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Christmas Play from Blennerhasset, Cumberland 1930

S.Mycock (1990)

Context

Location: 
Blennerhasset
NY1741
Time of Occurrence: 
Christmas
Collective name: 
[Not given]

Source

Author: 
Sue Mycock
Title: 
A Cumbrian Mumming Play, or Serendipity Strikes Again
Publication: 
English Dance & Song, 1990, Vol.52, No.4, pp.2-3

Cast

Leader / Fool
Father Christmas
Turkish Knight
King George
Doctor / Doctor Brown
Johnny Cunny

Text

{CHRISTMAS PLAY FROM BLENNERHASSET (near Aspatria, in Cumbria)}

{KNOCK ON DOOR}

{Enter Leader/Fool:}

[Leader/Fool]

I open the door, I enter in
I beg your pardon to begin,
Stir up the fire and make a light
Or in this house there'll be a fight!

{Alternative introduction:}

Father Christmas:

Here comes in old Father Christmas
Welcome or welcome not,
I hope old Father Christmas
Will never be forgot.
When I was a boy I used to go in orchards
To steal apples to make gooseberry pies!
I was born in a rocky country
Where there was no wood to make me a cradle of
I was born round-shouldered ...
And I'm round-shouldered yet!
Here comes in the Turkish Knight.

{Enter Turkish Knight:}

[Turkish Knight]

I've come from Turkey land to fight
And if King George will meet me here
I'll try my courage without fear.
Here comes in King George!

{Enter King George:}

[King George]

King George is my name...
With a sword and a spear by my side,
I'll knock you down in half a minute!

Turkish Knight:

You, Sir?

King George:

I, Sir!
Pick up your sword and try, Sir!

{THEY FIGHT AND KING GEORGE KILS THE TURKISH KNIGHT.}

King George:

O see what I have done:
I've killed my father's eldest son!
I wonder if there's any five pound doctors in this town?

{Enter Doctor:}

[Doctor]

Here comes in old Doctor Brown
Best old doctor in the town.

King George:

What can you cure?

Doctor:

That dead man lying down there.
Take a drop of my ipsy-pipsy –
Rise up and sing a song!

{MINISTERS TO TURKISH KNIGHT, WHO GETS UP AND SINGS. ALL MAY JOIN IN}

Turkish Knight:

Once I was dead, now I'm alive
With a pocket full of money and a cellar full of beer
I wish you Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year.

{Enter Johnny Cunny:}

[Johnny Cunny]

In comes I little Johnny Cunny,
I'm the man that takes the money.
If you haven't got a penny
A halfpenny will do.
If you haven't got a halfpenny
God bless you!

Notes

Collected from Joe and Hilda Lawson, 1990 by Sue Mycock (now Sue Allan).

"...between them, the one filling in the gaps when the other faltered, Hilda and Joe recited – with not a little argument over details of exact wording – the text of a complete, if short, mummers play. They'd performed it at Christmas time, going from house to house through the village when they were children. 'It was just something you did then, wasn't it?' They'd [not] done it for sixty-odd years, but still the words were there, engraved in childhood memory.

'It was the boys that did it,' they told me (I never did find out how Hilda knew it so well!) 'But we had no special costume you know,' said Joe, 'Just father's auld clothes, turned inside out; caps turned back to front and wi' blacked faces.'"