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Origins: Barring of the Door

DigiTrad:
BARRING OF THE DOOR
GET UP AND BAR THE DOOR
GET UP AND BAR THE DOOR (4)
JOHNNY BLUNT


Related threads:
Chord Req: Barring of the Door (9)
ADD: Jowan Blunt / Mr. John Blunt (Bar the Door) (2)


Joe Offer 29 Dec 97 - 02:43 AM
Alan of Australia 29 Dec 97 - 05:42 AM
Alan of Australia 29 Dec 97 - 06:26 AM
Joe Offer 29 Dec 97 - 01:54 PM
Susan of DT 29 Dec 97 - 04:30 PM
Catfeet 01 Jan 98 - 05:33 PM
Joe Offer 09 Aug 14 - 11:01 PM
Jim Carroll 10 Aug 14 - 02:55 AM
michaelr 10 Aug 14 - 03:29 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Aug 14 - 04:02 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 10 Aug 14 - 05:44 AM
GUEST,# 10 Aug 14 - 12:02 PM
GUEST,threelegsoman 10 Aug 14 - 07:57 PM
Joe Offer 11 Aug 14 - 02:19 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Aug 14 - 08:38 AM
Roger the Skiffler 11 Aug 14 - 08:57 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Aug 14 - 08:57 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 11 Aug 14 - 09:16 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 11 Aug 14 - 09:18 AM
Tradsinger 11 Aug 14 - 05:26 PM
Ringer 12 Aug 14 - 10:07 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 12 Aug 14 - 10:58 AM
Reinhard 12 Aug 14 - 12:59 PM
Ringer 13 Aug 14 - 05:53 AM
Ringer 13 Aug 14 - 06:05 AM
Rumncoke 13 Aug 14 - 08:54 AM
GUEST,Reinhard 13 Aug 14 - 09:19 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Aug 14 - 09:24 AM
Ringer 13 Aug 14 - 12:06 PM
Reinhard 13 Aug 14 - 01:04 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Aug 14 - 01:24 PM
Mehitabel 13 Aug 14 - 08:12 PM
Joe_F 13 Aug 14 - 10:03 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Aug 14 - 03:32 AM
GUEST 14 Aug 14 - 06:31 PM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 14 Aug 14 - 07:50 PM
Joe Offer 15 Aug 14 - 03:10 AM
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Subject: Lyrics Correction: Barring of the Door
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Dec 97 - 02:43 AM

In another thread, somebody talked about "Our Goodman," also known as "Five Nights Drunk." When I searched under "Goodman," I came up with this song, Barring of the Door. I had heard the story before, but didn't know it was a song, and a Child Ballad at that. It's about the man who ordered his wife to get up and bar the door, and both refused to do it and agreed that the first one to speak would have to do it.
The MIDI tune we have in the online database doesn't work with the lyrics given. However, when you play the SongWright tune on the PC version of the database, the lyrics to a chorus come up on the screen:
An' the barrin' o' oor door, weel, weel, weel.
An' the barrin' o' oor door, weel.

Is there anybody familiar with this song who can check the tune for me? It seems to ALMOST work, but not quite. Anybody got updated lyrics or a better chorus?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyrics Correction: Barring of the Door
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 29 Dec 97 - 05:42 AM

Joe,
If you know anyone with a copy of Martin Carthy's "Shearwater" album you can hear a very different version called "John Blunt".

In the meantime I'll compare the MIDI file from the DT with the tune in Bronson which has the same words including the above chorus.

Cheers,
Alan


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Subject: Tune Add: THE BARRIN' O' THE DOOR
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 29 Dec 97 - 06:26 AM

Joe,
Here's the tune from Bronson. It's basically the same as the DT tune but this one seems more "correct".

To help scan the chorus, weel, weel, weel takes up the first 3 (of 4) beats in antepenultimate bar.

MIDI file: CHILD275.MID

Timebase: 480

Name: The Barrin' o' the Door
TimeSig: 4/4 24 8
Key: G
Tempo: 100 (600000 microsec/crotchet)
Start
1440 1 62 127 0478 0 62 127 0002 1 67 127 0358 0 67 127 0002 1 67 127 0118 0 67 127 0002 1 67 127 0358 0 67 127 0002 1 67 127 0118 0 67 127 0002 1 67 127 0238 0 67 127 0002 1 67 127 0118 0 67 127 0002 1 67 127 0118 0 67 127 0002 1 67 127 0238 0 67 127 0002 1 67 127 0118 0 67 127 0002 1 67 127 0118 0 67 127 0002 1 67 127 0358 0 67 127 0002 1 67 127 0118 0 67 127 0002 1 74 127 0358 0 74 127 0002 1 74 127 0118 0 74 127 0002 1 71 127 0358 0 71 127 0002 1 69 127 0118 0 69 127 0002 1 67 127 0358 0 67 127 0002 1 67 127 0118 0 67 127 0017 1 72 127 0345 1 72 127 0013 0 72 127 0105 0 72 127 0002 1 72 127 0349 1 72 127 0009 0 72 127 0109 0 72 127 0013 1 71 127 0118 0 71 127 0002 1 71 127 0118 0 71 127 0002 1 71 127 0238 0 71 127 0002 1 71 127 0238 0 71 127 0002 1 71 127 0118 0 71 127 0002 1 71 127 0118 0 71 127 0002 1 69 127 0358 0 69 127 0002 1 71 127 0118 0 71 127 0002 1 69 127 0358 0 69 127 0002 1 67 127 0118 0 67 127 0002 1 66 127 0358 0 66 127 0002 1 64 127 0118 0 64 127 0002 1 62 127 0238 0 62 127 0002 1 62 127 0238 0 62 127 0002 1 67 127 0478 0 67 127 0002 1 62 127 0358 0 62 127 0002 1 62 127 0118 0 62 127 0002 1 59 127 0478 0 59 127 0002 1 62 127 0478 0 62 127 0002 1 72 127 0358 0 72 127 0002 1 71 127 0118 0 71 127 0002 1 69 127 0358 0 69 127 0002 1 67 127 0118 0 67 127 0002 1 74 127 0358 0 74 127 0002 1 72 127 0118 0 72 127 0002 1 71 127 0238 0 71 127 0002 1 69 127 0238 0 69 127 0002 1 67 127 0478 0 67 127 0002 1 62 127 0358 0 62 127 0002 1 62 127 0118 0 62 127 0002 1 59 127 0478 0 59 127 0002 1 62 127 0478 0 62 127 0002 1 67 127 1438 0 67 127
End

To download the November 10 MIDItext 97 software and get instructions on how to use it click here

ABC format:

X:1
T:The Barrin' o' the Door
M:4/4
Q:1/4=100
K:G
D2|G3/2G/2G3/2G/2GG/2G/2GG/2G/2|G3/2G/2d3/2d/2B3/2A/2G3/2G/2|
c/2c3/2c/2c3/2B/2B/2BBB/2B/2|A3/2B/2A3/2G/2F3/2E/2DD|
G2D3/2D/2B,2D2|c3/2B/2A3/2G/2d3/2c/2BA|G2D3/2D/2B,2D2|
G6||

Cheers,
Alan


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Subject: RE: Lyrics Correction: Barring of the Door
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Dec 97 - 01:54 PM

Thanks, Alan. It works fine. I'm hoping people will make a New Year's resolution to post tunes here. It adds so much more to our discussion if we can actually hear what the songs sound like. With apologies to the almond growers, I'd suggest a slogan for 1998: "A tune a week, that's all we ask." I suppose you don't get Sacramento almonds or almond commercials in Australia, though - but you Australians do your share of tune posting already.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyrics Correction: Barring of the Door
From: Susan of DT
Date: 29 Dec 97 - 04:30 PM

Once you got to one version of Barring of the Door, you can see its Child number is #275. a search for #275 gets you three versions of the song, only one of which has a tune attached. It sounds like the tune included a chorus part, as Redpath sings it, but we did not include the chorus, given by Joe, above, with the words. sorry. mea culpa.


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Subject: RE: Lyrics Correction: Barring of the Door
From: Catfeet
Date: 01 Jan 98 - 05:33 PM

There's a pretty good version of the tune on the Silly Sisters album No More to The Dance, along with a whole slue of other great obscure tunes. You'd have to get it off the album by ear, but I think it's worth it.

Catfeet


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Subject: RE: Lyrics Correction: Barring of the Door
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Aug 14 - 11:01 PM

Can somebody lead me to a version of "Barring of the Door" or "John Blunt" that has a chorus? I'm looking for lyrics AND a recording.
-Joe-


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Subject: ADD Version: John Blunt
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Aug 14 - 02:55 AM

The English version from The Hammond collection, was included in Frank Purslow's Marrow Bones and was a standard item in both Sandra Kerr's and Frankie Armstrong's repertoires and could have been recorded by them - they both made an excellent job of it.

JOHN BLUNT

There was an old couple lived under a hill,
And Blunt was their name-O.
They had good beer and ale for to sell,
And it bore a wonderful name-O.

John Blunt and his wife drank free of this ale,
Till they could drink no more-O,
Then its off to bed this old couple went,
And forgot to bar the door-O.

Then they a bargain - bargain made,
They made it strong and sure-O,
The which of them should speak the first word
Should go down and bar the door-O.

Then there came travellers - travellers three,
Travelling in the night-O;
No house, nor home, nor fire had they,
Nor yet no candle light-O.

Then straight to John Blunt's house they went,
And gently opened the door-O;
The devil a word the old couple spoke
For fear which should bar the door-O.

They went to his cellar and drank up his drink
Till they could drink no more-O.
They went to his cupboard and ate up his meat
Till they could eat no more-O.

Then quickly they procured a light
And gently walked upstairs-O.
They pulled the old woman out of her bed
And put her on the floor-O.

Up speaks John Blunt –
You've ate of my meat,
And laid my wife on the floor-O .
You've spoke the first word, John Blunt - she said
Go down and bar the door-O.

Barrin' O' the Door was an old MacColl favourite from the early days; it can be found on the Lloyd MacColl Riverside series 'English and Scottish Popular Ballads, also on MacColl and Seeger's Folkways album 'Two-Way Trip'
This is the text with Ken Goldstein's notes from the Riverside series



GET UP AND BAR THE DOOR (275)
This This amusing domestic comedy has numerous analogues in the tales and literature of Europe and Asia 5EE Child's headnote).
The generally ribald nature of the ballad has encouraged the creation of additional bawdy stanzas, and versions embellished are in vogue as a college students' song. The origin of this new oral tradition, however, is based on printed texts to which the bawdy stanzas have been added.
The ballad has been collected from tradition several times since Child, most of these texts being reported in America.
MacColl's version, learned from his father, follows Greig and Keith text very closely. See Child (275), Volume V, p. 96ff ;Coffin, pp. 145-146: Greig & Keith, pp. 216-218.

GET UP AND BAR THE DOOR (275)

It fell aboot i the Martinmas time,
And a fine time it was then, O.
That oor gudewife got puddens to mak
And she boiled them in a pan, O.
An' the barrin' o' oor door, weel, weel, weel,
An' the barrin' o' oor door weel.

The wind it blew fae East to West,
An it blew upon the floor, O,
Says oor gudeman to oor gudewife,
"Get up bar the door, O."

"My hand is in my hissy-skip,
Guidman as ye may see, O;
Though it shouldna be barred this seven year.
It'll no' be barred by me, O."

They made a paction 'tween themselves
And fixed itfirm and sure, O,
That the yin wha spoke the foremost word,
Should rise and bar the door O.

Twa gentlemen had lost their road,
At Twal' o'clock o' the nicht, O,
And they couldna find neither hoose nor ha'
No coal nor candle-licht, O.

"Now whether is this a rich man's hoose,
Or whether is it a poor.O?"
But ne'er a word would yin o' them speak,
For the the barrin o' the door, O.

Well first they ate the white puddens
And syne they ate the black.O,
And ond gudeman said to himsel',
The De'il gang doon wi' that.O."

The young man to the auld man said,
"Here, man, tak ye my knife, O,
And gang and shave the gudeman's beard
And I'll kiss the gudewife, O"

"There is nae water in the hoose.
And what'll we da then.O?"
"Whit ails ye at the PUDDEN- BREE
That boils INTAE the pan. O?"

Then oot it spak the auld gudeman,
And an angry man was he, O:
"Would ye kiss my wife afore my een,?
Scaud me wi' pudden bree.O ?

Then up it raise the auld gudewife,
Gae three skips on the floor.O:
"Gudeman, ye spak the foremost word
Get up and bar the door.O."

We recorded it in tale form from Kerry Traveller Mikeen McCarthy in London in the 1970s and included it on our Traveller album, 'From Puck to Appleby

12 - Go for the Water (Story - Aarne-Thompson 1351:The Silence Wager)   Mikeen McCarthy
There was a brother and sister one time, they were back in the West of Kerry altogether, oh, and a very remote place altogether now. So the water was that far away from them that they used always be grumbling and grousing, the two of them, now, which of them'd go for the water. So they'd always come to the decision anyway, that they'd have their little couple of verses and who'd ever stop first, they'd have to go for the water. So, they'd sit at both sides of the fire, anyway, and there was two little hobs that time, there used be no chairs, only two hobs, and one'd be sitting at one side and the other at the other side and maybe Jack'd have a wee dúidín (doodeen), d'you know, that's what they used call a little clay pipe (te). And Jack'd say:

(Sung)
Oren hum dum di deedle o de doo rum day,
Racks fol de voedleen the vo vo vee.

So now it would go over to Mary:
Oren him iren ooren hun the roo ry ray,
Racks fol de voedleen the vo vo vee.

So back to Jack again:
Oren him iren ooren hum the roo ry ray,
Rack fol de voedleen the vo vo vee.

So, they'd keep on like that maybe, from the start, from morning, maybe until night, and who'd ever stop he'd have to go for the water.

So, there was an old man from Tralee, anyway, and he was driving a horse and sidecar, 'twas… they'd be calling it a taxi now. He'd come on with his horse and sidecar, maybe from a railway station or someplace and they'd hire him to drive him back to the west of Dingle. So, bejay, he lost his way, anyway. So 'twas the only house now for another four or five miles. So in he goes anyway, to enquire what road he'd to take, anyway, and when he landed inside the door, he said: "How do I get to Ballyferriter from here?" And Mary said:

(Sung verse)

So over he went, he said, "What's wrong with that one, she must be mad or something", and over to the old man. He said, "How do I get to Ballyferriter from here?"

(Sung verse)

So he just finished a verse and he go back over to Mary and he was getting the same results off of Mary; back to Jack. So the old man, he couldn't take a chance to go off without getting the information where the place was, so he catches a hold of Mary and started tearing Mary round the place. "Show me the road to Ballyferriter", he go, and he shaking and pushing her and pull her and everything:

(Sung verse)

And he kept pulling her and pulling her and tearing her anyway, round the place, and he kept pucking her and everything.

"Oh, Jack," says she, "will you save me?"

"Oh, I will, Mary," he said, "but you'll have to go for the water now."

Mikeen's story, set in his own native Kerry, is widely travelled, both as a tale and as a ballad. A version from India, entitled The Farmer, his Wife and the Open Door is described as claiming 'the highest possible antiquity'. It is also included, as part of a longer story, in Straparola's Most Delectable Nights (Venice 1553).
In Britain it is popular in ballad form, best known in Scotland as Get Up and Bar the Door and in England as John Blunt.
Mikeen has a large repertoire of stories, at least half a dozen of them having Jack and Mary as hero and heroine.
Ref: Folk Tales of All Nations, F H Lee, George G Harrap & Co, 1931.


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Subject: RE: Lyrics Correction: Barring of the Door
From: michaelr
Date: 10 Aug 14 - 03:29 AM

Jim, thanks so much for that! I've long been intrigued with the song, only having heard the Silly Sisters version.


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Subject: RE: Lyrics Correction: Barring of the Door
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Aug 14 - 04:02 AM

You're welcome Michael - great song and great story
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyrics Correction: Barring of the Door
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 10 Aug 14 - 05:44 AM

Joe, Ewan sings the version you're looking for on Topic        TSCD 576D: Ballads: Murder-Intrigue-Love-Discord.


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Subject: RE: Lyrics Correction: Barring of the Door
From: GUEST,#
Date: 10 Aug 14 - 12:02 PM

https://bop.fm/s/ewan-maccoll-and-peggy-seeger/the-barring-of-the-door-child-no.-275

Is that what you're looking for, Joe?


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Subject: RE: Lyrics Correction: Barring of the Door
From: GUEST,threelegsoman
Date: 10 Aug 14 - 07:57 PM

I first heard this story when we read it in an English session at college. I first heard it as a song from the Ian Campbell Folk Group and uploaded my own version including lyrics and chords based on theirs:

The Barring O' The Door


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Aug 14 - 02:19 AM

Thanks a lot to all. I knew there must be some good versions with a chorus. I had seen lyrics for the "weel, weel, weel" version, but couldn't imagine how it would be sung.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Aug 14 - 08:38 AM

"weel, weel, weel" version,
It's on Fred's link Joe
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 11 Aug 14 - 08:57 AM

I remember it from the Ian Campbell group of the 1960s as well.

RtS


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Aug 14 - 08:57 AM

Thre are a number of American sets of this - haven't checked Bronson, But Coffin mentions several including Vermont and Missouri
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 11 Aug 14 - 09:16 AM

Just to clarify the situation. https://bop.fm/s/ewan-maccoll-and-peggy-seeger/the-barring-of-the-door-child-no.-275 doesn't lead to a recording from Topic TSCD 576D: Ballads: Murder-Intrigue-Love-Discord.

Where that came from I've no idea, but in my opinion the one on Topic represents a vastly superior performance.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 11 Aug 14 - 09:18 AM

An interesting article.


www.nytimes.com/2003/08/03/magazine/the-way-we-live-now-8-3-03-on-language-katie-bar-the-door.html


Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: Tradsinger
Date: 11 Aug 14 - 05:26 PM

In my collecting, I have recorded it twice, both from singers who learnt it in Oxfordshire. The tune was more or less "Jack and Jill went up the Hill"

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: Ringer
Date: 12 Aug 14 - 10:07 AM

Fifteen years ago or so (I'm afraid I'm at the age when saying that means anything between 10 and 25 years ago) there used to be (sometimes) a 30-minute folk programme on BBC Radio-2 before (or was it after? Age again!) Mike Harding's Folk on Two.

At one stage Maddy Prior had the floor for a few weeks, and sang "Barring of the Door" amongst other things.

In introducing it she explained that the gentleman visitors were Reivers, who gave the English language the words bereave and blackmail. I haven't thought of it till now (memory's a funny thing: I can't remember the name of my nephew's girlfriend whom I met last Saturday, but this snippet of Maddy Prior's from 15 years ago seems indelible) and have just googled it. Found this site, which confirms what she said. I can understand bereave, but how does "Reiver" give "blackmail?"


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 12 Aug 14 - 10:58 AM

I can't open the link, but that sounds like the finest collection of old cobblers evermore. There is nothing in any text I can recall to suggest that they were anything but a pair of travellers who had got lost. What on earth would they be doing out stealing cattle at twelve o'clock o' the night O?

Regarding bereave, here's what the On-line Etymology Dictionary has to say.

"Old English bereafian "to deprive of, take away, seize, rob," from be + reafian "rob, plunder," from Proto-Germanic *raubojanan, from PIE *reup- "to snatch" (see rapid). A common Germanic formation (compare Old Frisian birava "despoil," Old Saxon biroban, Dutch berooven, Old High German biroubon, German berauben, Gothic biraubon). Since mid-17c., mostly in reference to life, hope, loved ones, and other immaterial possessions. Past tense forms bereaved and bereft have co-existed since 14c., now slightly differentiated in meaning, the former applied to loss of loved ones, the latter to circumstances."

IOW., if this source is correct, reiver is not the origin of bereave. Rather, the two appear to have sprung from a common Germanic root.

Interestingly enough the On-line Etymology Dictionary claims that the word blackmail stems not from the practice of reiving (which means stealing cattle), but from Scots freebooters who ran protection rackets against farmers. The word apparently comes from mal or male, meaning rent or tribute. Hence, blackmail would be unlawful tribute.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: Reinhard
Date: 12 Aug 14 - 12:59 PM

Ringer forgot the "http://" before the web adress of The Reiver Trail; therefore a browser would interpret his link as local to Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: Ringer
Date: 13 Aug 14 - 05:53 AM

Thanks, both Fred and Reinhard.

I'm happy to accept the correction that both bereave & Reiver originate from a common root rather than that the former "comes from" the latter. I'm not pedant enough to call Maddy Prior wrong on that ground.

But I'm still puzzled as to why both Maddy Prior and The Reiver Trail relate blackmail and Reiver etymologically. Presumably from a common source (bit like the surmised Q document of Jesus' sayings that both Matthew & Luke are supposed to have had access to). Interesting.

As to the identity of the two visitors in the song -- Reivers or not, I couldn't really care less.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: Ringer
Date: 13 Aug 14 - 06:05 AM

Maybe it is I who have been chasing a wild goose. This BBC site (I've put the http:// in this time, Reinhard) says, "The Reivers, whilst having been some of the bloodiest characters in British history, have left a legacy of words in the English language. Terms in use today that stem directly from the reivers are Blackmail, Bereaved, Kidnap."

Perhaps it's just that the first usage of the word "blackmail" was to describe one of the Reivers' nefarious activities.

Sorry.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: Rumncoke
Date: 13 Aug 14 - 08:54 AM

my hand is in my hissy skip - wonderful - but it is more likely
my head (or hair) is in my hussif's cap (hussif - housewife).

No woman would go to the door wearing either apron or with her hair tucked up in cap or scarf if she had aspirations to being thought a lady of leisure.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: GUEST,Reinhard
Date: 13 Aug 14 - 09:19 AM

The Fyre & Sworde notes say on the Border Reivers: "Their legacy in the Borders lies in the ballads, words in the English language such as 'bereave' and 'blackmail' (greenmail was the proper rent you paid, blackmail was 'protection money'), and the fortified dwellings called pele towers and lesser buildings called bastles."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Aug 14 - 09:24 AM

"my hand is in my hissy skip"
Hissy-skip = sewing basket

Blackmail
Blackmail was originally a form of protection racket. Scottish chiefs in the 16th century exacted a tribute from farmers and small landowners in the border counties of England and Scotland, and along the Highland border. The money was in return for protection or immunity from plunder. The second part of the word means 'tribute, rent' and comes from an old Scandinavian word mal, meaning 'speech, agreement'. Black may have been a joke on white money, the silver coins in which legitimate rents were paid.
The Insect that Stole the World (Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: Ringer
Date: 13 Aug 14 - 12:06 PM

What on earth is "The Insect that Stole the World," Jim?

I've always understood "My hands are in my hussif's cap," (housewife's cap) this being slang for "my hands are covered in dough 'cos I'm kneading bread"


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: Reinhard
Date: 13 Aug 14 - 01:04 PM

It's the title of the book from which Jim cited the definition of blackmail. (But when I look for it on the 'net, I only find it as "The Insect That Stole Butter: Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins")


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Aug 14 - 01:24 PM

"What on earth is "The Insect that Stole the World," Jim?"
Sorry - that should read, "Insect that Stole Butter" - never got the hang of multi-tasking.
Wonderful and extremely un-putdownable dictionary of word origins.
According to Chambers Scots Dictionary, a hissie is a needle-case - a case for needles and thread.
It's also a housewife
Goldstein gives sewing basket - the same thing.
If anybody wants a half decent, highly readable non fiction accounts of Reiving, try George McDonald Frazer's (he of the 'Sharpe' series) 'The Steel Bonnets'.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: Mehitabel
Date: 13 Aug 14 - 08:12 PM

Putting on my librarian hat here, just in case anyone is searching for their books, George MacDonald Fraser wrote the Flashman series. Great fun it was too. Sharpe, of course, sprang from the pen of Bernard Cornwell.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: Joe_F
Date: 13 Aug 14 - 10:03 PM

Ringer: Most versions seem to have "My hands are in my hussifskap" or the like. I believe that amounts to "housewifeship". That is, she is saying "I've got better things to do".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Aug 14 - 03:32 AM

"Great fun it was too. Sharpe, of course, sprang from the pen of Bernard Cornwell"
Thanks for that Mehiteabel - never got round to reading Sharpe, though I have been tempted.
"My hands are in my hussifskap"
Child notes in his glossary:
"HUSSYFSKAP, (HUSSEYSKAP) - Housewifery (she was making puddings). But perhaps specifically hussyskep, a sort of basket or bin of straw, formerly used, especially in ruder districts, for holding corn or meal.
In like manner, "a plaited hive of straw" is called a bee skep". G.F.Graham's Songs of Scotland".
All the definitions seem applicable to the song, the basket appearing to be the linking factor.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Aug 14 - 06:31 PM

Tony Rose sang it as John Blunt:

There was an old couple lived under a hill,
And Blunt it was their name o.
And they had a good beer and ale for to sell
And it bore a wonderful name o.

John Blunt and his wife drank free of this ale
Till they could drink no more o;
Then up to bed the old couple went
But forgot to bar the door o.

So they a bargain, bargain made,
They made it strong and sure o:
That which of them should speak the first word
Should go down and bar the door o.

And there came travellers, travellers three,
Travelling through the night o.
And no house, no home, no fire had they,
Nor yet no candlelight o.

They came straightway to John Blunt's house
And quickly opened the door o,
And the devil of a word the old couple said
For fear who should bar the door o.

They went to his cellar and drank up his drink
Till they could drink no more o;
And they went to his cupboard and ate up his meat
Till they could eat no more o.

It's first they'd eaten the white puddings
And then they'd eaten the black o.
The old woman she listened and said to herself,
"May the devil slip down with that o."

Then quickly they procured a light
And quickly went upstairs o,
And then they threw the old woman out of her bed
And they laid her on the floor.

Up spoke John Blunt, "You've eaten my meat,
And laid my wife on the floor o."
"You spoke the first word John Blunt, she said,
Go down and bar the door o."

"Laid" means what it says.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 14 Aug 14 - 07:50 PM

I've sung this song since the mid-1960s (with the Weel Weel chorus) and always loved it for the triumph of the wife's will -- but with hindsight, I despair for the relationship!

My take on the story was that the knock at the door was ignored by the wife because she was busy with housewifely stuff/hussifskip, and that the intruders were travellers of a very forward nature. (Extraneous detail such as being Border Reivers never occurred to me.)

Anyway, I've enjoyed singing it for over 50 years and there is a recording of it on the Kist o Riches website -- just enter my name and you'll find it in a tape from 1993 in a Muckle Sangs concert at the Edinburgh Folk Festival.

Apologies for my inadequacy in posting clicky links -- perhaps a Joe Clone might oblige?


Search the site for "Anne Neilson" and click through to the bottom of page two. --mudelf


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barring of the Door
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Aug 14 - 03:10 AM

Thanks, Anne - I enjoyed the song.

-Joe Offer-


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