Who was Annie Laurie?

Language changes and I’ve noticed a trend recently where the word “worry” which I have always pronounced with a “u” as in Surrey, now seems to come out of the mouths of a lot of people with the sound of lorry.  I’m not sure how or when this happened but the first time I heard it was from an old neighbour of mine who whlst he was born here had parents from Austria.  I find it all a bit wurrisum.  🙂

It got me thinking about some of the sayings that Dad used to have and what the origins of some of them were in an Australia that is now long gone.

When he thought that something was particularly unlikely to happen he would say “If that happens I’ll walk backwards down Bourke Street whistling Annie Laurie.”

For those who don’t know Melbourne, Bourke Street is one of the main thoroughfares in the Central Business District, and before we had a plethora of suburban shopping malls the Bourke Street strip was the shopping mecca of Melbourne.

Now I knew what Dad meant when he said it but I have never known who Annie Laurie was and now thanks to the wonder of the internet I can find out.

That font of all knowledge Wikipedia states –
Annie Laurie is an old Scottish song based on poem by William Douglas (1672?-1748) of Dumfries and Galloway. The words were modified and the tune was added by Alicia Scott in 1834/5. The song is also known as Maxwelton Braes.

According to the story Douglas had a fling with Anna Laurie but her father disapproved possibly because he had a problem with Douglas’s Jacobite views.

So for those like me who have never heard the song here it is.


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