The Wee Toun Clerk
Gordeanna McCulloch: On Autumn Harvest ah006
Old Songs & Bothy Ballads: Nick-knack on the Waa
Live from the Fife Traditional Singing Festival May 2007.

This old ballad is still to be found in the repertoire of Scottish traditional singers and was a favourite in the bothies. Gordeanna has had the song since her early days with The Clutha. The first printed version did not appear until early in the nineteenth century although the theme has been part of European literature since the middle ages. It is included in Francis J Child's The English and Scottish Popular Ballads under the title The Keach in the Creel (Child 281).

1: As Maisry she gaed up the street,
The white fish for tae buy;
The wee toun clerk he heard of it,
An he's followed her on the fly.

Ellie ellie ridum, didum daddie,
Ellie ellie ridum dee;
O ellie ellie ridum, didum daddie
Fal the ral the diddle I dee.

2: Says he, "I'm bound for Glesga toun,
And it's hoping ye'll gyang wi me;
I'll meet ye the nicht by the licht o the moon,
An syne we'll mairrit be."

3: Says she, "Ma faither locks the door,
An ma mither keeps the key;
An gin there were e'er sae willin a lass,
I couldna win oot tae ye."

4: But says he, "I'll mak a ladder lang,
An a creel o basketry;
An wi a rope fae the chimley top,
I'll lower the creel tae ye."

5: Noo the auld wife couldna sleep that nicht,
Though late it was the oor;
"I'll lay ma life," quo the silly auld wife,
"There's a man in oor dochter's bower."

6: Sae the auld wife she gaed oot o the bed,
Tae speir for her ain sel;
But fit a lark when she trippit on the rope,
And intae the creel she fell.

7: Noo the wee toun clerk at the chimley top,
When he fund that the creel wis fu;
He's wrapped the rope his elbow roun,
And fast the tow he drew.

8: He's heist her up an he's drapped her doun,
An he's let the creel doun fa;
Till ilka rib in the auld wife's back,
Played nick-knack on the waa.

Final Chorus:
Played nick-knack, nick-knack on the waa,
An it served the job richt weel
May ilka silly speirin auldwife,
Be rockit in the same auld creel.

c p 2008 Autumn Harvest :