2020 Jag Day

Generally fine day, rain stayed off until evening. Mild for the time of year.
Collected for British Heart Foundation: £380   
Minibus from Ready Rent-a-Van of Normanby Rd Scunthorpe organised by Dave Barlow
Started at West Common Crescent, Scunthorpe.

11.00  Gainsborough Market Place - Plough Jag
11 30  Sweyn Forkbeard, Gainsborough - Coffee and Brunch
12.30  Eight Jolly Brewers, Gainsborough - Plough Jag, songs and tunes    
14.00  The Queen's Head, Kirton in Lindsey - Plough Jag and songs
15.30  The Sun and Anchor. Scotter - Plough Jag, songs and tunes
17.00  The Malt Shovel, Ashby - Plough Jag and a good meal            
19.00  The Three Horseshoes, Scotton - Plough Jag, songs and tunes
20.30  The Sheffield Arms, Burton upon Stather - Plough Jag, songs and tunes
21.30  The Bay Horse, Winteringham - Plough Jag and songs          


Rag Fool                        John Baker (s)      
Recruiting Sergeant        Geoff Convery (s)       
The Lady                       Gordon Griffin        
The Horse                      Eamon Greene -Gainsborough venues
                                    Fran Ross -Malt Shovel and onwards
                                    Horse was missing at Kirton and Scotter
Joe Straw                      Steve Hindley (s)        
Flash Hatman                Keith Brown, (m)
Beelzebub                     Dave Barlow (s)
The Doctor                    Geoff Miller (s)   
Dame Jane                    Martin Campbell
Besom Betty                 Gordon Griffin    
Hatman                        Dot Griffin (s)
Hatman                        Dick Skinner- The Green Man (m)
Hatman                        David Ogg

Musician at Gainsborough Market Place & Eight Jolly Brewers only – Jerry Oakes (fiddle).

The letter 's'  indicates a sword dancer on the day.
The letter 'm' indicates a musician who played for the sword dance within the Plough Jag Play.

Regular 'Fool', Eamon Greene, dropped out due to illness and at the last minute, Colin Spence- most recently the Horse, had to drop out due to family illness, but he said that he hoped to catch up with us during the day.
New member, David Ogg, Maurice Ogg's younger brother, had been introduced to us last year and had wanted to be in the Jag so badly that he went out and bought himself a very tidy set of clothes to be a Hatman. So it seemed unfair to ask him to be the horse at the last minute, so we opted to set off without the hoss, hoping that Colin Spence would catch up with us at some point.

As we drove into Gainsborough, who should we see but Eamon Greene, walking along. He had felt well enough to come to Gainsborough to come and watch the Jag, so he was pressganged into being the Horse for the Market place and the Eight Jolly Brewers.
Yet again there was a good and appreciative crowd in Gainsborough Market place, many of whom had come along specifically to see the Jag. Sadly there were very few market stalls to be seen.

To anyone watching, the sword dance would have been slightly unusual, as Dot Griffin managed to trip over a bootlace, and fell flat on her back. Fortunately she was unhurt, and Gordon  Griffin, the Lady, stepped in whilst she tied up her lace and the dance continued. Dot then rejoined the dance and continued until the other lace came undone, at which point she dropped out (not fell out, this time) and Gordon stepped in again until all secure and Dot rejoined. Should have had a video of that!    
Lunch/brunch was taken at the Sweyn Forkbeard.

The Eight Jolly Brewers was a good venue, as usual, and some singing and good tunes were performed after the Jag, including tunes from the fiddle of Jerry Oakes, Dick Skinner's melodeon and Keith Brown's concertina. Fran Ross volunteered to be the horse during the evening if Colin didn't turn up.

 The next venue was the Queen's Head, in Kirton in Lindsey. The horse was absent but there was horse racing on the television so we said that it had probably gone racing. A surprising amount of people turned out just to see the Plough Jag and the reception was excellent. Surprising, because of the short notice for this being a tour venue after the Pink Pig dropped out – more later about this.

At the Sun and Anchor the Jag was well received and the pub provided some tasty snacks. The Horse was still absent, leaving Joe Straw looking for it forlornly. Songs and tunes were not so plentiful as earlier in the day, but the standard was good. We were joined by Chris Marshall, who recorded a video of the event.

On arrival at The Malt Shovel, Fran Ross was true to her word and performed as the Hobby Hoss. Thus she became the very first woman to have a speaking part in the cast of the Coleby Plough Jag. Well done Fran!
For many years, hatmen (apart from the Flash Hatman) were not even acknowledged as being part of the Jag, but even the first performances included a female hatman. Sue Dalton was a hatman for many years and Dot Griffin has been a hatman and sword dancer for most years since 2006. None of the ladies who appeared as hatmen had a speaking part, and, until Dot, did not appear on team photographs. The exception to this being  Jan Oliver who appeared in the photograph at Normanby Park in 1973 ( 2nd from the left).
Thanks to Mary-Anne Hindley, the food at the Malt Shovel was pre-ordered, paid for, and organised early in the day, and consequently went without a hitch.

At the Three Horse Shoes at Scotton, there was a select and appreciative, audience who were very receptive to the Jag and the songs and tunes that followed. Many thanks to the new landlord and landlady, Darren and Emma Butler, for still welcoming the Plough Jag, after many years of hosting by John and Denise, who have now 'retired'.
At the Sheffield Arms, Debbie, the landlady, had been looking forward to the performance, and many old friends turned up to see the Jag. Again, songs and tunes followed.
Thanks, once more, to the efforts of Kay Ashberry, the Jag was performed at the Bay Horse in Winteringham. A good sized, interested, audience gave a great response to the Jag and the songs that followed. The landlord and landlady kindly provided sausages and chips.

For the first time, since Mo Ogg collected the Coleby Plough Jag, there was some resistance, by some venues, to having performers who wore black makeup. The Pink Pig did not want us if black faces were to appear, and the proposed alternative of the Café Independent was not prepared to have us for the same reason. Both would have been prepared to have the Jag performed if there were no black faces!

Traditionally, it is unlikely that the performers in the Plough Jag, or any mummers play, had access to many colours of makeup, which was used to disguise the performers -  necessary, particularly when they were threatening  to carry out acts of vandalism (e.g. ploughing up a lawn) if they were not given food, drink or money. The performance of the Plough Jag, and similar mummers plays from around the country, was primarily a begging exercise, to help the labourers through the winter months and wearing a disguise helped to maintain anonymity, and self-respect.

The purpose of the Coleby Ploughjag was always to preserve a long held tradition, and the collection of monies has always been for charity, and an 'incidental' part of the performance.
Black, using coal, soot, or charcoal, would have been the easiest and cheapest for the Jag performers, for they were farmworkers, not well-off people. Red, from the roots of plants, like red beet, or red flower petals or strawberries, would also have been cheap and easily available, as it was used for rouge for centuries. White would have been not much of a disguise in the form most common to poor i.e. chalk. White make up in the form used mainly by the rich from the 16th century used white lead and vinegar and latterly arsenic, and was expensive, and also lethal.

 Black 'makeup' is discernible on old photos, since they were black and white or sepia, but other colours are not obvious.  Furthermore the tradition predates any 'minstrel show' and bears no resemblance to the minstrel form of blackface. Considering the state of the farming industry up until the First World War, very few, if any, farm labourers even saw a black skinned person let alone considered that a black face was a caricature of one.

In 2017 we published a document by the Morris Federation which detailed the legal position and recommendations. This publication has resulted in the reduction of use of black faces in Morris sides and some Mummers teams. Often the black has remained but been used in conjunction with other colours . The vote at that time was to stick to the tradition.