Monday, September 15, 2008

History is a forgotten song.

My Poppy was a Scotsman, a man, according to my mother who should know, who was better with his animals than his children. When I first remember him he was a dairy farmer ~ jerseys; cream like yellow silk & thick as butter; an accent as broad & wildly flavoured as when he left Scotland. He was also the only man my Liddy would let hold her & he would walk her round & round the home paddock murmuring to her softly in his broad brogue. Not even her father could hold Liddy. She screamed at men, about men, near men...any man. Her father quips she was three before she would let him anywhere near her. It is quite true.

But Poppy was different. He was my grandfather, so the children's great~grandfather & ancient in their eyes. He was also a different Poppy to the Poppy I grew up knowing, as that Poppy was different to the father my mother knew.

My grandfather intrigued me. Unlike everyone else I knew he wasn't Australian. He didn't speak with an Australian accent. He grew up in a foreign land. Then as now the lure of the strange enthralled me. I wanted to know very badly what it had been like growing up in Scotland. Poppy disappointed me. He had just two words to describe Scotland: cold, wet.

He lived over 70 years in the land where the sun shone, married & raised 8 children but he never went back in all that time. He never took my grandmother to visit his family, could rarely be induced to speak of Scotland, ranted about the 'Saess' & the unions. I saw Scotland before he set foot there again because he did eventually go back. He took my grandmother before she died. They did the tour as if he'd never been born & raised there & when he came home all his stories were of Scotland. He told the same ones over & over. He bored the family senseless.

The thing is he gave me a piece of history I treasure. There is no~one now alive who can sing the song. I have the words but no tune. Poppy never sang it for me but I suspect it was more a chant because it was sung by the children on their way to school, naming the crofts as they passed them by:

Cloch macrae, Langlan Bwrn, Craibstone,

Reamore, Midskeeth & Mains of Skeath;

Burnheads, Squardouch, Moss~side & Ardoch;

Brankend & the Clean, Lintmill, Tochenhill.

Last I heard they are all still there, many still in the same families.

Sin uile.


molytail said...

He was also a different Poppy to the Poppy I grew up knowing, as that Poppy was different to the father my mother knew.

Funny how people can be the same but yet so different eh?

I don't really 'know' any of my grandparents.. my paternal grandfather died the other year, hadn't seen him since I was maybe 6..I don't remember that though. I remember being told that he was from Belgium, and he spent the last 20 or 30 years of his life in some sort of institution or something.. (I believe it was there that we were taken to see him back then)....paternal grandmother - no idea where she is or what she's doing, I was a kid there as well..I remember bright red hair and a scary basement - we visited and my brother and I slept down there on an ancient bed with a big spooky painting up above it... Maternal grandmother - this is the one I somewhat 'know', lives right here in town ..we call her "meme" (may-mee) ...80 this year and hasn't stopped yet - trout fishing in the summer & smelts on ice in the winter...maternal grandfather - lives here, but I rarely see him...close in age to my maternal grandmother, but seems so much older. (They're divorced, many many years ago)...


I don't know how to pronounce any of those words you have there, but they look very pretty! ;-)

Mrs. Darling said...

I love history and family history is so special it really cannot be told and retold enough to our children. Sounds like your Poppy was a wonderful man.

The HoJo's said...

funny how we change as we grow older and our responsibilities are different. I know I am a different parent to a few years ago, will be different again I daresay in the future. Lovely story, it would be lovely if someone could sing the tune if there is one

Persuaded said...

what a perfectly grandfatherly handsome face that is... i wish i had taken the time to ask my own grandmother all about her life and history, but sadly, she died before i had the sense to value her stories:(

Ganeida said...

moly, I'm leery about my spelling I *think* I checked with pop but I can't remember now. lol

Ladies, I was the only one listening to pop in the end but I also had the history behind what he was telling me so his dislike of the English, the labour laws etc made sense to me. I didn't always agree with him but I understood where he was coming from, which wasn't always a logical place & he locked heads with my folks more than once over his political views. See, there it is. You can't understand history if you fail to understand the people & how they thought.

And language is the tool of thought. Gaelic, which was my great~grandmother's first language, was her primary tool & Gaelic has two words for the ego irregardles of sex, one female, one male. Now think how that would impact on how you think & teach in another language. Listen to what happens to the verbs. lol. I'll shut up now. I just didn't want to lose something that disappeared when they started busing the kids.