Gill's Walkers Notes

May 1997

    In the days when John, Jan, Geoff and Mo used to practice at our house, Mo first mentioned the Plough Jag. He was working in and around Burton Stather when he started to collect bits and pieces from some of the older inhabitants, so I think it started from there.

    I remember Jan Hull and I made two smocks from traditional patterns and designs, which were from different areas of the country. The calico we used was really stiff and no amount of washing would soften it, so I think it was Jan who made the first brown smock used in the Plough-Jag. I remember her making the 'crossed bands' for Geoff to wear as Beelzebub- complete with spelling mistake! (COLBY PLOUGHJAGS). John's first jacket for the recruiting Sergeant was donated by Stuart Smith, - it was an American ex-army jacket which I dyed by boiling it in my twin tub washing machine, - the next few loads of nappies came out a delicate shade of pink! I decided to make John another jacket when the Plough-jag had started to become a regular thing. Jan and I made the lady's skirt and bonnet from the bedroom curtains we had in our first house in Horbury Close. We made the bonnet from cardboard and stuck on the fabric with Copydex, in true Blue Peter Style.

    In the first year the Plough Jag was done quite a number of times (St Hugh's school where Jan's dad was headmaster, Civic Theatre during the International Folk Week, and I think at Normanby Hall as well).

    The first few years I did the teas and then Sue Baker took over for a while.

    John always counted the takings to see how the collection was going and when he came home at the end he would count up to see what the final total was, no matter how late it was.

    In 1976 the Plough-jag team, plus Paul Empson and John Connell, Marion Hill as interpreter, and myself as Club Secretary (although I think one or two objected to this fact, but at least it was company for Marion) went on a town twinning visit to Clamart in France with the mayor of Scunthorpe Borough Council, Councillor Mrs Joyce Abey, and the Chief Executive, Colin Jeynes.

    The Folk Club was to represent Scunthorpe at the Town Twinning Ceremony by performing the Plough Jag as an example of a traditional English custom.

    A coach was hired to take us from Scunthorpe to Ramsgate, where we joined up with the borough Council officials to go on to Clamart. I shared a room with Marion Hill. John was sharing with Bob Cleveland in the next bedroom. We had some wonderful meals in different restaurants in Clamart organised by the host group. I remember John had borrowed a piano accordion (this was before the Stubblejumpers) from our next-door-but-one neighbour on the promise that he would look after it and guard it with his life. John had obviously got worse for wear and had abandoned the accordion on some bar or cafe during the evening. Luckily John Baker went into the same bar later in the evening and stumbled across it! I think John spent that night with his head stuffed down the bidet. The next day the rest of us went into Paris with a couple of the French guides, who showed us around the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, Pigalle and the Sacre Coeur, leaving John and Eric Roberts feeling rather fragile.