you know that jist lost his legs I suppose. And you know this, this wis the kind of stories he had us enthralled, we wis only young bairns ye ken. And he says he came out like bitties o mince among the corn. And he'd nivver a smile on his face and he wis, he wis, the wey he emphatically laid it off ye see, and always in the English, I don't know why he changed his, I mean his folk were pure Scotch a their times, but he pit this intae English. Dramatic, he wis very dramatic wi it.
        And there wis anither een, far he telt me at he wis, at the, he wis called on by this doctor at Old Deer at midnight, it hid tae be at midnight ye see, and I had to hold this poor fellow's head and he chopped out all his teeth, it was lockjaw that wis wrong wi him. [Laughs.] It's jist bizarre tales, is is fit wey Sandy went on. And the poor fella well he retired fae at place, he lost his, his nepha wis taken awa tae the war, all that lads at wis eh 20 in aboot 1938 had tae volunteer, they hid tae put their names down ye see, in the Territorials. And as soon as the war started of course, they were a called up. Since eh, he lost him, the fairmin kinda deteriorated he wisnae quite able, he aye hid a loon aboot the place but at's aboot a. And he took awa, the boy came back aricht like, he survived the war and Sandy selt the place, and last time I sa him wis years later, must have been twenty year later and I hid a motor car, and I think I was maybe awa fae the place er at time, I wis comin up the Waterside at eh Methlick, and he bought Waterside Croft which is a prominent building painted white. If you go up to Gicht grounds from Methlick ye'll see it on the top o the hill jist at the on the ither side tae the ???? on the Little Gicht side. And he wis retired there and I stopped wi him and he's eh, he'd aye a brilliant black moustache, waxed you know and a fine black heid o hair, and it wis aye fite ye see, athin wis pure white on Sandy noo. And I got newsin tae Sandy aboot his stirkies an at he did and wee crofties. But he switched tae at aul bloody story again aboot 'I mind upon a man'. I coulda telt him story fine back ye ken. At wis the sort o characters ye hid. But eh, there must a been hell of a characters afore my day, I've heard such a lot o tales aboot ma father, fit ma father telt us aboot em ye ken. Aye bit we'd quite a few round, roon oor area, I canna min them a.

[TMcK] What about Willie Fowlie?

Aye, Willie Fowlie wis. He wis a cut above every body else I think in talent. Very talented man and eh, come o a talented family. And Willie stayed at home far a the rest deserted and gied till a the corners o the earth, there must a been ten in Willie's family. And hyowin, he wis a great man, champion hower ye see. A hoer, it eh, it a tremendous skill went into howin. They left the tattie drill, the neeps wis sown on the top ye see, and the tottle drill ye didnae cut it doon like ye do noo adays, ye left the tottle drill and the drill had tae be rounded, the whole drill had tae be rounded and the neeps facing one way towards ye, ye see.
And Willie wis tremendous skilled, and, and eh he'd, he didna put up wi much nonsense either, if anither boy hid been comin behind and trampin on his dreel he wid a created hell ye see. And eh, of course, the time o the war Willie was special constable and used tae be called upon tae deal wi, well, it wis, it wisnae fights, ye widna call it fights, ye wis maybe exuberance at dances, there aye was. Always exuberance at dances, and it didn't amount to much ye see, an odd scrap noo and again, but it didn't do anybody any harm. And eh, Willie, Willie used tae be called upon to dae that, to quell a disturbance. But Willie Fowlie hid talents other than at ye see, he could even make furniture. And then he developed is fiddle making.
       Aye, and his nephew, Michael Robertson, Willie wis inordinately fond of Michael because Michael's father eh, Jimmy Robertson, who is still alive and in Turriff of course. Michael went on to do well at school and the school of music ye see and he, he studied in London at the Royal School of Music in London and his professor there, he eh, he telt him he hid tae get a new viola ye see, he played the viola. And eh, he says, but I have one, m'uncle made it. And the lad laughed his heid aff ye see, nonsense he says, and he produced it, and he played it awhile. Oh, he says, that's tremendous, the tone o that thing, I'm very delighted with the tone o it. And eh, and eh, of course Willie went on to make anither een efter at. And eh, that's the one of course, the second one, that ye saw him playin in the London Philharmonic. He telt me, I was, I was at Aberdeen wi him at Sunday, wis watching something at Hazlehead, and we came back, and he says, I've done a funny thing min, I've made ma will. I never, he aye hid a lot o forebodins and foresight Willie somehow or other. Something telt ma tae make ma will. And of course he left everything to his nephew, he specially brought up er Frank. And he left the placie tae him ye see, otherwise he widnae ha got nothin probably. At's fit he telt me, he left athin tae him.

And eh, we used tae go around wi a concert party, Willie, well at's, as I was tellin ye, that wis the nicht that he wis tellin me the London Philharmonia wis comin on aboot half past ten or something, ???? o them. And eh that's whit he wis lookin for at all to see his second viola bein played, at he'd sent till him. And that's the night that Willie died, a second haemorrhage, brain haemorrhage, only the age of 52. And him and I used to go out wi, we organised a concert party, the, the, what do they call them now, the Fyvie Loons and Quines. And we hid the tin whistler ye ken, we got Alan Green going, just a young boy at the time, and eh, a lassie, Elma Duguid, New Pitsligo. Think she stays in Aberdeen noo, a blacksmith's daughter. She could sing bothy ballads.

??? Smiddie afore at, ?? between New Deer and New Bythe, afore he wint tae Fyvie. I think he retired, he retired fae Fyvie somewey else, but then young Geordie he carried on smithin, I don't, just lost trace o a that folk now. At's a sister o hers at's married tae, tae Bill Hebron, the pipe major o Turra Pipe Band. At's a sister o hers, a younger sister.

[TMcK] Was Alec Green from Fyvie?

No, Alec was fae Udny, Alec wis fae Udny.

[TMcK] So you used to go to village halls and things with this concert party?

Aye, there wis ma sister, she wis a good singer, Marion and there wis Mrs Chapman, she wis a good pianist. There wis a shop at Lethenty, Stuartie Chapman's wife. And we used tae just ging around. We didna, maybe two year we give it up, here and there. Started aff wi a big marquee thing, there wis a challenge on see wi some ither concert party, and then they brought in four, there wis the Kennethmont Loons and Quines, and there wis the Kingseat Bothy Billies, and the famous Bennagoakers fae Methlick wi Robbie Shand. Robbie Shand wis a great character, tremendous singer, tremendous singer Robbie and a streak o lichtnin in the, in the at the Gicht games and at, a tremendous runner. There wisnae much o him, he wis jist like a shada, but by god he could sing and his daughter she wis even better. She went on tae the Royal School of Music tae, don't know where she is now, disappeared fae my ken, but tae hear at two singin a duet wis fantastic, the two o them the gither wis fantastic. But of course Willie, as I say, he died quite a young age and kept very much till himsel. He didnae go far, I suppose he wisnae much farrer than the Glasgow exhibition o 1939, dinna think he wint far, no he kept very much tae himsel. But then so did them a, all these places they're all wiped oot, they're all tae ranchin now. There's all these wee hamlets all round, the man, the Deer's Hill er wis full o them, a man Pinkins, well above 6 feet, a great strong man, he used to throw the hammer wi all the famous, Archie Campbell in his young day. And eh, he wis good, he used tae tell me great tales tae, aboot findin all these artifacts on the farm, but then ye see jist over the hill fae him wis the battle o Lethen, no, Gethen???? Way back in history everybody knows aboot it, the Thane o Buchan against some o the highlanders, I don't know. It was something to do wi that, it wis supposed to lasted more than one day, but they withdrawn mebbe back tae his side, his place ye see, doon Deer's Hill, because the battle wis jist over the tap o Deer's Hill.

[TMcK] He used to find bits and pieces?

He used to find artifacts and bits o weaponry on his place.

[TMcK] Did he ??? keep them in the house or what did he do with them

Don't know what he did, don't know what he did. But his half brother came home from Canada, and eh, I aye min, he used tae, he wis a funny kind o man, he'd been er in Canada, he'd went off to Canada, everybody did ye see in those days, the, away back in his youth, long before the great war. And eh he come back.

Somebody'd had actually, a man Elder fae the Waggle Hill hid actually seen him oot there, and he says he wis nothin but a bum, he jist went from district to district on the trains in Canada he says, and that wis the time o the terrible depression. Anyway he came home in the fifties, he came down to the shoppie that wis the gatherin centre in Mulbreck's a wee shoppie, and he, his lips went ceaselessly, a the time, ye ken as though he wis reciting somethin till himsel and fen he did he wis quite interesting fen he did speak up. He telt ye aboot someplace he wis in in Canada that he'd resided in a while and he'd left, and the week after there'd been a landslide and most of the population was killed. Well there hidna been a big habitation anyway. And anither aboot seein this Sasquatch or something, in the, way in the West, big man-like structure o an animal, but nobody believed him, thocht well that's a load o rubbish. But I've been readin aboot at business since.

[TMcK] ??

Aye, aye. Well he came in er, and he bought at shoppie, the old shoppie in Millbrex in the end and finished off his life there. And it was taken down after at and rejoined the farm it wis originally gifted. There wis a man came home from the Scots Guards in 1932, the name of Peter Elder, another great character. And he approached the local farmer, cause his father hid, hid the croftie, this local farmer's, this local farmer's croftie, this man's father hid it let, the croftie house, jist the house, nae the land, tae retire in ye see. And he got, he got that eh, wee bit o parcel o land, along wi an old quarry that the, that the council had made, hid made the road wi at one time, dug a bit a material out o there tae help make the roads. And he got a parcel o land ere anyway, and he built a shop entirely o wood, and I min we wis comin hame fae school, ah well, it woulda been 1929 to 1930, I wisnae very aul jist an infant. And I saw there wis a house, this is the house that Jack built. And his brother-in-law and his wife and his son, wis the same age as me, cause he ging tae the local school, and he lived er, and his wife come fae London and she couldna stick that northern parts and she departed along wi her brother in law back the way she come along wi the son ye see, his infant son, never to be seen again.
       And Peter went gloryin on himsel, he'd been brocht up in at area, in Waggle Hill and he wis invalided out o the Scots Guards because o consumption, and he'd been, he must a been seven or eight year in em onywey. And smartness, ye nivver sa anybody sae smart as Peter Elder. And he still played the pipes, although he wisnae capable o playin for a long period, he still played the pipes. And they were a beautiful silver mounted pipes, and eh, I learned, I learned the chanter aff o Peter ye see. Used tae ging in by on the road hame fae skweel, and I woulda aye taen up a bit, there wis no payment, it wis a section o honey, my father kept a great row o bees and Peter got a section o honey for at ye see.
And Peter regaled ye wi stories o the army, nearly everybody thocht the army wis the greatest thing on earth, but then when the war come ye see, a this boys disappeared because they'd already been in the Terriers, they'd ??? em in tae sign up for the Terriers. And eh, Peter here wis him dying tae get away intae the army and he wrote tae a the people under the sun but naibody paid any attention ye see, because he'd been discharged. And eh, funnily enough, this eh, they advertised for a janitor for Turra school, which was a big job ye see, and Peter applied, and they couldna be anything else but impressed, he wis such a smart fella ye see and been about the world a good bit and could handle a job just right under the sun. And Peter hid been divorced by this time and he took up this post, and his sister took ower the shop efter at.
       His sister, well there wis two sisters, Mary and Maggie, they took turns in the shop. They didna live in it, they jist took turns to come up from the croft ye see. So Peter went away tae this and he got married again, and eh, a matron o some hospital or something, and was doin very well and down he went wi ulcers, stomach ulcers. And he wint doon tae Aberdeen and they operated for stomach ulcers and there wis somebody went in tae see him, and he says I just feel like a trussed up chicken and he wis dead next day. They'd been a hell of a bloody bad job, either that or they'd been too far on or something. And eh, since at time ye see, well a we have to remind a o that great character Peter Elder, is a row o trees, a row o flourishing rowan trees, rodden trees we ca'd em, which he pit in for a hedge, jist tae keep the blin smore awa and the snail winds at come ower the Deers Hill, at's fit he put in for a shelter for the shoppie, and they're flourishin, at's a that there is, shoppie, nothing left, to remind me of Peter Elder noo when I ging by ye ken. And at's the closest side o Newhall o Mulbreck's. At's where they put up the new hall.

[TMcK] When you were a boy what sort of things did you do for Hogmanay?

Hogmanay, now we never held Christmas. Christmas was a thing that wis unheard o, except at schools. It wis aye hogmanay we hid. And eh, of course, we'd a great, we'd a great feast ye see, we aye brought oot a turkey, or something hid tae be. But nae the Christmas, it wis practically unheard of.

[TMcK] Were there any presents?

Oh aye, o aye, nothing very big, nothing big actually, there wisnae money ye see. Just small things. Ye wis proud o, maybe a penknife or something ye'd be presented wi somethin small jist, and there wis nae lack o home made candies an at. And my father, you know this my father he made fantastic homemade candy and it lookit funny tae see him, ye ken, because he never did anything domestically, not a thing domestic inside, but he could mak candy, that wis the only thing he turned his hand till.

[TMcK] ??

Aye, uh huh. But then ye see, Hogmanays wis the thing ye hid a lot of first footers and ye didna hae swigs o drink like ye do nowadays, ye'd little wee totems o glasses, they weren't very big, just a mouthful and folk were never drunk. Ye woulda, ye woulda lot o people comin in aboot.

[TMcK] Did they come all hours of the morning?

Oh aye, a hoors of the mornin, and nae only that day, the next day and the next day efter that. But eh, after the war things got out of hand folks started to drink too much. And ye'd a chap, the, the, he took the farm o Bruckleseat next tae us, a son o the great eh Jock Strachan, this wis young Derek. Young Derek come home from the war, he wis in the tanks during the war, and he brought home a, a huge eh, Austrian mountain eh, horn. Near halve the length o this room. And he woulda, blasted, ma father well, being a widdower, he never married again for years and years after he lost ma mother, jist ma sister was keepin house ye see. And eh, he woulda appear'd at his windae and blown is thing ye see, mebbe two days after Hogmanay. Derek had nivver, he hardly went to sleep I don't think. And all he wanted Derek was his feet up and he'd, have a musical nicht going, if he got some fiddler or somebody to turn oot tae gie him music. And Derek didn't sing himsel, efter, his father was a tremendous singer, and Derek was very proud tae let me hear old records o his father ye know, but Derek did nothin himsel, bit jist listen, and tell, he telt some good stories tae. Fyvie tales, ye know, he was a great lad at eh, at eh.
       But all he wanted wis a good crack and a get together, and my father, and ma father was a great newser and so was he. And they both, both old, old Buchan tongue which if I had a tape recorder at at time, woulda been worth listenin till now, because it's well watered down ye see. The Buchan tongue o that day and the present day is nae the same as it wis. A that horsey lads wis the same. We used tae get em a coming by ye see, because they traivelled the stallions. A durin the thirties. We hid three brood mares ye see, hid tae be serviced every year and mebbe two foals, lucky if ye got two foals oot o the three. But eh, ye'd somebody comin by wi a stallion mebbe once a week ye see, jist tae see if it wis the, they mebbe didn't strike it, they hid tae be in heat ye see, they mebbe didnae strike it, so the next wik somebody else woulda come. Ye'd different stallions.

St Johns Wells hid een, an eh, he'd a character eh, Day, Harry Dey traivelled it. And eh, Slesser, lad, Donald Slesser traivelled a stallion for eh, for eh, Fetterletter, at wis anither een. Harry Miller, Fetterletter. And eh, these lads were great characters.
       Ye'd anither een come oot a Buchan somewey, anither stallion and eh, I aye min he hid been in the navy in the great war and he'd been at the battle o Jutland and telt ye a aboot it. Interestin characters ye hid ye see. And they aye got their dinner fae us. An anither een Leslie Murison, a most crabbit man, Leslie Murison was a terrible crabbit man, he woulda roared at his poor stallion. It woulda gotten a terrible diatrade. He was affa sair on him ye know. I suppose they hid tae dae fit he wis telt but the other boys nivver made no noise at a. He'd tae bawl and shout the whole time, Leslie Murison. And the last time I saw Leslie wis, he'd a hoose in Rothienorman, ootside Rothienorman, and eh dinna think he lost neen o his crabbitness, he, he aye argued wi ye in spite o fit ye said, to the end. [Laughs.] But eh, horsey days and horsey boys, they a changed. At lads they were a clique, they a got together at shows and sales, the horsey lads.

Horseman's word went out o fashion by the time I was on the go. It was afore my time.

[TMcK] Did they ever talk about it?

Oh aye, oh aye, they fairly referred to it. They jist telt ye fit happened ye see, jist ging through the calf-hoose door. I aye winnered, how the hell did ye go through a calf-hoose door. Caff wis, caff, chaff at the best, wis terrible stuff tae cling tae yer claes, made an affa mess, filled yer boots. Could they nae hae gotten a better place tae go through. A caff hoose door understand, wis quite a size. An it was aye below the feedin bench and it was totally encased. Ye opened a door and went in and it wis mebbe, mebbe 10 feet by 10 feet wide, but only mebbe five feet high, there wis never room tae stand up in. And eh, is is held the caff that blew in ye see, and eh, it wis supposed to be takin oot and given tae the beasts tae eat. The feedin beasts liket chaff. And eh, they went in, they were supposed to go in er ye see, because it was so dark, there wis no windows, no doors. And it was a dark hole at the best o times, and mebbe at, mebbe more secretive ye see. Aye, and ye were supposed to actually, give a, give a presentation, ye had tae profer a drink ye see as well, ye hidna tae come empty. Is wis the, is wis the whole thing, ye hid tae bless the thing wi a, wi a, ye, crossin the caff-hoose door wi a nippy ye see, o spirits.

[TMcK] Did you hear about the ??

Oh aye, ye see, ye hid tae cerry at. The boy inside ye hid tae profer the hand o the devil ye see, the poor goat. I don't know how the hell they managed, mebbe it had been a sheep ye see, plenty o deid sheep, but there wis very few goats. I woulda think it woulda been a sheep's leg that they woulda used. But it was oot a, oot a use er my time. Far oot a use.

[TMcK] Horses were still ??

Oh aye, oh aye. But the horsemanship woulda went down the hill I woulda think, especially efter the great war far the maist o the chaps were slaughtered anyway. I mean in oor district at's 34 disappeared, wis perished fae oor district alone. I would think the horseman and the horseman's word woulda disappeared efter the first war, along wi them. Definitely. Because there wisna mony, there wisna an affa lot o survivors went away, came back, nae like. The great war and the second war wis naething, the second war wis nothing like the slaughter, very few, well that's only four on the memorial at Mullbrex, and 34 in the great war. But then the population was high of course, the population rate in the farms, there was more people on the farms too. The, the, they seemed to be doing well when the fen the great war started, farmin, farmin was on the up. And it continued to be on the up after, fen the war started because the same wi the second war, it was in atween in the thirties when it went such a low, fen they started getting in a their grain fae abroad, from your country in particular, in Canada ye see. They got the grain in eh, at low prices. So low as it went down to something like eh, fifty shillins aye, even thirty shillins a quarter, which was three hundred weight of oats. And eh, the politicians didnae do much about it, they couldna, we hid Boothby ye see, Boothby came in in the thirties. And he came to Mulbrecks and he wis a very well liked character. Didn't take his politics seriously, in fact he said he wis a liberal o long after he retired. MP thirty year for East Aberdeenshire. And I aye min a meetin at the, Slater Ewan was a local character tae, he asked him 'When is the price of corn gan tae rise', 'Oh it'll rise wi the sunshine'. He jist, ye know, he didnae take his, but he's quick fire ye see, and very well liked.

We hid a lad, Bert Gow in New Deer, at wis, eh, Bert Gow died years ago, and Bert Gow lived well intae, he is 97 or 98, great war veteran too. And Bert, he had a song made up aboot him, and eh 'Boothby on ma back' he called it. And he, he aye got ten bob fae Boothby for singin it at local election meetin, New Deer Hall. Boothby on ma back. And anither lad he hid at gave him a great salute in New Deer wis Corporal Knox. Corporal Knox hid been, eh, hid been in the colours, in the Army for countless years as well, survived the great war. And eh, he gave him an immaculate salute in New Deer Hall and followed him about and escorted him about ye see, and became a mascot till him really and he aye gied him ten bob and a. But of course he went right round to the bar and spent it a, cause he'd insatiable thirst. Anybody who knows Corporal Knox in New Deer will tell ye aboot him. Whit a character he wis. And eh, but he, Bert made up sangs a his life, in fact he gave me a sang, aye, I wrote it oot there.

[TMcK] Do you sing it?

No I didna sing. But he composed it in the front line, behind the lines rether, for entertaining the troops behind the lines. He wis in the 51st Division, old Bert. Joined up like a lot o the rest when they were underage. And eh, it wis the greatest thing on earth, they thocht the war would be a o'er if they didna hurry on, ye see. Consequently neen o them come back hardly. But Bert eh, Bert wis a great singer. He was good to listen to ye see, he used tae come up till Mulbrecks and sing ere. Along wi eh, ?? Kelman's Concert Party, at wis a manny in New Deer et hid the electrics, electric shoppie ere. And he come up wi his concert party and eh, o he, he wis great tae listen till, jist a proper comedian ye see and the stories he telt. He telt stories and sang, and they were a good hairmless fun kin o stories ye see, and they hid the bairns a lauchin their heids aff and he'd dressed up as a wifie at the same time and sang that kin o sangs ye see. 'I am a widow baith handsome and bra' ye see, when he come oot wi that een. And anither een 'I'm the washer wife', that wis anither o his sangs which he composed himself. The Washer Wife.

[TMcK] Does anybody around still sing these or know the tunes?

No, no they dinna. They expired wi Bert Gow himsel. They all went away.

I hiv aye, uh huh. I'll easy gie ye the words o the Washer Wife tae, aye, I'll dae at for ye as well.


back to top