April 30th, 2007

The Librarian

Round and round and round ...

The joy of interconnected entertainment ... one piece brings not only its own pleasure, but is doubled by the existence of its "twin". Tonight it's the newly-arrived The Best of the Tannahill Weavers, 1979-1989, a CD replacement for a cassette that long ago went the way of all played-a-lot tapes ... distorted and discordant and stretched-sounding. Was happily rehearing, after so long, these older, half-forgotten Tannie recordings, when suddenly my ears were hit by the thundercrash opening of "Johnnie Cope", the giggles start, the book must be fetched, and the story re-read. The story being George Macdonald Fraser's "Johnnie Cope in the Morning" (a short story which can be found in his anthology "McAuslan in the Rough). M'dears, if you haven't read it yet, then you must ... only Fraser (better known to some of you as author of "The Pyrates" and creator of Captain Sheba) could make military reveille so side-splittingly funny.

I'd owned the book for several years before actually getting to hear the tune ... on the above-mentioned elderly cassette. And hearing the lyrics for the first time just made the story funnier, which made the song funnier, and on and on in a vicious circle. I shan't give Macdonald's plot away (I TOLD you you have to read it), but the song's an old traditional ... from the CD liner notes: "Once upon a time there was the 1745 Rebellion (or Uprising, depending on your politics), whereupon the Highland Scots, led by a Frenchman, Bonnie Prince Charlie, fought against the English, led by a German, George of the House of Hanover. This song tells of one of the Scots' early successes, the Battle of Prestonpans, near Edinburgh. The English General, Johnnie Cope, seems to have been so afraid of the sound of the Scottish bagpipes that he disappeared faster than a five pound note in an off-license, also unfortunately getting back to England considerably faster than his troops. Being asked why he ran so fast, he replied that unfortunately he couldn't fly."

Yeah, I know I'm babbling, but all that silliness makes for a giddy brain. C'mon, somebody else has gotta expose themselves to this glorious pair so I won't be giggling alone. :p
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    The Best of the Tannahill Weavers, 1979-1989
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