Perhaps I had ambitions to be an MP - or an undertaker!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Cherish all your happy moments - they make a fine cushion for old age (Booth Tarkington)



This photo was taken some years ago when Fiona and I visited Dalgety in Fife. The earliest Jaap in our family was born in that area in 1698 and we had been told that a Jaap was buried in one of the cemeteries. We discovered this broken headstone which showed the name Montgomery Japp (notice the spelling), but it doesn’t actually state that her remains are here.

Born in 1764, she was a great-great-great-aunt of mine. She married Thomas Muir and they had 11 children. The second eldest Walter became a Mormon in 1846, and with his wife, their 7 children, son-in-law, daughter-in-law and 4 grandchildren left Liverpool on the Sailor Prince along with 311 other converts bound for Utah, USA.

We know that Montgomery died in 1841.


I like this painting “The Highland Wedding” by David Allan (1744-96).
The bridal couple are dancing quite sedately, but the other male dancer seems to have no inhibitions. A girl peeping round on the extreme right is hesitating over joining the group. The fellow standing behind the cellist looks like the minister - what’s he saying to the woman beside him? And the piper to the left is draining his glass. Well, piping IS thirsty work!


This week’s blog has a real Scottish flavour, and the poem I’ve selected is one by Robert Burns (1759-1796).

Many of his love songs were written or inspired by the different women in his life, and this is no exception. Nancy McLehose was a married lady whose husband very conveniently was in Jamaica. They wrote a number of passionate letters to each other using the names Clarinda and Sylvander. The affair came to an end when she decided to join her husband, and Burns wrote those famous lines -

Ae fond kiss, and then we sever,
Ae fareweel, alas, for ever,
Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee.

Who shall say that Fortune grieves him,
While the star of hope she leaves him?
Me, nae cheerful twinkle lights me,
Dark despair around benights me.

I'll ne'er blame my partial fancy,
Naething could resist my Nancy,
But to see her was to love her,
Love but her, and love for ever.

Had we never lov'd sae kindly,
Had we never lov'd sae blindly,
Never met or never parted,
We had ne'er been broken-hearted.

Fare-thee-weel, thou first and fairest!
Fare-thee-weel, thou best and dearest!
Thine be ilka joy and treasure,
Peace, enjoyment, love and pleasure!


A lovely poem and of course a beautiful song! In the days when I performed at concerts, I played that piece many times, for it was a great favourite of tenor singers.

Now I think that I should be honest and say that I don’t like Burns Suppers. It was just after World War II, when things were slowly getting back to normal, that Burns Suppers became quite common. Since Kirkintilloch was still a “dry” town then, there were no alcoholic drinks at those functions, and many Suppers were organised by churches. Those evenings were pleasant affairs with songs and poems and of course the meal itself.

As I was often the accompanist, I saw a gradual change take place over the years with more speeches and an “Immortal Memory” address that was often too learned for ordinary folk. As the years went on, those evenings became longer and longer, and often wouldn’t finish till midnight. On one occasion the entertainers had to wait till eleven o’clock before doing their stuff, the delay being caused by the leisurely meal, long speeches, and frequent intervals to allow visits to the bar and toilets.

However,I must say that the artistes were always treated handsomely by those in charge, and there was always the excellent supper. But then, as my family will tell you, food doesn’t interest me!!! (That’s another story.)


And that lovely picture leads to the famous “Bluebell Polka” played by Jimmy Shand accompanied by the Jimmy Shand Jr. Band. The video was made in 1994 when he was aged 86. He was given a knighthood in 1999 and died the following year.


After a break of three months, my HAIKU HOMESTEAD blog is in operation again. I’ve made some changes to the format and to the style, and you can see it at -



Romeo said...

Hi i am romeo.How r u ? I pray for u, that u will be happy life.There r have many sorrow on this world, but we have to live with it.
Thank u.
- Romeo

John said...

Thanks, Romeo. I very much appreciate your remarks.