From Night ’til Morn

This is a lovely little tune that I’ve known for years – but without any background or history. I first learnt it by osmosis – but then found it in a copy of the ‘Sussex tunebook’ given to me at some stage. It’s commonly played as a polka in D – but also G and has an unusual 40-bar form which sometimes causes confusion in sessions.

From Night ’til Morn – as commonly played

The tune appears in various fiddle manuscripts in the early & mid 1800’s and also as an earlier military march with a different name (Pauve Madeleine) – but the ‘Night ’til Morn’ name eluded me.

That is until, whilst doing to research on the Rook manuscript, I got sucked into reading some background on the growth of the middle class in the early 19th century – which lead me to Jane Austen. John Rook spent a fair bit of time coaching young ladies in the playing of the piano and looking at the index of the Austen manuscripts there is certainly some crossover in repetoire. Amongst all of that can be found a version of “From Night ’til Morn” – in the key of Bb and arranged for two players / singers:

From Night Till Morn I take my glass – Jane Austen Manuscripts

Austen’s title could easily be interpreted as a drinking song but the first line of the song points to a more melancholic perspective “From Night ’til Morn I take my glass in hopes to forget my Chloe”.

This song and similar arrangements were published in the late C18th – and in many places the arrangement is attributed to William Shield – who is also responsible for the class Northumbrian Smallpipes variations to the Keel Row. A very small world indeed.

Colin Ross – Master pipemaker

Colin Ross – fiddler, piper & master pipe-maker passed away recently. Amongst many other sets of pipes, he made both of my main chanters which I’ve played for the last 20 years or so and passed on his pipe-making knowledge to my family.

The ‘super-extended’ F chanter or ‘geet lang walking stick’ as it’s sometimes called is what I now play most and it is a masterpiece for which I am very grateful. I was on holiday when I heard of his passing; this tune came to me whilst reflecting on various memories – and playing his instruments. I always loved the way he played the fiddle and particularly the energy he applied to the big fiddle slow airs – this tune always knew it was going to be in D, use the extended range (a little) and use the top B. The original instruction was ‘Unmawkishly’ – but this was changed to ‘Slow & vigourously’ to be better understood!

Here’s the recording I made in the cottage kitchen on my phone shortly after I’d finished it:

And here’s the notes for anyone who wants to learn it: The Master of Monkseaton

How many keys do I need on my pipes?

Here’s the second of the decision charts for new pipers – one of the most frequent questions I am asked is ‘what keys should I get?’ There is no perfect configuration – everything is a compromise – and the most common one is ‘standard 7’:

Note that this chart only applies for F & G pipes – on a D set the chanter stick is much longer and different restrictions apply.

Bacon Butties

The cooking and serving of a breakfast bap is not I think a difficult thing. The Real Food Company at Newcastle Airport have however demonstrated how wrong I can be.

Breakfast Butty
Real Food Company, Newcastle Airport

At 8am in the morning facing a hard week of work I decided to treat myself, not having time for a sit down breakfast, the ‘breakfast bap’ looked like a good compromise consisting of sausage, bacon & egg. At £5.99 it was expensive – but this was in an airport. The catering assistant reached behind him and pulled out a pre-cut roll, my heart sank a little. One sausage was picked up and placed on the bottom half and the tongs returned to the dish .. but no .. it was not a second sausage but two pieces of bacon. Imagine my reaction then when the tongs are opened and the two rashers returned to their home. A second dip in and single solitary folded up sliver arrives to join the lonesome sausage in it’s flour encrusted home. By now my expectations were significantly reduced but as it turned it out the culinary highlight was to be the egg – which was at least cooked on the spot. The bap now assembled was handed across and I in my pre-breakfast fog actually paid for this.

I sank into the faux leather seats and examined the construction before compounding my error of buying it by attempting to eat it. The ‘bread roll’ had the consistency of cardboard – must have cost 5p at the most. The sausage tasted like it had a good helping of ingredients from the same cardboard factory. The bacon and egg had in effect no taste whatsoever.

Now a roadside butty van will produce you a sausage, bacon & egg butty for about £3.50 – it will be overflowing with sausage, have at least a couple of rashers and you’ll be catching egg from the moment you get hold it. If I’m going to get charged double that and you want to me to be happy about it, I’m going to want a seletion of fresh rolls to choose from, sausages with at least three accurately named flavours, bacon from a pig with a double-barrelled surnam name and invitation to tea from the chicken that lays the eggs

Unless of course there’s a worst butty in the world competition – in which case Newcastle Airport is going to win.