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TITLE
Memories of a showman - visiting characters
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_SINCLAIR_WILLHAY_05
PERIOD
1980s; 1990s
CREATOR
Will Hay
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
2285
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 talks about some of the characters who used to visit the funfair.

Ye get the drunks boys coming doon there at nights, an a squad o kids is follow em - an wages in them days is probably a pound or so a week - well, that wan would come doon an there'd be a squad o kids behind him - strangers - there was no violence or nothing wi them in them days. They'd start beltin a coconut. Won a car, an he'd give it to the bairns an the bairns used to follow him roon, an these boys used to spend all their earnings on the kids. Just for fun. Because the shows only came once a year, an there was no telly, there was no buses, there was no trains, there was no pictures, nothing. They just saved up for that one event every year.

An these boys would go round the whole showground. An before they went out a showground, some of the show boys would go, 'Hey, come here, come here!' an they'd call him over. 'Here's a couple of coconuts for yersel' an they'd give him something for hisel. Course, coconuts in them days was a pound a bag. Ye're maybe charging thruppence a shot, but that man might spend a pound an no win a coconut. So they always went home wi something in them days; the old showmen was good. Never let anybody get off the ground without giving them somethin. If one of them happened to be comin doon passed our stall, an our stall was the last one off the ground, an ye didnae see him wi anything, ye'd say, 'Did ye win anything the night, boy?' 'Nah', 'Ah, just a minute.' They'd give him a coconut or a doll. But they never let him go off the ground in them days, without something. Or a brooch, or something, ye know? Something he could say, 'Well, I got something', ye know?

Interviewer: It's good business, isn't it?

Aye, it was, well the kids used to enjoy it in them days. Well, now when you see the drunks coming on the ground ye just avoid them if ye can because they're just vandals now. There's no such a thing now as spending money an enjoying yersels, it's just about wickedness now. Oh, we used to like to see the drunk men coming cause we knew fine we was going to get every penny that they'd got, ye know? Cause they're going to spend it anyway - either on us or drinks - so we might as well have it. But they were good days them. Oh aye. We used to like to see the drunk men. All the wee kids - soon as ye seen a drunk man ye latched on the back o him right away, ye know? An ye'd go an ye'd stand at a shop an ye'd say, 'Oh that ice cream, mannie!' 'Oh, ye want an ice cream?' an he'd buy you an ice cream like that. An then ye waited for another drunk man, 'Oh, look at that bonnie sweeties in there mannie!' Oh, he'd buy you a sweetie then, ye know? That's the way they were. Generous, kind-hearted folk in them days. But now there's a difference altogether now

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Memories of a showman - visiting characters

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 talks about some of the characters who used to visit the funfair.<br /> <br /> Ye get the drunks boys coming doon there at nights, an a squad o kids is follow em - an wages in them days is probably a pound or so a week - well, that wan would come doon an there'd be a squad o kids behind him - strangers - there was no violence or nothing wi them in them days. They'd start beltin a coconut. Won a car, an he'd give it to the bairns an the bairns used to follow him roon, an these boys used to spend all their earnings on the kids. Just for fun. Because the shows only came once a year, an there was no telly, there was no buses, there was no trains, there was no pictures, nothing. They just saved up for that one event every year. <br /> <br /> An these boys would go round the whole showground. An before they went out a showground, some of the show boys would go, 'Hey, come here, come here!' an they'd call him over. 'Here's a couple of coconuts for yersel' an they'd give him something for hisel. Course, coconuts in them days was a pound a bag. Ye're maybe charging thruppence a shot, but that man might spend a pound an no win a coconut. So they always went home wi something in them days; the old showmen was good. Never let anybody get off the ground without giving them somethin. If one of them happened to be comin doon passed our stall, an our stall was the last one off the ground, an ye didnae see him wi anything, ye'd say, 'Did ye win anything the night, boy?' 'Nah', 'Ah, just a minute.' They'd give him a coconut or a doll. But they never let him go off the ground in them days, without something. Or a brooch, or something, ye know? Something he could say, 'Well, I got something', ye know?<br /> <br /> Interviewer: It's good business, isn't it?<br /> <br /> Aye, it was, well the kids used to enjoy it in them days. Well, now when you see the drunks coming on the ground ye just avoid them if ye can because they're just vandals now. There's no such a thing now as spending money an enjoying yersels, it's just about wickedness now. Oh, we used to like to see the drunk men coming cause we knew fine we was going to get every penny that they'd got, ye know? Cause they're going to spend it anyway - either on us or drinks - so we might as well have it. But they were good days them. Oh aye. We used to like to see the drunk men. All the wee kids - soon as ye seen a drunk man ye latched on the back o him right away, ye know? An ye'd go an ye'd stand at a shop an ye'd say, 'Oh that ice cream, mannie!' 'Oh, ye want an ice cream?' an he'd buy you an ice cream like that. An then ye waited for another drunk man, 'Oh, look at that bonnie sweeties in there mannie!' Oh, he'd buy you a sweetie then, ye know? That's the way they were. Generous, kind-hearted folk in them days. But now there's a difference altogether now