Monday, 1 October 2012


October!  Not a month which traditionally excites the cricketer.

Fantasy Bob is aware that this October there is the climax of the T20 World Cup.  Scotland will also undertake a tour of South Africa.  But these are unnatural events, just like the strawberries that continue to be available in supermarkets.  These are to be viewed with suspicion, for their flavour and texture have little of the sweetness that ripening under the summer sun gives.  And the strawberries aren't up to much either.

Fantasy Bob marks the beginning of August with the song October Song.  This was written in 1965  by Robin Williamson and featured on the first album by the Incredible String Band, whom FB has eulogised previously.  But FB's preferred version of the song is by Bert Jansch, whom FB has also honoured previously.  (There is also a well known version by The Corries). Jansch and Williamson had played together  before the formation of the Incredibles.

Williamson - then
Williamson - now
October Song is in the traditional genre.  Despite its slightly elusive lyric it is a young cricketer's song.  Williamson says it is the first song he wrote.  He also says that when Bob Dylan heard it he said it was 'quite good' - a rave review that has been developed into the suggestion in some reports that it is one of Dylan's favourite songs of all time. And why should it not be.  (If you are interested in these things, then follow this link to find Williamson telling the story and then performing an astounding version of Dylan's Like A Rolliung Stone - Test Match Quality)

There is nothing by way of explicit cricketing reference in the lyric. Although the strongest verse which runs

The fallen leaves that jewel the ground,
They know the art of dying,
And leave with joy their glad gold hearts,
In the scarlet shadows lying.

is a fine description of Carlton's Grange Loan ground as the trees shed their leaves before, in one of the rituals of Autumn, players are summoned by the Doughty Groundsman to assist him sweep them up to pile on his ceremonial bonfire

Robin Williamson was born and brought up in Edinburgh, so it is possible that he observed Grange Loan lying under its blanket of leaves and this might have inspired the song.  He attended George Watson's College and in all probability had cricket lessons at Myreside.  But he left school at the age of 15 to pursue his musical destiny and is therefore unlikely to have come into consideration for the First XI.  A loss to Scottish cricket.

Mike Heron the other member of the Incredible String Band attended George Heriot's School, and in the way of Herioters, subsequently trained as an accountant before finding his musical career more rewarding.  There is no record of whether he came into consideration for the school's First XI.  However during his time at the school, the team would have been dominated by some fine players who subsequently went on to make important contributions to Scotland's side - most notable among which were Hamish More (45 caps) and George Goddard (78 Caps).

Somewhere there must have been common influences between these stalwart cricketers and Scotland's greatest hippy musicians - but FB requires more research what they could possibly be.                                                                                          

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,
    The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.