Geoff Miller - Recollections

February 1997

    I'm not very good on dates, but there are a couple of things that stick in my mind.

    Early on, when we used to go into the Big Social Club in the afternoon (pubs weren't open on Saturday from 3.00 p.m. - Clubs were open until 5.00pm), there was these Irish construction workers in there, obviously straight from work in the morning as they had working clothes and muddy wellies on. Mo started to play tunes on his whistle, mostly Irish, jigs etc. One of these blokes started step dancing, in his muddy wellies and all. He was fairly well on his way by then and at the end of the tune shouted," Give us the Boys of Blue Hill." So Mo duly obliged. He attempted to dance and afterward put some money into the collecting box. After a few more tunes, up goes the cry in a strong Irish accent, “Give us the Boys of Blue Hill” as he stuffed a £10 note into the collecting box.

    This was quite a lot of money in those days, so, for a few years after, when everything went quiet, it was normal for someone to shout, "Give us the Boys of Blue Hill." followed by guffaws of laughter.

    One year when Carl Hamilton was the Hoss and I was, I think, The Dame (can't really remember) we were walking along Scunthorpe High Street towards the Precinct, drumming up a crowd, as we used to do, we were aware that we has company. Two young lads about 8-10-ish were transfixed by these two strange characters wandering down the road. They had been swimming, as I recall, with these towels rolled up under their arms and eating a bag of crisps each. We chatted to them a bit and one offered us his bag for us to take a crisp. Carl answered, very quick-witted I thought, “No thanks I only eat grass”.

    On another occasion, again wandering around, probably the Market in Scunthorpe, we all tended to get straggled about as people were accosted for donations, or stopped to chat about how the older people from the outlying villages could remember the Plough-Jags from years ago, we came up behind an old couple who were obviously doing their weekly shop, the old fellah said to his partner, “Damn students, a good days work wouldn't hurt any of them”.

    This was extremely amusing as at the time I don't think that any of us was a student and I think we had Bob Cleveland, Eric Roberts, and Terry Hood, at least, who were well past their first flush of youth.

    Mo Ogg found ‘Congress at Laceby’ the tune, in the Scunthorpe Museum, from manuscripts of Joshua Gibbons.

    Joshua Gibbons (1778-1871) was a paper-maker from Tealby (near Market Rasen). Pete Sumner is re-publishing his collection any time now (spring1997). Apparently the paper was of very high quality and exported all over the world.

    I think it was at the time when a lady called Denise Hillhouse was the curator and she knew Mo (I think she lived at Winteringham or at least used to drink in the Bay Horse, one of Mo’s locals), I remember Mo being quite excited at the time.

    Prior to Denise there used to be this grumpy old man as curator and you had to book 3 weeks in advance and know exactly what you wanted to see before you could get a look in the Museum!

    When I lived in Normanby, there was the local post-lady, Miss Dent, who, when hearing of my involvement with the Plough-Jags gave me a cutting from the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph about the Burton Plough -Jags, together with a small photo.

    The article printed the whole script, which, incidentally, was more or less as we still do it.

    That was the overriding impression I got at the Riseholme Plough-Jag Convention organised by Brian Dawson, that even though the characters may be slightly different and the words spoken by different characters, the words were remarkably similar.

    Terry Hood was the original Bearded Lady, a role resurrected by Gordon Griffin in recent years.      When Paul Brown was the Lady, he had a special bra made at the Warner’s underwear factory. (I think he knew someone who worked there) This made his boobs very firm and his party trick was to balance his pint on them. The year we were at Riseholme he was demonstrating this trick to Vikki Clayton and, fair play to her, she tried to do the same, and almost made it to the loud applause from the lads.

    We used to accost the barmaids or waitresses and rub make-up off onto their cheeks. Various members of the cast used to get a bit carried away with this pursuit and, to be fair, I don't recall too many of them objecting, though they did run for cover.


    Editor’s note: - Denise Hillhouse was famous for her collection of knickers. She was once featured in a Sunday paper as a knickers collector.