The Fiery Clockface

At one of Michael’s summer sessions, Noah and Janet remembered this tune from pre-Covid-Isis Farmhouse Pub sessions and apparently it goes well with Jump at the Sun. It’s a nice simple tune with lots of life and known as a “fling” from Northumberland. Research on thesession.org website led me to Roly Veitch’s website on Tyneside folk music and history where he attributes the Fiery Clockface to Bobby Nunn.

Roly writes that

Robert (Bobby) Nunn 1808 – 1853
Bobby was a slater by trade but lost his sight following a fall from a roof. Thereafter he used his abilities as a musician to earn a living. He played the fiddle, sang and wrote songs. He was a regular at pubs, clubs around Tyneside. Apparently many songs were rather coarse, full of innuendo – much to the delight of audiences (men and women) with the benefit of a few drinks inside them. His songs include The Pitman and the Blackin, The Newcastle Lad, Drucken Bella Roy ’O and a classic – the surreal Fiery Clock Fyece, a tale of an illusion caused by drink whilst passing St Nicholas Cathedral.

There are words for this tune but they are even harder to understand than Soor Milk Cairt:
Listen here
and read them here

Laurel Swift gave a lovely demonstration (both slow and fast) in 2013

and made a learn-by-ear tutorial in 2021

Another good fiddle version

And on the melodeon

And if you ever need evidence of how a tune in a large crowd will ring out, even if you’re not sure of the notes, have a listen to the scratch orchestra from Sidmouth Folk Festival, 2012

The pdf is here