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Stories from Traditional Music Day 2011
We invited jig doll expert Pat Pickles to visit Traditional Music Day again as part of the celebration of our tenth year. She brought some of her collection of jig dolls and also a tiny fraction of her vast collection of postcards featuring folk music, dance and customs. This is her story of her experiences ...
Pat Pickles and the Revenge of the Dancing Dolls
Oh yes! These little dears do have feelings and do let you know about it if you ignore them for a while.
As most of you know by now, Katie (Howson, co-director of EATMT) and I have been concentrating on an update
of the jig doll book ("The Brightest of Entertainers" - Pat & Rennie Pickles, 1987). Examining and researching
other dolls, whilst mine languished at home in their display case. Even when at home with them, I had my share
of one of Katie's well known "To do" lists.
I never thought of all this when I picked out a few dolls to pack into a case to take to Traditional Music Day on
September 3rd 2011. Of course the two "Dancing Dinahs" and the big horse made by Belgian Chris Geris behaved
perfectly. They, being more recent acquisitions weren't used to the system. The others thought "OK, when she
feels like it, we can go out - just wait!"
It all kicked off when I'd been eulogising over the doll my neighbour had made so beautifully - and then the
afore-mentioned doll's leg fell off! The wooden peg joining leg to body had just splintered.
Going back to my comfort zone, I picked up one of Rennie's early dolls. I'd changed the foot fixings made from
staples to eyelet screws - experimenting on the original diagrams, found it was unsatisfactory and changed
back to staples. He kicked a foot off.
Then came the copy of Mr Jollyboy - a wonderful jazz dancer. He cast a leg and not only that, lost the screw, s
o - well prepared as I was, with a screwdriver - I couldn't replace it.
The pretty little girl from Les Sortileges group has always been well-behaved if you play her a waltz - well, we sang
her a waltz and, with gay abandon, she flung off an arm! (This is the doll in the photo on the right.)
At the end of the session one of the group commented "One may be an accident, two is funny ..." to which I
added "... and three's downright careless!"
A big thank you to all the local dolls who behaved and showed themselves off beautifully.
I was saddened to know of the death of Ron Rowe, and excellent and prolific jig doll maker (from Rendham,
Suffolk). May of his dolls are around in Suffolk, often a likeness of the person who owns them. Fortunately
we need not mourn the demise of the Rowe dolls. Ron's daughter-in-law Sandy was with us and we can be
assured that she is both willing and well able to continue the family tradition.
Postcards don't hold grudges
Welcoming people to the Postcard browsing session was a delight. My cards included concertinas, concertina bands, comic bands (you should have been there!), melodeons, accordions, fiddles with some of their renowned players. There was also quite a large selection of clogs, clog dancers and step dancers (some comic). It was good that the browsers felt at ease to pick up the sleeves in which the postcards are mounted to examine them more closely and also felt free to ask questions and make comments.The response has prompted me to decide to show cards in that way again. No more display boards; hands on is better. Hope I can make it next year with a different selection of postcards.
And the rest?
I'm sure everyone felt as I did., that a whole weekend had been packed into one day of joy and wonderment. Thanks to splendid organisation and that amazing band of Friends of EATMT - ever present, ever helpful, and always with a smile - a very happy and successful event.
Click here to visit our jig dolls page.
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