further flitting

Since my post yesterday, I’ve had some fascinating discussions on twitter and elsewhere about flitting, its modern usage, and its Scandinavian roots. This morning my friend Sarah pointed me in the direction of a wonderful Shetland song – Muckle Osla’s Flittin, which humorously documents a house move from Gulberwick (a village just south of Lerwick) to Walls (on the West Mainland). The final chorus of the song is so good, I just had to show you. I love the fit between the Shetland vocabulary and the song’s crazy rhythms, and the sheer quantities of knitting-related gubbins that Osla has to move really resonates with my current circumstances.

Wi her kists o claes, washing saes, tables, chairs, an presses,
Iron beds, Shetland speds, kirn staafs, an dresses,
Pots, pans, kettles, cans, tubs fur washin faas,
Osla shö wis gyain at flit fae Gulberweek at Waas.
Dir wis spinnie wheele, herrin creels, simmonds, nets, an tows,
Forks an rakes, deuks an drakes, an cocks an hens an hows,
Rugs an mats wi dugs an cats lyin heeds at traaws,
Da day at muckle Osla flit fae Gulberweek at Waas.
Dir wis wheelborrows, widden harrows, muckle bags o oo,
Yarn winds, window blinds, an wirset hank an cloo,
Bread bins, puddin pins, plates wi chinks an flaas,
Da day at muckle Osla flit fae Gulberweek at Waas.
Wi her gliv boards, sock boards, jumper boards, an aa,
Scriptirs, pictirs, ta hing upö da waa,
Rime books, hime books, books on udal laws,
Da day at muckle Osla flit fae Gulberweek at Waas.

Osla’s is a far more jolly “flit” than John Clare’s, which was enforced upon him by enclosure, and provides a nice counterpoint to the poem in yesterday’s post.
Thanks, Sarah x

26 Comments on “further flitting

  1. This is truly fun to read aloud, especially for a Yankee, who laments the loss of such lovely vernacular in her own regional tongue.

  2. very funny and enjoyable!!! put me in mind of swan and flanders back in the 60’s.

  3. Kate give us some translation! I can figure out some of it, but much of the items are lost on me. What are Shetland speds and kirn staafs? Fun rhythm…even if I don’t understand some of the vocab. I’d love to hear it sung!

    • Eddie Barclay recorded Muckle Osla’s Flittin – “What Shetland Means to Me”
      Released: 1984 (cassette tape)

      • Thanks Hazel, I’ll look around and see if I can find that..though there might not be a digital recording available.

  4. Very interesting poem, thanks for sharing. Hope all goes well for your “flit” and that you will soon be settled in your new home.

  5. I found myself bouncing along with the words even though I didn’t know what a lot of them meant!!

  6. We are flitting at the moment, too – that song is PERFECT! And I love this context of flit better than the modern Australian version where “doing a flit/midnight flit” is leaving undercover of night in dubious circumstances, almost always just ahead of the law/bailiffs.

  7. It captures the mood of flitting/flytting(in the Scandinavian languages) and that’s what I’m in for as well. Just a minor obstacle of selling current location and acquiring a new.

  8. Lovely! Made me smile. Thanks Kate and Sarah! Wish my move had been as tucked up, but moving from the city to the countryside was worth the headache. Funny, the things I worried about the most was my yarn, Spode dishes, and yarnie books. Woe if the movers lost a skein! LOL

  9. Indeed, this makes me feel so better about my house. I don’t know how many muckle bags o oo there are around here: too many to count.

  10. I love it! And while I get the general gist of the piece… perhaps some footnote translations for those of us not from the UK would assist with the reading of it.. :)

    • I had the following message from Eddie Barclay:
      “Thank you Hazel for passing this on – there is a Scottish Version “Grannie Frasers Flittin fae Aboyne tae Aberdeen” which I suspect is where Eddie Smith got the idea to do a Shetland Version from. Eddie was brilliant at putting those Shetland songs together”
      so Eddie Smith wrote the words

  11. Flitting is a Yorkshire term too,of course a lot of our words have Scandinavian roots as well.

  12. In Norway we say “flytting” when you move to another house. And the verb is “flytte”.

  13. Yes, we haveMuckle Osla’s Flittin on Eddie’s cd, along with other great songs but this one is my favourite and hilarious! I lve the ‘books on udal laws’! Great your flitting has gone well, a beautiful place, and be happy and enjpy every minute.x

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