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The Lum Hat Wantin' The Croon

Written in the 1890s by David Rorie MD (1867-1946)

Source ‘The Auld Doctor’ by David Rorie MD (1920)

arr.  Lainey Dempsey (2017)

The Lum Hat Wantin the Croon

The burn was fu’ o' spate And thar cam tumblin' doon,

Tapsalterie, the hauf o a gate,

An auld fish-hake, an’ a great muckle skate,
And a lum hat wantin' the croon, the croon
A lum hat wantin the croon

The auld wife stood on the bank,
As they a’ came soomin' roon,

She took a guid look, and syne says she,
"There's food and there's raiment gaen tae th' sea,

And a lum hat.....

So she grabbiit th' branch o’ a saugh,
And kickit aff ane o’ her shoon,
She stuck oot her fit, but it caught in the gate,
An' awa' she went wi' th' great muckle skate,

And a lum hat.....

She floated for mony a mile, Past cottage and village and toon,
She'd an awfu' time astride o’ the gate,
Though it seemed t'gree fine wi' th' great muckle skate,

And a lum hat.....

Lum Hat Wantin The Croon.jpg

A fisher wis pacin’ the deck By the licht o’ his pipe and th' moon,
When he saw an auld body astride o’ a gate,
Come bobbin' along on a  wave wi' a skate,

And a lum hat.....

"There's a man overboard!" cried he,
"Ye liar" quo she, "I'll droon!

A man on a board? I’m a wife on a gate!
I’m auld Mrs Mackintosh here wi' a skate,

And a lum hat....."

Was she nippit tae death at th' Pole?
Has India bakit her broon?

Well I canna tell that, but whatever her fate,
I'll wager ye'll find it was shared wi’ a gate,

And a lum hat.....

There's a moral attached tae my song:
On greed ye should aye gie a froon!
Just think o’ the wife
that was lost for a gate,
An auld fish hake and a great muckle skate,

And a lum hat.... x2


This song is attached to many happy memories of a smiling centenarian named Noel.  I worked with Noel for a couple of years.  This involved staying with her for days at a time and helping her with the stuff she found difficult and whatever else she fancied getting up to.  In the evenings, we’d sing.

Noel soon steered me in her preferred direction which was that of traditional Scottish songs.  She had never heard 'The Lum Hat Wantin’ The Croon' and it was a pleasure to teach her a song for a change.  Noel used to get a bit nervous on her stairlift and 'The Lum Hat...' was the exact length of the journey.  I sang it twice a day every day I worked.  Once when she came down for breakfast and once when she headed to bed at night.  On her good days, of which there were many, Noel would join in on the refrain.  The hoot at the end became permanent because it always made her laugh.

Noel died in 2019 aged 101.  I sang Wild Mountain Thyme at her funeral, one of her favourites.  Singing ‘officially’ always made me nervous and I often just chickened out.  But Noel was to leave me one final parting gift.  As I sang from my bones for her, I found no place for me or my worries. It was all about the song.

Dr David Rorie was Edinburgh born and was a prolific writer and folklorist. ‘The Lum Hat...’ was a well known song in its day and is reported to have been sung as a morale booster by The Gordon Highlanders during The Great War, specifically during the disastrous (for the British) Ladysmith Siege of the Boer War in Africa in 1899.

Its popularity dwindled but it looks like Ray Fisher revived it in the early 60s as I recently came across some excellent old footage of her singing it on YouTube at the Edinburgh Folk Festival.

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