Against the wall, the London ball, London ball, London
Against the wall, the London ball, to the bonnie bunch
Father and mother, may I go, may I go, may I go,
Father and mother, may I go to the bonnie bunch o'
Oh yes, you may go, you may, you may go,
Oh yes, you may go to the bonnie bunch o' roses.
Buckle up my tails and away I go, away I go, away I go,
Buckle up my tails and away I go to the bonnie bunch o'
I buckled up my tails and away I went, away I went, away
I buckled up my tails and away I went to the bonnie
bunch o' roses.
Down my tails and home I came, home I came, home I came,
Down my tails and home I came from the bonnie bunch o'
I met my lad with the tartan plaid, the tartan plaid,
the tartan plaid,
I met my lad with the tartan plaid from the bonnie bunch
Line game; Maclagan Games and Diversions of Argyleshire
(1901), 61, with music; A number of girls stand in a
row, and one in front sings the first verse, answered by
the row. She then sings the other verses, suiting
action to words: gathering up her skirt, going away,
turning and letting her skirt go; takes one of the girls
by the hand, brings her out of the line, and holding
each other's hands they whirl round as fast as they can
singing the last verse. Places are exchanged, and the
Other versions: Nicholson, Golspie (1897), 129 (tune, p.
197, = Nancy Dawson; otherwise to Sheriffmuir).
Rymour Club Misc. II (1912-19), 75, from Kingarth School,
Bute: Up against the wall for a London ball/ And a big, big
bunch of roses/Buckle up my tails and away I go/ For a big/
Father, mother, may I go/ For/ Daughter, daughter, you may
go/ For. Tune, Merry-ma-tanzie.
Willa Muir Living With Ballads (1965), 15, with tune,
from N.-E. Scotland, c. 1901: "Father, Mother, may I go?/ On
a cold, cold frosty morning?/ Yes, my darling, you may go,/
[etc.]." The girl in the centre collects her skirt in one
hand, and ducking between two of the circle, dances round
outside it, singing "I gather up my tails and away I go,"
etc.; ducks back into the middle and sings "Guess who I met
in the London Row?"; the ring asks the question, and she
replies "I met my lad in the London Row". She picks a pa
kiss and a guinea-gold ring"; they then kiss and exchange
places. [See W.M's interesting analysis, 16-18.]
Rodger Lang Strang (1948), 34: Father, mother, may I
go/ bonnie banks o' roses?/ Yes, my darling, you may go/ She
buckled up her tails and away she went/ She met a lad wi' a
tartan plaid/ at the bonnie/ A tartan plaid is my delight/
at [etc.]. "Girls stand in line with one in front who chooses
her `lad in the tartan plaid,' and they change places at the
A version recorded by Jean Redpath (Frae My Ain Countrie,
1973), was used for ball bouncing in Fife: Up against the wa'
the London ba'/And a bonny bunch o' roses./ I met my lad by
the bramble law/ And/ My faither bocht a new topcoat,/ And
Jeanie tore the linin'./ Ah ha ha, ye neednae rin,/ For ye'll
get yer licks in the mornin'. The latter half of this also
occurs separately: see "My Faither Bought a New Top-Coat".
Ritchie Golden City (1965), 157, has "The Bonnie Bunch of
Roses", var. Up against/ for the London ball/ for the Bonnie/
and a one two three/ She shook her head and said goodbye/.
In st. 5 the lover chosen in st. 4 joins her and they go
round holding hands, and in 6 they cross hands [called
"switchie hands"] and birl, stopping for the kiss. The lover
goes back to the line, and the girl circles round waving
See also Opies Singing Game (1985), 349 ff.; they connect
with the old song "The Birks of Abergeldie" ("Bonnie lassie,
will ye go" etc.), although there is scant evidence. Willa
Muir's tune (d r m f l s s etc.) bears only the faintest of
resemblances to that in the Museum (II, 1788, 115).