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Origins: Tramps and Hawkers

DigiTrad:
THE ROSE OF THE SAN JOAQUIN
TRAMPS AND HAWKERS


Related threads:
QUERY Re Tramps & Hawkers tune usage (21)
Chord Req: tramps & hawkers, ringer/russell vs tra (10)
Tune Req: Dots wanted for Tramps and Hawkers (3) (closed)
Tune Req: Tramps and Hawkers (8)


Tom Hamilton frae Saltcoats Scotland 03 Nov 06 - 08:25 AM
GUEST,DonMeixner 03 Nov 06 - 08:33 AM
oldhippie 03 Nov 06 - 08:36 AM
Tom Hamilton frae Saltcoats Scotland 03 Nov 06 - 08:39 AM
Jeri 03 Nov 06 - 09:07 AM
Keith A of Hertford 03 Nov 06 - 09:34 AM
Scoville 03 Nov 06 - 09:39 AM
Malcolm Douglas 03 Nov 06 - 09:55 AM
Malcolm Douglas 03 Nov 06 - 09:56 AM
Scotus 03 Nov 06 - 10:51 AM
GUEST 04 Nov 06 - 10:47 AM
Scotus 04 Nov 06 - 01:38 PM
Little Robyn 04 Nov 06 - 02:18 PM
Charmion 04 Nov 06 - 02:30 PM
GUEST,beachcomber 04 Nov 06 - 02:57 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 04 Nov 06 - 03:31 PM
oldhippie 04 Nov 06 - 08:36 PM
GUEST,Boab 05 Nov 06 - 02:39 AM
Tom Hamilton frae Saltcoats Scotland 05 Nov 06 - 06:50 AM
GUEST,Dr Price 05 Nov 06 - 12:17 PM
Charmion 05 Nov 06 - 01:13 PM
GUEST,thurg 05 Nov 06 - 01:16 PM
Malcolm Douglas 05 Nov 06 - 03:36 PM
The Sandman 05 Nov 06 - 03:52 PM
GUEST,thurg 05 Nov 06 - 04:01 PM
MartinRyan 05 Nov 06 - 05:11 PM
The Sandman 06 Nov 06 - 02:18 AM
Fliss 06 Nov 06 - 05:25 PM
The Sandman 07 Nov 06 - 07:02 AM
Tootler 07 Nov 06 - 07:19 PM
Malcolm Douglas 07 Nov 06 - 09:42 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 08 Nov 06 - 01:31 AM
The Sandman 08 Nov 06 - 04:33 AM
Scrump 08 Nov 06 - 04:54 AM
ard mhacha 08 Nov 06 - 05:17 AM
Scrump 08 Nov 06 - 05:32 AM
ard mhacha 08 Nov 06 - 06:11 AM
Tootler 08 Nov 06 - 06:53 PM
Fliss 09 Nov 06 - 10:48 AM
GUEST,Guest, Big Tim 09 Nov 06 - 11:27 AM
Tootler 09 Nov 06 - 06:20 PM
GUEST,Guest, Big Tim 10 Nov 06 - 11:46 AM
Scrump 10 Nov 06 - 12:25 PM
Jim McLean 10 Nov 06 - 05:31 PM
Malcolm Douglas 10 Nov 06 - 07:39 PM
GUEST,Guest, Big Tim 11 Nov 06 - 04:57 AM
The Sandman 11 Nov 06 - 10:59 AM
Effsee 11 Nov 06 - 12:59 PM
Jim McLean 11 Nov 06 - 04:47 PM
GUEST,Guest, Big Tim 12 Nov 06 - 04:40 AM
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Subject: tramps and hawkers
From: Tom Hamilton frae Saltcoats Scotland
Date: 03 Nov 06 - 08:25 AM

I been wondering that the person that wrote and sang this song tramps and hawkers, if they ever did write a song about Ireland.

Tom


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 03 Nov 06 - 08:33 AM

I think you'll find this is usually attributed to Traditional or Public Domain. The meoldy is certainly well used. I've used it myself on a recording and it was listed as melody Trad.

The words I don't know about. Seamus Kennedy has a vast knowledge of these songs. Perhaps he'll chime in.

Don


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: oldhippie
Date: 03 Nov 06 - 08:36 AM

Which song, by Barry Taylor.....

O come a' ye tramps and hawker-lads
an' gaitherers o' bla'
That tramp the country roun' and roun',
come listen one and a'
I'll tell tae ye a rovin' tale,
an' places I hae been
Far up into the snowy north,
or sooth by Gretna Green.

I've seen the high Ben Nevis
that gangs towerin' tae the moon
I've been roun' by Crieff an' Callander
an' by Bonny Doon
I've been by Nethy's silvery tide
an' places ill tae ken
Far up into the stormy north
lies Urquart's fairy glen

Sometimes noo I laugh tae mysel'
when dodgin' alang the road
Wi' a bag o' meal slung upon my back,
my face as broun's a toad
Wi' lumps o'cheese and tattie-scones
or breid an' braxie ham
Nae thinking whar' I'm comin' frae
nor thinkin' whar I'm gang.

I'm happy in the summer-time
beneath the dark blue sky
Nae thinkin' in the mornin'
at nicht where i'm gang to lie
Bothies or byres or barns,
or oot amangst the hay
And if the weather does permit,
I'm happy a' the day.

Loch Katrine and Loch Lomond,
they've oft been seen by me
The Dee, the Don, the Devron,
that a' flows tae the sea
Dunrobin Castle, by the way,
I nearly had forgot
And the reckless stanes o'cairn
that mairks the hoose o' John
o' Groat.

I've been by bonny Gallowa',
an' often roun' Stranraer
My business leads me anywhere,
I travel near an' far
I've got that rovin' notion
I wouldna like tae loss
For It's my daily fare
an' as much'll pay my doss.

I think I'll gang tae Paddy's Lan',
I'm makin' up my mind
For Scotland's greatly altered noo,
I canna raise the wind
But if I can trust in Providence,
if Providence should prove true
I'll sing ye's a' of Erin's Isle
when I come back to you.

or Jim Ringer.....on "The Bramble and The Rose" with Mary McCaslin?


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Tom Hamilton frae Saltcoats Scotland
Date: 03 Nov 06 - 08:39 AM

Thankyou for the words, however I wanted to know if the person that wrote the song, did they ever write a song about Ireland as well as they say in the song, 'I'll sing ye's a' of Erin's Isle
when I come back to you.' that's the bit I want to know, but thanks anyway for the imformation.

Tom


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Jeri
Date: 03 Nov 06 - 09:07 AM

Tom, no one knows who wrote Tramps and Hawkers - it's VERY old. There have been lots of songs written using the same tune, though, so someone may have continued the story.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 03 Nov 06 - 09:34 AM

Ireland has a long history.
It must have a song or two.
Perhaps the author had one in mind.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Scoville
Date: 03 Nov 06 - 09:39 AM

I used to have a Battlefield Band version of that somewhere. Wasn't the tune the same as the one used for "Lakes of Pontchartrain"/"Wind that Shake the Corn"?


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 03 Nov 06 - 09:55 AM


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 03 Nov 06 - 09:56 AM

So far as I know, the earliest examples of the song that we have are from the early 20th century; these appear in the Greig-Duncan collection. In 1960, MacColl & Seeger (Singing Island) printed a 4-verse set from Mary Brookbank.

The text "oldhippie" quotes is from Davy Stewart, who said that he'd learned it from another traveller by the name of "Thumby" Mathieson (Kennedy, Folksongs of Britain and Ireland, 789). The same version appears in the DT as TRAMPS AND HAWKERS; no traditional source is named. It has been widely recorded by Revival performers, to the extent that that particular version is probably now the norm, replacing the "scores of versions" that MacColl stated were current as late as the mid 20th century.

Nobody, so far as can be told, knows who wrote it; and it seems likely that more than one person has added verses over the years. MacColl again: "... there are few districts of Scotland which are not mentioned" [in one version or another]. I wouldn't think it particularly old, but it is sung to a tune that goes back further and has been used for a lot of songs over the years. More details are in earlier discussions on the song.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Scotus
Date: 03 Nov 06 - 10:51 AM

One of the older uses of the tune is for the ballad 'Captain Wedderburn's Courtship' - I'm sure Malcolm could give other (perhaps older) examples.

Jack


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Nov 06 - 10:47 AM

The late Jim Ringer, a California singer who performed with his wife Mary McCaslin, covered the song years ago. She's still around, by the way, and sounding great.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Scotus
Date: 04 Nov 06 - 01:38 PM

More recently, of course, there's that lovely 'spin-off' from Tramps and Hawkers called The Rose of the San Joaquin.

Jack


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Little Robyn
Date: 04 Nov 06 - 02:18 PM

Then there's Jimmy Miller's song using the same tune.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Charmion
Date: 04 Nov 06 - 02:30 PM

What I have always wanted to know about this song is this: What in blazes is "bla" and how does one gather it?


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: GUEST,beachcomber
Date: 04 Nov 06 - 02:57 PM

One of the first Vinyl LPs I bought , when I earned my first real wage, was one of Robin Hall & Jimmie McGregor (with "The Galliards"). The two lads sang a lovely version of "Tramps and Hawkers" on it.
BTW I understand that Robin is departed this life but, I've not heard anything of Jimmie for years now ?


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 04 Nov 06 - 03:31 PM

Jimmie is alive and well and living in Glasgow.

I believe Jim Ringer's song by this name is the "Rose of the San Joaquin"


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: oldhippie
Date: 04 Nov 06 - 08:36 PM

Also on Dave Alvin's new CD, "West of the West"


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 05 Nov 06 - 02:39 AM

A nice song to the same tune--"Peggy of Greenlaw".


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Tom Hamilton frae Saltcoats Scotland
Date: 05 Nov 06 - 06:50 AM

thanks

Tom


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: GUEST,Dr Price
Date: 05 Nov 06 - 12:17 PM

"What in blazes is "bla" and how does one gather it?"

Could it be the French-influenced ble (flour/corn?) France certainly courted Scotland.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Charmion
Date: 05 Nov 06 - 01:13 PM

Blé is wheat (corn in Britain), not flour -- that's farine.

Thanks, Dr. Price; that's not only highly possible, it's also as close to an explanation as I've ever had -- and I first learned this song some 35 years ago.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 05 Nov 06 - 01:16 PM

As I recall, a note to the song in a collection called The Scottish Folksinger gave "wheat" as the translation.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 05 Nov 06 - 03:36 PM

The set in Buchan & Hall, The Scottish Folksinger was from Jimmy McBeath; very close indeed to Davy Stewart's. The word is glossed as 'meal', and the editors add "Often attributed to Besom Jimmy, an Angus hawker of the last [ie 19th] century."

There are some further useful comments, quoted mostly from Hamish Henderson, at http://mysongbook.de/msb/songs/c/comeally.html.

The attribution to 'Besom Jimmy' may only be anecdotal; but see http://www.banchory.org/cms/index.php?page=local_history for what is apparently a photo of him; if there was not more than one person by that name.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Nov 06 - 03:52 PM

Iused to sing this song about thirty years ago,.
Ihad a recollection that when I learned the song there was an explanation for bla[ as flower like bog cotton].So I went to my dictionary.
   Behold blawort[blaewort scots ]the harebell the corn bluebottle.
I am just a humble folk singer , not an academic, so forgive me for intruding.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 05 Nov 06 - 04:01 PM

Thanks for the correction, Malcolm. I had had the impression that t The Scottish Folksinger gave an attribution but I didn't bother mentioning it because I have the book packed away somewhere five thousand miles away, and haven't seen it in about twenty years ...


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: MartinRyan
Date: 05 Nov 06 - 05:11 PM

The tune is probably best known in Ireland as "The Homes of Donegal".

Regards


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Nov 06 - 02:18 AM

On reflection, Bla could also be Blaeberries,.A berry high in vitamin c and good eating for men of the road, more likely than blawort.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Fliss
Date: 06 Nov 06 - 05:25 PM

I did a trawl about the song. Some versions have...

Oh come all ye tramps and hawker lads ye gatherers oblaw
That tramps the country round and round come listen one and all
(http://www.celtic-lyrics.com/forum/index.php?autocom=tclc&code=lyrics&id=406)

braxie ham (from the argot of the UK travelling people, also "braxy") putrid. In the well-known "Tramps and Hawkers", a "braxie ham" was any type of meat taken from a long-dead animal and purified to some extent by packing it in salt.... uck

I have it on an CD by the Corries.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Nov 06 - 07:02 AM

how about the versionfrom a Cork singer, come all you tramps and hawker lads and give your ears a blow.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Tootler
Date: 07 Nov 06 - 07:19 PM

Is it possible that "bla" is an abbreviation for "blether" which means chatter? So a "gatherer of bla" would be a collector of gossip. At least that is how I have always interpreted it.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 07 Nov 06 - 09:42 PM

It's the most unlikely suggestion so far (because of linguistic usage), but that doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong. Didn't anybody ever ask Jimmy or Davy what they meant (assuming either of them understood anything in particular by it)?

MacColl (ref above) glossed Mary Brookbank's "ablaw" as "from everywhere", for what that's worth. "Oblaw" (in the uncredited example mentioned by "Fliss" earlier) is probably a mis-hearing of "ablaw" as heard by somebody on a modern recording of her set; since the people who run that "Celtic lyrics" site couldn't be bothered to say where they got it, we can't be absolutely sure.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 08 Nov 06 - 01:31 AM

It's a fine tune alright!

I used it when I recorded "THE LAKES OF PONCHARTRAIN." It might be on a CD one of these days---from Sandy at Folk Legacy. We'll see.

Mary McCaslin will be at he coffeehouse in Princeton, Illinois on Saturday, November 18th. Sure would love to get there.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Nov 06 - 04:33 AM

Apologies, if this seems pedantic .. Lake of Ponchartrain, there,s only one lake there.
my money is on blaw, being either a flower like heather, that can be sold or blae berries,[ to be eaten] both of which fit in with the lifestyle of tramps and hawkers.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Scrump
Date: 08 Nov 06 - 04:54 AM

The tune I know for The Lakes of Ponchartrain is not the same tune as that normally used for The Homes of Donegal - the latter is the same as Tramps & Hawkers. You could swap the tunes though, as they would fit the lyrics in each case.

But I realise there are probably lots of variations on all these songs and tunes anyway.

Ewan MacColl also used the Tramps & Hawkers tune for a song in the Radio Ballad "Song of a Road" about the building of the M1 motorway (a major highway in the UK). I don't recall the song's title, but it was about a mother singing to her son about his father being away working on the road. See this thread for the lyrics etc.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: ard mhacha
Date: 08 Nov 06 - 05:17 AM

For a folk Site I am amazed that no one has mentioned Luke Kelly`s singing of Tramps and Hawkers, by a long way the best version I have of this song.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Scrump
Date: 08 Nov 06 - 05:32 AM

Yes, Luke Kelly's version is the one I learnt back in the late 1960s (ISTR he recorded it before the version on the Dubliners' first LP, but I can't be sure - anyone know?). The Dubliners also recorded the MacColl song I mentioned above, on the LP Drinkin' & Courtin' - I think Luke sang on that too but again I can't be sure without hearing it.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: ard mhacha
Date: 08 Nov 06 - 06:11 AM

Scrump, According to the record label Luke Kelly learned the song while he was touring with the Dubliners in Scotland.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Tootler
Date: 08 Nov 06 - 06:53 PM

It's the most unlikely suggestion so far (because of linguistic usage), but that doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong.

I am likely totally wrong, but the reason I suggested it is that the context makes it possible.

"ablaw" and "oblaw" are mentioned in previous posts, but equally, given oral transmission, why not "o' blaw"? Maybe "blether" was a bit tenuous, but "blaw blaw blaw..." is often used as a term for incessant chatter.

Before the advent of radio and TV and in a era of less than 100% literacy, the various itinerant travellers were important as purveyors of news - especially of tittle tattle. Who was born or died or married, who had given birth, local scandal, the small doings of the celebrities of the day. In fact in many ways they fulfilled the role that the tabloid newspapers fill in todays society.

In that context, interpreting the first line as I did makes, to me, perfect sense.

Incidentally, the recording I have is by Robin Hall and Jimmy MacGregor who made a couple of very good albums of traditional Scottish songs in the mid 60's


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Fliss
Date: 09 Nov 06 - 10:48 AM

(http://www.celtic-lyrics.com/forum/index.php?autocom=tclc&code=lyrics&id=406)

Apologies Malcolm it was credited but Id forgotten to put the link clicky

fliss


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: GUEST,Guest, Big Tim
Date: 09 Nov 06 - 11:27 AM

According to my Scots dictionary 'blaw' is 'oatmeal'.

According to Hamish Henderson, 'Besom Jimmy',or, 'Brechin Jimmy' was a man called Jimmy Henderson. Hamish learned the song from Davie Stewart and thought it was written around the end of the 19th century.

Jimmy MacBeath also sang the song and definitely travelled (and lived for 20 years) in Ireland. So too then, maybe' did Jimmy Henderson.
(See, 'Alias Macalias: writings on songs, folk and literature' by Hamish Henderson. 2nd ed. 1994. btw, a biography of HH is due out soon, by Tim Neat.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Tootler
Date: 09 Nov 06 - 06:20 PM

The dictionary in the Scots-online website, Wir Ain Lied defines blaw as blow or boast.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: GUEST,Guest, Big Tim
Date: 10 Nov 06 - 11:46 AM

Yes 'blaw' can mean 'boast' i.e. 'blow' - as in blow your own horn.                                                            

'Blaw' is used twice in the song,                                    

1.'Ye gaitherers of blaw'.
2. 'Wi' a bag o' blaw upon my back, my face as broon's a toad'.

In neither context does 'boast' make any sense. 'Oatmeal' does.
According to the Scottish National Dictionary 'blaw' is 'tinker's cant for oatmeal'.

What about 'toad'? I've seen it given as meaning 'fox'. But not in the SND.

Any thoughts or ideas on this one?


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Scrump
Date: 10 Nov 06 - 12:25 PM

To GUEST,Guest, Big Tim:

Hmm, maybe I'm being naive, but I've always taken 'toad' literally to mean the amphibian of the same name. They're brown enough, I would say.

I think 'blaw' refers to oatmeal, too.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Jim McLean
Date: 10 Nov 06 - 05:31 PM

I knew Jimmy MacBeath and met him many times in the company of Hamish Henderson and Morris Blythman. Nigel Denver learnt the song from Jimmy's singing. I always assumed that blaw referred to what was gathered by itinerent people and ambiguously could mean stories as well as wheat/oatmeal and Jimmy always concurred when this was raised. Tod is the word for a fox not a toad and there are various Scottish folk songs which bear this out.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 10 Nov 06 - 07:39 PM

The McBeath set has "blaw" in verse 3, while Stewart has "meal". That would seem to suggest that they both understood the same meaning.

"Toad" might be "toad" (they tend to be brown) or perhaps "tod" (pronounced "toad" or "toäd" in many parts of Scotland and Northern England). I'd think the former more likely, but I suppose it's moot.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: GUEST,Guest, Big Tim
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 04:57 AM

Thanks for the spelling tip Jim.
In Scots Dictionary 'tod' is defined as 'a fox'.
Come to think of it, there's a Todholm Pub in Paisley!

What about this one from the MacBeath version?

'And aye the Rickle o'Carlin marks the hoose o' John o' Groat'.
What does 'Rickle o' Carlin' mean?


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 10:59 AM

Heather was gathered, to sell by itenerant people,and still is. Scrap metal[ bit unlikely].blaeberries were gathered to eat.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Effsee
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 12:59 PM

From another site.(Mysongbook)

"Braxy is a bacterial infection of sheep, and in those days usually fatal. But it did not affect the flesh, and since only the best and fattest sheep were struck down, to find a newly dead braxy sheep was a find indeed, and a great help to the diet of the lucky family. [It] was said by the pundits that, on finding a dead sheep, the finder should grasp it firmly by the hind legs and swing it round his head. If the legs withstood six full circles, then the sheep was fit to eat. Be that as it may, there is no doubt that a promptly-found braxy sheep was 'wholesome fairin'. Any over-ripe specimens were inclined to stop the breath, but no more so than 'hung' pheasants or grouse, which left a mound of squirming maggots on the larder floor. (Archie Cameron, Bare Feet and Tackety Boots. A Boyhood on Rhum. Luath Press, Barr, p 73)"


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: Jim McLean
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 04:47 PM

Hi Big Tim, it's a long time since I was in Paisley but I think the pub was called the Todholm Inn. The Rickle O' Carlin was probably a pile of stones, a cairn, names after someone called Carlin but I don't really know. Mayne someone with more local knowledge could help.


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Subject: RE: tramps and hawkers
From: GUEST,Guest, Big Tim
Date: 12 Nov 06 - 04:40 AM

Spot on re 'braxy' ('braxie'), as per SND.

Carline has various meaings, 1. old woman - as in 'Wife of Usher's Well'. 2. witch. 3. the last sheaf of corn. The corn-dolly made with it.

Rickle means 'a heap, pile, carelessly thrown together'. Note 'rickle o' banes (bones) held up wi' string' in 'Coulter's Candy'. In the north east, it's pronounced 'reechle'.

I just can't figure what the two words together mean.

Yes Jim, the Todholm Inn is still there. Having strong Paisley links, I've had lunch there many times.


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