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Sleepytoon
by Jock Duncan

Click here to listen to the song

This bothy ballad is said to have been composed by Willie Clark, 'poet Clark' a farm servant on the farm of Sleepytoon near Kennethmont south of Huntly, probably around 1870. Through his Buchan Observer articles Gavin Greig managed to get a number of versions of the song, some with many more verses that others, and no doubt various singers added verses (GD 356).

It happened at last Witsunday,
I tired o ma place,
And I gaed up tae Inch tae fee,
Ma fortune for tae chase.
An sing airy arity adie O,
Sing airy arity ann.

I met in wi Adam Mitchell,
Tae fee we did presume,
He's a fairmer in Kennethmont,
An he bides at Sleepytoon.

"If you and I agree," he said,
"Ye'll hae the fairest play,
For I niver bid my servants work,
Above ten hours a day."

"If aa be true ye tell tae me,
I think the place will suit,
Guid fegs! I think I'll gang wi ye,
But ye're an ugly brute."

'Twas on a Monday mornin
I gaed hame tae Sleepytoon,
An he ranked us in gweed order,
For tae lay his turnips doun.

I wis sent tae caw the dung, [i.e. neighbour
Likewise ma neiper Knowles,
But then the rain it did come on,
And the orders cam tae lowse. [i.e. to stop work

The rain it did ding on the worse, [rained in torrents
The sun was at the mill,
"For meal," Adam Mitchell said,
"Oor bellies for tae fill."

The rain it soon went over,
And the day began tae break,
And oor neist orders wis tae scrape
Oor denners fae the secks. [i.e. scrape the sacks for dinner

"We'll ne'er refuse what you command,
What e'er ye bid us do,
But tae eat the scrapins o the secks
Is a thing we'll never do."

"Oh ye daur refuse your order,
Oh the scoundrels that ye are,
But ye bargained for ten hours a day,
Refuse them if ye daur. [i.e. if you dare

The orders wis tae bed at nine,
And never leave the toun,
And for every time we left it
We wis fined half-a-croun.

Knowles wis fined mony's a time,
But never lost the hert,
And I masel wis fined a pound
For turnin up a cairt.

But we niver heeded Adam,
And aye we took the pass,
Sometimes tae buy tobacca,
Sometimes tae see a lass.

But noo Mairtinmas term is come at last,
Oor fee is safely won,
And we'll awa tae Rhynie Fair,
And there we'll hae some fun.

Fan we are ower in Alford, boys,
We'll gar the glass ging roun,
An we'll tell them aa the usage
That we had at Sleepytoon.

I still see Auld Adam yet,
Suppin his dish o brose,
I think I'll send him a hankie
Just tae dicht his snuffy nose.
An sing airy arity adie O,
Sing airy arity ann.

You can purchase a CD with this song at Springthyme Records

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