Sunday, October 22, 2017

Halloween by Robert Burns




In 1780 an obscure Scots poet by the name of John Mayne published a poem in Ruddimans Weekly Magazine on the subject of Halloween. In the twelve stanzas the poet makes note of the Scots ‘fearful’ pranks and supernatural associated with All Hallows Eve. Robert Burns (1759 – 1796) later revelled in similar pagan beliefs that still survived well into the modern age with his poem Halloween in1785 and published in the Kilmarnock volume. The night when witches, devils, and other mischief-making beings are abroad on their baneful midnight errands. The Burns poem is written as a combination in both Scots and English and is accompanied by extensive footnotes.



Halloween1

The following poem will, by many readers, be well enough understood; but for the sake of those who are unacquainted with the manners and traditions of the country where the scene is cast, notes are added to give some account of the principal charms and spells of that night, so big with prophecy to the peasantry in the west of Scotland. The passion of prying into futurity makes a striking part of the history of human nature in its rude state, in all ages and nations; and it may be some entertainment to a philosophic mind, if any such honour the author with a perusal, to see the remains of it among the more unenlightened in our own.-R.B.1785

Upon that night, when fairies light
On Cassilis Downans 2 dance,
Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze,
On sprightly coursers prance;
Or for Colean the rout is ta'en,
Beneath the moon's pale beams;
There, up the Cove, 3 to stray an' rove,
Amang the rocks and streams
To sport that night;

[Footnote 1: Is thought to be a night when witches, devils, and other mischief-making beings are abroad on their baneful midnight errands; particularly those aerial people, the fairies, are said on that night to hold a grand anniversary,.-R.B.]

[Footnote 2: Certain little, romantic, rocky, green hills, in the neighbourhood of the ancient seat of the Earls of Cassilis.-R.B.]

[Footnote 3: A noted cavern near Colean house, called the Cove of Colean; which, as well as Cassilis Downans, is famed, in country story, for being a favorite haunt of fairies.-R.B.]

Amang the bonie winding banks,
Where Doonrins, wimplin, clear;
Where Bruce 4 ance rul'd the martial ranks, An' shook his Carrick spear;
Some merry, friendly, countra-folks
Together did convene,
To burn their nits, an' pou their stocks,
An' haud their Halloween
Fu' blythe that night.

[Footnote 4: The famous family of that name, the ancestors of Robert, the great deliverer of his country, were Earls of Carrick.-R.B.]

The lasses feat, an' cleanly neat,
Mairbraw than when they're fine;
Their faces blythe, fu' sweetly kythe,
Hearts leal, an' warm, an' kin':
The lads sae trig, wi' wooer-babs
Weel-knotted on their garten;
Some uncoblate, an' some wi' gabs
Gar lasses' hearts gang startin
Whiles fast at night.

Then, first an' foremost, thro' the kail,
Their stocks 5maun a' be sought ance;
They steek their een, and grape an' wale
For muckleanes, an' straughtanes.
Poor hav'rel Will fell aff the drift,
An' wandered thro' the bow-kail,
An' pou't for want o' better shift
A runt was like a sow-tail
Sae bow't that night.

[Footnote 5: The first ceremony of Halloween is pulling each a "stock," or plant of kail. They must go out, hand in hand, with eyes shut, and pull the first they meet with: its being big or little, straight or crooked, is prophetic of the size and shape of the grand object of all their spells-the husband or wife. If any "yird," or earth, stick to the root, that is "tocher," or fortune; and the taste of the "custock," that is, the heart of the stem, is indicative of the natural temper and disposition. Lastly, the stems, or, to give them their ordinary appellation, the "runts," are placed somewhere above the head of the door; and the Christian names of the people whom chance brings into the house are, according to the priority of placing the "runts," the names in question.-R. B.]

Then, straught or crooked, yird or nane,
They roar an' cry a' throu'ther;
The vera wee-things, toddlin, rin,
Wi' stocks out owre their shouther:
An' gif the custock's sweet or sour,
Wi' joctelegs they taste them;
Synecoziely, aboon the door,
Wi' cannie care, they've plac'd them
To lie that night.

The lassies staw frae 'mang them a',
To pou their stalks o' corn; 6
But Rab slips out, an' jinks about,
Behint the muckle thorn:
He grippit Nelly hard and fast:
Loud skirl'd a' the lasses;
But her tap-picklemaist was lost,
Whan kiutlin in the fause-house 7
Wi' him that night.

[Footnote 6: They go to the barnyard, and pull each, at three different times, a stalk of oats. If the third stalk wants the "top-pickle," that is, the grain at the top of the stalk, the party in question will come to the marriage-bed anything but a maid.-R.B.]

[Footnote 7: When the corn is in a doubtful state, by being too green or wet, the stack-builder, by means of old timber, etc., makes a large apartment in his stack, with an opening in the side which is fairest exposed to the wind: this he calls a "fause-house."-R.B.]

The auld guid-wife's weel-hoordit nits 8
Are round an' round dividend,
An' mony lads an' lasses' fates
Are there that night decided:
Some kindle couthie side by side,
And burn the gither trimly;
Some start awa wi' saucy pride,
An' jump out owre the chimlie
Fu' high that night.

[Footnote 8: Burning the nuts is a favorite charm. They name the lad and lass to each particular nut, as they lay them in the fire; and according as they burn quietly together, or start from beside one another, the course and issue of the courtship will be.-R.B.]

Jean slips in twa, wi' tentie e'e;
Wha 'twas, she wadna tell;
But this is Jock, an' this is me,
She says in to hersel':
He bleez'd owre her, an' she owre him,
As they wad never mair part:
Till fuff! he started up the lum,
An' Jean had e'en a sair heart
To see't that night.

Poor Willie, wi' his bow-kail runt,
Was brunt wi' primsie Mallie;
An' Mary, nae doubt, took the drunt,
To be compar'd to Willie:
Mall's nit lap out, wi' pridefu' fling,
An' her ain fit, it brunt it;
While Willie lap, and swore by jing,
'Twas just the way he wanted
To be that night.

Nell had the fause-house in her min',
She pits hersel an' Rob in;
In loving bleeze they sweetly join,
Till white in ase they're sobbin:
Nell's heart was dancin at the view;
She whisper'd Rob to leuk for't:
Rob, stownlins, prie'd her bonie mou',
Fu' cozie in the neuk for't,
Unseen that night.

But Merran sat behint their backs,
Her thoughts on Andrew Bell:
She lea'es them gashin at their cracks,
An' slips out-by hersel';
She thro' the yard the nearest taks,
An' for the kiln she goes then,
An' darklins grapit for the bauks,
And in the blue-clue 9 throws then,
Right fear't that night.

[Footnote 9: Whoever would, with success, try this spell, must strictly observe these directions: Steal out, all alone, to the kiln, and darkling, throw into the "pot" a clue of blue yarn; wind it in a new clue off the old one; and, toward the latter end, something will hold the thread: demand, "Wha hauds?" i.e., who holds? and answer will be returned from the kiln-pot, by naming the Christian and surname of your future spouse.-R.B.]

An' ay she win't, an' ay she swat-
I wat she made nae jaukin;
Till something held within the pat,
Good Lord! but she was quaukin!
But whether 'twas the deil himsel,
Or whether 'twas a bauk-en',
Or whether it was Andrew Bell,
She did na wait on talkin
To spier that night.

Wee Jenny to her graunie says,
"Will ye go wi' me, graunie?
I'll eat the apple at the glass, 10

I gat frae uncle Johnie:"
She fuff't her pipe wi' sic a lunt,
In wrath she was sae vap'rin,
She notic't na an aizle brunt
Her braw, new, worset apron
Out thro' that night.

[Footnote 10: Take a candle and go alone to a looking-glass; eat an apple before it, and some traditions say you should comb your hair all the time; the face of your conjungal companion, to be, will be seen in the glass, as if peeping over your shoulder.-R.B.]

"Ye little skelpie-limmer's face!
I daur you try sic sportin,
As seek the foul thief ony place,
For him to spae your fortune:
Nae doubt but ye may get a sight!
Great cause ye hae to fear it;
For mony a ane has gotten a fright,
An' liv'd an' died deleerit,
On sic a night.

"Ae hairst afore the Sherra-moor,
I mind't as weel'syestreen-
I was a gilpey then, I'm sure
I was na past fyfteen:
The simmer had been cauld an' wat,
An' stuff was unco green;
An' eye a rantin kirn we gat,
An' just on Halloween
It fell that night.

"Our stibble-rig was Rab M'Graen,
A clever, sturdy fallow;
His sin gat EppieSim wi' wean,
That lived in Achmacalla:
He gat hemp-seed, 11 I mind it weel,
An'he made unco light o't;
But mony a day was by himsel',
He was sae sairly frighted
That vera night."

[Footnote 11: Steal out, unperceived, and sow a handful of hemp-seed, harrowing it with anything you can conveniently draw after you. Repeat now and then: "Hemp-seed, I saw thee, hemp-seed, I saw thee; and him (or her) that is to be my true love, come after me and pou thee." Look over your left shoulder, and you will see the appearance of the person invoked, in the attitude of pulling hemp. Some traditions say, "Come after me and shaw thee," that is, show thyself; in which case, it simply appears. Others omit the harrowing, and say: "Come after me and harrow thee."-R.B.]

Then up gat fechtin Jamie Fleck,
An' he swoor by his conscience,
That he could saw hemp-seed a peck;
For it was a' but nonsense:
The auld guidmanraught down the pock,
An' out a handfu' gied him;
Syne bad him slip frae' mang the folk,
Sometime when naeanesee'd him,
An' try't that night.

He marches thro' amang the stacks,
Tho' he was something sturtin;
The graip he for a harrow taks,
An' haurls at his curpin:
And ev'ry now an' then, he says,
"Hemp-seed I saw thee,
An' her that is to be my lass
Come after me, an' draw thee
As fast this night."

He wistl'd up Lord Lennox' March
To keep his courage cherry;
Altho' his hair began to arch,
He was saefley'd an' eerie:
Till presently he hears a squeak,
An' then a grane an' gruntle;
He by his shouthergae a keek,
An' tumbled wi' a wintle
Out-owre that night.

He roar'd a horrid murder-shout,
In dreadfu' desperation!
An' young an' auld comerinnin out,
An' hear the sad narration:
He swoor 'twas hilchin Jean M'Craw,
Or crouchieMerranHumphie-
Till stop! she trotted thro' them a';
And wha was it but grumphie
Asteer that night!

Meg fainwad to the barn gaen,
To winn three wechts o' naething; 12
But for to meet the deil her lane,
She pat but little faith in:

[Footnote 12: This charm must likewise be performed unperceived and alone. You go to the barn, and open both doors, taking them off the hinges, if possible; for there is danger that the being about to appear may shut the doors, and do you some mischief. Then take that instrument used in winnowing the corn, which in our country dialect we call a "wecht," and go through all the attitudes of letting down corn against the wind. Repeat it three times, and the third time an apparition will pass through the barn, in at the windy door and out at the other, having both the figure in question, and the appearance or retinue, marking the employment or station in life.-R.B.]

She gies the herd a pickle nits,
An' twared cheekit apples,
To watch, while for the barn she sets,
In hopes to see Tam Kipples
That vera night.

She turns the key wi' cannie thraw,
An'owre the threshold ventures;
But first on Sawniegies a ca',
Syne baudly in she enters:
A ratton rattl'd up the wa',
An' she cry'd Lord preserve her!
An' ran thro' midden-hole an' a',
An' pray'd wi' zeal and fervour,
Fu' fast that night.

They hoy't out Will, wi' sair advice;
They hecht him some fine braw ane;
It chanc'd the stack he faddom't thrice 13
Was timmer-propt for thrawin:
He taks a swirlie auld moss-oak
For some black, grousome carlin;
An' loot a winze, an' drew a stroke,
Till skin in blypes cam haurlin
Aff's nieves that night.

[Footnote 13: Take an opportunity of going unnoticed to a "bear-stack," and fathom it three times round. The last fathom of the last time you will catch in your arms the appearance of your future conjugal yoke-fellow.-R.B.]

A wanton widow Leezie was,
As cantie as a kittlen;
But och! that night, amang the shaws,
She gat a fearfu' settlin!
She thro' the whins, an' by the cairn,
An' owre the hill gaed scrievin;
Whare three lairds' lan's met at a burn, 14
To dip her left sark-sleeve in,
Was bent that night.

[Footnote 14: You go out, one or more (for this is a social spell), to a south running spring, or rivulet, where "three lairds' lands meet," and dip your left shirt sleeve. Go to bed in sight of a fire, and hang your wet sleeve before it to dry. Lie awake, and, some time near midnight, an apparition, having the exact figure of the grand object in question, will come and turn the sleeve, as if to dry the other side of it.-R.B.]

Whiles owre a linn the burnie plays,
As thro' the glen it wimpl't;
Whiles round a rocky scar it strays,
Whiles in a wiel it dimpl't;
Whiles glitter'd to the nightly rays,
Wi' bickerin', dancin' dazzle;
Whiles cookit undeneath the braes,
Below the spreading hazel
Unseen that night.

Amang the brachens, on the brae,
Between her an' the moon,
The deil, or else an outler quey,
Gat up an' ga'e a croon:
Poor Leezie's heart maist lap the hool;
Near lav'rock-height she jumpit,
But mist a fit, an' in the pool
Out-owre the lugs she plumpit,
Wi' a plunge that night.

In order, on the clean hearth-stane,
The luggies 15 three are ranged;
An' ev'ry time great care is ta'en
To see them duly changed:
Auld uncle John, wha wedlock's joys
Sin' Mar's-year did desire,
Because he gat the toom dish thrice,
He heav'd them on the fire
In wrath that night.

[Footnote 15: Take three dishes, put clean water in one, foul water in another, and leave the third empty; blindfold a person and lead him to the hearth where the dishes are ranged; he (or she) dips the left hand; if by chance in the clean water, the future (husband or) wife will come to the bar of matrimony a maid; if in the foul, a widow; if in the empty dish, it foretells, with equal certainty, no marriage at all. It is repeated three times, and every time the arrangement of the dishes is altered.-R.B.]

Wi' merry sangs, an' friendly cracks,
I wat they did na weary;
And unco tales, an' funnie jokes-
Their sports were cheap an' cheery:
Till butter'd sowens, 16 wi' fragrant lunt,
Set a' their gabs a-steerin;
Syne, wi' a social glass o'strunt,
They parted aff careerin
Fu'blythe that night.

[Footnote 16: Sowens, with butter instead of milk to them, is always the Halloween Supper.-R.B.]



Monday, October 16, 2017

Halloween




Paganism

Paganism has its roots in the indigenous, pre-Christian religions of Europe. The majority of the population to inhabit Scotland in Pre-Christian times could trace their origins to Scandinavia, Northern Continental Europe and the Mediterranean. Some may even have emigrated from America around 7,600 BC. A mass immigration of people to mainland Europe and Ireland may also have occurred from North Africa around 650 A.D. Most historians agree Celtic culture can be definitively traced back to about 800 B.C. Judeo-Christian Benedictine monks in 750 AD found Ireland had a vibrant civilization, with many characteristics in common with Egypt and Libya; there was also a strong connection with South Central Europe. They considered the Celts must have reached Ireland about 400 BC., bringing with them civilization. Celts encompassed many different people and tribes and were loosely connected by language, art, culture and religion. The predominant faith was Druid and Priests played a major role in society, connecting people to other tribal communities, the gods and the dead as well as keeping an oral history of settlements. Celts did not have strict borders between the realms of the living and the dead. They believed a constant exchange of souls took place between the two worlds so that when someone died in the other world, it would bring a soul to this world. Rituals were largely based on both nature and the passage of time in nature such as the transition between day and night. This concept of natural change was also seen in the importance of transitions between the seasons, which also represented changes within the human life cycle. Spring represented birth, summer represented maturity, autumn represented decay and winter represented death and “re-birth into a new generation.” Druids gathered on 31st October to kindle a sacred fire (Hallowfire) and practice age old rituals. Christianity came to southern Scotland during the Roman occupation. It was mainly spread by missionaries from Ireland from the fifth century and is associated with St Ninian, St Kentigern and St Columba.

Halloween




Samhain (pronounced SAH-win or SOW-in) is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the "darker half" of the year. It is celebrated from sunset on 31 October to sunset on 1 November, which is nearly halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Old Celtic Calendar, New Year began on the 1st November. The Celts were mainly pastoral people and dependent on cattle Samhain was the time of year when the cattle were brought back down from the summer pastures and livestock were slaughtered for the winter. This was the time of harvest and the gathering of the clans. In Gaelic, Samhuinn or hallow tide (or season) is the feast of all-souls which is sometimes referred to as the Festival of the Dead. It is the transition between old and new year was believed to set free evil spirits which walked among the living. A liminal (transitional) time where the darkness of night was thought to prevail over the lightness of day. Lugh the Sun God was defeated by his darker side and became the Lord of Misrule. A twilight zone where the spirits of the dead and those not yet born, walked freely among the living. The souls of the dead were believed to revisit their old homes and good people needed the comfort of their own kind and protection from the evil forces of the dark. During Samhain feasts were held and Hallowbonfires were lit while Druids practiced their rituals. The Hallowfires were supposed to scare away evil spirits. In modern times the celebration of Samhain was common along Scotland's Highland Line. Two bonfires sat adjacent and celebrants and livestock were walked or danced between them as a ritual of purification. In the late 18th century, in Ochtertyre, Perthshire, a ring of stones was laid round the fire to represent each person. Everyone then ran round it with a torch, "exulting". In the morning, the stones were examined and if any was mislaid it was said that the person for whom it was set would not live out the year. In Moray, the boys asked for bonfire fuel from each house in the village. When the fire was lit, one after another of the youths laid himself down on the ground as near to the fire as possible so as not to be burned, and in such a position as to let the smoke roll over him. The others ran through the smoke and jumped over him. When the bonfire burnt down, they scattered the ashes, vying with each other who should scatter them most. People took the flames from the bonfire back to their homes in the belief it would bring them luck. In northeastern Scotland, they carried burning fir around their fields to protect them, and on South Uist they did the same with burning turf. In some places, hearth fires were doused on Samhain night. Each family solemnly took it in turn to re-light its hearth from the communal bonfire. This was thought to bond the families of the village together. In many parts of Scotland it was customary to leave an empty chair and a plate of food for invisible guests. A western-facing door or window was also opened and a candle left burning on the windowsill to guide the dead home. Eating and drinking was very much part of celebrations but the Witchcraft Act of 1735 contained a clause preventing the consumption of pork and pastry comestibles on Halloween; the act was eventually repealed in the 1950s.

All Hallow’s Eve




The Roman Catholic holy day of All Saints (or All Hallows) was introduced in the year 609 AD. This had been originally celebrated on 13 May. Louis the Pious in 835AD., switched it to 1 November in the Carolingian Empire, at the behest of Pope Gregory IV. The night of 31 October was known as All Hallows' Eve (or All Hallows' Even). Later the 2nd November became All Souls' Day and over time Samhain and All Saints'/All Souls' morphed into the secular holiday known as Halloween. Fear of pagan ways by the Church, Samhain became associated with witches and broomsticks, black cats (familiars), bats (night creatures), ghosts and other spooky things. Once the The Gregorian calendar (Christian calendar) was accepted many of the observed customs of Samhain were absorbed into Hogmanay e.g first footing.

Guising




From the 16th century guising (or mumming) became part of Halloween, and involved young people going door-to-door in costume (in disguise), often reciting verses in exchange for food (souling). In the Middle Ages poor people travelled from door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). A common belief was during Samhain the deceased would visit their old home and the purpose of disguise was to impersonate the dead and demand reward in exchange for good fortune. It is also thought guisers were able to ward off evil spirits. Playing pranks at Samhain is recorded in the Scottish Highlands as far back as 1736 and was also common in Ireland, which led to Samhain being nicknamed "Mischief Night" in some parts. In some parts of Scotland young men went house-to-house with masked, veiled, painted or blackened faces (using the village bonfire ashes ) often threatening to do mischief if they were not welcomed. This may be the origin of todays ‘trick or treat.’ Adults also took special care not to offend the little people(aos sí) and sought to ward-off any who were out to cause mischief. They stayed near to home or, if forced to walk in the darkness, turned their clothing inside-out or carried iron or salt to keep them at bay. Up until the early 19th century, locals in Lewis, the Outer Hebrides gathered on the shore on 31 October. One man walked into the water up to his waist, before emptying a cup of ale into the sea. He then called on the Celtic water spirit (Seonaidh - Shoney), to bestow blessings on the local fishermen.

Jack–o-lanterns




The traditional illumination for guisers or pranksters abroad was provided by turnips or mangel wurzels, hollowed out to act as lantern. These often had grotesque faces to represent spirits or goblins. Traditionally the flame from the village bonfire was carried in the turnip lantern. Villages doused their home fires so they could be rekindled it with the new flame. By this means not only would it bring good luck the household, it also joined the communities together by sharing the flame from the village bonfire. Candles in hollowed-out turnips produce flickering flames. The old belief was candle flames which flickered on Samhain night were being touched by the spirits of dead ancestors, or "ghosts." They may have also been used to protect oneself from harmful spirits. The mass transatlantic Irish and Scottish immigration to North America popularized the Halloween traditions. "Jack of the Lantern” was an old Irish tale and Jack was a man who could enter neither heaven nor hell and was condemned to wander through the night with only a candle in a turnip for light. The term Jack-o’- lantern became associated with Halloween lanterns in the 20th century along with wearing costumes. In the US trick-or-treating became popular from the late 1940s.



By the 19th century children masqueraders in disguise and carrying lanterns made out of scooped out turnips to visit homes and be rewarded with cakes, fruit and money was well established. Children were only supposed to receive treats if they performed a party trick for the household. This normally took the form of singing a song or reciting a poem or telling a funny joke which the child memorized before setting out. Occasionally more talented children might do card tricks, play the mouth organ, or something even more impressive. More often than not today they do not even need have to perform to gain reward.

Seasonal foods




Seasonal foods such as apples and nuts were traditionally used to reward guisers. Later money, chocolate and other candies replaced them. In preparation for Halloween festivities, apples were ritualistically peeled by the young girls of the house. A long strip of peel was passed thrice, sunwise; around the head before the young girl throw it over her shoulder. If it fell to the ground in the shape of the initial letter this was a clear indication of the first letter of a future spouse's name. In the preparation of Halloween cake, egg whites were dropped in water, and the shapes foretold the number of future children.



Holloween cakes also contained tokens for luck.

Party Games




Today childrens’ parties are still an important element of Halloween. The games played traditionally had their origins in divination for the coming year.

Dooking (or bobbing) for apples




One of the most popular games in Scotland is dookin' for apples, where bairns (children) have their hands tied behind their backs and try to grab apples from a basin full of water with their teeth. The apples being less dense than water floated to the surface and just to make it more difficult sometime flour was sprinkled on the water. A modified form of the game was to allow the child to kneel on a chair and hold a fork handle between their teeth. Taking aim they would release the fork, prongs side down into the basin and retrieve and keep any apple they skewered.



A variation on the game is "snap apple" where the fruit is hung from the ceiling on strings.



The origin of the game dates back to Roman Times, the Romans introduced the apple tree to Britain. When an apple is sliced in half, the seeds form a pentagram-shape. The apple was taken as a symbol of fertility and used to determine marriage. During the annual celebration, young unmarried people try to bite into an apple floating in water or hanging from a string; the first person to bite into the apple would be the next one to be allowed to marry. Girls who place the apple they bobbed under their pillows are said to dream of their future lover.



Because Pomona was a fertility goddess and because the Celts believed that the pentagram was a fertility symbol and when an apple is sliced in half the seeds form a pentagram it is natural that they believed the apple could be used to determine marriages during this magical time of year. From this belief comes the game bobbing for apples. During the annual celebration young unmarried people try to bite into an apple floating in water or hanging from a string. The first person to bite into the apple would be the next one to marry.

Treacle Scones




Another game played at parties is the game of treacle scones. With hands tied behind the back and sometimes blindfolded the participants are invited to bite a scone, covered in treacle, hanging from a string.



One custom in the Western Isles was for engaged couples to put two large nutshells on the grate of the fire. Each shell was named after the couple. If the heated nuts make a lot of noise like spitting and hissing etc., and flew off the hearth, this foretold it would be a stormy marriage. If the nuts burnt slowly and quietly, then the marriage would be a happy one. If the nuts jumped together this was deemed a good omen for the couple.



Another fortune telling game for adults is "Pull a Stock." Young men and women are blindfolded and walk toward a field of kale stocks (a form of cabbage). They must stop at the first one they come to and pull it from the ground. The shape of the stock indicates the shape of their future husband or wife; for example, thick, thin, tall, short, straight or crooked. Furthermore, if soil is stuck to the stock, this indicates a wealthy future.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A brief history of the Glasgow Fair




The Glasgow Fair dates to the 12th century, and is one of the oldest pubic holidays and was granted by William the Lion, King of Scotland (1165 to 1214), after Bishop Jocelin asked for permission to hold festivities within the boundaries of Glasgow Cathedral in 1190. By the 1800s, the fair moved to Glasgow Green.



Glasgow Green was established in the 15th century and is the oldest park in the city. It sits on the north bank of the River Clyde on the city’s east end. King James II granted the land to Bishop William Turnbull and the people of Glasgow in 1450. Originally it was an uneven swampy area composed of the High and Low Greens, the Calton Green and the Gallowgate Green, divided by the Camlachie and Molendinar Burns. Initially it was a grazing area with the banks of the Clyde used for drying fish nets and communal washing. Over the years, the burns were drained and the green levelled and extended. After the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815), the Town Council of Glasgow employed 324 jobless as workers to remodel Glasgow Green. Throughout the 19th century, the green was used for political meetings, demonstrations and public executions.



At first, the fair was associated with the sale of horses and cattle. As time passed the gathering became a focal point for traveling showmen, who took advantage of the large audiences. More recently the fair become associated with amusements, with circus and theatre shows as centrepieces. As was the custom most local businesses closed on 'Fair Friday' to allow workers and their families to attend. The community of travelling show people grew in the city towards the end of the 19th century. In anticipation of the fairs around the city, showground families acquired, or leased patches of land. By 1912, the fair incorporated penny gaffs, these were make shift theatres, which cost one penny entrance fee. Originally a gaff was the name given to a cock fighting pit. Cock fighting was banned in the 19th century and the penny gaff featured clowning, dancing, singing and short melodrama. The Glasgow Fair in 1912 featured a scenic railway to visitors on a simulated ride through Japan and back to Scotland. Green’s Carnival at Whitevale. Gallowgate attracted large audiences eager to see films on a silver screen of Trench War. As the years passed, Glasgow Green became the site for amusements, circus animals, shows and ride simulations.



Prior to the Industrial revolution in the 19th century, fairs, markets and the like were patronised by the gentry as part of a paternalistic ethos. Both cultural, and structural changes came with industrialisation and the spread of factory work and unprecedented regularity and intensity of working hours produced a new formation of leisure activity. Most workers had the Sunday off, but apart from that the only other time off was during the religious holidays of Christmas and Good Friday. In 1871, the Bank Holiday Act gave workers a few paid holidays each year and four new public holidays were introduced in England and Wales, and 3 in Scotland. Opportunities for leisure activities increased dramatically as real wages continued to grow and hours of work continued to decline. In urban areas, the nine-hour workday became increasingly the norm; the 1874 Factory Act limited the workweek to 56.5 hours, encouraging the movement toward an eventual eight-hour workday. Moreover, a system of routine annual vacations came into play, starting with white-collar workers and moving into the working-class. By the late Victorian era, the leisure industry had emerged in all cities. This provided scheduled entertainment of suitable length at convenient locales at inexpensive prices. These included sporting events, music halls, and popular theatre. Glasgow was well served with railways with inexpensive railway fares; the Clyde steamers allowed working class people access to the seaside resorts and cheap hotels along the Firth of Clyde, Rothesay and the Ayrshire coast.



It soon became a common practice for local industries to close during the second half of July, to allow the majority of their employees a holiday on the Trade Fare. Literally everything would have stopped production, shipyards, retail (for the most part), and Glasgow ground to a halt. Being paid holiday pay in hand meant it was not out of character to see wives of workers waiting patiently outside the docks or depots, to ensure their husbands did not spend their fair fortnight wages, in the pub.



After the Second World War, tens of thousands of Glaswegians made their annual exodus from the city either travelling by rail to exotic locations such as Blackpool or "doon the watter" on the Clyde steamers. Huge queues of holiday-makers formed at Glasgow's Central Station or the Steamer Terminal at the Broomielaw with families eager to start their holiday. A regular call was “Taps aff, we’re going doon the watter for the fair.” (Shirts off boys, we are going to the seaside). Blackpool became a Mecca for thousands.



Saturday, June 3, 2017

Middle of the Road (Sally Carr)



The Electrons were formed in 1964 and consisted of brothers Ian and Eric McCredie (formerly of The Dominos) and drummer, Ken Andrew (former The Talismen Beat Unit). They later changed their name to the Douglas Boys and backed Glasgow singer, Jan Douglas. In 1967 Sadie Carr (stage name Sally Carr) joined the group as a replacement lead singer when they were Part Three, Sally stayed and the group became Part Four. Latin American numbers featured heavily in their live act and their management encouraged them to reflect this in their name, Part Four became Las Caracas in 1967. For the next three years, the group toured the UK and in 1968 they appeared in ATVs talent show, Opportunity Knocks with Hughie Green.



The band did very well winning many of the heats but despite their popular appeal no interest was shown from recording companies. Sally, Ken and Eric turned professional in 1969 and Ian joined them a year later. The band had plans to move to Argentina, but delayed their decision to play on a cruise ship to the Caribbean. A new name was necessary and Ken thought of Middle of the Road, all agreed and the band was launched. On route to South America the band hit a hitch whilst in transit in Italy. Left stranded and penniless they worked the local restaurants. The group was heard by an RCA, A & R executive, who invited them to Rome for a recording test. Things went well and they recorded three songs Yellow River, I can't tell the bottom from the top and Jesus Christ Superstar. The company liked them so much, they included these recordings later on their first album.



At first MoR were used to back Italian pop singers including Sophia Loren.



The record did well in Italy and was the first of many film themes to be recorded by the group. RCA Italiana teamed the group with Italian producer, Giacomo Tosti in 1970 who found Chirpy cheep cheep which was written and recorded by Lally Stott. When the band heard it at first, they expressed reserve but Sally soon convinced them it was a good idea. Copious supplies of Bourbon were available in the studio when the song was recorded but on its release it went to Number one in many countries including the UK.



C4 stayed in the UK hit parade for 35 weeks and sold 8 million records world-wide elevating Middle of the Road to the third most popular recording artists in the Billboard Charts in 1971. Writers, Mario and Giosy Capuano joined the production team who produced a string of International hits. “Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dum," their second single was used in a Fiat promotion for the launch of the Fiat 127. Car and single did very well.



"Soley Soley," was produced by Giacomo Tosti and penned by Spanish songwriter, Fernando Arbex, with lyrics co-written by Sally. The song was recorded in Madrid and got to Number 2 in the UK charts.



Despite their fame on the Continent and obvious commercial success, Middle of the Road was not promoted in the UK. The band toured nonstop around the world for the next two years and visited Brazil, Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. The next single Sacramento, reached the top ten charts in most of Europe, including many of the East European countries like East Germany, Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland.



Together Samson and Delilah, Yellow Boomerang and Talk of all the USA, sold over 2 million copies in Europe alone.











Neil Henderson (former Bay City Rollers) joined the group but by the mid seventies, the band was beginning to lose their mojo, and tastes in popular music were changing. Abba who once were the warm up band at MoR gigs, were now in the ascendancy. MoR changed labels but despite serious attempts to reconfigure their musical style, the band had no further success. A marketing war between Ariola and the giant RCA Corporation ensued and old recordings not previously released prevented their new works from impacting. Eventually Sally left to the band in 1977 to follow a solo career. A year later Ken left while Ian and Eric continued to exploit what was left of the Middle of the Road’s reputation. In 1981 Sally and Ken returned to MoR for a short time to re- record and perform their old hits. In 1991 they were back together again for a German TV gig and enjoyed a renaissance on the European nostalgia circuit. The band is still together as, Middle of the Road featuring Sally Carr, with originals, Ken Andrew and Neil Henderson. Shug Devlin (keyboards) and Phil Anderson (guitar and vocals) complete the lineup.





Worth a listen:
Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep (1971)
Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dum (1971)
Soley Soley (1971)
Sacramento (1972)
Samson and Delilah (1972)
Talk of all the USA (1972)
Yellow Boomerang (1973)
Kailakee Kailako (1973)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Bill Martin



William Wylie MacPherson was born in 1938 in Taransay Street, Govan, Glasgow. His father was a poet and piano player and Wylie learned to play piano as a child. He later attested his song writing skills to his father’s early influence. He went to Govan High and began writing songs as a teenager. Wylie left school at 15 and started as an Apprentice Marine Engineer at The Alexander Shipyard in Govan. His two main interests were song writing and football. At 18 he went to London to try to sell some of his songs but returned without success. On his return he was delighted to sign for Partick Thistle and later joined Johannesburg Rangers in South Africa and the for next three years Wylie found himself exiled but kept writing and in 1960, London Music Publisher accepted one of his compositions called “That’s the only way.” The song was never recorded. Undaunted he kept at it and eventually in 1962 he had his first published song, “Kiss me now,” recorded by Tommy Quickly.



The song sold moderately in Australia but was a flop in the UK. Quickly was one of Brian Epstein’s GEMS artists and this did raise Wylie’s profile. Still writing as Wylie McPherson he was advised to shorten his name to ten letters and chose Bill Martin. In 1964 he teamed up with Tommy Scott and together they wrote songs for: The Bachelors, Twinkle, Van Morrison, and Serge Gainsbourg.











In 1965, Bill met Phil Coulter and formed a publishing company which spurned hits for many British artists. The impressive list includes: The Troggs and Geno Washington (Hi Hi Hazel 1965); Cliff Richard (Congratulations 1968), and Cilla Black (Surround yourself with sorrow 1969), The Dubliners (Scorn not his simplicity 1970) and many, many more.



















However, it was a composition for the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest which catapulted them into the superstar category it was Puppet on a string recorded by Sandie Shaw.



Success continued into the 70s staring with the number one hit by The English World Cup Squad (Back Home 1970).



Martin and Coulter were quick to spot the rising popularity of Scotland’s Bay City Rollers and penned a few of their hits including: Remember (Sha La La La) (1974), Shang a lang (1974), Summerlove Sensation (1974), All Of Me Loves All Of You (1974), and the band’s #1 US hit Saturday Night (1976).























Phil Coulter and Bill Martin translated the lyrics of Jean-Pierre Bourtayre and Claude François song. "Parce que je t'aime, mon enfant" (Because I Love You My Child) into English and the song was recorded by Elvis Presley in 1973 and reached #20 on the Billboard pop chart,



Bill and Phil later formed the Martin-Coulter Music Group to discover new talent including Billy Connolly and Midge Ure. Martin-Coulter Music, also signed other songwriters including Van Morrison, Christy Moore, Donal Lunny, Eric Bogle, They continued the hit factory with Kenny “The Bump" and 'Fancy Pant's; Slik with ‘Forever And Ever’. (1976).







Aside from pop music Bill also wrote for films and TV including “The Water Babies”, some “Carry on" films and a number of television theme songs including "Spiderman ".







The partnership with Coulter ended in 1983 when Martin bought out Coulter's share of the business then sold it to EMI Music. In the same year he produced the stage musical Musical Jukebox which ran to critical acclaim in the West End for six months. Bill has continued to write songs and collaborated with many other composers. As a songwriter, record producer and music publisher the boy from Govan has had No1s in every country of the world and some estimated worldwide sales of over 35 million. Bill Martin continues with other business interests but was recently inducted into his old school Govan High's Inaugural Hall of Fame in 2011 and joins fellow luminary, Sir Alex Ferguson.



Worth a listen

Tommy Quickly
Kiss Me Now (1963)

The Troggs
Hi Hi Hazel (1965)

Sandie Shaw
Puppet on a string (1967)

Cliff Richard
Congratulations (1968)

Cilla Black
Surround yourself with sorrow (1969 )

Dana
All kinds of Everything (1970 )

England World Cup Squad
Back Home (1970 )

Richard Harris
My Boy (1971)

Dick Emery
Ooh you are awful (but I like you) (1972 )

Elvis Presley
My Boy (1973 )

Bay City Rollers
Remember (Sha La La La) (1974 )
Shang a lang (1974 )
Summerlove Sensation (1974 )
All Of Me Loves All Of You (1974)
Saturday Night (1976 )

Kenny
The Bump (1974 )
Fancy Pants (1975)

Slik
Forever and ever (1975)
Requeim (1976 )

The Water Babies
High Cockaloum (1978)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Great Glen and the Loch Ness Monster





The Great Glen in the Scottish highlands is a rift valley 60 miles long and contains three famous lochs; Lochy, Oich and Ness. Loch Ness is around twenty two and a half miles long and between one and one and a half miles wide. It is deeper than the North Sea at 754 feet with a flat bottom. It holds 263 thousand million cubic feet of water or 16 million 430 thousand million gallons of water with a surface area of 14000 acres and could hold the population of the world 10 times over. It is fed by 7 major rivers the Oich, Tarff, Enrich, Coiltie, Moriston, Foyers and Farigaig plus numerous burns, with only one outlet the River Ness which flows 7 miles through Inverness into the Moray Firth 52 feet below the loch surface. Loch Ness never freezes because a thermocline lies around 100 feet below the surface. The top water temperature alters depending on the weather conditions but below the thermocline the temperature never varies from 44 degrees Fahrenheit. The mysterious steaming across the loch is due to heavier cold water falling below the thermocline and being replaced by the warmer water from below.



Nessie is a mystical creature that reputedly inhabits the largest freshwater lake in northern Scotland, Loch Ness . The most common speculation is the creature represents a line of long-surviving plesiosaurs. Although its existence has never been proven scientifically, eye witness accounts describe the cryptid as a large pre-historic sea creature. Nessie remains the most famous example of cryptozoology first reported on 2nd May, 1933 by a water bailiff called Alex Campbell. Later the same year a tourist and his wife reported a dragon like animal crossing the main road as it made its way to the loch. They described a four feet tall animal with a 25 feet long body and“undulating” 10- or 12-foot neck. The couple also said they saw an animal in the beast’s mouth possibly a small lamb. Soon other claims of sightings followed.



Reports of a monster in the remote Scottish Highlands were enough to attract the attention of the general public. British newspapers sent reporters to Scotland in search of additional testimony and proof the monster’s being. Marmaduke Wetherell , celebrity game hunter was engaged and discovered enormous tracks he thought belonged to a creature at least 20 feet long.



Plaster casts were taken and sent to the Natural History Museum in London for verification. These were found to be a hoax.



The first purported photograph of the monster was published in the Daily Express on the 6th December 1933. Robert Kenneth Wilson was a London gynaecologist refused to have his name associated with the photograph and the paper dubbed the it the the Surgeon's Photograph .He reported taking four photos but only two came out clear. The first one with the small head and back became the iconic image and for many years was regarded as the best evidence of the monster’s existence.



It took another 60 years to reveal the true origins of the Surgeon’s Photograph. Ninety year old Christian Spurling, (Marmaduke Wetherell step son) admitted he had colluded with Wetherell and Wilson to produce a hoax photograph.



In 1933 Bertram Mills, circus empresario offered a £20,000 reward to anyone who could capture the monster for his circus. It remains unclear whether Mills could afford the reward but it did start a landslide of interest. Reports of a monster in the Loch meant there was prize on Nessie’s head and this attracted the attention of armed hunting parties to the remote location. Local concerns were such Inverness-shire Chief Constable William Fraser wrote a letter to the newspapers in 1938, stating as it was beyond doubt the monster existed he believed his power to protect the monster from the hunters was "very doubtful".



Local man, Hugh Gray took a picture in 1933 which depicts a creature with a long grayish neck that tapers into a thin head rising out of the water, followed by two humps. Despite the photograph being published the quality was generally poor and eventually dismissed by most. Gray was a well known practical joker which only added to skeptics’ dismissal of the evidence. More recently the photograph has been analysed in detail and may indeed be genuine.



Still gripped in monster fervor R. T. Gould published his book, The Loch Ness Monster and others in 1934. Gould’s work included collected records of additional reports pre-dating 1933. The earliest recording was AD 565.



There is a tale about St Columba who saved his companion Luigne moccu Min when he was chased in Loch Ness by a beast. It is recorded in Adomnán’s Life of St. Columba, the Saint made the sign of the Cross and commanded: "Go no further. Do not touch the man. Go back at once." The beast immediately halted as if it had been "pulled back with ropes" and fled in terror.



Sightings of the Loch Ness Monster pre-1933 were rare, but did exist. Doctor D. Mackenzie of Balnain wrote to Robert Gould in 1934 to say as a young man he had witnessed an object that looked much like a log or upturned boat wriggling and churning up the water. The object moved slowly at first, then disappeared off at a faster speed (circa 1871). Sightings of the monster increased following the building of a road along the loch in early 1933. This brought both workmen and tourists to the formerly isolated area. In the same year Arthur Grant was on his motorbike and claimed to have nearly hit the creature while approaching Abriachan on the north-eastern shore of Loch Ness. It was a moonlight night and Grant was sure he saw a small head attached to a long neck.



More sightings, photographs and filmed encounters followed. A South African tourist G. E. Taylor in 1938 took a three minute 16 mm colour film. The film was never shown publically but a still was published in The Elusive Monster (1961) by Maurice Burton. Some experts thought the photograph was genuine but because it was never open to more detailed scrutiny like many reports it was dismissed as inconclusive. In 1951, Lachlan Stuart, a local Forestry Commission woodsman took a picture of what appears to show three humps moving in the waters of the Loch. Thirty years later it was revealed the humps were thinly disguised bales of hay covered in tarpaulin in another elaborate hoax. The Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau was formed in 1961and sporadic land sightings continued until 1963.



Many sonar attempts had been made but most were either inconclusive or negative. In December 1954, the fishing boat Rival III made sonar contact with a large object at a depth of 146 metres (479 ft). It was detected travelling for 800 m (2,600 ft) before contact was lost then found again. In 1961 two submarines with sonar experts on board was used but were unable to locate Nessie. They did however find a vast underwater cavern at 950 feet deep. Many speculate the elusive Nessie might use this as a hiding place. In 1975 an American-based expedition used underwater photography and special sonar to examine the Loch Ness. The underwater camera was able to take images of a moving object that had flippers. Based on these photos some scientists concluded that the 20-foot long creature was possibly an ancient reptile that became extinct with the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago.



One of the most interesting videos of the Nessie was taken in 2007 by Gordon Holmes, a 55-year-old lab technician. Considered to be one of the best filmed evidence to date the absence of other objects in the video does make comparisons impossible. Other evidence includes a sonar image taken in 2011 of an unidentified object considered to be 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) long which apparently was following the boat of a local fisherman for two minutes at a depth of 23 m (75 ft).



George Edwards, a cruise boat operator, claimed a photograph he had taken in 2011 displaying a hump out of the water was genuine. On first inspection the photograph appeared genuine but closer scrutiny confirmed the so called monster was a fibreglass hump previously used in a National Geographic documentary that Edwards had participated in. Later he freely admitted to the hoax defending his actions as ‘ramping up interest in the Loch Ness monster and attracting people to the area.’



In 2014 after “Official Registrar of Loch Ness Monster Sightings reported no sightings of the creature had been recorded in 18 months. This was the first time since 1925 so much time had passed without a confirmed sighting claims, many feared the Loch Ness Monster was dead. Then Andrew Dixon who was browsing an Apple map of the Loch saw what appeared to be the monster close to the surface of the loch. Possible explanations for the image were it could be the wake of a boat, a seal causing ripples or a floating log. Some even believe the image was Photoshopped using an image of a whale shark. Closer inspection did also reveal the image bore a close resemblance to a Loch Ness-based cruise ship called the Jacobite Queen.



Most scientists consider it impossible for a dinosaur like creature to survive for millions of years unseen. Most sightings are simply explained away by floating logs or unusual waves. Loch Ness is fed from the Moray Firth in the North Sea via the River Ness. The sea is frequented by porpoises, dolphins and whales and seals and dolphins have been filmed in the loch many times. In the last three decades independent scientists have used sonar and satellite imagery to scan every inch of the loch and found 'no trace of any large animal living there'. The Loch Ness monster however is estimated it to be worth in the region of £50 million per annum and more than 500,000 tourists travel to the area every year in the hope of sighting the beast. Reason enough them to keep the secret of Loch Ness secret.

More information

Loch Ness Hunter Haggis Tours
Loch Ness Investigation
Official Registrar of Loch Ness Monster Sightings



Is the British Government Hiding The Loch Ness Monster?


Is the Loch Ness Monster Dead?


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Rikki Fulton (1924 - 2004)




Robert Kerr Fulton was born in Dennistoun, Glasgow in 1924. The youngest of three brothers, the family moved to Riddrie, when Rikki was three. His mother did not keep well and Rikki grew up as a bit of a loaner but with a veracious reading habit. His father had been a master locksmith but bought a newsagent and stationery shop. Fulton completed his secondary education at Whitehill Secondary School in 1939. He wanted to become an actor but initially worked in the family's stationery business. When he was 17, he joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, and served until 1945. He took up straight acting and had a knack for accents Rikki worked his way through local repertory theatre, into broadcasting on the BBC Home Service (Scotland). With a foot on the ladder he gave up his interest in the stationary business to concentrate upon his acting career.



He moved to London in 1953, and became the laconic compere of The Show Band Show (Cyril Stapleton) on the Light Programme. There he worked with several luminaries including Frank Sinatra.







In 1953, he made his film debut playing a poacher in the romantic comedy Laxdale Hall (Released in the US as Scotch on the Rocks).



Rikki wanted to be a comic and started to write his own material and on his return to Scotland in 1954, became a regular on Five Past Eight at the Glasgow Alhambra and the King's Theatre in Edinburgh. Although principally based in Scotland he was invited to appear on Bernard Delfont's Sunday Show in 1959 as "the new UK comedy personality".



In 1960 and 1961, he starred in two Saturday night specials for the BBC, called The Rikki Fulton Show, with Ethel Scott (his wife) as his foil. Both shows enjoyed peek viewing. He loved pantomime and starred in "A Wish for Jamie," with Kenneth McKellar and Fay Lenore, which premiered at the Alhambra Theatre Glasgow in 1960, and its sequel "A Love for Jamie," which ran for three consecutive winters.



While working at the King's Theatre, Edinburgh, Fulton met comedian Jack Milroy. Together they created a stage double act of two gormless Corner Boys from Glasgow named "Francie and Josie". In 1962, Scottish Television featured a new series called The Adventures of Francie and Josie. which established both Fulton and Milroy as household names in Scotland. By the mid 60s, he was the star of the Rikki Fulton Hour (Scottish Television), which featured a series of hilarious sketches.



From the success of Francie and Josie, Rikki decided to return to straight roles and appeared at the 1973 Edinburgh Festival playing "Flatterie" in a pre-Reformation satire entitled ‘Ane Pleasant Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis in Commendatioun of Vertew and Vituperatioun of Vyce. He also played Andrew Fairservice in BBC TV's serialisation of Sir Walter Scott's Rob Roy (1977). Two years later he was the Laird O'Grippy in the televised adaptation of Molière's The Miser. He continued to perform regularly in pantomime , mostly notably with the Royal Lyceum Company in Edinburgh and the Scottish Theatre Company based in Glasgow. In 1978, he began Scotch and Wry series on the BBC and it continued for another 15 years. The comedy sketch show with a distinct Scottish accent became an institution at Hogmanay. The series established the character of Fulton's lugubrious television vicar the Rev I.M. Jolly. Another well-remembered character was Supercop, a glaikit police motorcyclist whose persecution of drivers always began with the words: "OK Stirling, oot the car."







In 1980, Rikki played the elder, John Fleming in The Sandyford Place Mystery: Square Mile of Murder (TV Series) and in the following year appeared as Robbie Kerr in Nothing Like a Dame. More straight roles followed with Autolycus, in the BBC Television Shakespeare production of The Winter's Tale (1981), then Lord Justice Clerk in Boswell for the Defence, (1983). Guest appearances in Bergerac (1981), The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady (1984), and Scotland's Story, an epic dramatised history for Channel Four, saw him back on the small screen. Rikki Fulton returned to cinema in 1981, with The Dollar Bottom, and shocked his Scottish fans with his cruel eyed and saturine rendition of the KGB major in Gorky Park (1983). He appeared in Bill Forsyth's Local Hero (1983) and Comfort and Joy (1984). Back treading the boards, he won acclaim in his and Denise Coffey's reworking of Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme as A Wee Touch o' Class at the 1985 Edinburgh festival.



Rikki played Dan Macphail, the engineer, in The Tales of Para Handy in BBC’s follow up to The Vital Spark. The series ran from 1994 to 1995.



In 1996, after 36 years of performing as Francie and Josie, Fulton and Milroy appeared in their "Final Farewell" at the King's Theatre, Glasgow. Rikki Fulton's last full performance on television came in 1998, his second appearance in Rab C. Nesbitt.



In 2002, Rikki Fulton was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and died peacefully at the age of 79 in 2004. In tribute to his Scotch and Wry character Supercop, police motorcyclists escorted the funeral cortège as it made its way to the Crematorium.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull)



Ian Scott Anderson, was born in 1947, in Dumfermline, the youngest of three siblings. The family lived in East Port, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, then later moved to Edinburgh. The young Anderson was always keen on music, initially influenced by his father's record collection of big bands and jazz musicians, then later by rock n roll. In 1959 the family relocated to Blackpool and Ian finished his schooling at Blackpool Grammar School. In 1962/63, he formed a school band called The Blades and they played soul and blues music, with Anderson on vocals and harmonica. The line-up was complete with Jeffrey Hammond (bass), John Evans (drums and piano), and another guitarist. Drummer Barrie Barlow became a member in 1963 after Evans had switched from drums to piano. Later the band developed into a seven piece called the John Evan Band (before becoming the John Evan Smash). Meantime Ian completed his studies in fine art at Blackpool College of Art. The group decided to try their luck in the South and moved to Luton. Frustrated by the lack of instant success most of the band quit, leaving Anderson and bassist Glenn Cornick (who had replaced Hammond) to join forces with blues guitarist Mick Abrahams and his friend, drummer Clive Bunker, both from the Luton-based band McGregor's Engine. They took a series of names as they played the London Club circuit but what was memorable about their various metamorphoses was Ian played mouth organ on stage standing on one leg. Frustrated by his own inability to master the electric guitar Ian traded it in for a flute and in record time became proficient in rock and blues flute. Eventually the band weas christened Jethro Tull by a booking agent’s clerk and the name stuck. The group signed to the Ellis-Wright agency and they released their first single in 1968 called "Sunshine Day.”



The record failed to impact on the record buying public. Their first album 'This Was ‘came out in the same year and caught some critical acclaim.



Blues purist Mick Abrahams left the band to form Blodwyn Pig after some artistic differences with Ian Anderson.



Martin Barre eventually replaced Abrahams and Jethro Tull released their next album Stand Up in 1969. It topped the UK album charts.



Progressive rock groups rarely issued singles as their demographic was young adults and not young teenagers who traditionally could not afford to buy albums. When Jethro Tull released “Living in the Past" as a single it reached number three in the UK charts.



They followed up with their other singles, "Sweet Dream" (1969) and "The Witch's Promise" (1970), and a five-track EP, Life Is a Long Song (1971), all of which made the top twenty.











By the time the album Benefit was released John Evan (keyboards) had joined the band.



In the same year Jeffrey Hammond re-joined the group when bassist Glenn Cornick was asked to leave. The group released their most popular album Aqualung in 1971 which had international success reaching Number 7 in the US album charts.



In 1972 the concept album Thick as a brick was released and topped the charts.



Thursday, March 2, 2017

Andy Stewart (1933 - 1993)



Andrew "Andy" Stewart was born in Glasgow in 1933 the son of a school teacher. The family lived in Shieldhall, Glasgow until he was 5 then they relocated to Perth before settling in Arbroath, six years later. He grew up in a musical family and played mouth organ. Andy actually preferred to use his natural vocal dexterity to impersonate other instruments rather than learning to play them. He was a natural mimic and amazed his parents with impersonations of famous singers and actors. He attended Arbroath High School and wrote his first lyric at the age of 14. The song “My Hameland" was recorded much later in 1969 and became the title track of one of his most popular albums.



Andy trained as an actor at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow and started on the boards in 1954 as a comedy impressionist. One of his most popular routines was to perform “Ye Cannae Shove yer Granny Aff a Bus’ in the voices of American stars like Jolson or Armstrong. Andy reveled in the audiences’ reaction to his impressions of Presley and Little Richard. In 1955 Andy joined the cast of a new comedy series on the Scottish Home Service called Jim & Mary (17 Sauchie Street) it drew large audiences and ran from 1955-1959. He was also master of ceremonies to the first packaged Rock & Roll show to tour England, introducing the likes of Tony Crombie and his Rockets, Don Fox and Maxine Daniels to the music-hungry teens.



Steward became a firm favourite with older audiences too and appeared regularly in variety shows and pantomime throughout Scotland. In 1957 he became the host of BBC TV’s The White Heather Club which started as annual New Year's Eve party (1957–1968) before becoming a weekly series (1960–1968). At the height of its popularity, the show had a viewership of 10 million.



Andy affectionately known as the ‘Hobbit,” was the master of ceremonies and sang songs and told jokes. In 1959 he signed his first recording contract with Top Rank and they released “Donald, Where's Your Troosers?” This gave Andy his first taste of chart success because it was a minor hit in the UK charts peaking at number 37.



Next EMI released “A Scottish Soldier” on the Top Rank label. The lyrics were written by Andy and the song was based on an old pipe-tune called “The Green Hills of Tyrol.” The song was recorded at Abbey Road, London and accompanied by The Michael Sammes Singers with Orchestra conducted by Bernard Ebbinghouse. The recording was produced by Walter J. (Wally) Ridley. "A Scottish Soldier" spent 36 weeks in the UK Singles Chart in 1961 and was in the top 50 in the USA for over a year. In Australia, the record became the biggest selling single since Bill Haley's Rock Around the Clock in 1956.



Whilst his records continued to sell he never was able to repeat the earlier chart success. As an entertainer, he frequently and successfully toured Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand.



Recurrent ill-health took its toll and from 1973 on wards Andy was frequently hospitalised. He continued to work when he could but sadly the "The Tartan trooper, " Andy Stewart died in 1993.



Worth a listen

Come in-Come in ( )
Donald Where's Your Troosers?” (1961)
Campbeltown Loch (1961)
The Muckin' O' Geordie's Byre (1961)
The Road to Dundee (1961)
The Battle's O'er (1961)
Take Me Back (1061)
Tunes Of Glory (1961)
Dr. Finlay (1965)
The Gallant Forty-Twa" (1968)
Rainbows Are Back In Style" (1969)
Farewell My Love" (1972)