The Story of Falling in Love with a Helen

The Story of Falling in Love With a Helen

(aka The Axes of Evil)

Axes of Evil

This song emerged not so much from a disaster with a woman, it was more to do with a strange coincidence involving the name Helen.

When I was eighteen, I was working as a forester for the Earl of Ancaster on the Drummond & Ancaster Estates. I lived in the bothy at Drummond Castle between Muthill and Crieff. I didn’t get paid much and I couldn’t drive, so it was difficult for me to get to hear much in the way of folk music. It occurred to me one day, in an A.D.D. moment, that if I started a folk club in Crieff I could get all my favourite performers to come to me and I, as the club organiser, would get to see them for free. It seemed like a brilliant, effective and simple solution.

Drummond Castle

I had a chat with the owners of my regular drinking haunt, the Royal Stewart Hotel in Crieff and struck a deal with them. They would give me free use of their downstairs function room on Wednesday and Friday nights for a trial period. My plan was simple. On Friday nights I hired a mobile disco from Dunfermline called “Explosion Disco” which cost about £15 for the night, and the hotel put on an alcohol-free bar. We charged the youngsters of Crieff 50p entry and we packed the place out. There was little else for the kids in Crieff in the way of entertainment and the Friday night disco was not only a massive success but a profitable success. With the help of some friends we formed a committee and the Royal Stewart Folk Club was born.

The Royal Stewart Hotel (now The Meadow Inn)

With the money we made from the disco we were able to supplement the folk club and book some of Scotland’s top folk acts to perform on a Wednesday night. My brother Peter, or Snab as he was better known, had been involved as a singer in the Edinburgh folk scene for many years and through him I had got to know lots of performers. I would phone them up and say, “This is Snab’s wee brother and I’ve just opened a new folk club in Crieff. Is there any chance you could do a gig for us at a reasonable rate to help us get established?” The response was tremendous and soon the club was packed out every week. We had folk like Big Bill Barclay, Tich Frier, Archie Fisher, The Tannahills, Danny Kyle and we also gave Cilla and Artie Tresese one of their first ever gigs.

Tich Frier

Danny Kyle

The Tannahill Weavers

Archie Fisher

Big Bill Barclay

I was having a ball. The club was so successful that we started doing chicken in a basket as part of the entry fee and that allowed us to run a late licence at the bar. We were packed out every week.

While this was going on I met a girl called Helen at one of the discos. There was an instant spark between us and a torrid relationship erupted. Unbeknown to me, she had recently split up with a local chap who was built like a prop forward. He drove a mini and word got back to me one night that he was cruising the streets of Crieff, in his mini, with an axe, looking for me.

Now working as a forester at this time I was only too well aware of what damage an axe could do. Helen heard what he was up to and she tracked him down and read his horoscope for him in no uncertain terms. Despite the fact that, being a professional, my axe was probably bigger and sharper than his, I’m delighted to say that we never crossed paths.

All of this was going on without the knowledge of my parents, but the owners of the Royal Stewart took me aside and in a caring, parental sort of way advised me that Helen was trouble with a capital ‘T’ and I would much better off without her. Well, a bit of potential danger just added spice to the relationship as far as I was concerned, and Helen and I became more and more embroiled with one another as the weeks passed by.

It was a volatile relationship, but all the more intense for that. She was quite unlike any girl I had ever been involved with. She was so unpredictable and her moods swung from being hostile towards me to being outrageously sexually demanding. Life was never dull with Helen.

Our relationship was one of convenience rather than romance, and there were spells were we never saw one another. After a period away from Crieff I returned to find that Helen had not only teamed up with someone else, but she had actually got married. But inevitably, when we met up again, the magnetic attraction we had for each other resulted in a clandestine affair.

One night she tracked me down and we went back to her house knowing that her husband was out drinking at a pub in the town and would not be home until much later. Lost in our passion for each other, time had crept well past closing time without us noticing. Suddenly there was loud, violent banging on the front door.

Helen had locked the front door and it was only by virtue that she had left the key in the lock that her husband couldn’t gain access. The locked door was the only door to the property and the ever increasing noise level coming from that door was a cause of huge concern. Hubby was screaming and shouting and threatening to break the door down with an axe!

Sweeping up my clothes and flinging them at me, a semi-naked Helen rushed to the bedroom window and opened it as far as she could. Thankfully, I was a lot leaner back then and with all the speed I could muster, I squirmed, partially dressed, through the narrow gap and landed in an undignified heap in the front garden. The remainder of my clothes were hurled after me and the window slammed shut.

This was the second time I had been under threat from an axe as a result of this woman. The advice I had been given about Helen being trouble with a capital ‘T’ was turning out to be well founded. But life was never dull with her and at times it was downright exhilarating.

The last time I saw her was when I was about to join the navy. I had to travel up to Arbroath for a medical to ensure that I had all the correct body parts required by a sailor and that they were all in good working order. The night prior to my medical was spent in the arms of Helen. In the darkness of the early morning I got dressed and slipped away before her husband got home from the night shift.

At HMS Condor I sat in a room with several other naval candidates. My name was called and I went into the examination room where I as invited to undress for my medical. It was only as I removed my shirt that I discovered to my horror, and enormous embarrassment, that during the night dear Helen had covered me in love bites. As I stood there, doing a passable impersonation of a Dalmatian, the doc looked me up and down.

“Okay”, he said, “What’s been going on here?”

“Ehhh… it was my girlfriend” I sheepishly replied.

He peered at me over his glasses and as a rye smile spread over his face he inquired, “Have you ever thought of feeding her?”

To this day I have never seen Helen again and that is maybe no bad thing. But as time crept on I found myself dating several other girls who were all called Helen. It seemed I couldn’t escape them. When I eventually married my first wife she was not called Helen. However, she was adopted as a baby and many years after we were married we traced her adoptive history. Despite being in her forties, my wife had never seen her birth certificate. All she had ever had was an adoption certificate. When we applied for it we discovered that her birth mother had originally called her… what else, but Helen.

I’ve Fallen in Love Wi’ a Helen (sung to the tune of Dick Darby – The Cobbler)

 Chorus:   I’ve fallen in love with a Helen

But that’s no surprise tae me

Wi’ a’ of the Helens that I’ve loved and lost

This one makes twenty-three

I’d quite like an Ann or a Sally

Or maybe a Natalie

But I’ve fallen in love with a Helen

It’s just how its meant tae be.


I was born in the depths o’ the winter

It was the January  fifty-five

The midwife she skelpt my wee bum

And my scream told her I was alive

Noo the midwife – her name it was Helen

And undoubtedly she was the first

She gave me a smacker – said that I was a cracker

Before I’d even been nursed


When I was five I started the school

There were two Helens in Primary One

And when we played doctors and nurses

The Helens were always good fun

And when I went up tae the high school

I got in tow wi’ Helen McBride

And the things that that lassie taught me

Gave me a smile that was half a mile wide


 My favourite singer was Helen Shapiero

She was the one wi’ a voice like a boy

If I’d lived a few centuries earlier

I’d have been courtin’ wi’ Helen of Troy

But what aboot that Helen Mirren

She makes the blood rush tae ma head

And if the Lord knew just what I was thinking

I’d get Hell ‘n damnation instead.

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