Nicky Tams

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Title - Nicky Tams
Contributors - Willie Mathieson
Reporters - Hamish Henderson

Summary - Detailed account of the secret Horseman's Word ceremony.

As Hamish Henderson asks about the Horseman's Word, the bed collapses. Willie Mathieson tells him the word is ENO, not to be written or dited [indited]. Willie was working at Cairndale when he was initiated into the cult. He was taken across country by night, blindfolded, told the word and sworn not to reveal it. The ceremony was conducted by a 'minister'. Willie was told to write the word and then punished by a crack of the whip butt across fingers which are still sore sometimes after 50 years. He shook hands with the Devil (a horse's hoof) and there were clanking chains. Women came to eavesdrop and knocked over rakes; the men ran away, and Willie was left on his knees and had to free himself. He had to bring a loaf, a jar of jam and a bottle of whisky. He was warned of the approaching ceremony by a horsehair sent through the post.

Willie quotes the Horseman's Word rhyme:

Between the manger and the greep [gutter in a byre]
As fair as I do hang my wheep [whip],
Between the stable and the cairtshed
There a horseman I was made.
Here's to the pair with the three white feet
A star on baith their faces;
Here's tae the lad that yokit them
And brought them to their places.
Here's to the horse with the fower white feet
Its chestnut tail and mane,
A star on its face and a spot on its breist
An its maister was Jubal Cain.

Hamish mentions that it is just Cain in the MS but Willie says that the biblical Cain was not a horseman. He then sings the "Horseman's grip an word" verse of 'Nicky Tams'.

Track Duration (h:m:s) - 00:11:12
Date Recorded - 1952.01
Language - Scots
Genre - Song, Information
Collection - School of Scottish Studies

Track ID - 17780
Original Tape ID - SA1952.011
Original Track ID - SA1952.11.A8a; SA1952.11.A8b
Audio Quality - Good
Audio Format - R2R

Classification - R1875;

Recording Location:
  County - Aberdeenshire
  Parish - Ellon
  Village - Ellon

Item Location:
  County - Aberdeenshire
  Parish - Cairnie

Item Notes - 'Nicky Tams' is sung in full on the previous track on the same tape (SA1952.011).

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