Continuing a look at children’s playtime rhymes, particular and local to Blantyre. A favourite of mine, (scribbled down a few decades ago by my gran) is this next one recalled from her childhood in the 1910’s. The meaning is lost and of courses she’s not here anymore to ask. I once thought this had something to do with Police, but actually now I’ve been researching Blantyre these years, I think it suggests the Blantyre “Inspector of the Poor”, calling upon a house and the family efforts made to avoid being called “poor” or avoid the stigma attached to such visits:
Three wee urchins, sittin oan the flair,
Here’s the Inspector, standin’ at the dair.
Sweep the hoose fast, wi’ broom n bristle
mak aw oor faces, clean as a whistle.
I’m not sure of the era for this next rhyme, but it certainly and fairly harshly describes the sudden end of Blantyre pit closures very well:
Wan, an’ two, an’ three, an’ four,
daddy’s whisky starts tae pour,
doon oan fortune, doon oan’ luck,
Nae mair coal, nae mair work.
Or this one from the 1920s about local publican, businessman and property owner, James Kelly who clever being a prominent figure in Blantyre was the target of this children’s ditty.
Tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys ur marchin’
here’s wee Kelly at the door.
So we’ll buy a penny gun, an’ we’ll shoot him up the lum.
then we’ll never see wee Kelly any more!
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017