Please Sign In | Register
Google pluspinterestShare on Stumble UponShare on RedditFacebookShare on Tumblr
TITLE
Memories of a showman - 'Emma Heads'
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_SINCLAIR_WILLHAY_06
PERIOD
1980s; 1990s
CREATOR
Will Hay
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
2287
KEYWORDS
showmen
carnivals
circuses
funfairs
puppets
puppet shows
fairgrounds
audio

Get Adobe Flash player

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 one of the side-shows - 'Emma Heads'.

What we used to call 'Emma Heads', E. M. M. A., 'Emma Heads', were these pieces of four by four, maybe aboot six inches long, wi the hinge in the bottom. Now ye put the hinge ontill a long bar, another one, ye see? That meant it was added on. Now, these sticks, ye built up the faces with cloth or hair, anything at all, as along as ye made it a head. Now ye might have as many as twenty or thirty heads in a row. Now, ye could have one row, ye could have two rows, ye could have three rows. Now ye had sticks - ropes at the back jist like a clothes line, anchored onto these poles, ye see? Now, when they threw the balls at the 'Emma Heads' they knocked them down. Well, during the '14 war ye'd have 'Kaiser Bill', 'Von Hindenburg', an all the Nazis o the day, well, the Germans o the day. Course everybody was takin - knockin hell oot them. Good this, ye see? Now whenever ye come onto say, maybe, politicians that somebody hated ye just painted oot 'Kaiser Bill' an ye stuck on the politician's name. Of course, everybody had another bang. More money that way!

Now, when ye knocked all these heads down, ye see, they eventually fell flat. Well, after a while, ye just give the cord a pull, like that, from where ye were standing. It was away at the back an ye just pulled all the heads up again, fell back doon, an that was them ready for the next shot. An that's what we used to call 'Emma Heads'. They were just an 'Aunt Sally'. That was all, really. But if ye seen the boy coming doon the road, ye know, an ye didn't care much for his shaggy hair an all that, just like a tramp, 'Oh, look at the 'Emma Head' coming along', ye see? It was a derog- derogatory term, ye know? Meant, 'Oh look at that filthy looking so an so comin along the road!' [Laughter]

For guidance on the use of images and other content, please see the Terms and Conditions page.
High Life Highland is a company limited by guarantee registered in Scotland No. SC407011 and is a registered Scottish charity No. SC042593
Powered by Capture

Memories of a showman - 'Emma Heads'

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 one of the side-shows - 'Emma Heads'.<br /> <br /> What we used to call 'Emma Heads', E. M. M. A., 'Emma Heads', were these pieces of four by four, maybe aboot six inches long, wi the hinge in the bottom. Now ye put the hinge ontill a long bar, another one, ye see? That meant it was added on. Now, these sticks, ye built up the faces with cloth or hair, anything at all, as along as ye made it a head. Now ye might have as many as twenty or thirty heads in a row. Now, ye could have one row, ye could have two rows, ye could have three rows. Now ye had sticks - ropes at the back jist like a clothes line, anchored onto these poles, ye see? Now, when they threw the balls at the 'Emma Heads' they knocked them down. Well, during the '14 war ye'd have 'Kaiser Bill', 'Von Hindenburg', an all the Nazis o the day, well, the Germans o the day. Course everybody was takin - knockin hell oot them. Good this, ye see? Now whenever ye come onto say, maybe, politicians that somebody hated ye just painted oot 'Kaiser Bill' an ye stuck on the politician's name. Of course, everybody had another bang. More money that way! <br /> <br /> Now, when ye knocked all these heads down, ye see, they eventually fell flat. Well, after a while, ye just give the cord a pull, like that, from where ye were standing. It was away at the back an ye just pulled all the heads up again, fell back doon, an that was them ready for the next shot. An that's what we used to call 'Emma Heads'. They were just an 'Aunt Sally'. That was all, really. But if ye seen the boy coming doon the road, ye know, an ye didn't care much for his shaggy hair an all that, just like a tramp, 'Oh, look at the 'Emma Head' coming along', ye see? It was a derog- derogatory term, ye know? Meant, 'Oh look at that filthy looking so an so comin along the road!' [Laughter]