Thursday, 13 October 2016

My mother, Jimmy Shand's band and The Proclaimers : an email exchange


From Noel Howard : 28th September, 2016

Hi Charles,

There used to be a programme on Irish radio in the 50s called Scottish Requests and invariably “The Road to Dundee” featured as well as “The Northern Lights”, and "Sweet Alice Ben Bolt”, among other “hits” of the day with Jimmy Shand always a favourite.

Oh for such simplicities!



From Charles Sharpe : 13th October, 2016

Dear Noel,

I was interested in your recollection of the Irish radio programme which played requests for Scottish songs and airs. 

You mentioned Jimmy Shand who - though he spent most of his childhood in the village of Auchtermuchty in the Kingdom of Fife  -  became in the 1930s (after a spell in the coal mines), a rent collector in Dundee and he used this job as an opportunity to earn extra money by selling accordions on commission for a local music shop. This was at a time when he was also trying to establish himself as a musician assembling his own band. When he came by my grandparents’ tenement each week to collect the rent he’d let my mother practice on the accordion he brought with him and after a few weeks of this she seemed to be showing promise as an accordionist. 

You can guess what happened. Jimmy approached my Granda Jackson and said “John, ye’re lassie’s a braw player. If she were tae ha’e  an accordion I’d be happy tae ha’e her in my band.” My mother who was 12 or 13 at the time, was very excited about this but Granda Jackson couldn’t afford to buy an accordion, so Jimmy didn’t get his sale or any commission and Chrissie, my mother, didn’t get an accordion and never became the only woman to play in Jimmy Shand’s band. 

That’s how the story’s told in our family anyway.

It may only be coincidence, but Charlie and Craig Reid, the Proclaimers, though born in Leith spent most of their childhood in Auchtermuchty.  There may be something in the air in Auchtermuchty if you can afford your instrument.

Best wishes,



From Noel Howard : 13th October, 2016

Really recalling those simpler times of childhood and aspects of it, like the radio programme Scottish Requests, always makes me grateful for the memory of the simple security that such occasions huddled around the radio brought as a family.

Keep in touch. 


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