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Guise of Tough

from Away From My Window by Iona Fyfe

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This is a song which I would often hear at singarounds, sessions and bothy ballad competitions. Growing up, I’d attend many Traditional Music and Song Association and Buchan Heritage Society events, in which I met many singers such as Joe Aitken, Geordie Murison, Jim Taylor and Scott Gardiner, all of whom would often o er the audience a great rendition of this bothy ballad (and an even greater swalley of fusky!)

The song is about a man who is hired by “Jimmy Broon”, after an initial feed of bread and cheese, he soon finds that he is disappointed in the quality of his horses, and the plough doesn’t work either! I met the legendary Jock Duncan in 2012 at Turriff Bothy Ballad Competition where he was adjudicating the senior bothy ballad competition, and the terrifed 14-year-old me.

Found in John Ord’s Bothy Songs and Ballads and in the Grieg-Duncan Folk Song Collection (3:378) Roud 3800


I gid up tae Alford for tae get a fee,
I fell in wi Jimmy Broon, wi him I did agree

Come a hi come a doo, hi come a day, Hi come a diddle come a dandy o

I fell in wi Jimmy Broon in the year o ninety-one,
Tae gang hame an caw his second pair an be his orraman

Fin I gid hame tae Guise o Tough ‚twas on an evening clear, And in aboot the orra hoose the ga er did appear

I‘m the maister o the place, an that‘s the mistress there, Ye‘ll get plenty cheese an plenty breid an plenty mair tae spare

Well I sat an ate the cheese an breid till they did roon me stare,
An then I thocht that it wis time tae gang an see my pair

Fin I gid tae the stable my pairie for tae view,
Oh fegs, they were a dandy pair a chestnut and a blue

On the followin mornin I gid tae the ploo,
But lang, lang ower lowsin time my pairie gart me rue

The ploo she wisna workin weel she widna throw the fur, The ga er says a better yin at the smiddy tae gang for

Fin I got hame the new ploo she pleased me unco weel, I thought she wid be better gin she had a cuttin wheel

I wrocht awa a month or twa wi unco little clatter,
Till I played up some nasty tricks and broke a tattie chapper

The gaffer he got word o this and orders did lay doon, If I did the like again he‘d pit me frae the toun

We hae a gallant baillie, aye Wallace is his name, He can fair redd up the kye fin he taks doon a kame

We hae a little baillie, aye Jamieson‘s his name,
He‘s gane ower tae Alford far he‘s raised an awfa fame.

He‘s gane doun tae Charlie Watt‘s for tae hae a dram, Lang, lang e‘er I gaed doon the laddie couldna stan

We hae a gallant kitchie lass, aye Simpson is her name, For tae tell her pedigree I really wid think shame

She dresses up on Sunday wi her heid up a the level, Teeth are o the ivory that wid scare the very devil

Noo ma sang is ended, I won‘t sing any more, If ony be o ended ye can walk outside the door


from Away From My Window, released March 24, 2018


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Iona Fyfe Scotland, UK

Aberdeenshire folksinger, Iona Fyfe, has become one of Scotland’s finest young folk singers, rooted in the singing traditions of the North East of Scotland. The first ever singer to win the coveted title of Musician of the Year at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2021, Iona has been described as “one of the best Scotland has to offer.” (Global-Music.de)

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