BB Monthly Reports 2003

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Monthly reports from the year 2003

JAN - MAR 2003 - TIP TOP SHAPE TIME

The first 3 months of the year are always taken up with getting ourselves back to that peak of physical fitness that many top athletes like us enjoy. To help us this year we have been following a special diet prepared for us by the side's eminent nutritionist, Tim 'ten-pints-a-day-and-we're-not-talking-water' Taylor. Tim, who has recently been seen in newspaper advertisements looking a little like your bank manager just before he tells you he's calling in your huge loan, has been able to give much guidance on dietary concerns to the rest of the team by being a personal role model on what not to eat or drink. Whatever Tim ingests or imbibes you can be pretty sure is not good for you, so by eating the opposite of what he does, a healthy life is just around the corner. Though that's probably not exactly what he says to his clients.

Of course its not just the careful diet (would you like a bit more cream with your cream Mr. Lancaster?) that's been keeping us in shape. Following the Jerry West warm up routines at practice start has been an enormous help - stand still for ages, then dash after a tennis ball that just hurtled by your ear having been clobbered by Jameson, then stand still for a lot longer, then do a completely exhausting dance non-stop for several minutes, then stand around for a lot longer getting cold again while the finer points of the dance are explained to everyone who got it wrong, which is usually quite a long list.

Anyway, its nice to think that as a result of all these efforts the general public will once again soon be able to enjoy the sight of a crack team putting on a fantastic show which will amaze and astound. And if anyone comes across this crack team please let us know.

There have been 2 actual events so far this year, the first occurring on Sat 4 Jan, when the New Year was but a babe in arms. Once again we were the guest Morris side at the Haddenham ceilidh where the band was Asha. We performed two 10 minute routines, which seemed to go down well, though our opening dance for the second spot was 'Highland-Mary-with-walk-on', and it would be fair to say the 'walk-on' bit did not suffer from being over rehearsed.

Our second event of the year was on Sat 15 March at the Willink School in Burghfield Common where we had been asked to do a performance spot at the Berkshire Schools Folk Day for 7 - 11 year olds. We were the lunchtime entertainment for the kids, and did a number of display dances plus a dance for them to join in with. The session went very well, and Jerry talked them all through a participative version of Shepherds Hey, using Simon as a demonstrator, who demonstrated extremely well even though it wasn't the version we had practised. Never did quite get the arm movements he was using, although fortunately most of the kids did. After the show we repaired to Lee and Linda's house round the corner where it was Linda's xxth birthday and we all celebrated with a spiffing party tea with fizzy drinks and green and red bunny shaped jelly and everything. And we played the chocolate game, you know, the one with hat, scarf and gloves, which you have to put on when you roll a six on the dice when its your turn, and then you can eat some chocolate with a knife and fork until the next person rolls a six. Unfortunately the distribution of chocolate did not turn out particularly fairly for some people despite them rolling loads of sixes, but fortunately I'm not one to bear a grudge.

The next event and season proper starts at the end of April with John and Sarah's wedding, so watch this space for exclusive pictures which you can be sure you won't be able to get in your normal glossy magazine reads such as Hello!, OK! or the Morris Fed Newsletter..... 

APR 2003 - THE SOUND OF (WEDDING) BELLS

April 27 was time for another Morris wedding - this time it was the delightful Sarah, one of the finest ceramic artists ever to ply their trade in the Home Counties, marrying BB's very own John, one of the biggest **** artists ever to come out of Australia. The event was held in the impressive surroundings of Great Fosters, near Egham, where John and Sarah had laid on a great day for their guests.

The ceremony took place in the large windowed conservatory where all the guests were able to see Sarah and bridesmaid Kate proceed up the aisle towards the waiting John, who looked as though he couldn't quite believe his luck at marrying Sarah after such a short (ten years) courtship. Once the ceremony was over, the guests proceeded outside for photographs while the Morris teams got going, with Sarah performing with Windsor, John with BB, and both with Rockhopper. While John was doing Fairies Sarah was persuaded to join the BB big band on shaky egg, and what a fine souffle she made of it too. After the photos it was time for an excellent buffet meal, including a to die for chocolate fudge cake-y thing with truffles. And then the traditional speeches and thanks, with John managing to keep his speech down to around the 2 hour mark though obviously with such a short amount of time available it was difficult for him to get going properly. 

By now the evening was approaching, with more guests arriving, and it was time for the ceilidh with Chalktown, and Nick Walden calling. This went very well, although about halfway through it was time for a spot, and John had selected The Swans as being a suitable way of bemusing his new relatives. As BB got changed beforehand it was very noticeable how much the Swan costumes had shrunk since last worn, especially round the waist area. Nevertheless, once again accompanied by the expanding Jane on fiddle and Gareth on keyboard, the side strutted, preened and flocked in approximate time to the music, and almost inevitably were called back to do it again (largely due to some terribly enthusiastic Windsors in the audience - thanks girls). And then it was time for more ceilidh, and then later still time for the newly weds to disperse towards Italy while the rest of BB dispersed towards their next date with destiny, the Oyster weekend. 

MAY 2003 - OYSTERS AND MORE WELLIES

May 3rd saw the side assemble in Chilham for the start of the Oyster (Mayday) weekend, with Oyster men and ladies, Windsor, Hageneth and Haughley Hoofers, (plus other local teams on the Monday). After dancing in the rather splendid square at Chilham, we were coached to Broome Park, where the dancing and eating took place in a marquee, a key feature of which was a dance floor made up of a 10 x 10 black and white chequerboard, which it was extremely tempting to build into various dances. It was announced that lunch would be at 1.30, and the first side to finish their dance after that would be first in the queue for lunch. Despite our best efforts, our dance finished at 1.26 meaning we couldn't technically join the queue until everyone had been round again, though we were actually saved when Hageneth asked us to provide some coconut sound accompaniment to their next dance, which to us counted as a performance and enabled us to get in the queue without any conscience. Well not much, anyway.

After lunch, with quite a long time to kill until the coach returned, a fairly intricate game of 15 a side human draughts broke out on the dance floor. Its a wild life in the Morris ... The final dance spot of the day was the Rose and Crown at Elham, followed by a complicated tour of the Kent countryside to get back to our start point at Chilham. After that it was back to hosts houses before meeting up again later on in Canterbury.

Sunday was performances in Canterbury, followed in the evening by the splendid James Bond themed party, where Oyster had planned a series of events around James Bond, and everyone dressed accordingly. As many tuxedos and as much glitter as you'd get at the Oscars, that's for sure, even though some of the gentleman were more Patrick than Roger Moore.

Monday saw us in Whitstable for dancing and a complicated procession to the Castle, with dance spots en route at the Harbour, having picked up the Jack in the Green, Maid Marian and Robin Hood on the way, as you do. Along the way there was also a harbour wall to nearly dance along, and a slipway to the sea to nearly slip down. At the Castle we performed Coconuts to an appreciative audience and then headed for home after a long but very worthwhile weekend. A big thank you to Oyster for arranging everything so well, and for accommodating us so accommodatingly too!

Next up was an appearance at the Winchester Folk Festival on Sat 16 May. This was an excellent, laid back day, with good spots to dance in town, and a suitably short procession after lunch. After it, though, the heavens opened somewhat, forcing us to seek refuge in the Old Vine Inn for the afternoon which just happened to be showing the F.A. Cup Final on TV, which was OK for the football followers amongst us but just not quite so good for the football haters. Still, at least it didn't go to extra time. After it finished the weather had perked up and we were able to do a nice relaxed set outside, which was one of the day's highlights.

After an excellent pizza at the Gourmet Pizza in The Square (bit like Pizza Express except all the pizzas were 3 more) (but they were good) we adjourned to the evening ceilidh at the Guildhall featuring the Woodpecker Band. Oh, and an interval spot from BB, performing our wellyboot dance under the guise of Berkshire Bumfolosi. The dance actually went OK, but the audience reaction was somewhat muted as many people didn't know how to take us ("were they serious?"). Of course we were serious. Aren't we always?

JUN 2003 - OUR DAY WILL COME ....

Thurs Jun 5 saw us at The Bell at Aldworth with Old Speckled Hen, for another pleasant evening of dance, bready snacky things, and a pitcher or two of ale provided by the pub. After the dancing we crowded into the back bar for a lively session, and Jameson even got to do his father painting the parlour. Again. There was paste and paper everywhere. It probably helped that he'd had a beer or two by this stage - well you can probably pitcher the scene yourself.

Then on Saturday 7th it was BB's very own Day of Dance, ably organised by Bob. After travelling into Reading from Wokingham by train along with guest sides Rogue and the Outside Capering Crew, the first spot was in Forbury Gardens. This is normally a tranquil haven on the edge of town, with the peace on this particular Saturday morning broken only by the top notch Morris entertainment and a selection of the town youth assembled on the bandstand, who could only stare in some amazement at the aforementioned top notch entertainment, and indeed actually show some interest as well as occasionally a tad too much enthusiasm for joining in, though attempting to do baccapipes on crossed skateboards took no little imagination.

Next spot was by the Town Hall, where we drew a fair sized and largely appreciative audience, as well as a brief shower of eggs. Thanks, youth of Reading, but we had already eaten. From the spot we adjourned to nearby O'Neills for lunch, a large Irish style pub with plenty of room and eventually plenty of food though it took a while to arrive. In the end we could barely give the spicy chicken wings away.

After this to the Oracle display area, for a prearranged spot during a promotional day for the Caversham Charity Folk Festival. From a dancing point of view this was a highlight of the day as by now it had turned into a sunny afternoon, and there was a fair sized audience on the display area steps which helped to bring out the best in the dancers. The musicians were also helped by being able to use the amplification already in place for the other music acts, so altogether it led to impressive performances from everyone. During one of the Capering Crew dances, one lad was egged on by his mates to come and frolic in set, and was dealt with in short measure by Simon Pipe who chased him and mimed chucking him over the railings into the Kennet and Avon canal around which the Oracle development has been built. It was a spirited performance from Simon and got good sympathetic approval from the audience - it also ensured no more interruptions!

The Oracle spot finished with BB's Fairies, after which it was back to Wokingham on the train for the final dance spot of the day in the Market Place. This also finished with an interruption just at the end of the very last dance of the day, and once again involving the Capering Crew, but this time it was Tracy's little boy Mark who ran on just as Tracy, Sue and Simon were performing the last figure, and grabbed Tracy's leg. She just about managed to shake him off it, but he immediately grabbed her other one and was still there at the final flourish, much to the amusement of everyone present including the dancers. 

The formal part of the day finished with tea and cakes at Bob and Malcolm's for most of the participants, (never has so much tea been drunk by so many people in such a short space of time, or so it seemed) and then the informal part of the day got going, which somewhere later in the evening developed into take away pizzas, washed down with yet more cake. A very pleasant day for all, and blessed overall by favourable weather too, though as we all know by now it never rains on Berkshire Bedlam ....... 

Thursday 19 June saw us out again for the not-quite-summer-solstice evening with Holt Morris at the Red Lion at Avebury. Another excellent evening of dancing followed by a musical session at The Bell on the A4 in nearby West Overton, which included solo songs from Paul, Lee and Malcolm, and an inspired Pink Floyd's Bike Song, with a psychedelic arm waving chorus much to some of the team's apparent discomfort but perhaps they didn't know the words.

The 28th and 29th of June saw us in Bristol for the Pigsty weekend, based again at Pilning junior school. The dancing got off to a fine start when at the first spot, in Millennium Square just outside the @Bristol exhibition, Jameson went to get some money from a cashpoint machine and as he did so got spectacularly splattered by a passing seagull. The things some people do to get a round of applause. He should of course have known to be extra careful, Bristol being the scene of the famous custard slice throwing episode of 2 years earlier. To add insult to injury the machine was out of operation. Now if only he had been better prepared and brought enough money with him ....

After this we enjoyed some good dancing in the centre of Bristol, and an excellent lunchtime spot on the terrace of the Avon Gorge Hotel in Clifton with views of the Clifton suspension bridge which some of us later walked across holding on gingerly. And amazing to think that after that short crossing there we were in Wales - it just seemed so near. In the evening there was a ceilidh with the Geckoes, a spoof Bhangra spot from Mad Jacks and an excellent song from Harburton Navy. (Wot, no BB spot?). Finally on Sunday a slightly diminished number performed manfully at the lunchtime pub spot at the Anchor at Oldbury-on-Severn. Another excellent weekend, well put together, and with kind weather for us once again, because of course it never ... rains ..... on ....... zzzzzz. 

JULY 2003 - DORSET TOUR

Only one event in July due to the need to practice for Sidmouth, but what an excellent Dorset Tour it was, ably organised once again by Rob on a beautiful sunny weekend.

We started at the Smiths Arms in Godmanstone, where our old friend the landlord had opened up especially early for us despite being limited in his activities these days due to a recent stroke. We trotted out one or two of the old stalwart dances and would have stopped there except that one or two people turned up, morally obliging us to carry on dancing for a bit longer even though they were not actually watching us.

After that we moved on to the excellent Chalk and Cheese at Maiden Newton, a relatively newly rebuilt pub with a good menu, well organised, and good outdoor space where we congregated and danced, including the first public performance of the new 'Flame' dance, albeit with sticks.

Next we moved to the local station from where we caught a train into Weymouth for our more or less traditional appearance on the prom, under the giant Clock Tower, facing a fresh breeze and a not totally captivated audience though we did our best, including another appearance of the Flame dance. After some free time in Weymouth it was back to the Giants Head camp site near Cerne Abbas for the grand BB barbeque, where we had hours of fun attempting to light our disposable barbeques in the face of a Force 9 gale. But eventually all the meat was nicely blackened, after which it was time for the traditional trek down the hill to Cerne Abbas for dancing outside the Royal Oak (another version of Flame) and drinking and skittling inside the Red Lion. And then the 'gloworm walk' back up the hill to the camp site during which we saw the same number of gloworms we do every year, zero. 

On the Sunday Rob had arranged for us to join in the Tolpuddle Rally, a TUC sponsored event celebrating the birth of Trade Unionism arising from the case of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. This was a big event with guest speakers, various live music, and later in the day a march with banners through the village. Our contribution was 2 dance sets at the Martyrs Inn, which went down well, especially our finishing dance, yet another hammed up Flame dance, which by now was starting to look pretty good. This concluded the Tour, which yet again was hailed as a great success - nice one, Rob!

AUG 2003 - SIDMOUTH

And on to the highlight of the season, another appearance as an Arena team at Sidmouth. The invitation had come about after originally just being asked to take part in a special Arena show on the Monday evening showcasing Morris through the ages, where we would do a sword dance, but on top of this we then agreed to take part in the Festival as a full Arena team from Saturday to Tuesday. Just as when we did this in 2000, it turned out to be challenging, stimulating, and a great experience for all of us to take part in, made even better by the fantastic weather enjoyed throughout the whole festival. 

So once again we found ourselves as the first act in the first full event of Sidmouth 2003, the formal 'Sidmouth welcome' showcase on Saturday morning featuring brief performances from some of the guest teams. We were the only English team in this, and got a very good reception for 2 minutes worth of Highland Mary for all nine of our dancers and two musicians there (our full side except for Paul and Jane). At the end of the half hour showcase we were asked to take part in the circular dance featuring all the guest teams, taking a partner from one of the other teams e.g. the attractive Russian ladies just behind us. Ah well, needs must. We then moved swiftly on to do a set outside the Anchor before going up to the Arena ready for our first Arena show on the Saturday afternoon, which went very well in front of a decent sized crowd. After it had finished we had a shared set with 2 border teams and a molly side on the Arena Showground South Stage, a slightly odd venue for morris but with a reasonable sized audience.   

Sunday morning was the Morris procession from the Arena down to Port Royal, which this year only featured 6 teams, with us at the front. This was followed by dancing on the prom, and in the afternoon Simon and Jameson, with Sue as musician, took part in the jig competition again. The standard throughout was extremely high in both the single and double jigs, but the 3 of them triumphed once again in the double jig, thanks to an excellent overall performance and great playing from Sue, and despite a somewhat ungainly finish when Simon tripped on the final galley and the 2 of them finished in an untidy heap (all part of the show? - we think not). In addition Jameson, again with Sue as musician, also entered the single jig competition with Princess Royal, and hammed it up appropriately, playing to the (JKL) camera throughout. It was another fine performance from the 2 of them and they deservedly finished in the top two, though unfortunately one place behind a certain Mr. S. Pipe of Adderbury.     

On Sunday evening we performed a brief set at the Anchor Gardens as part of the somewhat low key Morris evening, and then moved to the Church House Lawn Marquee for a set during the ceilidh with Grand Union in front of a smallish but enthusiastic ceilidh audience.

Monday morning was taken up with rehearsals for the evening 'Flame' show, and gave us the first very brief opportunity to practice with the Mellstock Band who were to be musicians for most of the show. After the rehearsal finished, we had a short period on high alert as the Arena director, Mike Bettison, asked us if we could be on standby to perform in the afternoon show as cover for the Ghanaians who had an illness scare, but after some of us had grovelled round to get kit and put a set together it turned out all was well with the Ghanaians and we weren't needed after all. Still, it all added to the drama of the day. Before the evening show we met for a final rehearsal outside Roselands, (with Sue very nobly playing for us although she would not be for the evening) and then up to the Arena for the show. Once changed, we had some JKL photos taken, and then the show started. It was essentially a staged look back at Morris through the ages, put together by Sue Swift, and with 2 costumed presenters narrating. Our contribution was to recreate the Buffens or Matachin dance from the 16th century, using some brief notation. This task had been made easier for us because parts of the dance had been taught to some of the team at a Dommett weekend, and we had adapted one key stick clashing figure as the chorus for our Laughing Cavalier dance. However over the preceding weeks we had developed a full dance (ably led in this by Jerry who worked really hard to put the dance together), Lyn had made some excellent outfits especially for it, and Jerry had arranged the hire of theatrical swords to complete the effect. When we went on to do our 5 minute turn during the show, it all came together in great style and from the audience reaction at the time plus what everyone said to us afterwards, we think it turned out really well.

Once our spot had finished we went out into the audience to watch the rest of the show, and enjoyed ourselves considerably by posing in our white kit at the top of the embankment for some time. The show on the whole was excellent, despite one or two patchy moments, with a particular highlight being Black Swans second half rapper dance with flaming rapper swords - difficult to beat that. At the very end, we went back on stage with everyone else to take bows, and were able to perform our party trick where as we came forward in line and bowed, we brought our sword arm down over our bodies and pretended to cut off the next persons leg, going 'Oops' as we did so, and then hopping to the back of the stage. This worked much better in our minds than it did on stage, but gave us a laugh anyway.

Tuesday was our final day of performance, with an appearance on the South Stage at lunchtime, and an Arena show in the evening. We had also decided that before the evening show we would do a set on the seafront and this probably turned out to be one of our Festival highlights as we were able to do some good but relaxed dances for a small but appreciative audience who were quite happy to stand / sit and watch us for a bit while we got warmed up for the evening Arena performance. This helped us for our spot in the Arena show, which was extended on the day to 15 minutes from the 10 we had been expecting, and once again it all went extremely well with no mistakes, immaculate dancing from all the boys, and immaculate music from Sue and Bob, as it had been throughout the hectic 4 days of performances.

And before we knew where we were, that was the end of Sidmouth for BB! For some of the team it was time to get back to reality straight away, while others stayed on and enjoyed the rest of the festival as punters on holiday rather than performers on adrenalin. But for all of us it had been great fun..........
(and see 2003 Sidmouth gallery for pictures)

SEPT 2003 - MEN IN BLACK ......

Although Sidmouth in August had been a real high for the team there was still plenty to come for the season.

On Tues 2nd Sept it was a now traditional evening with Basingclog at the Plough, Little London, followed by a very different weekend with the Witchmen, based at Hengrave Hall, a nunnery, near Bury St. Edmunds. The main events were on the Saturday, when firstly our hosts and the visiting teams (ourselves, Persephone, Iron Men & Golden Star) went to Ely for some relaxed dancing by the river, in town and by the cathedral. A very pleasant day, though hard work for our tarting drummer Bob. After returning to Hengrave Hall for tea and cake, the next part of the day was in line with Witchmen's 'gothic' theme. Firstly we were all invited to Witchmen's Dave and Jo's handfasting ceremony. By now everyone was dressed accordingly (e.g. straight gothic, straight gothic but with pale faces, rather Dracula-ish, or the complete Adams family for the Hiscotts) and the ceremony was a seriously observed and moving occasion, held in a very appropriate leafy glade in the grounds, and culminating in a ceremonial fastening of wrists together for the rest of the evening. 

After this Dave and Jo had provided an excellent supper and bar, along with a ceilidh with Ock n Dough. This was interrupted by a break for spots from all of the teams present, supposedly in line with the theme. After much head scratching in previous weeks we had decided to do a version of Albermarle's hop, featuring vampires on one side and victims on the other. We certainly weren't overrehearsed, and I'm not sure it will go down as one of our finest, though there were a couple of high spots when Simon's stake very noticeably fell out of his coat pocket prior to inserting it in Jameson and therefore revealing somewhat prematurely the punch line to a somewhat bemused audience who had thought we did good spots, and at the very end when Paul, having also been staked out and having collapsed dramatically at the end, crawled off the floor at an agonisingly slow pace long after everyone else had got off, hamming it up all the way. Well, we liked it Paul, and you shouldn't be discouraged by the lack of applause. Or the booing.

The weekend continued on the Sunday morning at Hengrave, though BB were down to a jig team. But overall an excellent and very different weekend, and a great effort by Terry Dix and all of the Witchmen.

Two weeks later it was the Morris Federation weekend, hosted by Iron Men and Seven Guilders at Much Wenlock in Shropshire. Another excellent day of dancing on the Saturday, culminating in a procession across the iron bridge at Ironbridge (bit of a coincidence, that), with a ceilidh in the evening featuring All Blacked Up.

OCT 2003 - Psst, wanna be in a dodgy video......?

Into October and on Sat 11th, a day at the Banbury Folk Festival. The Morris part of the day had been organised by Adderbury, and featured them, ourselves, Bloxham and Ducklington. The festival has been running for a few years and used to be known as the Banbury Canalside Festival, but now has spread to other parts of the town. The main base is The Mill Arts Centre, on the (Oxford) canal very close to the town centre, where we started the dancing, followed by spots at other venues around the town including the new covered shopping mall where we successfully blocked people getting in and out of Woolworths for a while. One of the features of our day though was that for much of it we were being followed by a 2 man camera crew (the legendary Marty Elsh and his mate, known as Marty's mate) who had asked us for permission to film us for a music video being shot to accompany a single called 'The Good Life' from Reading based  band Saloon ('silky sleek electro robot folk pop' according to their website). Of course, pointing a camera at our performers is like waving fresh red meat at a peckish lion - it tends to make some of the boys rather ham it up. However Marty appeared to get what he wanted from us, and we had a really good day anyway on a very pleasant and sunny October day.

We got to see the results of Marty's efforts the next week when he brought the semi-finished video down to our practice. We were pleasantly surprised and actually quite chuffed with what he had done, as the video consisted of a number of upbeat segments from the dances we had done during the day, which somehow he had got to accompany the music track really well. As publicity for BB it was excellent (some great action shots and good close ups, especially of smiley Simon and his brother wassername) - however we will wait to see if it finishes up being used by the band or if it helps them shift any singles. We hope so, as the track is actually a strong and hypnotic piece of music in its own right. It will be good to see the finished video being played on Top of the Pops or MTV, when the whole world can view the 'leap into the middle sequence' in the Mazurka featured several times over, and also the 'Rob-going-the-wrong-way-in-the-rounds' sequence in Sucking the Monkey. Good luck Saloon and Marty! 

NOV / DEC 2003 - CHRISTMAS CAPERS

Once again there was a string of events in November and December to round off the year.

First up was the massed Morris event in Trafalgar Square on Sunday 2nd November, arranged to celebrate Morris Dancing's exemption from the recent Licensing Act which at one stage threatened to impose unnecessary regulatory restrictions on Morris performances. Although the Act, if interpreted strictly, is still far from satisfactory with regard to the Folk Arts in general, it is to be hoped common sense will prevail, and Morris in particular is exempt from regulation. Because of this exemption, the 3 national Morris organisations, including the Morris Federation of which BB are a part, arranged a celebratory day of dance in Trafalgar Square and BB were one of the 50 sides who took part.

The day started in pouring rain, and we wondered briefly if our motto ('it never rains on Berkshire Bedlam') was going to be disproved. But at almost exactly the time we were due to start the rain eased and we were able to splash our way through some of the high points of our repertoire. With so many teams wanting to take part, the spots were limited, but we were able to put on a good show during our turn and even managed to give the new stick dance an airing, and show the audience various different interpretations of the sticking sequence in the chorus.

Two weeks later we had the pleasure of attending and taking part in a momentous 50th birthday celebration for Yvonne Hallows, a Morris musician with local teams including Fleet, an old friend of the team, and long time maker of BB's rosettes and armbands! The day was based at Eversley Village Hall, and consisted of 4 different ceilidhs plus an evening concert from Spiers and Boden, each with Morris spots during them. We had the privilege of doing a spot during the afternoon ceilidh from the Bismarks, and what a pleasure it was to see our former melodeonist Gareth up there forgetting tunes with a different group for a change. (Only kidding Gareth, you were as fabulous as ever). A great day though, and certainly one to remember for Yvonne and Monty.

That then led up to one of the real highlights of the BB calendar, the annual Bunfight, this year held on Sat 29 Nov. The theme was 'A Day at the Races', which brought forward the usual interesting variety of costumes, and the usual challenge of working out what, if anything, any of them had to do with the theme. A special mention though must go to the Marx Brothers outfits, the 118 runners, the girls from the car race sequence in Grease (apparently), and Phungus's caller Hugh Crabtree who, in a brown coat and bowler, managed to look very convincing as a race starter until he felt compelled to remove it and reveal an England rugby jersey which he had worn at the Rugby World Cup final in Sydney the previous week. Although Phungus's line up had some enforced late changes, they sounded as good as usual and were much appreciated by a somewhat smaller than normal audience. In the first break, BB again performed the new stick dance, now being called the Dance of the Big Goblins, which went down fine despite Tim's comedy fall quite early on (should have waited a bit, Tim). At the second break, the team had decided to reprise the sword dance from the summer Sidmouth 'Flame' show. However, this is a dance for 8, and for various reasons only 7 fully trained boy Bedlams could be available on the night, making it necessary to draft in our trainee young feller-me-lad Bob to take part. And very well he and everyone else did too, though the beard drawn on with eye-liner was a little unconvincing. The audience certainly seemed to appreciate the performance, Hugh Crabtree said some very nice things about the dance and in particular Sue's playing, which was fabulous as ever, and an encore was duly performed, this time without the tabards / curtains. Well, its traditional, innit.

And so into next day's Wokingham Winter Carnival, held as the name suggests in the Winter in Wokingham. A good day of dancing in somewhat dodgy weather, though the rain which had been forecast held off until the procession, which we had chosen not to be in this year, started. You see, it never ..... Anyway, we took the opportunity of having the swords we had hired for the bunfight still with us to do the sword dance again, just outside Woolworths, much to the surprise of the good folk of Wokingham, and much to the concern of the bad folk.

December had the 2 traditional end of year events. First was the BB Xmas dinner at the Hideout Thai restaurant, with the traditional dress code, traditional meal, and Malcolm's traditional end of year speech with the 2003 BB awards (for those interested, a modified version (slightly less libellous than on the night) is available to read here). This year's meal though was most unusual in that the money collected at the end of it more or less matched the bill. Unprecedented in BB's 26 year history.

And finally, the St. Thomas' Day dance out in Wokingham Market Place on the last Saturday before Xmas, 20th December. Well, what can we say about this except that, I'm afraid, this time it did rain on Berkshire Bedlam. Steadily. And heavily. Until just after we had decided to stop. Still, we got 6 from the street collection which will keep the team going into 2004 (who said 'Shame'? - oh, you all did).   

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