Doll and Archer’s Waddeen

The following poem was posted by Morag Russell on ‘Orkney Reevlers,’
a Facebook forum for all interested in the Orcadian dialect,
and is reproduced here with her permission.

Morag says the poem was…..”Written by Minnie Russell for her sister Doll’s golden waddeen. There’s no many fokk left that wis there. I wis a babe in airms and Isobel o Testaquoy wid hiv been a young lass. Ian, the peedie boy that’s mentioned, wis Ian Flaws that ran The Shalder fae Tingwall tae Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre for many a year. The waddeen wis in November 1945 at Hawn in Wyre and the golden waddeen in Rousay, in 1995, at the Pier Restaurant, I think.”

Archer and Doll, photographed in the early 1940s before they were married.
[Courtesy of Orkney Library & Archive]


Hid’s fifty year ago the day that Doll and Archer wed!
Ah’m sure they think, as they look back, ‘My hoo the years hiv sped.
Hid seems like hid wis yesterday, wir waddeen day at Hawn,
When the music and the danceen both geed on until the dawn’.

The weemin baked for days afore, bannocks, scones and buns,
You couldna go tae Presto’s then and buy id aal at wance.
They meed the menfolk get tae wark and they sweepid oot the barn
And tidied up the yard and cleaned the flaggiestones o sharn.

Everybody ate their fill, the cog was gaun aroond.
Jock o’ Testaquoy began tae play, my whit a lovely soond!
He wis sittan in the the loft tae laeve more room for eightsome reels,
The three-step first and soon they were aal keekan ap their heels.

But oh disaster struck right in the middle o The Lancers.
Jock fell doon and banged his croon and pulverised the dancers!
They pickid him ap and brushed him doon and shoved him ap again,
The music stert, the dancers birled and aal wis right as rain.

But oh dear me, in a peedie while, disaster struck once more
And this time the bleem can be laid right at peedie Ian’s door.
Weel he wis cheust a peedie chap that should hiv been in bed.
Bit he wis fair enjoyan himsel, my whit a time he hid!

He gaed tae the steeble whaur some men wis lukkan at the mare.
‘That mare’s in foal’, he heard een say and, beuy, that meed him stare!
He ran roond tae the hoose at wance and rushed in through the door.
A lock o fokk wis sittan there, mibbee their feet wis sore.

‘The mare’s gaun tae foal’, he shouted, ‘you’ll better come queek, I doot,’
And right awey Bob o’ Trumland banged for his feet and oot.
He ran across the yard makkan straight for the steeble door
But the midden dyke wis in his road and he fell ower id wi a roar!

My whit a hummlan sight he wis when they got him oot o there.
They teuk him tae the kitchen and set him on a chair.
They scrubbed him doon as best they could withoot pittan him in a bath.
The weemin flyted on him but aal he could deu wis laugh!

Hid wis an eventful waddeen day and noo we’re githered here
Tae wish them both the very best for anither many a year
And we’re sure wir gaan tae hiv a really splendid night.
But Ah’ll warran there’s no steeble here and no a mare in sight!

Doll and Archer at their golden wedding celebration in 1995.
[Photo courtesy of Phyllis Muir]

Below are comments made by folk below the poem on Orkney Reevlers:-

Barbara Johnston: Winderful, Morag.

Billy Skea: That’s brilliant.

Isobel Dolak: Great, Morag. It reminds me of my folks celebrating their silver wedding in the barn at Langskaill. I wis just a peedie lass that should have been in bed. Some of my uncles and aunts from sooth had come up for it, and I had to sleep in an armchair!

Jake Spence: Live and learn! I never kent Doll and Minnie were sisters but if i mind right Marylyn used tae come tae Nisthouse sometimes like for the Harvest Home? Had many a visit tae Doll and Archer when we gaed tae see Willie o’ Oo, Duncan played wae peedie cars on the carpet as the squares made grand roads and i always mind Archer had a great show of vegetables.

Edna Margaret Sinclair: Just lovely Morag x

Inga Williamson: Whit an evocative poym, Morag, pents a vivid pictur o owld Orkney life wae that typical isles mirth thrown in. Gaes a right good sense o yer mam too – clearly a wife of gret intelligence and substance!!

Karin Flaws: What a lovely poem. I mind I used to love going across to visit Doll and Archer when I was peedie. Ian flaws was my granddad.

Jake Spence: Used to enjoy a blether wae Ian. I would hop on at Tingwall have a pint or two at the cafe then back and i mind wan night doing a couple of trips tae Gairsay wae sand lorries.

Ruth Gibson: Magic Morag, I’ll bet there are no many folk left noo that can mind barn weddings. I have a snap o Jim’s mam and dad and all the young eens fae their wedding wakan round the loch in Wester. They did this til all the owld folk ate, then they ate afore the dancing. They were wed in the barn at Furse in 1932. The only barn wedding I mind clearly wis Evelyn and Roderick Marwick’s, and I wis only peedie.

Morag Russell: Ruth I wid love tae see that photo. Me fither spokk aboot that waddeen many a time and said hid wis a grand affair. He telt aboot wakkan roond the the Wester loch wi the bride and groom and a fiddler playan – he did say whar the fiddler wis bit I canna mind on the neem. He wid hiv been a boy o 12 or 13 and he had spied the waddeen teebles wi this grand bright reed fruit on them, ca’ed tomatoes. He wis desperate tae get back for a taste as he’d nivver seen such a thing afore. He said he wis never so disappointed in his life and spat them oot. A’ his life long he nivver developed a taste for tomatoes!

Phyllis Muir: I’m sure my folks would have been chuffed that Minnie’s poem about their wedding is being shared this way. Their golden wedding was a big do in the Rousay school hall, they also managed to celebrate their diamond wedding and that was in the Pier Restaurant.

Morag Russell: I’m using this wi’ Isobel Irvine‘s permission. I did wonder hoo they decorated the barns tae makk them lukk festive. I mind mither sayan hoo fokk eused girnels, etc, as teebles and a the isle’s weemin contributed cloths and sheets tae cover them.

‘I doot “Isobel o’ Testaquoy” wis more than a young lass! I’m 88 noo! But that’s reminded me o something that happened when I wis a peedie lass! and it wis also at a wedding in a barn. Every hoose contributed curtains, bedspreads etc to cover the stone walls and me Mum had given them the loan of the bedspread off my bed. It had a frayed corner that I used to hold in me hand while I sucked my thumb! At some point I spotted it! I shouted “Me toosly corner!! and luckily it was low enough for me so sit with the toosly corner in me hand, thumb in mooth…Happy!’

Archer and Doll, with children Marlene, Jimmy and Phyllis,
and Marion Flaws, Wyre.
[Orkney Library & Archive]