Plough Jagg’s Play : Bassingham - 1952

E.H.Rudkin (1952)


Folk Play Home Scripts Intro County List Class List Characters

Context:
Location: Bassingham, Lincolnshire, England (SK9059)
Year: Publ. 1952
Time of Occurrence: Plough Monday
Collective Name: Plough Jaggs

Source:

Mrs. E.H.Rudkin
A Plough Jagg's Play
Lincolnshire Poacher, Winter 1952, Vol.I, No.1, pp.25-30


Cast: (Click on any name for the character name index.)
Text:

{Enter Tom Fool.}

Tom Fool:

In comes I, bold Tom,
a brave and brisk young fellow,
I've come to taste of your beef and ale;
they say it's ripe and mellow.
Good evening, Ladies and Gents all,
it's Plough Week as makes Thomas so bold as to call.
And I hope you won't be offended at what few words I've got to say,
Because there's a few more chaps coming on the way.
Some can dance, and some can sing.
With your consent they shall come in.
Oakum, Pokum, France and Spain,
in comes the Sergeant all the same.

{Enter the Recruiting Sergeant.}

Rec. Ser.:

In come I the Recruiting Sergeant;
I have arrived here just now.
I've had orders from the King to enlist all men
that follow cart, horse or plough.
Tinkers, tailers, peddlers, nailers, all the more to my advance.
The more I hear the fiddle play the better I can dance.

Tom Fool:

Faith, lad, do think a Fool came to see thee dance?

Rec. Ser.:

I can either dance, sing or say.

Tom Fool:

If you are going to dance I shall soon run away.

{Enter Ribboner, singing:}

Ribboner:

Good people pay attention, and listen to my song.
I'll tell you of a pretty fair maid,
Before the time is long.
I'm almost broken hearted,
The truth I do declare,
Since love has so enticed me, and drawn me in a snare.

Tom Fool: {to Ribboner}

Cheer up, young man, don't die in despair;
Perhaps in a short time the Lady will be here.

{Enter Lady.}

Lady:

Behold the Lady, bright and gay,
Good Fortune and sweet charms;
How scornfully I've been thrown away
Right out of my true lover's arms.
He swears if I don't wed with him,
As you will understand,
He'll enlist for a soldier,
And go to some foreign land.

Rec. Ser.: {sings}

Come all ye lad's that's' bound for listing
Enlist and do not be afraid.
You shall have all kinds of liquors,
Likewise kiss the pretty, fair maid.

Ribboner: {sings}

Thank you kind Sergeant, I like your offer,
Time away will quickly pass.
Dash my wig if I'll wait any longer
Gere for a proud and saucy lass.

Rec. Ser.

Ten bright guineas shall be your bounty
If along with me you'll go;
Your hat shall be well trimmed with ribbons
And we will cut a gallant show.

Ribboner {sings}

Thank you, kind Sergeant, I like you better,
If I stay longer I may fare worse.
Dash my wig if I will grieve any longer
Here for a proud and saucy lass.

Rec. Ser.:

Are you free-hearted and willing?

Ribboner:

Yes.

Rec. Ser.

Then in your hand I place this shilling.

Lady: {sings}

And since my love has enlisted and joined the Volunteers
I do not mean to sigh for him, nor yet to shed a tear;
I've got another sweetheart and with him I will go

Tom Fool: {sings}

Madam, I've got gold and silver,
Madam, I've got home and land,
Madam, I've got rings and jewels,
And they stand at your command.

Lady: {sings}

What care I for your rings and jewels?
What care I for your house and land?
What care I for your gold and silver
When all I want is a handsome man?

Tom Fool: {sings}

A handsome man will not maintain you;
Beauty it will fade away
Like a rose that blooms in summer,
And in winter will decay.
{spoken} Well, dost thou love me, my pretty fair maid?

Lady:

Yes, Tommy, to my sorrow.

Tom Fool:

When shall be our wedding day?

Lady:

Tommy love, to-morrow.

All: {sing}

To my ran-too-roolem-roolem-ray
And we will get wed to-morrow.

Tom Fool:

Here, stop all this hip skip jigging about!
I want to ask a few of you skip-me-jacks and skip-me-dolls
To me and my wife's wedding
What you like best you had better bring
What we like best we are going to have.

Rec. Serg.:

What's that, Tommy?

Tom Fool:

A leg of a lark and a louse roasted,
A round off a farthing loaf and a thumping toast.

Rec. Ser.:

Edge about, Boys, there's a wedding on to-morrow.

{Enter Farmer's Man.}

Far. Man:

In comes I, the Farmer's Man,
Don't you see my whip in hand?
I go forth and plough my Master's land,
And turn it upside down.
Straight I go from end to end,
Neither make a baulk or bend,
And to my horses I attend,
As I go marching round the end.
Gee-back!, Whoa!

{Enter Hopper Joe.}

Hopper Joe:

In comes I, old Hopper Joe;
I can either plough, reap, sow or mow,
I hope the Master will bestow,
All he can afford us.

{Enter Dame Jane, with a baby.}

Dame Jane:

In comes I, old Dame Jane,
with a neck as long as any old crane
Dib dab over yon high meadows.
Once I was a blooming maid,
But now a darned old widow.
Long have I sought thee,
Now have I caught thee.
Here Tommy, take to the baby. {Hands him the Baby}

Tom Fool:

Baby, Jenny?
None of mine!
Who sent you here with it?

Dame Jane:

The Overseers of the Parish said I was to take it
to the biggest Fool I could find,
and I think you be him.
For his eyes, nose, mouth and chin
Are as much like you as ever it can grin.

Tom Fool:

Take it and swear it to the Parish Pump, you saucy old jade!

{Enter Belzebub.}

Belzebub:

In comes I, Belzebub,
on my shoulder I carry my club,
In my hand a whit-leather frying pan.
Don't you think I'm a funny old man?
Is there any old woman here as can stand before me?

Dame Jane:

Yes, me -
for my head is made of iron,
my body made of steel,
my hands and feet of knuckle bones,
and no man can make me feel.

Belzebub

If your head is made of iron,
And your body made of steel,
And your shins are made of knuckle bones,
I can make me feel.

{Strikes Dame Jane, singing.}

I will bash you, slash you, as small as flies,
Send you to Jamaica to make mince pies.

Tom Fool:

Belzebub! Belzebub! Look what you've done!
Killed poor old Dame Jane and lamed her son!
Five pounds for a doctor!

Belzebub:

Ten to stop away!

Tom Fool:

Fifteen to come, in a case like this, and he must come!

Doctor: {Outside.}

Whoa! Boy, hold my horse, he's only a donkey.
Hold him by the tail and mind he don't kick you,
and I'll show you the rusty side of a brass ha'penny when I come out again.

{Enter Doctor.}

In comes I, the Doctor.

Tom Fool:

What! You a doctor?

Doctor:

Yes, me a Doctor.

Tom Fool:

And how came you to be a doctor?

Doctor:

I travelled for it.

Tom Fool:

And where did you travel?

Doctor:

England, Ireland, France and Spain
And back to doctor old England again.

Tom Fool:

What pains can you cure?

Doctor:

Ippsy, pipsy, palsy and the gout,
Pains within and pains without.
Set a tooth, draw a leg,
Cure a pain at the back of the head.

Tom Fool:

Is them all the great cures you can do?

Doctor

No ;
Once I went a 52 mile ride yon side of York.
To cure old Mother Cork;
She tumbled upstairs
with an empty tea-pot full of flour,
Grazed her skin bone
and made her stocking top bleed;
I cured that.

Tom Fool:

You seem a very clever doctor,
you had better try your skill.

Doctor:

Thank you, sir, and so I will.
This old woman's very low,
and she will not get a deal lower unless I dig a hole under her.
She's been trying this new experiment.

Tom Fool:

What's that, doctor?

Doctor:

She's been living on green boiled tatey-tops
for three weeks without water,
and trying to cut her throat with a wooden iron rolling-pin,
accidentally done on purpose.
She has also swallowed a donkey and cart,
and the wheels won't go round.
But never mind.
Inside my trousers breeches waistcoat pocket-lining pocket
I've got a box of pills -
These pills are Persian pills -
I should give one in the morning,
and two at night,
and the box at dinner time.
If the pills don't digest, the box will.
I'll give her a little of my whiff-waff
and let it run down her tiff-taff
and it'll heal her wounds and cleanse her blood
and do the old soul a lot of good.
This old woman's not dead,
She's only in a trance;
So raise her up and let her dance.
If she can dance we can sing,
So raise her up and let's begin. {Dame Jane gets up.}

All: {sing}

'Good Master and good Mistress,
as you sit round your fire,
Remember us poor Plough Boys,
who plough through mud and mire,
The mire it is so very deep,
the water is so clear.
We thank you for your Christmas Box
and a jug of your best beer.

Hopper Joe:

Here hold on about your pitchers of beer!
I see nothing in the old hopper yet.

Tom Fool:

What do you want to see in the old hopper, Joe?

Hopper Joe:

Pork pie and mince pie.
I'm easy as hungry as you are dry.

Tom Fool:

Take the old hopper round and see what the good folks will give thee.

Hopper Joe:

You are the biggest Fool, you may go round yourself.

All: {sing}

You see our song is ended,
You see our Fool has gone;
We're making it our business
To follow him along.
We thank you for civility,
And what you gave us here;
We wish you all a very good night,
And another happy New Year.

{Exit all.}


Notes:

Ethel Rudkin's introduction:

"Plough Monday was the first Monday after Twelfth Night ; on that night the local ploughmen went from house to house performing their mummer's play, each character dressed in traditional costume. In different districts they were called Plough Jacks, Plough Boggans, Plough Stots, or just Plough Boys. Two plough lines were attached to a plough with sticks fastened across the parallel lines at intervals ; between each stick walked a man for the 'horses'; another man guided the plough, while the 'wagoner' walked beside them with a long whip, or gad, with an inflated pig's bladder on the end of the lash. The plough was trailed (without wheels) so as to be ready for action. When the team arrived at a house they asked civilly for admittance which was usually granted readily enough, for is was considered good luck to let them in ; but should the householder prove surly, or bid them be gone, then a goodly furrow was ploughed on his lawn or garden, or his doorstep was ploughed up. If the householder came out to drive them off, then he was set on with stout sticks, which were carried for such emergencies.

The team often visited other villages on subsequent nights, going as far afield as eight miles, performing their play at house after house, only getting home again in time for work next morning.

Each village had its own version, some fuller that others; the humour is crude and simple. In the Bassingham version there is no Hobby Horse, and Bold Black or Sir George are missing ; but always the theme is the same - a fight in which one of the combatants is killed; a doctor is called who revives him (or her) with magic elixir ; the deceased then comes to life again and joins in a general song and dance.

Barrow-on-Humber have recently revived their play; here the only character who could play the concertina was the Hobby Horse, which made an amusing combination.

Unfortunately police regulations have stopped the performance of these plays as they were originally intended; they may not go from house to house taking money.

This script was given to me by Dr.O.Johnson of Bassingham.

Carlton-le-Moorland had a similar version, which was last performed in 1934."


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23rd Dec.2000 - Entered by Peter Millington

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