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

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

This photo taken around 1940 shows my grandfather John Armour Jaap, in the dress of the Ancient Order of Shepherds. I know he was a member of that benevolent society, though I don’t think he held any office. Perhaps he got dressed up like that, just for a bit of fun.

Born in 1868 in Kilmarnock, he was married to Charlotte Graham in 1891 in Kirkintilloch, where he had found work in the local coal mine. Later he became an engine driver, driving the “pug” which carried the coal wagons to nearby foundries and to the canal depot.

I remember, when I was a boy, my father telling me in all seriousness that Grandpa had once seen a fairy down the mine. I had no reason to doubt the story then, but I’m surprised that, when I was older, I didn’t ask my grandfather about it.

Since beginning my new blog SCOTTISH TALES FROM THE OTHER WORLD, I’ve been doing some reading about the supernatural and have been interested to find how many well-known people were believers in the Wee Folk.

Towards the end of the 19th century W. B. Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory began collecting fairy stories, and became convinced that the existence of fairies was a reality.

Another believer was G. K. Chesterton who wrote “It is a fact that it is not abnormal men like artists, but normal men like peasants, who have borne witness a thousand times to such things. It is the farmers who see the fairies. It is the farm labourer who calls a spade a spade who also calls a spirit a spirit. It is the woodcutter with no axe to grind who will say that he saw a man hang on the gallows and afterwards hang round it as a ghost.”

This week‘s Scottish Tale from the Other World is “The Fisherman and the Fairy Cap” and will be posted on Friday.


This clip was filmed in the Café de Paris, London in 1929. I wonder how many of you know can name the tune which accompanies the two dancers?

The tune is “You’re the Cream in my Coffee.”


You may think I’m easily pleased, but I was thrilled when I re-discovered this famous monologue. Written and performed by J. Milton Hayes (1884-1940), this is the original version.

There's a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Khatmandu,
There's a little marble cross below the town,
There's a broken-hearted woman tends the grave of Mad Carew,
And the Yellow God forever gazes down.

He was known as "Mad Carew" by the subs at Khatmandu,
He was hotter than they felt inclined to tell,
But for all his foolish pranks, he was worshipped in the ranks,
And the Colonel's daughter smiled on him as well.

He had loved her all along, with a passion of the strong,
The fact that she loved him was plain to all,
She was nearly twenty-one and arrangements had begun
To celebrate her birthday with a ball.

He wrote to ask what present she would like from Mad Carew;
They met next day as he dismissed a squad,
And jestingly she told him then that nothing else would do
But the green eye of the little Yellow God.

On the night before the dance, Mad Carew seemed in a trance,
And they chaffed him as they puffed at their cigars,
But for once he failed to smile, and he sat alone awhile,
Then went out into the night beneath the stars.

He returned before the dawn, with his shirt and tunic torn,
And a gash across his temple dripping red,
He was patched up right away, and he slept through all the day,
And the Colonel's daughter watched beside his bed.

He woke at last and asked if they could send his tunic through,
She brought it, and he thanked her with a nod,
He bade her search the pocket saying "That's from Mad Carew,"
And she found the little green eye of the god.

She upbraided poor Carew in the way that women do,
Though both her eyes were strangely hot and wet,
But she wouldn't take the stone and Mad Carew was left alone
With the jewel that he'd chanced his life to get.

When the ball was at its height, on that still and tropic night,
She thought of him and hurried to his room,
As she crossed the barrack square she could hear the dreamy air
Of a waltz tune softly stealing thro' the gloom.

His door was open wide, with silver moonlight shining through,
The place was wet and slipp'ry where she trod,
An ugly knife lay buried in the heart of Mad Carew,
'Twas the "Vengeance of the Little Yellow God."

There's a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Khatmandu,
There's a little marble cross below the town,
There's a broken-hearted woman tends the grave of Mad Carew,
And the Yellow God forever gazes down.


FORGOTTEN FAVOURITES - This week I’ve chosen “I know where I’m going” sung by Maureen Hegarty with Elizabeth Bicker at the piano.



About children -

we stop at the bridge 
the sound of children’s laughter
floating down the stream

the children intrigued
just a slight eye movement - yes
the penguin IS real

after the party
the children’s voices arrive
home before they do

long after the last
child has gone the carousel
keeps on turning


Haiku archives at -


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