Bob Pegg words ~ music ~ place contact: George Ewart Evans, author of The Pattern Under the Plough and Ask the Fellows Who Cut the Hay, is generally  acknowledged as one of the pioneers of what is known as “oral history”, which essentially uses sound recordings to  chronicle the experiences of the “ordinary” people  who till the soil, fight the wars, work in the mills, and build the ships,  but are seldom more than a statistic in official histories. Evans himself didn’t like the term. He said it reminded him of  something a dentist kept in a filing cabinet, and that he preferred “spoken history”. So do I, and that’s what I call it here.  I began spoken history work in 1966, at Leeds University, tramping the lanes of the Yorkshire Dales with a (barely)  portable German tape machine called a Butoba, recording singers, fiddle and concertina players, and silver bands. After  a while the Butoba was replaced by a UHER Report, still hefty compared to today’s solid state machines, but a reliable  portable reel to reel which made great recordings and became a BBC standard for many years.  In the late 70s I spent a year making spoken history recordings for the Arvon Foundation at Lumb Bank farmhouse near  Heptonstall in the Yorkshire Pennines (see Harry Greenwood below), and a decade after that I was recording life  histories in Weardale for a touring show with the late Boris Howarth called Roving Rodney’s Rambles (”rodney” is the  Weardale name for a tramp, a gentleman of the road).  In the early 1990s, not long after moving to the Highlands, I began to do a lot of sound recording work, and started to  use spoken history recordings in projects with schools in places like Applecross, Torridon and Poolewe. Spoken history  also played an important part in From Sea to Sea, a sound picture in reminiscence, story, song, music, and verse of the  Caledonian Canal, which was issued by The Highland Council in 1999, and in recent years I’ve worked on spoken  history projects for the NHS, Museums and Galleries Scotland, and RCAHMS.   Neddy Dick - Richard Alderson -  appears  elsewhere in these pages. He was a hill  farmer from Keld in Swaledale, a musical  visionary. There’s an image of his Rock  Band on the Music page. Here he is with  the Harmonium and Bells. While playing the harmonium he would at the same time  strike Grandfather clock bells he had  begged from cottages up and down the  dale. One piece he played was the  Hallelujah Chorus. In the 1960s I met and  recorded people who remembered him  vividly. His instruments have long vanished.   Harry Greenwood was a farmer from  Blackshawhead way, in the Yorkshire  Pennines. Though he owned a lot of  land and property he lived alone in a  little terraced cottage up on the moors.  He was born in 1892. One day in 1975,  when I was recording him, he produced  an old ledger, in which he’d written his  life’s history. I helped edit it, and it was  published by the Arvon Press. We  launched it with an exhibition of photos  and sound recordings in Hebden  Bridge, and it was a local best seller. I’ve spent many happy days in Torridon  Primary School in Wester Ross. In 1994  Ann MacRae, one of several Gaelic  speaking head teachers in the west  Highlands, invited people from the  community to come and talk to the children about how the school and the village used  to be. I recorded these sessions, together  with songs and music from the children,  and put them on to a cassette tape which  was sold to help school funds. The  recordings are still on sale, now  transferred to CD.  In 2008 I worked with Caithness artist  Joanne Kaar in Crown Primary School  in Inverness. The project was part of the  Artsplay Highland programme. It  involved two ladies who had had very  different war time experiences, one in  Glasgow and the other on Skye, talking  to the P4 children about those  experiences. The children then decided  which of their anecdotes to make into  books, and how to tell those stories in  images and words over a maximum of  six pages. The Strange Noise is one of  the half dozen resulting books. Torridon from across the loch Harry Greenwood: Martin Parr The Strange Noise Neddy Dick with harmonium and bells