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Peterhead Fisherman's Wife


Peterhead Fisherman's Wife

A song about the hard work that inshore fishing involves. The first verse of the song was known as a rhyme in various fishing communities along the Moray coast. A Peterhead worthy took it as the start point for a wonderfully detailed account of the hard work needed for inshore fishing. The song changes viewpoint between an onlooker, the fisherman, and his wife. One of them has been up in the night to gather pullers (small crabs which have cast their shells or just about to) for bait, then he sails out for cod perhaps with eight or ten men sharing the boat, to cast small (sma) handlines at good ‘grounds’ off the port of Peterhead in the North East. The accompanying selection is performed by Tryst.

Wha wid be a fisherman’s wife
Tae run wi a creel, an a scrubber, an a knife?
A raivelled bed, an a deid-oot fire
An awa tae the mussels in the mornin


Here we come scourin in
Three reefs tae the foresail in
Nae a dry stitch tae pit on wir backs
But still we’re aa teetotallers

Wha’ll gies a hand tae run a ripper-lead?
Or fish for codlin in the Bay o Peterheid?
Or maybe tae the Lummies, the Clock, or Satis Heid
When we sail tae the sma lines in the mornin

It’s doon the Gaidle Braes in the middle o the nicht
Wi an auld syrup tin an a cannle for a licht
Tae gether in the pullers, every een that is in sicht
Tae get the linie baitit for the mornin

It’s easy for the cobbler sittin in his neuk
Wi a big copper kettle hingin frae a crook
They’re standin in the boo, we canna get a hook
An it’s gey sair work in the mornin

It’s nae the kinda work that a saft quine’d thole
Wi her fingers reid-raw wi scrubbin oot a yawl
A little-een on her hip, an awa tae carry coal
She’ll be ca’d fair deen in the mornin

Ma puir auld faither in the middle o the flair
He’s dein hooks wi 'tippins' as he’s sittin in his chair
They’re made o horses hair, and that’s the best o gear
When ye gyang tae the fishin in the mornin

But I widna change for the grandest kind o gear
Tho ye never ken the minute that yer heart’ll lowp wi fear
Awa tae the sea, he’s your bonnie dear -
Ye’ll be a widow wi his bairnies in the mornin

'Peterhead Fisherman's Wife' played by Tryst.
From Across the Bridge (2001) Tryst01CD, Tryst Folk Music