A Round Reel of Poetry: Tea for Accompaniment

It’s elegance meets….well the slightly less elegant tonight, as you’re getting tea and a verse with a dose of tartan. Though next to the ceilidhs we learned on, Scottish Country is the elegant cousin, so it’s not too amiss. Mondays are our dancing evening, and we’re strongly tempted to land you with Mairi’s Wedding, because we’ve not done that one yet here, and it would fit the pattern of our day. You’re not getting it, because it drives us fairly batty, even sung.

Besides, we’re sipping Silver Dragon Pearls tonight, and really, there are limits. Sometimes this Advent Calendar comes through in high style, and a tea this delicate, floral -and yes, high-grade -really deserves dignified accompaniment. Alas, we never claimed to be dignified. And since we’re still thinking in reels and jigs, you’re getting a wee verse about Scottish Country Dancing, no names given. Trust us; it’s much funnier this way.


A New Dance

Part Batt

Guess who’s written a brand new dance,
With a brand new figure in it,
Not easy to learn – but worth a try,
As you’ll hear, if you give me a minute.

It is, of course, a “meanwhile” dance
And sounds, perhaps, complex,
But it’s quite straightforward as long as you know
Your number, your partner, and sex.

Threes and fours on the opposite side –
You’ll find it better that way.
You’ve curtsied and bowed, so now get set
And cross your fingers and pray!

An inverted rondel is how it begins
And then the new figure you’ll see
With simple instructions on sheets 1 and 2
And diagrams 1, 2 and 3.

Two highland settings, a knotted barette,
And end in the form of a square.
Crossing reels, look behind you, and with any luck
You’ll find that your partner is there.

Your partner is there, but ignore him or her,
The pattern now subtly alters –
You grab someone else and all promenade round
Backwards – but only three quarters.

The Mic-Mac Rotary bit comes next,
You loop and you loop again,
A quadruple figure of eight, and then
A five-and-a-half-bar chain.

A two-and-a-half-bar turn ends the dance,
An experience no one should miss.
Wherever, whenever, whatever you’ve danced
You’ve never met something like this!

I hope you enjoy it – I think that you will –
And I do hope you think it’s alright
To give yo this preview of what he might dream
When he’s having a very bad night!

(Previously published in Reel 204)


After all that, you’re getting Mairi’s Wedding after all. If nothing else, it will give you a flavour of what all those verses are on about. It was also the first Scottish Country Dance we ever had thrown at us, and if you can look at it and tell us even one way in which that makes sense, we’ll bow to your wisdom. Personally, we’re still boggled.

Myn Lyking

Winter in Scotland and it’s been driech, which in plain English means it’s been raining doggedly since Thursday, when Murphy’s Law being in good working order, the family arrived. We’ve been trying to defend the appeal of a seaside town with sideways wind and twilight at 3 ever since. For our part, we’re combatting the weather this evening by drinking a late pot of Kashmiri Chai. It’s lighter than most chai, with a base in green tea; we discovered this pouring out, when the colour initially suggested the tea was understeeped. In fact it’s meant to be a golden colour. It’s further embellished by cinnamon, nutmeg and marigold flowers. And being chai, it is the ideal antidote to winter, whatever the weather.

We haven’t had much time spare for poetry hunting of late, what with trying to acclimatise three Canadians to Scotland. But last Sunday we were gifted a new carol by the conductor of our choir who told us to open Carols for Choirs to ‘Myn Lyking’ as if everyone knew of it. They should, so here this evening is both the Middle English text for you, and the carol to accompany it.

Myn Lyking 

15th Century (set by R. Terry)

I saw a fair mayden sytten and sing
She lulled a little childe, a sweete Lording.

Lullay mye lyking, my dere sonne, my sweeting.
Lully mydere herte, myn own dere derling.

That same Lord is he that made alle thing,
Of alle lord is his is lord, of alle kynges King.

There was mickle melody at that chylde’s birth
All that were in heav’nly bliss, they made mickle myrth.

Angels bright sang their song to that chyld;
Blyssid be thou, and so be she, so meek and so mild.