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TITLE
Memories of a showman - Pindar's Circus
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_SINCLAIR_WILLHAY_02
PERIOD
1980s; 1990s
CREATOR
Will Hay
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
2281
KEYWORDS
showmen
carnivals
circuses
funfairs
puppets
puppet shows
fairgrounds
audio

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Will Hay was a northern showman and Punch and Judy puppeteer. He came from a family of travelling entertainers; his great grandfather, John Morrison, had joined Pindar's Circus when it was on tour in Sutherland while his grandfather, William Duncan Morrison, and uncle, Duncan Morrison, put on Punch and Judy shows in and around Inverness. The Morrisons were also well-known for their bone-setting skills.

In this audio extract, Will tells Graeme Farnell the tale of how his great-grandfather joined the circus.

Interviewer: Did you ever hear Duncan Morrison tell any stories of how this John Morrison first went into the Punch and Judy shows?

Ah can't remember that now.

Interviewer: He went - He ran off to join the circus, is that right?

That's right, he ran off tae Pindar Orr's. That's right. He was - Well, Ah remember ma granny telling me. He was up in Dunrobin Castle, working for the Duke o Sutherland or something it was, ye see? Now, in them days they had their own jails, the big shots, so this boy Williamson was poachin, an ma grandfather was very well in with this Williamson crowd cause they used to go poaching themselves, so they locked him up in the jail. Now, in Dunrobin in them days, it was long distances between towns, horses ye see, before the police came up from Tain or wherever it was, so they says, 'Right, we're gonna keep them in there for a week. Wear the hell oot them, an keep them in there for a week, an then we'll send for the police.'

But ma grandfather, he went an let him out, an let him escape. There was boats going out, of course, from Wick an Thurso an all those place. Anyway, he eventually got away an he wrote some year after, or two years afterwards, back to this country. He said he'd got till America an he settled down there, an they had to help the Morrisons ever since. But ma grandfather, ma great-grandfather, John, or whatever he was, he got flung out on the side o the road. No clothes, no money, just tossed out on his ear on the side o the road an he was sitting there when Pindar Orr came along wi the circus. So he says, 'Oh well', he says, 'I'll just go along wi them.' Well. in them days, o course, they were all horsemen, so he was good wi horses an that, an he just pulled in wi Pindar Orr an asked them could he - ? 'Oh aye', he says, 'Pindar Orr'll start off', so he started off wi Pindar Orr. An then he started off giving hands in the show, puppets an horses an things like that. An that's how he started off in the puppet show. That's old John Morrison. That was all Pindar Orr that he started off with, way back. An then, of course, ma great gran-, ma grandfather, he followed that up an then ma uncle, he followed it up

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Memories of a showman - Pindar's Circus

1980s; 1990s

showmen; carnivals; circuses; funfairs; puppets; puppet shows; fairgrounds; audio

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Bill Sinclair Audio: Will Hay, Memories of a Showman

Will Hay was a northern showman and Punch and Judy puppeteer. He came from a family of travelling entertainers; his great grandfather, John Morrison, had joined Pindar's Circus when it was on tour in Sutherland while his grandfather, William Duncan Morrison, and uncle, Duncan Morrison, put on Punch and Judy shows in and around Inverness. The Morrisons were also well-known for their bone-setting skills. <br /> <br /> In this audio extract, Will tells Graeme Farnell the tale of how his great-grandfather joined the circus.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: Did you ever hear Duncan Morrison tell any stories of how this John Morrison first went into the Punch and Judy shows? <br /> <br /> Ah can't remember that now.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: He went - He ran off to join the circus, is that right?<br /> <br /> That's right, he ran off tae Pindar Orr's. That's right. He was - Well, Ah remember ma granny telling me. He was up in Dunrobin Castle, working for the Duke o Sutherland or something it was, ye see? Now, in them days they had their own jails, the big shots, so this boy Williamson was poachin, an ma grandfather was very well in with this Williamson crowd cause they used to go poaching themselves, so they locked him up in the jail. Now, in Dunrobin in them days, it was long distances between towns, horses ye see, before the police came up from Tain or wherever it was, so they says, 'Right, we're gonna keep them in there for a week. Wear the hell oot them, an keep them in there for a week, an then we'll send for the police.'<br /> <br /> But ma grandfather, he went an let him out, an let him escape. There was boats going out, of course, from Wick an Thurso an all those place. Anyway, he eventually got away an he wrote some year after, or two years afterwards, back to this country. He said he'd got till America an he settled down there, an they had to help the Morrisons ever since. But ma grandfather, ma great-grandfather, John, or whatever he was, he got flung out on the side o the road. No clothes, no money, just tossed out on his ear on the side o the road an he was sitting there when Pindar Orr came along wi the circus. So he says, 'Oh well', he says, 'I'll just go along wi them.' Well. in them days, o course, they were all horsemen, so he was good wi horses an that, an he just pulled in wi Pindar Orr an asked them could he - ? 'Oh aye', he says, 'Pindar Orr'll start off', so he started off wi Pindar Orr. An then he started off giving hands in the show, puppets an horses an things like that. An that's how he started off in the puppet show. That's old John Morrison. That was all Pindar Orr that he started off with, way back. An then, of course, ma great gran-, ma grandfather, he followed that up an then ma uncle, he followed it up