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

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

(Thanks to FreeFoto for this picture)



I’ve already written in 80 PLUS about a Glasgow man James Jaap who murdered his wife in 1891, and how we had found no connection between him and our family. (The whole story is in the Jaap family website, to which there is a link at the top of this blog)

Last month I discovered that a Mrs Japp (sic) was well-known in 1775 as the proprietor of a certain type of establishment in Edinburgh. It was in that year that the “Ranger’s Impartial List of the Ladies of Pleasure” was published, the author being one of the editors of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. The book which included a pull-out map gave names and addresses, and Mrs Japp’s place seems to have been highly recommended.

Apparently Edinburgh had around 100 such houses then, and by the 19th century that figure had doubled.

As far as we know, none of our ancestors lived in the Edinburgh area, but if there is a link to our Jaaps, we can always say that she was a Jaap only by marriage!!!

The following poem is one I learned at school, and I was surprised to find that I can still repeat most of it by heart.

There lived a wife at Ushers Well
And a wealthy wife was she,
She had three stout and stalwart sons
And sent them ow’r the sea.

They hadna’ been a week frae her,
A week but barely ane,
When word cam’ to the carlin wife
That her three sons were gane.

They hadna been a week frae her,
A week but barely three,
When word cam’ to the carlin wife
Her sons she’d never see.

“I wish the wind may never cease,
Nor *fashes in the flood,
Till my three sons cam’ hame tae me
In earthly flesh and blood.”

It fell about the Martinmas
When nights were lang and mirk,
The carlin’ wife’s three sons cam’ hame,
but their hats were o’ the *birk.

It neither grew in forest green
Nor on any wooded rise,
But from the everlasting tree
That grows in Paradise.

“Blow up the fire my maiden!
Bring water from the well,
For all my house shall feast this nicht
Since my three sons are well.”

Then up and crowed the blood red cock
And up and crowed the grey,
The oldest to the youngest said
“It's time we were away.

“For the cock doth crow and the day doth show,
And the *channerin’ worm doth chide,
And we must go from Ushers Well
To the gates of Paradise.

"Fare ye weel, oor mither dear!
Farewell to barn and byre!
And fare ye weel, the bonny lass
That kindles oor mither's fire!" (Anon)

* fashes = troubles, birk = birch, channerin’ = grumbling


I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that there were a great many “light music” programmes on the wireless, when I was a boy.

Some featured hotel or theatre orchestras, and there was quite a variety of music. I can remember the violinist Albert Sandler, Troise - sometimes with his Mandoliers, sometimes with his Banjoliers, the Leslie Bridgewater quintet, the Fred Hartley quintet, Frank Biffo’s Brass Quartet, the Dorothy Hogben players, tango orchestras and of course a whole host of cinema organists.

The BBC itself had 9 orchestras plus a military band. The BBC Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Midland Orchestra, the BBC Northern Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Orchestra, the BBC Northern Ireland Orchestra and the BBC Welsh Orchestra all provided programmes of classical music. Lighter fare was supplied by the BBC Theatre Orchestra and the BBC Dance Orchestra.

Among the dance bands the well-known names were Jack Hylton, Jack Payne, Geraldo, Ambrose, Roy Fox, Carroll Gibbons, and Henry Hall. There were also quite a few unusual bands. I’m thinking of Felix Mendelssohn and his Hawaiian Serenaders, and Big Bill Campbell and his Hillbilly Band.

Older folk will remember “Czardas” by the Italian composer Vittorio Monti. This was a popular item in the repertoire of small orchestras, and was often played as solo on the violin, flute, xylophone etc.

In this video the musicians are the Szalai Hungarian Gypsy Band.


The bitter cold winter weather is continuing in Scotland and we’ve been told it may continue for the next two weeks.

I’m pleased to be able to show this British Film Institute video “Snow.” It was made in 1963. It’s much longer than most of the clips on 80 PLUS (nearly 8 minutes), but I found it quite fascinating - well, little boys love trains!!!


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