The Highlandman’s Ball


There wis Hielan’ men an’ weemin
They got up a fancy ball
It wis held ae Sunday mornin’
In the cattle market hall
Alloo me to inform you
It wis a gran’ affair
For the Duke o’ Killiecrankie
An’ masel’ an’ I wis there

Some arrived in motor cars
Some in big balloons
Some o’ them got nearly drunk
An’ whistlin’ pairty tunes
There wis some o’ them dressed in corduroys
Aye, an’ some in kilts so braw
Bit the jokers jined the mobbers
That wore no kilts ava

There wis Roderickie McGilpin
Young Peterie McIndoo
Big tartan-whiskert Donal’
Frae the hills o’ Tamford, too
There wis eerie-arry Muchty
Aye, on’ Milly frae Mulgey
An’ as soon as he cam’ in the hall
He shouted “Aye, hooch-aye”

There wis buggy Dooly Hooly
Wi’ his creishy nose sae blue
An’ Angus Cockaleerie
Aye, an’ Hielan’ Rory too
There wis Jeemsie Hankie-Pankie
Wi’ a concertina hat
An’ Inverary Mary
Wi’ side-whiskers like a cat

There wis Nanny an’ her granny
The tyler and his chum
An’ a great big hungry bobby
Wi’ a corporation like a drum
There wis Susie Nell an’ greasy Bell
An’ Turnich-Turnich Peg
An’ bowsy, greetin’ Geordie
Wi’ a bandy widden leg

There wis Yards-o’-Hokey-Pokey
Wi’ a bandage roon his heid
An Ru’glen Wullie couldna come
Because ‘at he wis deid
There wis ma bonnie, black-eyed Susan
An’ her married sister Jean
An’ funny Peter Mary
Fae the Shiprow o’ Aiberdeen

There wis a party frae the East
An’ a party frae Montrose
An’ a great big Hielan’ piper
Wi’ some heather on ‘is nose
There wis Lachie Auchtermuchty
An’ Lachie frae Mulgair
An’ a thoosan’ mair o’ noblemen
Includin’ Burke an’ Hare

For the way I hooch’t an’ danc’t that nicht
Wis jist aboot ma death
For I think I’d better stop it, friends
I’m nearly oot o’ breath
They were a’ Scotsmen, Scotsmen every one
There wis Chinamen fae Aiberdeen
Aye but loads o’ them by John o’ Groats
O, O, it’s believe me if ye can
There wis Jock McPhee
Wi’ the North Pole in ‘is han’
Scotsmen every one

This song, the bothy equivalent of a Roman orgy and Chelsea Arts Ball in one, was always a high spot of Jimmy MacBeath‘s performance, with the singer acting every one of this fantastic array of characters with their bandy wooden legs, heathersprouting noses and drum-sized corporations. Jimmy learned the song from Davie Stewart, with whom he travelled at one time, but the finale and the choreography are entirely his own.

ava = at all
Mulgey = Milngavie in Glasgow
creishy = greasy
tyler = tailor
bowsy = crooked
greetin’ = crying, sour-faced