Category Archives: music

The Yellow’s on the Broom

We can become so habituated to living in restrictive little tunnels of space and time. Think, for example, of the morning’s headlong rush to work. Sometimes, however, it’s just that little bit easier to step out of the restriction.

The South of England has been saturated in sunshine during the past week. A cold, glorious February. Driving through our beautiful hills, the South Downs, I noticed that the Gorse bushes were in their yellow glory. The rolling Downs were expansive and ecstatic.

It reminded me of a beautiful song by Adam McNaughton about the Scottish travelling folk called “the Yellow’s on the Broom” .

The narrator in the song recounts the travelling folks miseries when they forced to live a Scaldie’s (settled house-dweller) life during the winter months. The narrator looks forward keenly to the springtime when the “gan aboot folk” can take the road once more and live in the “worlds room”. For the narrator the world’s room is synonymous with liberation, belonging and being in charge of ones fate.

Try it sometime. Instead of living in a fragmented, compartmentalised world just wake up to the one infinite room that we all inhabit. Just for a moment… expand into the space around you. It can be a bit scary. but it can also be exciting.

You can download a short mp3 clip of Adam MacNaughton singing the “Yellow on the Broom” by following this link to Coda Music.

And here are the lyrics as I recall them:

YELLOW ON THE BROOM

I ken ye dinna like it lass, tae winter here in toon.
The scaldies (settled/town folk) aye miscry us and try to put us doon
And it’s hard to raise three bairns in a single flea-box room
But I’ll tak ye on the road again, when yellow’s on the broom.

CHORUS: When yellow’s on the broom x 2
I’ll tak ye on the road again (last line of verse)
When yellow’s on the broom.

The scaldies cry us “tinker dirt” and sconce oor bairns in school
But who cares what a scaldy thinks, for a scaldy’s but a fool.
They never heard the yorlin’s lark nor see the flax in bloom
For they’re aye cooped up in hooses, when yellow’s on the broom.

Nae sales for pegs or baskets noo, so just tae stay alive
We’ve had tae tak on scaldy jobs from eight o’clock til five.
But we call nae man oor master for we own the worlds room
And we’ll bid farewell tae Brechin when yellow’s on the broom.

I’m weary for the springtime when we tak the road ance mair
Tae the plantin’ and the pearlin’ and the berry fields o’ Blair
We’ll meet up wi’ oor kinfolk frae a’ the country roon
When the gan aboot folks tak the road, when yellow’s on the broom.

VIENNESE GRANNIES

This is a tale of how two Alexander Technique teachers’ were humiliated by a Viennese granny.
They do really do Christmas cheer well in Vienna. All the atmosphere and none of the stress of the UK. They even lay-on snow! Most years anyway…

My partner and I took a walk in Cobenzl, the Vienna woods, of a Sunday afternoon. A bit of a thaw had set in. The paths were perilously icey with only the edges still a little bit snowy. My partner had recently sustained a knee injury in Scottish country dancing ( that’s another story! ) and was doubly cautious. We crept stiffly along the side of the path staring fixedly at the ground two feet in front of us… when a Viennese granny powered past us at a high rate of knots, smiling broadly and drinking in the glorious surroundings with her eyes!

“How embarrassing” said my partner…“Yes, love, but you’ve got to consider that she’s got two specialised walkers’ sticks”And then a couple of runners, about our own age, overtook us, apparently oblivious to the danger underfoot!We crept on.
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Not to be defeated, I asserted “But these Viennese know how to select the right type of ice gripping footwear.” A family, with three kids, ranging from nine to thirteen years, all wearing standard, international brand, trainers swept past us, deep in happy conversation… I decided to keep my mouth shut.
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My partner, a Viennese resident, said “The Austrians just do snow so much better than we Brits. They all ice-skate and toboggan from infancy. They go on obligatory skiing courses in secondary school. And they all learn to waltz in sixth form. Here in the forest at least they are the Alexander experts.”
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We didn’t adapt to ice anything like as easily as we adapted to water in Venice. But we still applied the Alexander Technique. When we walked we just walked. And when wanted to look we stopped. “Inhibited” to use the Alexander jargon. And marveled at the snowy, Christmas card, forest around us.