Category Archives: folklore and ethnography

For Auld Lang Syne – –

Jack’s Wednesday guest post is on time for a change – –

It’s really great to re-connect with an old friend and it’s always interesting how it comes about.

Another old friend Fraser Bruce was researching for a book he’s just published about the early days of the folk music scene in Scotland in the 1950s and 1960s. One of his informants was me and another was Andy Hunter.

Andy was an important early folk revival singer of old ballads he learned from the great Jeannie Robertson when he was attending Aberdeen University. He also wrote many songs in a traditional style.

He eventually moved to live near me in Fife and we became close friends. When he recorded an album of ballads and songs in the 1980s I was honored to be asked to accompany him on guitar on some of the songs. Around that time he was one of the folk who began planning the degree program in Scots music at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow (now The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) and he invited me to be the external examiner in Scots song.

Also around that time Jeannie’s daughter Lizzie Higgins would stop off at Andy’s house on her way either south or north and he’d invite me over, so another big connection. Lizzie recorded one of Andy’s best known songs – ‘Up and awa wi the Laverock’ on one of her albums. That was a song I accompanied Andy on when he made his.

He was a professor of French at one of the Universities in Edinburgh and eventually moved to France some years ago and I had lost touch which was a great sadness to me.

I’m glad to say that he is active as a folklorist and piper and living in his beloved Brittany.  And we are back in touch.

He played a quiet but important role in the beginnings of the folk music scene of the 1960s in Scotland and continues to do so – –

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Filed under between books, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, Scotland, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

The Monday Book – Colonel Cody

Jack gets to do the Monday book again – –

The Monday Book: Colonel Cody and the Flying Cathedral by Gary Jenkins

Regulars will know that I have a fascination with air travel, and particularly early air pioneers. Jenkins tells the story of a remarkable one, an American who became British and made the first powered flights in the UK.

The research is deep and impressive and the writing carries the reader along at a clip. Cody’s story is amazing, but he seemed to have encountered a fair bit of anti-American attitudes while he was trying to interest the UK Government in his inventions. These inventions ranged from balloons to kites carrying people, and then aeroplanes. But he was a classic showman, got the public behind him, and eventually did win over the war office as well. He even tried to suggest he was related Buffalo Bill Cody at one point but since the ‘Colonel’ had adopted the name that didn’t go anywhere.

I was aware of Cody’s planes and knew he was a contemporary of the Wright Brothers and French experimenters. But I didn’t know very much about him. The movie ‘Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines’ is clearly based on one of the competitions he took part in, and the American cowboy character is obviously meant to be him.  

Sadly, he died in a crash in his latest machine along with his assistant just before the 1st world war broke out. If he had lived, he might have been much more recognized!

For anyone who is interested in the history of aviation, I can thoroughly recommend this book.

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Filed under between books, book reviews, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, reading, what's on your bedside table