The Banff and Buchan Collection

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Tape 1994.062 transcription

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[Thomas McKean] Things like Meal and Ale's, did you go to Meal and Ale's?

[Jock Duncan] No Meal and Ale's were to celebrate the end o the harvest and we aye hid een at Millbrex, in the hall, and, eh, they were, eh, composed a' oatmeal and stout, and steeped a while ye ken, in the stout, and the whisky and various ither spirits, anything that wis it hand, ye see, and eh, well they werena very palatable, a lot o folk liked them, but I never liked meal and ale, ken.

[TM] I haven't spoken to anyone yet [laughs] who does, everybody says a lot of folk like them but I never….

[JD] No, no I wouldna say it, but then fairm servants at that time of course, in the fairmin population, they werena fussy aboot their food, they liket good, good simple diet, like cheese and breed. Now a'thing in the farmin diet line was that ingredients, wis cheap ingredients, everything derived from milk for instance and meal, and eh as I said already, they've plenty clean vegetables and turnips. Turnip and kale, turnip brose and I've spoken till a lot o folk since aboot the turnip brose. Turnip brose wis fantastic. Ye boiled the turnips, ye boiled the turnips the big pot, and chopped em, and afore ye chopped em ye poured off the the liquid, and this wis poured inti a bowl a meal ye see, and let in steep there, and that wis fantastic, without milk or anything else there wis something aboot, aboot the liquid off of straining off a turnips, the turnip liquid wis, wis helluva good ti, it wis een good ti drink, but it wis better in e brose.

[TM] Did it have salt in it?

[JD] It hid little salt, yes. And then ye hid eh, did the same wi kale ye see, bit kale wisna sae good, ye did the same wi cabbage. This wis a diet for dinner for through the day, dinner they called it was 12 noon, the breakfast, breakfast wis brose, just four speenfus of meal maybe at wis the big spoons, and some salt, and pour on the boilin water, and stir till a nice consistency, and put a newspaper on top o it a wee while, aboot half a minute, and that let them sort a cook, and then pour on the cream, didna bother wi that stuff ca'ed milk, ye poured on, ye got a big bowl o milk the night afore and the cream all came ti the top, just straight off the coo ye see, they poured it in ti the bowls, cream came ti the top, ye just scraped off the cream and that wis fantastic, that wis really good, and eh, little tea in oor time ye see, but they didnae hae tea afore mi father's time in the mornin, an loaf, didna hae, never saw loaf hardly in the mornin.

[TM] Mostly oatcakes?

[JD] Oatcakes, ye see, no ontae lunch or fit wi ca'ed dinner ye see wis 12, now at wis taken sometime anythin fae five tae six ye see, a' dependin how early a fairm toun wis a' different, fairm touns wis a' different risin time, they didna hae, they did hae set hours, but they didna hae them too set, they didna worry aboot workin an extra oor in those days. In fact in the harvest times they work, they workit six days after the, for eh, eh ten hoor days, longer days tae work in the harvest time, for six days, nobody every worked on a Sunday, that was unheard o. So lunch wis you got a good plate o broth in the lunch time, good heavy broth, maybe made, even made wi a hen ye see, ye probably didna see the chicken ye see it wis maybe used up on the Sunday for the fairmers end, the better end o the hoose. The fairm servants didna get the same as the master, nae at a touns, a lot of the fairmers like ti eat wi the men, but the men didna like at, didna like eatin wi the fairmer, they like it ti eat wi themsel. They fancied bein wi themsel much better. No very few, very few places it the fairmer would a eaten wi the men.

[TM] Why did they prefer it? Separate?

[JD] Well yer different class. They knew their class it wis different.

[TM] They could be themselves?

[JD] Well they like it tae be, they felt easier wi themsel, and mind ye there wis a lot o big fairmers wouldna like it at either. They wouldna like tae lower themsel or condescend themsel tae feed wi the men, they'd a the better end o the hoose. In fact a heard mony a, mony a fairm servant sayin it a the best food gid bain the hoose ti the, bain the hoose wis far the fairmer fed, a the best food gid bain the hoose, bit nae at a places, a places gid the same ye see, they werena a the same. But, eh, there wisna, there wisna a lot o places in my age it you would a said wis a hungry toun, bit I've heard a lot o sangs aboot at, bein a hungry place ye see, that the broth wis as thin as he saw the pea, there wisna mony peas in, this sort a business. No, they were a well fed in oor generation. There woulda been complaints hear ind air, but there hidna been much ti complain aboot. There wis one a heard aboot it the, the boy mairrit a, he mairrit a wife, ye see, but she wis genteel, she'd been brocht up in the toon, she'd been brocht up in Aiberdeen, and trained at the School o Domestic Science, but she'd no damnt idea how ti feed men, ye see, and he wis fed bain the hoose, this young fairmer, he wis fed bain the hoose, but he, he wis fed plenty ye see, he didna much complain aboot it, but the boys afore hid aye gotten plenty o oatcakes, an a'thing, and she wis jist naethin even that wid feed a moose ye see, until is day it the wife hid gin awa inti Aiberdeen or something, in the mannie hid been left imsel, and he'd come bain and fed wi the men, and this kitchie deem, kitchie deem wis dishin oot i stuff ye see in there wisna muckle a naething, there wisna nae hardly oatcakes, maybe one each ye see, and eh, 'Lord a mercy woman, far's a the mate?', 'Oh it's a lockit in, the cheese an athing', she says, canna get at it. The boy burst open the bloody door and brocht oot a cabich, and a the breed the boys could muster in, and ate up boys he says, and since at she wis a different thing athegither, he'd got on till er, it wis different athegither. He didna ken fit wis goin on.

[TM] She'd no idea how much you had to eat, to keep...

[JD] No, she'd no damned idea ye see, genteel wise in the toon far they were sittin in offices, but this lads is workin fae six a clock ti 12 noon, they were famished ye see, and that wis big strong hefty men it wis pullin neeps a day and pooin neeps an fillin dung, my God they were ravenous. That's the kinda places far they begun ti get eggs gan missin ye see, ye ken. Of course the bothies, there wis no bothies in the North East, except, except up at Forglen, there wis ane, home fairm o Cairnorrie hid a bothie, and the men there, every, the manager there, it wis a big laird's toun understand, an the manager there he says 'I dinna worry aboot a hen gan missin', he says, 'bit a div dra the line at a pig'. They'd teen awa a piglet, ye see. Now at men they walkit doon, it wis somethin like five mile, they walkit doon ti, it wis four mile through ti nearest fae Cairnorrie. They walkit doon inti Turra on a Setterday nicht, in they could get a bottle a port or ale for thrupence, and they could roon ti the baker and they got a hale bag a broken biscuits for a hapenny piece, ti tak back, and at wis freshly made biscuits that hid broken through the week, ye see, they'd a been saved up for fairm servants. And they went hame fine pleased wi themsel. Aye, that wis a man Duncan that telt me at, he wis next door ti them, he wis next door ti this Hame fairm o Cairnorrie, and that man Duncan fairmed a his days and his father fairmed a his days at Reidbrae, the fairm at Reidbrae. And it would a been in the Forglen Estates maybe ye see, and eh, he wis a fair ghillie this mannie tee, he aye mind, he telt me aboot gan ti school, the Sunday school it wis. They walkit ti Sunday school, something like three mile fae Reidbrae, in a', a lot a kids it at time, cottar hooses an athing, a lot a kids a gid ti school and there wis somebody, there wis a family a nine Alexander's he says, wis at the Sunday school an a, an there wis one young een, a bairn wis gan ti be baptised at day, and this boy, een o the Alexanders wis telt ti mak a detour, five mile ti booties wall, which is awa doon bi, far the devil wist? Headin for Forgue.

It wis well out o the wye, booties wall, wis supposed ti be holy water, it wis old habitations, Druid circles and things roond there, and there wis is booties wall, a well a holy water. It hid been legendary likely, there'd been nae holy water at a, bit it wis legendary, and this boy wis told ti ging a detour it would a teen him instead o three mile, it wis gan ti be extra two mile, it wis five mile for him, and a he did wis fill the bottle oot a puddle o water, and they never kent nae difference he says. That wis, he wis ninety-two fan he telt me aul Duncan, and he says, the recipient at at wis baptised o that holy water is still livin ti this day he says. [laughs] So it didna dae him ony hairm. [laughs].

[TM] Did you ever hear of anybody visiting holy wells like that on, ??? or any other time?

[JD] Well it's a famous thing in the North East, ye've got the St Mary's well ye see, gan inti Huntly, fae Bognie Brae ye'll see St Mary's well, and there's, of course, the monks hills ye see wis supposed ti be on monks territory and then there's, fit di ye ca him again, eh, eh, Chapel well. Well Chapel well wis supposed ti be, supposed ti be a well air, ye see, ats anither place far ???, it wis supposed ti belang ti monks as well. Monks Hill woulda been named after the monks ye see, the holy order at one time.

[TM] Did you hear of people going to the wells on the first of May and dipping a cloth in the ???

[JD] No, no.

[TM] No.

[JD] No never heard a that, no.

[TM] Do you remember sautie bannock day?

[JD] Aye we didna dee it though. Aye, uhu.

[TM] But you heard about it?

[JD] Aye, wee bittie, aye.

[TM] Do you remember the rhyme about the Candlemas as well?

[JD] No I've heard a rhyme, but I've never, never memorised it either. No.

[TM] Did you do anything at Halloween?

[JD] Halloween, aye, wis dressed up and gid roon the fairms. I didna dee it personally, but a lot o the kids did at ye ken.

[TM] Did they have rhymes, when going from door to door, or?

[JD] Aye, nae set rhymes, sometimes it wis just a local rhymes that wis made up ye ken.

[TM] What about at Hogmanay, was there ??? ??? ???

[JD] Aye, I've heard o that tee, but it wisna deen in oor place it wis gan oot a date bi that time a think, aye.

[TM] Do you remember any rhymes or children's games that you used?

[JD] Just children's games at the school, ye see, we'd plenty a rhymes ye ken, een twa three, eetle ottle.

[TM] Eetle, ottle, black bottle?

[JD] Aye that kin a things ye see, ye'd a lot a that made up on the spot.

[TM] Eetle ottle oot?

[JD] One potato, two potato, three potato four, and you ken ye, five potato, six potato, seven potato more, and a that kin o rhymes ye see. Which wis done in the school playgrounds really, nae ootside it, or if kids hid been playin it ye ken their leisure time.

[TM] I suppose being on the farm you wouldn't have seen too many other kids, other than your own brothers and sisters?

[JD] There wis quite a lot aye. Quite a big population roon wi us, there wis aboot seventy, eighty at the school ye see, an I suppose ye'd only muster up half a dozen, although encouraged, I'm helluva please ti see a that houses bein built now, and that's gan ti bring the population back a good bit. Ye see it wis a disaster area, see in the, well a the cottar hooses, a the cottars ye see brought yer population up a good bit, although it didna see them lang, maybe some o the cottars only stayed one year. Wi hid a Brucklayseat wis aside us, an they changed quite frequently, ken, bit the cottars hid a helluva life aside a fairm, fairm servants ye could, they werena downtrodden in ony way, the fairm servants, except for cottar hooses, they hid ti, a mean the cottars they hid a year ti go maybe, and they hid ti be soucht ti bide, you were engaged by the year the cottars, but nae the single men, they were only six month ye see, and there wis naebody hid them back, a mean they'd only six month ti go, they, there wis nae fairmer could downtrod them, but it is a different thing wi cottar hooses. They were anxious aye at the end o their term ye see, ti look for the next place. And it didna mean they would a be engaged. There wis a terrible time in the thirties fin the folk did wi less cottars, and some o them were puttin oot o their hooses ye see, and they were actually congregated in the hall, they took them in at Inverurie Town Hall for a day or two afore they could get accommodated, it wis a terrible business. And I suppose the maist o them hid landed up in the slums in Aiberdeen. But, ither than that, things went quite smoothly when fairmin wis deein weel, the cottars wis deein weel tee, but the single men, they were a happy go lucky lot, and eh, at night ye see, as I said in the, fin the summertime, there wis aye plenty activities, there wis runnin, an fitba, an there wis a lot a the heavy boys ye see wis fliggin the haimmer, practising an that for the local games, and everybody wis proud o their local tug o war teams. cause there wis plenty big strong men aff the farms, an Gight in particular were helluva good, Gight hid aye a good tug o war team. And Charlie Reid, the great Charlie Reid is still alive, he's eighty something now, but he still does a hard days work in the smiddy, maybe a whole day whiles at Steenhouse. The only smiddy left in, within a four mile radius o the kirk o Millbrex, there wis seven smiddies, ye'd Lendrum, and over at Turra wye, and headin ower lookin ower at Millbrex ye'd the Millbrex een, and slightly furrer oot ye'd the Greens een, and then turn again ye'd Cairnbunna aside Cairnbunna Hoose, and turner roon a bittie further ye'd Esslemont at Cairnorrie, and if ye gid a bittie farrer an that, and of course ye'd Methlick ye see if ye gid a bittie furrer, but I'm within the four mile radius, so I'm comin roon ti Steenhoose, the only one survivor, and then ye'd the Lethanty, and then ye hid, ye hid Tifty, maybe eight, that's aboot eight Smiddies, theres only one left, ats Steenhoose, ats Charlie Reid. Esslemont at Cairnorrie, his son, his son hid Fyvie Smiddy he went fae Cairnorrie to Fyvie, he's dead noo. The great Chapmans at Lethanty which was cairried on bi three generations, all alive at the same time, there's none o them left they're all away, there's no offspring ti carry on the great traditions. Charlie Reid died early he'd the one left the smiddy in the end, he died in his fifties. He was always so fine pleased wi himsel wi a fag in his moo and sorts a crisis goin on everything roon aboot pourin intae Smiddy and he's ither smiths employed as well as hes brither ye see, Never ??? ??? fine happy as a lord, and easy going, and tellin folk tae pit there stuff ye see and there wisna room for naething, it wis a very tiny smiddy, and the whole cornyard at the back, and a' the close wis tikkin up wi implements, and it wis naethin for stuff to left half across the road near, ken the main road, that wis, well it wisna a lot a folk init at at time, bit it wis still the road, and it wis nothin for a bit a implement to be stikin oot ontil the road. You'd ti watch yerself at night if ye wis drivin by, but the famous Reids are away, and the Bill Laing wis the last smith at Millbrex his wife took a, he kept bees Bill, and Bill's a great lad he boasted a bittie, ye see, the honey would be prodigious quantities ye see, and a ??? ??? and he kent fine it wisna true, but his wife got stung by a bee and michty she only laisted a few hours, ken, she was dead, leavin him wi a young daughter. Bill left the smiddy aifter at, he selt it, and gaed back ti his fathers place, his father wis deed or that time. The fathers croftie, and he married again, and I think he went away ti smithy again somewhere else, sellt the placie and gaed awa ti smithin.

[TM] Do smiths sometimes go to the hiring fairs as well?

[JD] Oh aye, they wid a gin to drum up business I wid think. Aye, ye mean ti hire the skills. No.

[TM] They were always in one place?

[JD] Oh aye, generation aifter generation, but eh…

[TM] Did they own the place, or they just had a long term…

[JD] Some a them hid them let fae the lairds, but most a them owned them. Oh aye, most a them owned them. Then eh, they hid ti be eh, quite a even tempered lot because the fairmers come in, they're very annoyed at this nae bein done, and the next thing bein done, bit the most a people went at night, ye ken. The smiddy wis open at night an a', in the thirties, in the boys brought in, eh, the fairm servants brought in a ploo sock ti dee, and some o them wid a deen them on their own, some o the fairm servants would a learnt a wye ti dee their own socks. And then every horse hid ti get shod maybe, oh, three times a year, ye see, and shoes would a come off, so it wis. I used ti ging ti the smiddy a lot fin I wis a loon ye ken just, it hid, ye hid ti be there at seven a clock in the mornin, or dinna bother ga'n, cause there wis a queue a horses, an the queue a horses wis a' ti shee, an they likit ti be finished a' their horses, shod by dinnertime, ye see, which meant that some a the horses were maybe late in getting back hame, cause some a them would a walkit two, three mile. Bit they likit ti finish their horses in Bill Lain woulda, woulda worked an hour fae seven ti eight amon the horse shoein, an his father woulda come ower an helpit him, fan he wis retiret, and he wouldna wait for his breakfast ye see and come back again, this is the wye they did. But ye hid ti be there helluva early otherwise ye wis waitin half i day. An they were really, they were really skilled, very skilled profession the horse shoein, in the, they've quite a lot of competition at boys a course at shows, the local shows, horse shoein in even makin gates or ony ither items ye see, I have a thingy here. Did shoein fae mornin till night, did nothing else, and they were no use when the horses packed up, in they were no use, they hid ti be, they hid ti devote their skills ti learnin ither jobs, because they were no use at the normal. But in the country smiddy's they learnt everything. [END OF FIRST SIDE OF TAPE]


[JD] ??? ??? at Elgin. He did have his apprenticeship at horse shoein, an then he left it an did the rest o his apprenticeship at a normal smiddy, ye see, a normal smiddy, and he said eh, he benefited wi that otherwise he wouldna been no use, an he went home ti Lendrum Smiddy, I'm lookin back ti the, after the Great War, is woulda been aboot 1924, he went home ti Lendrum Smiddy, and eh, fin he arrived air, a' dressed at at time, a motorbike he hid. Well, ye hid ti be well dressed fin ye shiftit fae, if ye wisna workin in went ti a feein market, or shiftin ti a new place ye'd ti be on yer best claes, turnt oot well, and eh, he wis telt far the bothy wis, up e top e smiddy, place air. And he wis introduced later on ti the blacksmiths son, an he wisna near richt in the head, and he hidna washed himsel, an his claes wis, wis a' coal dust an a'thing, in eh, he says yer nae gan ti yer bed like at. They slept the gither ye see at at time, in the one bothy bed, yer nae gan ti yer bed like at he says. Och I'll just be as bad again fin a, aifter a start the smithin, and eh, his mother hid changed a' the bedclothes for the new man comin ye see, they were a' clean. And oh god, ye'll hae ti wash yer face an tik aff yer sark he says onywey, ats bloody mess o at kine. So he did fit he wis telt, he wouldna, he wouldna allow naethin else, he said, he did fit he wis telt, and that chappy hid been chapped in the head wi a haimmer, ats fit knocked him wrang. He'd been a scuff, just, nae muckle mair, but it hid brain damaged him a bit he says. He wis a good enough smith, so his first yokkin wis by, an he asked the smith, far di a wash ma face, ma hands, oh jist heat up, [coughs] just heat up a pail o eh, heat up a ploo sock an drap it inti at pail, ye see, and so the fullt is pail a cauld water he says an he drapped in the reed hate sock an at hate up e water, an he washed himsel wi at. So he learnt wi at, and he also learnt at a, the gossip, abody comes inti the smiddy ti gossip aboot local events, and he says, eh, aye, what they dinna ken aboot each ithers business, the fairmers in the end, he says they know what everybody's doin, and whose man feed ti is, and whose lassie's in the family wye, they know everything he says, after ye ken bein at a smiddy, they know all the gossip, the smiddy keeps goin, he says, the smiths keep goin, and it's a rumour , he says starts as as a pistol shot at the smiddy bi the time it, it gets eh, a few mile away, he says, it's like a gun shot, it's like a cannon shot, he says, that's they wye they did it, at wis the smiddies. But if ye go back far enough of course the eenst ti hud the bible classes an athing at the smiddy's, travellin ministers an athing.

[TM] I suppose that's where all the lads were so…

[JD] Aye well they used ti even hae, even teachin classes an athing, ken fir elementary sums an teachin jist. Aye there wis a lot a, if ye go back inti, inti ma fathers time, even they left school at twelve, ye ken, left helluva early. I aye mine at smith tellin mi at fin he wis at e school, at Elgin [coughs] the, he aye used ti like ti help wi the harvest ye see, an he gid ??? field mice. There wis two field mice in a match box, at he hid, and eh, he let em loose in the, he let is boy next till him see this field mice. He opened up is ??? box an they baith flew oot, an they ran a' ower the fleer, an the lassies a' took screamin and runin ye see, in the teacher, the lassie teacher stood up on er desk, an it wisna till he got em again that everything becalmed, the situation becalmed, and she went and telt the headmaster, and he wis a terrible disciplinarian, and he took him and gid him aboot eight o the strap, in both hands, and his hands a' swelled ye see, and he went home, and he wis helpin his father in the smiddy, and his father saw them a', hey how the hell did at, oh he says the headmaster. So I took him doon ti see the headmaster, an the bloody headmaster jammed e door shut on im, they couldna get ti spik till im, so they went inti the, they went up ti the, there wis eh, people in charge a the school board, in Elgin at at time, an ye walked two mile out ti this big farmer who wis on e school board and he telt him aboot it, and eh, they held a meetin aboot it onywey, an the boy wis the headmaster wis given a dressin down aboot it, daein at till a young boy, and he went back ti school on e Monday, and he wis twelve year aul, and he wis telt nae ti come back again. At wis him finished, an he wis fine pleased he says [laughs] He got onti the smiddies right away. Just doin odd jobs until he started his apprenticeship.

[TM] Twelve year old.

[JD] Aye, hmhm. At wis how he got started, aye.

[TM] Well do you fancy a song or two.

[JD] Well I'll, fit will we sing noo ???

[TM] [Laughs]

[JD] Okay.

[TM] Hm,hm.

[JD] [Sings]

Its Tarves Pairish that I cam fae,
Ti tell ye that I am some wae,
For there's a lang road that I maun gae,
Ti the Fyvie lands in the mornin.

At Camaloun I did arrive,
A pair o horses for ti drive,
An ilkae mornin up at five,
Ti ca the fan in the mornin.

At first fin I tae Camals cam,
They a' cried oot here's oor new man,
And ti gaze at me they a' began,
An the Fyvie lands in the mornin.

I hidna weel begun ti sleep,
Fin the foreman he began ti creep,
And oot o his bed he sprang to his feet,
Cries, losh boys rise for its mornin.

Ti ca the fan they set me ti,
Which I began richt cannily,
And took a look for they wid dee,
An the Fyvie lands in the mornin.

The wither being been past an the fan been set,
The foreman cries, We maun hae some maet,
At the head o the table he'd taen his seat,
Cries, Eat, boys, eat for its mornin.

Ye'll yoke yer horse as fast as ye may,
The foreman unto me did say,
And ye'll get a ploo oot ower the brae,
That'll please ye weel in the mornin.

I hidna been lang at the ploo,
Fan I began ti cowk and spew,
The nicht afore I'd been some fu,.
Sae I hid a dowie mornin.

We hae a bailllie stoot and stark,
It sets him weel ti work his work,
Oot ower his heid he draws a sark,
As lang as I'm hale in the mornin.

Oor kitchie cook she's nae great deal,
Ah think ah wid dee as weel masel,
For she maks oor breid as green as kale,
In the Fyvie lands in the mornin.

Oor dairy maid's she is some shy,
At the bailllie lad when she gings by,
When gings oot ti milk her kye,
By grey daylicht in the mornin.

Fyvie pairish is lang and wide,
Fyvie pairish is fu o pride,
In the same corner I'll nae langer bide,
Gin I hid wits in the mornin.

An noo I've telt ye clear and fair,
Aboot the Fyvie lands sae rare,
And if onybody aboot me enquire,
Ye can tell em ah left in the mornin.

At's a local song bi, e first I heard a man singing, he was foreman at Cameloun. A Man, Willie Allan, he'd Tifty Craft, and eh, that wis a man ah great skill. Willie, he could dee a' the makkin a …[break in recording]

[JD] In richt ropes, oot a binder twine an a'.

[TM] Did you have one of those winders.

[JD] Aye, aye, he'd a thran hyeuk for the job. And we made, I made ane alang wi im, which he presented ti me, the end product. That wis made oot a binder twine. It wis used as a, aye a rine, a good goin rine ye ken fir e horses actually. And eh.

[TM] What do you call that song.

[JD] That's Cameloun. The big fairm toun a Cameloun. Willie Allan wis feed air ye see. And he wis anither lad ti gither stoneage and bronzeage artefacts aff the fairms he wis at, and eh they were desecration takin place in those days, in his young day fit they did wis ploo doon a' that kin a things in tik aff the steens an big em intil a dyke. Stoneage, eh, aye, eh, fit dae ye ca' them, the, the circles, and ony standin stone that there wis. There wis nae protection on em in those days. And eh, he accumulated this lovely box that he hid on display in his ben the hoose end, of bronze axes and eh, there wis roon stones wi holes in em. The full diameter wis maybe, varied fae two inches ti three inches, at wis their full diameter, wi a hole in the centre, and the breadth o them hid maybe been onything fae half an inch ti threequarters an inch, an all stone, fit they were used for, coulda been slings, I don't know. Things that I never saw, but beautiful, beautiful bronze axes, and stoneage axes, just hewin fae the steen ye ken, innumerable flints of course, arraheids, affa bonny shaped arraheids, jist gathered aff the years he wis in Cameloun in the hill o Petty. And eh, he wis tellin mi aboot ga'n hame ti hill a Petty, they hid a braw pair a horses air, fan he gid hame for foreman, and the first time doon ti the smiddy, they'd ti pass the grocers shop at Inverythan, and they stopped dead. In oot a them, ye couldna get them ti move ye see, an oot cam e grocer, an he says at Cameloun, ats Cammies horse he says, they aye get a bottle a port or ale fae the last foreman, he says, so Willie says there wis naething else ti dee bit carry on the tradition he says. Just gie em a bottle a port or ale apiece, just pourtit in o a pail an they supped it there an then, and carried on ti the smiddy he says, and eh, aye Willie was air a few year, and he an he's wife were, she wis a Beaton fae Monkshill, he mairred in the, in the best room at Monkshill, he says, Mains o Monkshill, fin they were young, an brocht up five of a family, a' loons, he ca'ed them a' loons, and fin I kent Willie he wis inti near echty year aul an the loons wis well ower, een o them wis sixty.
[TM] [Laughs]

[JD] Ye ken, fin I kent them. He wis well inti his eighties, and he still brocht horse well inti his seventies Willie himsel, he wis a great lad he aye keepit a pair a horse ye see. And, eh, at wis eh, they aye sang, they aye sang a grand sang ti ye fan ye wis in, the twa a them ye ken. An ane o them, Ah wish I'd gotten the wirds o it, ah wish ah hid the wirds o it….[sings]

I met her in the bonny banks a Ross-shire o

A grand sang and just the remnant o it, an I nivver took it seriously, years and years ago, ye never thocht ye see.

[TM] Never thought it would disappear.

[JD] No, uhuh. No ye thoucht Willie wis there for a' time, bit na' he wisna, and eh I hid him sittin in a binder a while ye see, an eh, he says, aye he wis teen awa, he wis taen away in fur observation a wik. An back cam the minister and says Willie hasn't long ti go, I believe its cancer, and he cam back fae that an sat in my binder, and eh, I says och it's somehing adae wi ma airse he says Ah didna ken fit it wis, bit Ah thought it wis cancer I says Na, nae fear o it, and he sat on my binder for a' that hairst, ye ken. Aye, a hardy man, and fit he didna ken aboot binders. [11] At wis one o his sangs 'The Hairst of Rettie,' he sung it tae, ken ye ken it.

[TM] Do you sing it yourself.

[JD] Aye I sing it, aye. I'll easy gie at if ye. [Sings]

I have seen the hairst o Rettie, lads
And twa three on the throne,
I've heard o sax or seiven weeks,
The hairsters girn an grown.

[Break in recording]

[JD] [Sings]

The covie, Willie Rae ,in a monthie and a day,
Gars a' the jolly hairst……

[Break in recording]

[JD] [Sings]

Beats tae sticks the faistest a strips,
O Vickers new machine,
A victory noo brings up e rear [laughs]

[JD] I've missed at verse, I'll ging back again. I'll ging back again.

[JD] [Sings]

I hae seen the hairst o Rettie lads
An twa-three on the throne,
I've hard for sax or seiven wiks
The hairsters girn and groan.
But a covie, Willie Rae,
An a monthie an a day,
Gars a' the jolly hairster folk,
Gang singin doon the brae.

A monthie an a day ma lads,
The like wis nivver seen,
It beats the sticks the faistest strips,
o Vickers new machine.
A Speedweel noo brings up e rear,
And a Victory clears the way,
An twenty acre daily yields,
Now stands ti Willie Rae.

Oh he drives the horses roon the parks,
At sic an affa rate,
An he steers them in an oot again,
At monies a kittle gate;
An he wiles them safely ower the clods,
An ower a monies a hidden hole,
An he comes wi nae mishanter,
If ye leave im wi the pole.

Oh he sharps their blades ti mak them bite,
An he taps them on the ja's,
An if he fins them dully like,
Well he brawly kens the cause.
A boltie here, a pinnie there,
A little oot a tune,
An he shortly stops their wild career,
And brings the slushet doon.

Oh he whittles aff at corners,
An maks crooked bitties straicht,
An sees at man an beast alike,
Are equal in the dracht.
An a were sheavies lyin stracht,
An neen o them agley,
An he'd coont wi ony dominie,
Fae the Deveron tae the Spey.

Oh he's nae made up o mony wirds,
Nor kent ti puff an lie,
He's jist a skeelie little chap
As ever ye did see.
If ye be scarce o harvest work,
Upon a market day,
Tak my advice be there in time,
And look for Willie Rae.

Noo he hae gotten wir shevies in aboot,
And a' wir ruckies ticht,
Wi gither roon a festive board,
Ti spend a jolly nicht

Wi Scottish song an mutton broth
Ti drive all cares away
And we'll drink success ti Rettie folk,
And adieu to Willie Rae.

Oh come a' ye jolly Rettie coves,
A ringin cheer for a',
A band o better workin folk,
A gaffer nivver saw.

Each hid aye ti play their pairt,
And ready for the frae,
Twas you that made the boatie row,
Twas steered by Willie Rae.

[JD] Aye Willie Rae must a been a gey chap. He'd hae been the hub o the hale caboodle. It disna tell ye if he wis foreman or grieve or what he wis.

[TM] Or whether he was the farmer even.

[JD] Well it winna be the fairmer, cause the fairmer a Rettie didna work. No he wis a big man. He wis a big, so he wis probably a first class foreman that folk thocht a lot o. The grieve didna sit on a binder, he didna drive a binder.

[TM] No.

[JD] No he wis the boy that pit abody aboot his work. There's nae much word a the weemin folk.

[TM] No.

[JD] Ye see weemin folk at at time did a lot ae work, but ye see this sang gings back farrer than they kain kis they're spikkin aboot the reapers here. The first reapers wis invented in Scotland, wis in 1928 and 29, bi two different folk. A minister and a blacksmith, two different folk that invented the reapers. And eh, a notice in the agricultural society's booklet it there wis a big show a reapers in England it the Royal Show, it wis near sixty different varieties. In McCormick won the prize, America won the prize. But this is Speedwells, and the ither ane wis…

[TM] Vickers?

[JD] Aye Victory ye see aff a Victors. So the thing is there's a lot o, this must a' gin back a lang time. It coulda been 1830 or so this sang originated.

[TM] There's one verse that mentions 'and my bandster, Annie Maclean'.

[JD] Ah well at's a different version ti me ye see. Aye.

[TM] John Strachan sang.

[JD] Aye.

[TM] A verse I think.

[JD] Aye well, at's ye see, aye.

[TM] ??? … well the verse ends with ???

[JD] Aye, uhuh.

[TM] That's as much as I've ever heard for mention of the womenfolk as you say.

[JD] Well ye see, the, I'll tell ye, John ye see, this is the reapers here they only, they only drapped aff the shaves ready ti band. There wis no bindin on em.

[TM] There wasn't a binder.

[JD] Ye see. No bindin, so John's version's maybe wrang, b'cause I heard the Charlie Murray ye see, and she wis the kitchie deem, which is mair likely b'cause they widna hae bandster deems wi a, well they wid hae been ladies bindin em, bit es wis fur the scythe, the bandsters camin ahin ye see. A scythemin hid a bandster till himsel or two a scythe, but this wis a reaper so all they had wis bansters. But they woulda been followin on the point like the ither sangie. I'll sing ye it if ye like, 'The Lothian Hairst', far they hid bansters, an they took em fae Aiberdeen wi them.

[TM] Did you ever hear of the women laying the sheaves down on the ground and just leave it and the men come behind and tie them.

[JD] No. No it's nae that, No. There's two ladies for at, the ither een banded em an a'. The banded em, they gathert em. There wis one gathert the sheaves ready, an the een comin ahin an made e bands, it required two ladies ti one. It wis a terrible job keepin ti a good scyther, and it required two people, and I'm afraid the ladies didna get paid si much as the men, for their harvest. They only got engaged for e harvest, ye see.

[TM] I see.

[JD] Aye, at wis a', like e toon a swaggers ye see ehm eh [sings]

Say until the binin [binding] quines fan they are comin back

[JD] Oh I've forgotten the tune noo, aboot the fairmer that roared em on like e toon a swaggers ye see. This is the name o the mannie, I think it's a nickname cause I've tried a' Auchterless ti find who the hell Swaggers wis, ken. [sings]

Come a ye jolly plooman lads beware ye have a care,
Beware of going ti swaggers for he'll be on Porter Fair,
He'll aye be lach, lach lachin, he'll aye be lachin there,
An he'll gie o the blightest … ???


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