Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Unseasonal Song

I know some of you out there like nothing better than to slop on a wooly jumper, stick your finger in your ear and sing through your beard.

I was born near the end of the baby boom and it seemed that every other primary school teacher wore long cotton dresses and played guitar.  All in the great tradition of 20th century folk revivals of course. Indeed, my own eldest sister did her best to conform to the stereotype, even coming home from teacher training college one Christmas with a Narfuk accent (it sounds more 'Yokel' than a Grimsby accent).  Once a week at junior school the teacher would wheel in a reel-to-reel tape recorder with the latest hip chunes from BBC For Schools and the accompanying songbooks. The fashion in these things was rather ecclectic. The Lincolnshire Poacher (hooray!) rubbed shoulders with Hava Nagila, La Cucaracha and countless Irish songs which always seemed to be about ladies running away with Gypsies. They always seemed to forget the words in these Irish songs, the choruses being all nonsense lyrics like ''ah de do do de do dah day". Or was it misheard Gaelic?

Something must have sunk in and seeped into my soul. Years later, like an Ossi finding that the 'freedoms' of the West fail to meet some essential human need, I slowly returned to the path.  I was flicking around earlier through some of my old YouTube faves and came across this song which always nudges some ancient feeling in me. Despite not understanding a word of the lyric* the whole thing feels familiar. Maybe someone more educated in the craft can explain the universality of the tune/sentiment.

The feeling is also helped by the fact the blonde singer vaguely reminds me of my teacher in the third year of junior school.

 May be welcome

* That is until I discovered the translation above, when suddenly the odd word, when written down (but usually not when spoken) kind of made sense in an archaic English/northern dialect kind of way. E.G. we used to call the dessert/pudding course our 'afters'. I had the distinct impression (from where I don't know) that this was terribly common of us. Now I know it's not improper English at all, but perfectly legitimate dialect from some ancient Norse word 😀


  1. You know, that's really nice, it definitely improved ABBA when they converted to folk music. I know what you mean about it sounding oddly familiar.
    I always thought Irish folk was: Boy meets Girl; Boy falls in love with Girl; Girl runs off with Boy's money/clothes/mate; Boy turns to whisky.
    By the way, I was impressed with your Adwalton Moor write up; the rules certainly gave the game the right period feel.

    1. Cheers Chris. I started off with Victory Without Quarter, tried to plug some of the gaps and dropped the card driven activation. Then ripped them up and started again keeping them deliberately short and simple just to get a game on the table.

      I didn't realise how close Adwalton is to the M62. The next time my son needs picking up from uni in Liverpool, I'm sure he'll have to go see his grandma and make a quick detour ;-)

      Ranarim did some nice stuff, but they're not 'still going'. There's a good version of the above song and another called Hem Igen (means what it sounds like, if you say it in a Glaswegian accent!) at a BBC Celtic(?) music festival on You Tube.

    2. I'm a great believer in short and simple. Overcomplicate things and you can lose all feel for the period. Play the period, not the rules.
      My step-daughter (who lives down south) is getting married in a few months; she told me they're booking the 'do' at Edgehill Castle. 'Yes,' she said. 'THAT Edgehill.'
      I may miss the reception ….

      Thanks, I'll look that up.