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the Independent on morris dancing

Jack Campin 28 May 08 - 02:42 PM
Leadfingers 28 May 08 - 02:57 PM
Cats 28 May 08 - 04:16 PM
Les in Chorlton 29 May 08 - 03:29 AM
Phil Edwards 29 May 08 - 04:42 AM
GUEST,Volgadon 29 May 08 - 04:43 AM
Ruth Archer 29 May 08 - 05:23 AM
Les in Chorlton 29 May 08 - 05:33 AM
Ruth Archer 29 May 08 - 05:57 AM
GUEST,Joe 29 May 08 - 07:07 AM
GUEST,Volgadon 29 May 08 - 07:14 AM
Phil Edwards 29 May 08 - 07:19 AM
Ruth Archer 29 May 08 - 07:26 AM
greg stephens 29 May 08 - 07:37 AM
GUEST,Joe 29 May 08 - 07:38 AM
GUEST,Volgadon 29 May 08 - 07:46 AM
Dead Horse 29 May 08 - 07:47 AM
greg stephens 29 May 08 - 07:52 AM
Les in Chorlton 29 May 08 - 08:06 AM
theleveller 29 May 08 - 08:22 AM
Les in Chorlton 29 May 08 - 08:51 AM
Phil Edwards 29 May 08 - 08:55 AM
Les in Chorlton 29 May 08 - 09:12 AM
Ruth Archer 29 May 08 - 09:34 AM
Phil Edwards 29 May 08 - 09:36 AM
Ruth Archer 29 May 08 - 09:51 AM
Les in Chorlton 29 May 08 - 09:51 AM
theleveller 29 May 08 - 11:25 AM
Ruth Archer 29 May 08 - 11:51 AM
GUEST,Joe 29 May 08 - 11:57 AM
Ruth Archer 29 May 08 - 12:00 PM
theleveller 29 May 08 - 12:10 PM
dilligafxx 29 May 08 - 12:14 PM
Les in Chorlton 29 May 08 - 12:29 PM
Ruth Archer 29 May 08 - 12:42 PM
Les in Chorlton 29 May 08 - 12:43 PM
dilligafxx 29 May 08 - 12:47 PM
Les in Chorlton 29 May 08 - 02:20 PM
GUEST,Joe 30 May 08 - 06:16 AM
Les in Chorlton 30 May 08 - 06:28 AM
glueman 30 May 08 - 06:29 AM
Ruth Archer 30 May 08 - 07:55 AM
GUEST,Volgadon 30 May 08 - 10:52 AM
GUEST,Joe 30 May 08 - 11:03 AM
Ruth Archer 30 May 08 - 11:03 AM
GUEST,Joe 30 May 08 - 11:07 AM
Ruth Archer 30 May 08 - 11:19 AM
Les in Chorlton 30 May 08 - 11:29 AM
Ruth Archer 30 May 08 - 11:36 AM
Folkiedave 30 May 08 - 11:37 AM
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Subject: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 May 08 - 02:42 PM

For once an article about morris dancing in an English newspaper where the reporter has actually gone to see it:

the Independent on Goth morris


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Leadfingers
Date: 28 May 08 - 02:57 PM

And NOT Mickey taking either !


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Cats
Date: 28 May 08 - 04:16 PM

Excellent Article! I have an everlasting memory of Wolfs Head and Vixen at Whitby a few years ago. They were dancing on the quay watched by half a dozen lads on BMX bikes who thought they owned the place. After watching WH&V for a couple of dances they just looked at each other and said, 'They're weird'. One other replied, 'They're scary'. Right both times.


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 May 08 - 03:29 AM

It repeats all the usual old rubbish about pre-christian and pagan fertility rites, none for which their is any evidence whatsoever. It also repeats the usual stereotypes of hankie waving old fools in Cotswold sides.

It really is tripe. If people want to do Goth Morris it's fine with me but please don't pretend it has any historical roots what so ever


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 May 08 - 04:42 AM

If it gets people dancing it can't be bad, but it does sound un peu pretentious. I liked the bit towards the end about how the Long Man side are doing it "to have fun and keep the tradition alive". Bor-ring!

While I'm about it, that article makes a definite association between big scary important life-and-death stuff, on one hand, and young wouldbe pagans dressed in black on the other - poor old hanky-waving Long Man, all middle-aged(!) and church-going(!!) and dancing to entertain(!!!). I blame that Cecil Sharp, if he hadn't come along and prettified the tradition we'd all be sacrificing goats on Beltane Eve just like our ancestors did...

Well, tush and also pish, in the immortal words of Robert Robinson. Christenings, weddings, funerals - churches are (or used to be) the settings for some of the deepest and most powerful human experiences. As for middle age, it comes to all of us (if we're lucky) - and most people have seen a hell of a lot more of birth, death, love and loss at 50 than they had at 25. If something happens when people perform together (and I think it does), then it's going to happen just as much among people who've already lived a bit.


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: GUEST,Volgadon
Date: 29 May 08 - 04:43 AM

Les, the writer didn't state their own opinion, they pointed out the common stereotype of silly hanky waving in Cotswold sides, but didn't say that that was what Morris dancing is all about. As for the pagan nonsense, the writer pointed out that it was the opinion of the goth sides and included the Long Man side for contrast. I thought it was an interesting article.


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 29 May 08 - 05:23 AM

I have to say, I wasn't all that excited about this piece when it first appeared. Most of the "goth" sides seem to be more in it for the fancy dress and the stick-clashing and the whoops and shreiking that seem to say "Look! Look over here! We're mad, us. And we're having a much better time than you." Embarrassing.

Having been to Bampton at the weekend, I have to say (IMHO) it's so much more inspiring than the faked-up, pagans-and-fertility-rites stuff. Great dancing, lots of younger members in the side, and not a single grown-up in face paint. And the interesting thing is, they look fantastic. The kit is simple, but it's got class. So many of these pagany sides with their completely OTT styling have the whiff of desperation about them...

I think an article on Bampton, given its long and fascinating history, would have been much more interesting... :)


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 May 08 - 05:33 AM

Volgadon,

You are quite right it was interestingbut:

"As for the pagan nonsense, the writer pointed out that it was the opinion of the goth sides"

A fair number of Cotswold sides (most?) have encouraged the old fertility rite nonsense and it has been as good as EFDSS / Morris Ring policy until recently


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 29 May 08 - 05:57 AM

"A fair number of Cotswold sides (most?) have encouraged the old fertility rite nonsense"

Well, at Bampton there is the cake...and there's this sword that gets thrust through the cake...and if a woman eats the cake she is supposed to be more likely to fall pregnant...

Bu nobody takes that stuff seriously, do they? it's a bit of a laugh. The problem is that the notion of the fertility rite was propigated in Victorian times, by sources who were considered reputable at the time. That sort of thing takes a lot of de-bunking. My personal hobby horse is the Green Man (or carved foliate head),and its re-invention as a "medieval nature spirit",as the BBC recently described it. I heard something similar on a tour of Lincoln Cathedral. The problem is, once these things become part of popular culture, it's really hard to de-bunk them.

I was told recently that the Bacup Coco-nut dance was definitely brought to Lancashire by Cornish tin miners. when I argued that no one knows for sure where the dance originated or why, this person was unshakeable: "I know it for a fact, because one of the Coco-nutters themselves told me."

Unfortunately, even the people to whom the dances belong are happy to take on a little mythology, whether there's evidence for the particular theory or not. After all, everyone is curious about the origins of calendar customs and traditions, and it would be really lovely to be able to give a nice, pat answer when people ask...


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: GUEST,Joe
Date: 29 May 08 - 07:07 AM

Ruth - thanks for coming, despite the weather our team had a great year. (im not sure my melodeon was too happy by the end of the day though)

I think its always a positive thing that new styles are developing but this rejection of the old Cotswold styles is a bit short sighted. I admit that sometimes I have danced at events and felt like a bit of a hanky waver, with one man and his dog watching, and therefore have danced with all the energy of an arthritic sloth. However during Whitsun weekend there is a magic in the air that cannot be matched. Why else do people want to join the team but are too nervous to have a go? How come there are so many children that you catch glimpses of trying to match the steps? This kind of magic cannot be created by making up some rituals that are vaguely similar to those practiced years ago by our pagan ancestors. The magic is in human interaction, the 'rituals' we go through are very much based in the community as it is now, and evolve naturally, through friendship, having a laugh, and getting a bit pissed now and again.

THe comment in the article about playing in minor keys to be more soulful is a load of crap, it is just a sign of bad musicianship, in my opinion. Also, rural communities are not dead, people just refuse to acknowledge them or believe in them anymore. Just because we dont all work on the land, we shouldnt go into mourning over the loss of community. Bampton may appear to be fairly unique but it doesnt have to be.


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: GUEST,Volgadon
Date: 29 May 08 - 07:14 AM

I don't think there's anything silly in hanky waving, it's an integral element of traditional Arab dabkas, requires a bit of skill.
The article was interesting to me because it showed the attitude of those goth sides. They sound silly, but it was a good read.


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 May 08 - 07:19 AM

THe comment in the article about playing in minor keys to be more soulful is a load of crap, it is just a sign of bad musicianship, in my opinion.

I was shocked when I first heard Shirley Collins's version of "The Blacksmith" on "Anthems in Eden" - it's a sweetly pretty song about the age-old themes of love, lust and disappointment, with the emphasis on the first two. I'd known it from Steeleye Span's version, in which it's a dark, ominous song about the inexorable truths of love, lust and disappointment, with the emphasis on the last one. It's all in the mode.

At the time I was rather young and had very little experience of any of this (getting back to my previous rant), so naturally I preferred the Steeleye Span version.


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 29 May 08 - 07:26 AM

"during Whitsun weekend there is a magic in the air that cannot be matched. Why else do people want to join the team but are too nervous to have a go? How come there are so many children that you catch glimpses of trying to match the steps? This kind of magic cannot be created by making up some rituals that are vaguely similar to those practiced years ago by our pagan ancestors. The magic is in human interaction, the 'rituals' we go through are very much based in the community as it is now, and evolve naturally, through friendship, having a laugh, and getting a bit pissed now and again."

Agreed - it is a magical weekend. I felt priveleged to be part of it again this year.

Joe - are you on Facebook? I've made a Fans of Bampton Morris group, with pictures, video etc from this year (and a bit from last year).

I don't know which side you dance with - my stuff is all of the Shergold side, but feel welcome to add to it.


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: greg stephens
Date: 29 May 08 - 07:37 AM

As Duke Ellington said "There are two kinds of fool. Those who say 'This is old and therefore good' and those who say 'This is new and therefore better'".
Unfortunately nearly all folk journaism(from outside) follows the second line, so we always seem to get the dreary contrasting of fat/old/beer belly/tankard/red-faced/Cecil Sharp/folk police with young/relevant/experimental/innovative.
    I saw a very interesting group in Manchester at the New Islington/Urban Folk Festival last year. They were dancing to hiphop in shellsuits and baseball caps as far as I recall, and were very funny.And they were neither bearded/beer-bellied or neo-pagan/black-clad. There is a third way!


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: GUEST,Joe
Date: 29 May 08 - 07:38 AM

I dance and play for the Shergold side - I'm the older of the two younger musicians! I'll have a look tonight - the NHS are very anti - Facebook!


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: GUEST,Volgadon
Date: 29 May 08 - 07:46 AM

A third way????? Heresy.


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Dead Horse
Date: 29 May 08 - 07:47 AM

Wolfs Head are doing their thing, as are Long Man and every other morris side.
They do it for their own reasons and each has his own belief in why the dance is performed.
What appears to be a common misconception to some, is irrefutable fact to others.
It has always been so, and always will.
Why worry?
As long as they enjoy what they are doing, and bring enjoyment to the onlookers, if they should also promote a moment of introspection or a feeling that "something special" has been witnessed, then the purpose of the dance has been achieved.
Pagan? Christian? Moorish?
Just words. And you cannot describe music and dance in mere words.
You have to either do it, or see it. And thank your own gods that it still flourishes despite those who denigrate hanky waving, stick bashing, old men with beer bellies, and sexy young women dressed all in black.
Long may it continue - in ALL its guises.


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: greg stephens
Date: 29 May 08 - 07:52 AM

I know a lot of Kurdish refugees in Stoke. They are notable for dancing while waving hankies, at the slightest provocation.


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 May 08 - 08:06 AM

Ok I go along with all the lets all dance and have a great time stuff but then they have to make up fake histories. Is this because they don't have enough confidence in dancing for its own sake?


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: theleveller
Date: 29 May 08 - 08:22 AM

Ruth wrote:
"My personal hobby horse is the Green Man (or carved foliate head),and its re-invention as a "medieval nature spirit",as the BBC recently described it. I heard something similar on a tour of Lincoln Cathedral."

Ruth, I'd be interested to hear what you think the symbolism of the green man represents.


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 May 08 - 08:51 AM

It could just suggest that stone masons were extremely skilled craftsmen with vivid imaginations.


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 May 08 - 08:55 AM

The green man, eh? Can someone call Sedayne from the vasty deep?


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 May 08 - 09:12 AM

No, Phil give the poor lad a erst I think he has been round this a bit and I guess you know that!

Chorlton tonight?

Les


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 29 May 08 - 09:34 AM

"I dance and play for the Shergold side - I'm the older of the two younger musicians! I'll have a look tonight - the NHS are very anti - Facebook!"

I know you! You're one of the doctor's sons, aren't you? I've stayed next door to you for the past two years, and I've been to the morris party as well...

Got a lovely photo of you mid-air this year!


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 May 08 - 09:36 AM

Probably not, regretfully - I'm planning a trip to Stockport tomorrow, & I don't think my middle-aged constitution can take three substantial sessions inside a week. I could of course go tonight and not drink, but it would be difficult.


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 29 May 08 - 09:51 AM

Personally, I don't know what the green man represents. My point is, neither does anyone else. It's all conjecture. It's been conflated over the years with the Jack in the Green (Roy Judge's excellent book explains the origins of that particular custom, which are neither mystical nor even rural) and morphed into some sort of pagan deity. I think the various green men are beautiful, and I always like finding one, but before I believe or espouse a theory I like to have some evidence.

"What appears to be a common misconception to some, is irrefutable fact to others.
It has always been so, and always will.
Why worry?"

Well, for the reasons mentioned above, evidence is important to me. And any irrefutable fact requires evidence. I much prefer someone to tell me "We don't know what this means or why this community started doing it. We do it because it's our custom, and because we like to do it" rather than tacking on some faked-up folkloric significance.


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 May 08 - 09:51 AM

Oh Good Ale though art my joy ........................


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: theleveller
Date: 29 May 08 - 11:25 AM

Ruth, I agree that folklore and legend are almost always conjecture. The composition of the green man would suggest some form of naure or fertility spirit or talisman. The wide spread over time and location worldwide probably means that all or any of the given interpretations could be correct, as Mike Harding's extensive research implies. 'Medieval nature spirit' seems as good a synopsis as any (though I might quibble about the 'medieval').


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 29 May 08 - 11:51 AM

Sorry, leveller - I found Mike Harding's research a bit dodgy - at least as represented in his little book of the green man. He is guilty of conflating not only the Green Man, Jack and the Green, but also John Barleycorn. He presents an extensive bibliography, but no footnotes to justify statements such as

"The Green Man has other manifestations like the Jack in the Green, the character who dances ahead of the May Queen in many May Day processions such as those at Hastings and Knutsford. A lord of misrule figure, he may be also linked to Robin Hood, Robin Goodfellow and Puck."

What are his sources for this assertion? Roy Judge's research would suggest the opposite is true. Kathleen Basford has, IMHO, a fair bit to answer for...but his work is not presented in sufficiently scholarly a manner for you to be able to tell what is his own conjecture, what is evidence drawn from other sources (and precisely what those sources are), and where gigantic leaps and assumptions may be represented as statements of fact.


But perhaps this is a discussion for another thread...

:)


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: GUEST,Joe
Date: 29 May 08 - 11:57 AM

Ah I know who you are now, we had a conversation at the last morris party about festivals? suddenly everything becomes clear ....


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 29 May 08 - 12:00 PM

Probably, but I can't remember the conversation off the top of my head...perhaps that's not much of a surprise, considering what the morris party is like! :)


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: theleveller
Date: 29 May 08 - 12:10 PM

Point taken, Ruth. Perhaps the enduring appeal of the green man over so many centuries is his very inscrutability.


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: dilligafxx
Date: 29 May 08 - 12:14 PM

I,m with Dead Horse on this one, I dance North West a very traditional version of Morris but I also dance border in tatters,large sticks, loud whopping,wearing dog collars and goth looking. and was married to a Coltswold dancer of the Ring sort (men only) I enjoy it all which is why any of us do it to enjoy ourselves.Does it matter? all the sides sing and keep folk alive in pubs and at festivals to people who sometimes listen and sometimes not but if one person in a hundred takes it to heart and joins a side, any side it will help keep a old and valued English tradition alive.What's the point in being a purist if in the end the whole thing dies out?


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 May 08 - 12:29 PM

dilligafxx
I am sure you will do what yo want and that's as it should be but why make up histories?


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 29 May 08 - 12:42 PM

Hi Joe,

When you get home, here's the link for the Bampton Facebook pictures:

Fans of Bampton Morris facebook group


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 May 08 - 12:43 PM

I feel owe Jack an apology, the article is much more balanced than I first thought. The trick is to read it all before writing rubbish,

Cheers

Les

PS still keeping an eye on pagans and dodgy history though.


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: dilligafxx
Date: 29 May 08 - 12:47 PM

There is one border side that dances in the Ring I believe they have 3 dances written down in Bacon the ring bible but please don,t quote me, I don,t make up histories but perhaps we are starting our own because at some point in the long distant past the origional dances must have been made up, what I,m more interested in is keeping dance and folk alive even if that involves change xx


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 May 08 - 02:20 PM

It seems clear that what turned into Morris escaped from the Courts of the Aristocracy around the 15 Century (See Ronald Hutton, The Stations of the Sun, p 264 - 265).

It got loose and people have kept it going on and off ever since. I think that is a great story and owes much to the men and women of the Morris and nothing at all to pagan or pre-Christian origins.

If some dancers want to connect with Earth Mother Gods, the Power of Nature, The Cosmos and so on, most people call that religion, and once again it's none of my business. Perhaps they will end up praying to the Laws of Gravity.

Everything was made up I suppose, but I think some kind of consensus exists, ( how silly is that?) that folk songs and folk dances have been passed though communities and changed significantly. I think some part of the consensus also thinks we have a living tradition into which I guess Goth Morris falls. Welcome, who could say otherwise.

But so much rubbish has been shared about the origins of old songs and dances that many of us are sceptical about people who even mention pagan and pre-Christian anything.

Wassail
Les


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: GUEST,Joe
Date: 30 May 08 - 06:16 AM

'Perhaps they will end up praying to the Laws of Gravity.' - Dont you all? Otherwise the sky will fall on our heads. Or not as the case may be. Has there ever been zero gravity morris dancing? Imagine the air on those capers. But where would you put your pint?

What is this ring? Must be big to fit in all those dancers....

Sorry its friday!


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 May 08 - 06:28 AM

Please no Chicken Licken or is it Licken Chicken here.

Now this Ring, I believe it is of limited size or perhaps limited vision and it's definitely not open to all dancers.


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: glueman
Date: 30 May 08 - 06:29 AM

Ruth has it bang to rights, again. Ms Archer, are you by any chance me in a frock? Foliate heads and Morris dancing are both marvels but cyber punk Morris? Sounds like a 30 second Fast Show sketch someone took the wrong way.


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 30 May 08 - 07:55 AM

"Ms Archer, are you by any chance me in a frock?"

Now there's a thought...I'll ask my partner this evening if he's noticed anything odd...


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: GUEST,Volgadon
Date: 30 May 08 - 10:52 AM

The fear of the sky falling on their heads is further proof of the ancient, pre-Christian, pagan fertility rites connection, or have none of you ever read Asterix???????


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: GUEST,Joe
Date: 30 May 08 - 11:03 AM

Last monday, whilst dancing it indeed felt like the sky was, as you say, falling on our heads. Funnily enough, as we stopped for lunch, so did the rain. I didnt see any obelisk salesmen though


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 30 May 08 - 11:03 AM

"What is this ring? Must be big to fit in all those dancers...."

see, AGAIN I see a rude joke that wants to formulate itself, but I'm stepping away...


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: GUEST,Joe
Date: 30 May 08 - 11:07 AM

No well they dont let women in anyway....


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 30 May 08 - 11:19 AM

It was more a case of all the men inside their ring that was making me giggle...


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 May 08 - 11:29 AM

Ruth,

take care, they know who are, they know where you live and they don't take prisoners.

Best of luck

Les


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 30 May 08 - 11:36 AM

*goes into hiding*


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Subject: RE: the Independent on morris dancing
From: Folkiedave
Date: 30 May 08 - 11:37 AM

Now there's a thought...I'll ask my partner this evening if he's noticed anything odd....

Does he normally?

My own favourite is always the Baal Fire ceremony at Allendale which takes place at New Year and has always done so since pagan times and signifies the relationship and change between the light and dark parts of the year.

Actually invented locally in 1858 when tar barrels were used instead of tallow candles on the way to a watchnight service. Baal could be a mishearing of the local pronounciation of "barrel".


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