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

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

This is Lochnagar in the Grampian mountains.

I first came across the Scottish song “Dark Lochnagar” when I was playing organ in a local club. Quite a number of the cabaret artistes had it in their repertoire, and it often cropped up during the sessions when members of the audience had the opportunity to entertain.

Many folk don’t know that the words were written by an Englishman. The poet Lord Byron 1788-1824 spent part of his early life in that area, and his love of Lochnagar inspired him to produce those verses -

Away, ye gay landscapes, ye gardens of roses,
In you let the minions of luxury rove,
Restore me the rocks where the snow-flake reposes,
Though still they are sacred to freedom and love.
Yet Caledonia, beloved are thy mountains,
Round their white summits the elements war,
Though cataracts foam 'stead of smooth-flowing fountains,
I sigh for the valley of dark Lochnagar.

Ah! There my young footsteps in infancy wandered,
My cap was the bonnet, my cloak was my plaid.
On chieftains long perished my memory pondered
As daily I strode thro' the pine covered glade.
I sought not my home till the day's dying glory
Gave place to the rays of the bright Polar star.
For fancy was cheered by traditional story,
Disclosed by the natives of dark Lochnagar!

Years have rolled on, Lochnagar, since I left you!
Years must elapse ere I tread you again.
Though nature of verdure and flowers has bereft you,
Yet still are you dearer than Albion's plain.
England, thy beauties are tame and domestic
To one who has roamed over mountains afar
Oh! for the crags that are wild and majestic,
The steep frowning glories of dark Lochnagar.


FORGOTTEN FAVOURITES - This is “J’attendrai” sung by Tino Rossi in 1938. Born in Corsica, he made hundreds of records and appeared in more than 25 films. The translation of the song is shown below.

I will wait day and night, I will wait forever for your return,
I will wait, for the bird which flies away will one day search for the one left behind in the nest.
The time hurries by echoing sadly in my heavy heart.
And still I"ll await your return.

The flowers fade, the fire dies. A shadow glides over the garden.
The clock makes its slow, slow sounds, I think I hear your footsteps.
The wind brings me faraway sounds
Standing at my door, I listen in vain.
Alas, nothing, nothing at all, comes for me.

I will wait, etc.


During my time as a club musician, I met some very talented amateurs. It was rare for singers to have their music with them, and I had to follow them as best I could. Since they usually didn’t know in which key their song was set, I would ask them to start on their own, and after a couple of bars I was able to join in with a suitable accompaniment.

I must mention that my knowledge of “pop” goes no further forward than 1960, and at times I was probably the only person in the club who didn’t know the number being sung. Fortunately the drummer knew his stuff, and was a big help to me.

Of course all the professional artistes had band scores, most of them very well written, and playing them was a challenge I really enjoyed.

For a while I played occasionally for cabaret at a golf club, and it was there I met one of their members - a very amusing amateur comedian. He reminded me of the American George Burns, and the audience loved his casual, relaxed style. I was so keen on his act, that I arranged for him to appear in the club where I was resident. And I was completely shocked! He was a flop! The poor man, away from his usual group of friends, had a real struggle to raise a laugh.

That was the last time I ever recommended an entertainer.


  This British Film Institute clip shows London street scenes in 1903. It would be interesting to know how many horses there were in London streets at that time. And if there were many accidents. It looked as if it would be quite dangerous for a pedestrian to cross the road, and it seemed that many were taking quite a chance hurrying in front of those horses.


A haiku -

at the foot clinic
an odd pair of socks


“True Thomas and the Elfin Queen”


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