A curler in the family tree

With the Winter Olympics on again, and Britain’s all-Scottish curling teams doing so well, I was reminded that there’s a curler in the family tree. John Usher (1809-1896) was my 5xg-uncle, via the Dodds side of the family. Originally from Darnick, near Melrose, he farmed at Stodrig near Kelso for many decades, and was an active member of Kelso Curling Club. He was also a poet, and songwriter, and near the end of his life his poems and songs were published in book form. Here’s one of the songs he wrote about curling:

Song

THE CHANNEL STANE

[Music, Original]

INSCRIBED WI’ BRITHERLY LOVE TO A’ KEEN CURLERS

 

Up! curlers, up! oor freen’, John Frost,

Has closed his grip on loch an’ lea;

Up! time’s ower precious to be lost,

An’ rally roun’ the rink an’ tee,

Wi’ steady han’ an’ nerve an’ e’e;

Noo cannie, noo wi’ micht an’ main

To test by “wick,” an’ “guard,” an “draw”

Oor prowess wi’ the channel stane.

O, the roarin’ channel stane,

The cannie, creepin’ channel stane,

What music to the curler’s ear

Like music o’ the channel stane.

 

It’s bliss to curler’s eye an’ ear

When “Crack an egg” or “Chap an’ lie”

Is greeted wi’ responsive cheer

An’ wavin’ besoms raised on high;

Or when nocht else is left to try;

Wi’ rapid glance an’ easy swing,

The “ootring” o’ a stane is chipp’d

An’ twirled within the inner ring.

O, the roarin’ channel stane,

The toddlin’, trinklin’, channel stane,

What music to the curler’s ear

Like music o’ the channel stane.

 

The time is called – the match a tie –

The game, contestit close an’ keen,

Seems sealed, for guards like bulwarks lie,

Nae vestige o’ the winner seen;

Anon the skip, wi’ dauntless mien,

Pute doon the broom, “Creep til’t,” cries he;

The stane’s sent hirplin’ through the “port,”

An’ soopit deftly to the tee.

O’, the roarin’ channel stane,

The hirlplin’, wimplin’ channel stane,

What music to the curler’s ear

Like music o’ the channel stane.

 

It boots not whence the curler hails,

If curler keen an’ staunch he be –

Frae Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales,

Or Colonies ayont the sea –

A social britherhood are we,

An’ after we are deid an’ gane

We’ll live in literature an’ lair

In annals o’ the channel stane.

O, the roarin’ channel stane,

The Witchin’, winsome channel stane,

What music to the curler’s ear

Like music o’ the channel stane.

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About vivdunstan

Academic historian, genealogist, former computer scientist, and Doctor Who fan.
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