Jock the Lum

Every town has its characters good and bad and Holytown certainty had its share. One of them was a chap named Jock Morrison. He was a miner in the pits and he worked pretty steady but he also had a spare time job – the rag trade. And he and a chap called Corrie were in business together. Another Hotytown worthy, Stevie Turley, he nicknamed Jock Morrison “Jock the Lum”.

Jock the Lum

‘Twas yin o’ yon bleak winter nichts
When moanin ‘wind a body frichts.
Ye jump at ev’ry sighin’ whustle
An’ haud yer breath wi’ ev’ry rustle.
I hurried hame, – ’twas near the hour
Best suited for oul Satan’s pow’r
When, near yon road up roon the stip,
My flutt’ring hert, a beat did skip.

Wi’ heid in hauhs, a figure sat
Heedless o’the pavement wat.
At first I gie near died wi’ funk
But then, I thought, ’twas someone drunk.
“My freen”, I asked, “Why sit ye here?”
He seemed tae wipe away a tear.
Then slowly raised a weary heid.
I recognised a face, long deid

The sweat was runnin’ doon my broo
I whispered a’ the prayers I knew.
“Don’t fear me freen, I mean nae ill
Jist bide wi’ me the noo until,
I ease this burden on my hert,
The shamin’o’ my aul rag-kert”
My mind wi’ease it started fillin’
‘Twas jist the ghost o’ Paddy Gillan.

Wi’ mony a sigh an’ stifled wail
He telt tae me a sorry tale.
“ln days gone by, as you weel ken
Before an’ efter ninteen-ten
When aye they mentioned ragman’s trade,
My name wis aye the yin they said.
An honoured name aboot the toon
Respected aye for miles aroon.”

“But, came my time tae pass away
I’ve lain in peace this mony a day
But noo my spirit’s worried sair,
An’ has me wand’rin’fae my lair
My trade’s been trampled on, ye ken
By yin or twa baw-heided men.
ln my time tae, we aye had some,
But, nane like this yin , — JOCK THE LUM”.

“Tae think that such should fill my place.
This claimant tae the human race.
Whoever made this vacant loon,
Has shoved his tongue in upside doon.
He has a language a’ his ain,
It’s hard tae tell whit he is sayin’
‘Twad make the soorest body laff,
Tae hear his backside-foremost chaff

Noo Jock is no sae bad at hert
He disnae go oot wi’ the kert
But bides in yon place at the tunnel
Tae tie the rags up in a bun’le.
An’ should some workin’ claes ye need,
Jist go tae Jock, but — tak ye heed,
For impudence he disnae lack
He’ll want the aul yins aff yer back

God damn his greedy, grasping mitt
He’s workin’ constant in the Pit.
Why has he put my trade tae shame?
‘Twer better if he steyed at hame.
Tae cairry oot aul nature’s law,
The Lord imposed upon us a’
‘Go ye, increase an’ multiply’
For Jock still has tae qualify

“Then there is, tae mak things worse”
Paddy’s ghost said, wi’ a curse.
“Some skitter-brained thing fae the Square
Who goes wi’ Jock jist for the terr.
He’s tryin’ tae muscle in of course
So’s they’ll let him drive the horse.
A gigglin’ Newarthill trade-marked callan
A weel matched pair this Jock and Alan.

These twa hae made the People talk
They’ve made my trade a laffin’-stalk.
My poor aul foosty bones aye wriggle,
When aye M’Kinstry gi’es a giggle.
I’d like tae fricht yon Jock the Lum,
lf near the Kirk brae he wad come.
I sweer tae Hell I’d mak him sorry,
For bein’ in cahoots wi’ Corrie.

Ah! freen, it’s maybe jist God’s plan
Tae punish me whit wey he can.
He kens the place it hurts the maist,
An’ this, is bitt’rest tae my taste.
But I’ll aye thank him fae my hert,
Tho’ they may shame my aul rag-kert
My aul deid horse where ere he be
Thank God! this shame he’ll never See.”

Poor Paddy rose and wiped his een
“Ye’ve heard my story, thank ye freen,
I’ve eased my hert a wee the nicht
I’m sorry if ye got a fricht.”
Wi’ that he slowly walked away
I shuddered as I heard him say.

John Mallaghan