Scots Sangs Fur Schools

Traditional and new Scots songs for use in Scottish schools

WEE GALLUS BLOKE

A city song about confident girls coming out from their factory. They meet a lad, and tell him what they think of him. He must feel this is definitely unfair. Hamish Henderson collected this song from trade union leader Josh Shaw at a party in Peel Street, Glasgow. Josh Shaw had learned it from a Gallowgate friend who had afterwards emigrated to Rhodesia.


The song is performed by Ewan McVicar.


As I came by the sweetie works, ma hairt began tae beat,

Seein aa the factory lassies comin doon the street,

Wi their flashy dashy petticoats, flashy dashy shawls,

Five and a tanner gutty boots, “Oh, we’re big gallus molls.”


Chorus

Oh, yer ma wee gallus bloke nae mair.

Oh, yer ma wee gallus bloke nae mair.

Wi yer bell blue strides, yer bunnet tae the side,

Yer ma wee gallus bloke nae mair.


As I came by the dancin, I began tae think.

Will aa the lassies stand an talk aboot oor Jeanie’s mink?

Or will they hae a natter wi me aboot ma past?

But just as I came up tae them they walked away right fast.


This song is full of things that somebody living in a Scottish city 80 years ago would have understood fine, but now need to be explained. The sweetie works is a sweet factory. Petticoats and shawls are clothing, gutty boots are rubber boots like wellington boots – gutta-percha is a kind of rubber – strides are trousers. Five and a tanner is five shillings and sixpence, or 27 1/2 pence, not much to pay for a pair of wellington boots these days. Gallus molls is hard to translate from Glesga into English. It means girls who are proud of themselves and their style.