Well, it comes to something when even the local vicar comments on how well everyone gets on. We should start an argument about something, or she’ll be out a job: anyone want to discuss how to start a Bampton dance….?!! On a less surreal note, our links with the illustrious Greensleeves Morris who host this annual event go back over many decades. So it is no wonder that once the dancing is over, the food and ale are spread before us and the jokes, old stories and competing memories come out that there is a spirit in the air as rich as any peat-soaked single malt.
It is a privilege to be invited to attend an event where we are welcomed not just by Greensleeves but by the whole village. This year, where the prolonged summer weather has led to it been contrasted with 1976, we may admit to the level of dancing occasionally wilting like the flowers in a window box but the pleasure was as ripe as ever. Leaving us, as I say, feeling rather chipper in Chipperfield
Competition came into play tonight as we danced with our new friends, Dorking-based Rampant Roosters. With England playing Belgium in the World Cup the stark truth that more people were inside watching it was slightly diluted by the person who commented, “Right now the Morris Dancers are more interesting than the football!” Outside there was drama aplenty as the Roosters mix of borders and Cotswolds battled it out with our own dances and a few that we managed together in what turned into a good natured war of attrition. But the only victory we were pushing for of course is that by the end of the evening we’d definitely won some new friends.
Refreshments were obtained at the friendly Royal Oak. There is indeed a majestic oak just outside it. England has come a long way since royalty had to hide in oak trees, of course, and who wouldn’t be glad of that? It’s just a shame we have not come far enough to stop us losing to Belgium…
A regular and popular evening on the agenda, tonight’s visit was bathed in glorious sunshine, as seen by the sunlit common in the background of the some of the pictures.
Our first visit, at the Sportsman, had us dancing some old favourites starting with an Upton Stick dance, normally one we save for later in the evening when the blood has started flowing (and, let’s face it, so has the ale!). The energetic start set the tone for the evening as man piled in to be part of the action we actually had enough for two sets at one point.
We always get a friendly welcome at the Sportsman but it would have to be said that the evening was finished off in the grandest of styles at our next stop, The Tree on Box Hill. Now, we do usually get warm welcomes from most of the pubs we visit, sometimes a free drink or something to eat. Few landlords stretch to achieving what the gallant Kyle did at the Tree and come out from behind the bar and join in. I’ve attached a video of what was a remarkably proficient effort given that he’d never seen Morris Dancing before. (I should say in his defence, he doesn’t normally serve drinks in this attire, he was actually working outside when we arrived). Thank you to Kyle and Becky for being such great hosts.
You might be tempted to think looking at us that Morris Dancing is for (to use the delightful phrase from the Book of Common Prayer) “Such as are of riper years.” I mean, let’s face it, I’ve been asked to run this account as one the younger members – and I became a Grandfather last year!
But let us not forget that many of us started as young men and traditionally it is a young man’s sport. We had a great reminder of this recently. It was an utter joy to find ourselves joined by two men from the Buckland Shag Morris Men at the Skimmington Castle, and when they offered to do a jig…well, we certainly weren’t going to stop that kind of enthusiasm.
With their permission we gladly show the video here, and hope it serves also an invitation, for such as are of less-ripe years. Please feel free to come along, get in touch, try it out…
And thanks to John and Sam. Buckland Shag are best followed through their Facebook Account if you want to see more of them.
Yes! It’s that time of year again! Join East Surrey Morris Men as they hit the road for another festive fiesta of traditional and customary Christmas songs. Venues this year are:
8 pm The Ramblers Rest, Outwood Lane, Coulsdon, CR5 3NP.
9 pm The Woolpack, 186 High St, Banstead SM7 2NZ
10 pm The Plough, 11 Church Road, Redhill RH1 6QE
This year we will be collecting for the charity the Stroke Association. As ever it is one that is close to our hearts for personal reasons, but our aim is to help you settle into the festive season with a riot of music. It may be more hearty than arty, but we need your help to make it happen. Come and join us for as many venues as you can make.
P.S. Looking at the dictionary definition we seem especially short of those who can warble – all warblers welcome!
Ah! It is that time of year again. We find ourselves privileged to be invited once again to dance at the fete of the College of St Barnabas, a home for retired gentle-vicars in the heart of the Sussex countryside. In we walked. A blazers-and-straw-hats jazz trio, comprising banjo, trombone and sousaphone, were playing in the marquee; the retired clergy were entertaining visitors with witty anecdotes that ended in uproarious laughter; the ladies in the tea tent were armed with a resolute cheerfulness and an apparently endless supply of cream scones, victoria sponge and chocolate cake served on china plates with carefully folded napkins, and tea served in cups with handles too small for fingers swollen by years of being thwacked with sticks; the hobby horse was unharmed and had recovered his composure if not his dignity after falling off the miniature steam locomotive that ran, temporarily, over the croquet lawn; and the dancers had just finished a handkerchief dance that was first recorded over a century ago in the Cotswold village of Fieldtown. It was, in short, as though in this election week Britannia had stepped off her wild chariot of political upheaval and for this brief moment was clutching us tightly into her strong and stable bosom.
Man of the match must surely go to Ray today for not only the imagination to see what the train would look like with Old Tom on the back of it and the courage to try it out, but also the perseverance to get back on again once he had fallen off once! For safety reasons I should add – Do not try this at home, it must only be done by trained professionals: I did ask the train operator and no one has actually done a risk assessment for a horse on the train. The expression on the girl’s faces is priceless, as though when they had woken up that morning they had absolutely no inkling this was a position in which they might find themselves during the day….!
Thank you, College of St Barnabas for another memorable day.
First full day of dance got off to a cracking start in a day of glorious sunshine with a procession down Horsham High Street followed by dancing at various spots through the town. Brilliantly arranged, with dancing from all over over the country including the thundering drums and yells from the borders, a variety. of Cotswolds team and our friends, Penny Royal Clog dancers.
And the cherry on top was some high praise for our dancing quality from our hosts, Broadwood Morris Men. Thank you. We try.
Yes the 2017 programme kicks off in customary style with a fine display of traditional Cotswold Morris at the Plough in Redhill to celebrate St George’s Day. The Plough excelled themselves this year with a live band and a fine feast for hungry dancers. Thank you.
And let us not also forget it is also Shakespeare’s birthday. The bard wrote: “…let us [fight] with no show of fear;
No, with no more than if we heard that England
Were busied with a Whitsun morris-dance…”
May England always be busied with a Morris Dance, whatever time of year…!