Geoff Convery's Ramblings

December 1997

I’ve been doing this for 15 years. Oh no I haven’t! Oh yes I have! I’d been aware of the insanity for years having seen it performed at Scunthorpe Folk Club on many occasions by tired and very croaky (not to mention still hung over) regulars but, for a variety of reasons, I’d never got around to volunteering.

However in the back end of 1982 I approached the old Recruiting Sergeant and enlisted. I’m still waiting for the shilling!

Why do we do it? There must be more reasons than participants. Some of us have an overwhelming desire to continue an ancient tradition practised, honed and passed down over the centuries; others feel a deep-seated need to re-connect ourselves to the spirits of the land and the ever turning cycle of the year from which our increasingly complex, mechanised and artificial environment is separating us. Others find in the Jag a sense of continuing comradeship from working together on the same project year after year. Most of us do it for the crack and the excuse for a p..s up!

I find that over the years that the Jag days seem to blend into one another, almost to become a separate time from the rest of my life with a continuity of their own. Specific memories of many Jags jumble together as though they happened on the same day instead of on many days, each a whole year apart. Many diverse images exist such as Eamon playing a haunting solo whistle version of  “She moves Through the Fair” somewhere, sometime; Geoff Miller singing “Yeller Girls” and Dave Hoy singing “Whoa Mare” in the White Horse (both done many times but each remembered as one); the episode of the ‘magic jug’ one year in Lords when the locals kept filling it up with beer when we were too busy singing to stop them and the time when a particular market trader, having complained about our choice of performance site, found himself outnumbered. All these and many more crowd in on one another like pieces of a tightly packed collage or a compilation of many scraps of movie film spliced together at random.

There have been changes, though. Members of the crew have gone, and others have joined later, as I did myself, filling the spaces left and each contributing his own something to the whole, changing the mix and keeping it alive. Some of those who have left for a while have returned, some may yet do so, some, sadly, never will.

Society seems to have changed as well; the groups of people who often used to collect and laugh at our clowning when we performed outside no longer seem to form. Public appreciation only seeming to come indoors, perhaps people no longer feel safe enough to enjoy a little synthetic mayhem or perhaps they are too busy to waste their time in an unplanned stop on a winter Saturday. Either way it’s a shame and it’s them, not us who miss out. I’ll bet they don’t have time to watch sunsets either.