BB 2007 summary

Home

  Latest News   Future Events   Meet the Team   History   Repertoire   Bunfights   Media   Gallery


Reports from the year 2007  

SPRING 2007 - BB at the BBC - but it's only easy if you know it .....

Our 30th birthday year got under way in February with an event which was nothing to do with dancing, as a BB team went off to Television Centre in Shepherds Bush for the day, to take part in the TV general knowledge quiz programme 'Eggheads' which when transmitted runs on BBC2 on weekdays around 6.00 pm, and for which they had blagged their way through an audition before Christmas. Introduced by Dermot Murnaghan, the programme features a team of 5 challengers taking on the resident 'Eggheads', all general knowledge experts and quiz champions in their own right, including former winners of Mastermind, Brain of Britain, 15 to 1, and Judith Keppel, the first person to win a million on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. After 4 short individual head to head contests on specialist subjects drawn at random, whoever is left on either team joins the final member for a general knowledge round. The challenging team is playing for prize money which increases by 1,000 for every programme that the Eggheads win (which not surprisingly is most of them), and the money keeps increasing until it is won, after which it reverts to 1,000.

The BB programme was eventually transmitted on BBC2 in September 2007, and suffice it to say we lost out on the 59,000 on offer - but only narrowly, thanks to the heroic efforts of our stars Andy and Jameson - and at one point there was a hiatus while one of the critical Egghead team answers was checked, during which we allowed ourselves to consider the possibility that we might have won. But their answer was OK, and eventually we duly lost. However those who went had a great day out, and enjoyed the brief chance to be luvvies once again. During the filming there were some chances to talk a little about Morris Dancing and what BB are all about, some of which made it to the final cut including the key words gusto and spirit, though sadly not Paul's interesting on camera explanation of how Morris Dancing is to be found around the world, "including in former Commonwealth countries such as Australia and America"? 

Our dance season proper got under way on 24th February with another appearance at the Berkshire Schools Folk Day, a very worthwhile day organised and run by various volunteers to provide primary school children across Berkshire with the opportunity to learn something of and take part in various folk music and dance activities. As we have done previously, BB were asked to provide some lunchtime entertainment while the children (and their teachers) took a break. A full turnout of BBs went through their stuff in fine style, and Tim led the audience participation versions of Shepherds Hey and Knees Up, by the end of which most of the children were considerably better at them than certain members of BB. Especially at Knees Up, which still seems to remain as complicated to some as Einstein's Relativity Theory, Schrodinger's Cat Theory, or Schrodinger's Hat Dance.

Then on 14th April we were off to Birmingham for the third joint Morris Organisations Day of Dance, designed to promote and raise awareness of the Morris following successful events in Trafalgar Square in London in 2005, and in Newcastle in 2006. On a bright and pleasantly warm day, with over 40 teams attending altogether, BB found themselves with Windsor and Eryri, performing at different venues around the city, starting at the Bullring Centre, and moving on later to Victoria Square and the Cathedral. We had a successful day, particularly outside the cathedral where we attracted much interest from the large crowds enjoying the sunshine, and where at one point Tim, Jerry and Lee persuaded several of the livelier younger people congregated around the square to join in a potentially pear shaped but ultimately successful version of Coconuts, though with hand clapping rather than anything with public liability potential.

Overall the whole day was well organised and seemed to achieve its aims of spreading awareness, putting on good shows, and letting people enjoy themselves. Can't ask for much more .......

On 20th April we were asked to perform at a St. George's Day military dinner at a military establishment at Hermitage, near Newbury. A fine evening, with lots of patriotic St. George's flags around the room, and an evening programme celebrating Englishness in various ways, culminating in a splendid fireworks display to stirring classical music. Our part was to provide some traditional entertainment during the meal, and the audience were very appreciative and supportive from the start, clapping along to our first dance 'Wheel of Fortune', done of course to a stirring version of 'British Grenadiers'. They also tolerated our final dance, a not very successful version of Jolly Jockey Sticks, for which we blame the atmospheric (i.e. extremely dark) lighting conditions. Its been a while since we dropped quite so many sticks during that dance - and goodness knows how many it might have been if we hadn't practised it endlessly a few days before .... 

SUMMER 2007 - We go North and hit 30 not out  

Practice night on May 10th featured a special birthday for one member of the side, but Jameson wouldn't tell us exactly how old he was except it was something between 39 and 41. Although the objective on the night was to do 40 dances to mark the occasion, we actually only managed around 20, but still its not the number its the quality. And he enjoyed his pirate cake.

Saturday 12th May saw us in central London for the Westminster Morris Day of Dance, an excellent day featuring mainly traditional Morris Ring teams plus ourselves. We danced in some well known locations around the Westminster area including outside Westminster Cathedral and in Trafalgar Square, performing mainly to slightly bemused but nevertheless entertained tourists. There was also a fair emphasis on pub breaks during the day so no opportunities for getting too dry.

The following weekend we were off to North Yorkshire along with other guest teams Mortimers, (plus Flag & Bone Gang for the Sunday only), for a weekend with Betty Luptons Ladle Laikers, who we have come to know quite well in recent years. Lovely people and excellent hosts, though it gets confusing to keep up with the various interrelated teams that some of their dancers and musicians are with! After meeting in Knaresborough on the Friday evening, on Saturday we visited first Fountains Abbey, where the remains of the Abbey formed a dramatic backdrop to our dancing and picnicking, and then Ripley, with another excellent venue for dancing outside the Castle grounds (and the sharing of Rob's ice creams). Saturday evening consisted of a fish and chip supper at Bishop Monckton Village Hall, with dancing to a good scratch band of assorted musicians, interrupted by various spots from the guest teams. As it was Bettys' 30th birthday, the theme of the evening was Pearls, and the guest spots included a dance with kitchen utensil percussive body popping accompaniment from our hosts, a Pearly Queens dance from Mortimers, and a 'University Challenge' type quiz from Flag & Bone, scripted by Jeff Garner, with the subject being the life and works of Jameson Wooders (Jameson very modestly managed to put up with being the centre of attention for a few minutes and looked disappointed when the spot had finished). BB's contribution was to do our Sword Dance dressed as pirates (Curse of The Black Pearl and all that) which meant like we normally do it but with more oohh-aarrh ing and more pirate-y outfits. And Jameson got to wear his parrot again, which was nice. And then on the Sunday we were in Harrogate, finishing off with all the teams performing in the Valley Gardens, home of some natural springs though by now our own natural springs were somewhat losing their bounce. But a very enjoyable weekend as always in the Bettys' company.

On Wednesday 30th May we were pleased to perform at the May Ball for the Bracknell and Wokingham Challenge Club, a weekly club for adults with learning difficulties. Then Sunday June 3rd saw us at Kirtlington again for the traditional Kirtlington Lamb Ale, as always with some excellent teams, and ably organised by Kirtlington Morris. We had a relatively small (in numbers) side but enjoyed the day as ever, which culminated as usual with Kirtlington's Nigel muttering disparagingly at us as he introduced our show dance in the school playground. The day just wouldn't be the same without his insults ....

Thursday June 21st was Solstice night at the Red Lion at Avebury, once again with the lovely Holt Morris, fine dancers and voices all of them. Andy again played a key part in our post-dancing vocal renditions though apparently had a bit of trouble with some of the words this year leaving Holt ahead on the singing side - but we'll get them next year ...

Then the weekend of Friday June 29th - Sunday July 1st was the event we had all been looking forward to for some time, BB's 30th birthday celebratory weekend. The weekend, with a loose theme once again of Schooldays, had been organised by the committee of John, Bob and Jerry, all of whom put in sterling efforts, though Jerry in particular did a fantastic job in making sure everything happened as it was supposed to. The weekend was based at Polehampton Junior School in Twyford, which turned out to be a really good venue, providing playing fields for camping, hard standing for caravans, and an almost free run of the school's facilities over the  weekend. Our guest teams - Chinewrde, Ouse Washes, The Witchmen, The Flag & Bone Gang, and Gog Magog for the Saturday - were a good mix of excellent sides performing quite different kinds of dance, but all of them to very high standards, and all of whom know how to entertain audiences. The weekend started on the Friday evening with a get together in the school hall, partly fuelled by the 6 barrels of beer laid on for the weekend. Then after breakfast on the Saturday the sides split into 2 tours, one group proceeding to Reading on the train, the other group dancing briefly in Twyford before also heading into Reading by train. Now, it has to be said that at this point the weather outlook was less than promising. This was the end of the week which had seen exceptionally heavy rain and floods in many parts of the country, and the forecast for this weekend had been looking bleak too. The Saturday morning started off pretty wet making the morning dance spots a bit damp, but as the day wore on the weather improved and everyone finished up having a good day with plenty of good dance opportunities. The Reading dance spots were the Oracle display area in the morning and again later in the afternoon, and the 2 canalside pubs The Fisherman's Cottage and The Jolly Angler, both of which were exceptionally friendly and welcoming. Lunch was at The Back of Beyond, a Wetherspoon's pub which was also very welcoming, and had cleared a large space for us all as well as providing a very rapid service for food. After this, all of the teams proceeded to The Oracle, where the largely covered display area with tiered seating provided an excellent venue, with good audiences who appreciated the wide variety of Morris styles on display, all performed to an extremely high standard.
After this it was back to the school for afternoon tea, and to go swimming, chill out or take part in the School Sports day. Flag & Bone were selling sick notes for those that didn't want to take part, but several did, and it was the Flag & Bone team who did Yorkshire proud, winning enough individual events to be declared overall winners, and prompting Ted, Jeff and Mike to go on a lap of honour of the school hall using a trophy temporarily nicked borrowed from the trophy cabinet. This led into the evening Barbeque supper, followed by a ceilidh with the excellent Geckoes, featuring our own Andy on a variety of bass-y guitars. The ceilidh had to be interrupted a couple of times, the first time for puddings (which had at last thawed), Irish bingo, Tim's 'all you never wanted to know about BB' quiz results (Emma, you know far more than is good for you),  and a highly entertaining spot from Ouse Washes, featuring some fine dance from 2 of their enthusiastic younger members. The second interruption was for BB to reprise one of their favourite spots of recent years, their Men In Black routine, and giving us the opportunity once again to be black-suited, booted, and shaded while performing various odd shaped moves to a funky techno dance track. After that was cake - a ceremonial parading round the room, and then cutting and sharing, of the celebratory 30th birthday cake which Bob had created, with edible photos of the old and current teams on top - bizarrely, several people wanted to eat their own picture which must show something strange lurking in their psyche...

The next day had been planned for Henley, where despite threatening skies the day stayed fine and dry, with excellent dancing conditions. A week before the famous annual regatta, there was a lot going on in the town and by the river, but the dancing started in the Market Place where all the teams performed in turn, again putting on a fine show. After a beer break, the dancing concluded at Mill Meadow, down by the Thames, where an appreciative audience was again treated to some fine dancing before BB finished the performances with the Dance of The Little Fairies, followed by getting everyone present (audience and guest teams) to share in the magic of the occasion by getting them to go through the 'Magic Arch'  formed at the end of the dance. (By the way, to everyone who went through - sorry but it wasn't really magic, even if you went through 3 times as we noted certain people doing). That marked an end to the formal proceedings, and time to say goodbye to all of our very welcome guests, before BB went back to the school for a tidy up followed by a welcome swimming session in the sunshine which had finally emerged. A great weekend for all of us, and we think it went down well with our guests too. Well done again Jerry!

A week later (Sat 7 July) saw us in Richmond for a Day of Dance hosted by Hammersmith, along with Chiltern Hundreds, New Esperance and Black Annis. This was a walking tour, visiting 6 pubs, starting at the Orange Tree and including along the way The Roebuck at the top of Richmond Hill with fine views over the Thames, and the White Cross down by the Thames. A good day's dancing in fine weather, welcome after all the rain of May and June, and Hammersmith were in fine form despite some of their members being hived out for the day to some of the guest teams (including of course Jameson to us). And the crib boards never came out all day .... 

AUGUST - Festival time  

August saw us at 2 major festivals, at Sidmouth earlier in the month, and then Towersey over the Bank Holiday weekend. At both festivals we were performing as BB and also doing our Big Caper show with the Outside Capering Crew. After the poor weather of the early summer, both festivals were blessed with good weather and we put on good shows at both of them, with decent audiences for our Big Caper shows in boith places. The Sidmouth show had some drama when poor Sue Graham's recently dislocated shoulder went again doing the Fools Jig during the early part of the show, but the rest of the troopers carried on and more or less covered her absence. For Towersey Sue was substituted by Emma Darby, who had just won the solo jig competition at Sidmouth, and did a fine job with the rest of the Crew at the Festival and with us in the Big Caper show. For some photos of both these events see Gallery 2007 Jul - Sep - no gory pictures though!

AUTUMN 2007 - and the Big Caper goes East-ish

The 1st of September saw us in Wallingford for a scaled down version of the Bunkfest, a festival which had been growing in size in recent years but needed to scale back in 2007 with a view to coming back stronger in 2008. Nevertheless several Morris sides including BB turned up on the day and enjoyed some good dancing around the town though without all the attractions there had been on the Kinecroft in recent years. For BB though, of course, there is a hidden agenda to the Bunkfest as it is the one day of the year when we get to enjoy Sue's beautiful chunks (of the pineapple variety) in her garden after the dancing. And a variety of other delicacies this year too - you can never have too much cake, can you?

Thursday 13th was another of the year's big birthdays for side members, with Paul leading the celebratory evening dancing in Wokingham Town Centre before leading the expedition to Pizza Express to add slightly more calories than had just been burnt off. You can never have too much pizza, can you?

On Saturday 29th, along with several other sides we were guests of Kennet Morris as they celebrated their 50th anniversary with a Day of Dance, to go with the various other celebrations that had already happened throughout 2007. They had managed to arrange 3 different tours for the day, and we were on the South Berkshire/Hampshire Tour, visiting Farnham, Birdworld, and 3 pubs (well, you can never have too much beer, can you?). Performing in Birdworld with our jangling bells was an interesting experience, as I'm not sure most of the inhabitants (i.e. the birds) were familiar with the Morris etiquette of not squawking during the dancing - well, unless it's at Hammersmith, of course. Later on, all the sides returned to the Terrace at South Hill Park for a massed stand and more Happy Birthdays before an evening Feast. Well, you can never have too much hog, can you?

A
nd then onto 24th October, when BB and the Capering Crew joined forces once again as The Big Caper to head to Germany for the 'Oldboys' Festival (all performers supposed to be over 30), based in the former East German town of Ribnitz-Damgarten, in the north of Germany close to the Baltic coast. There were teams from 8 countries taking part in this: ourselves from England plus teams from Togo, South Africa, Poland, Austria, Serbia, Hungary, and the local German side. The main activities were spread over 4 days, and all the performances took place at the large adapted Sports Hall, which had been fitted for the occasion with a big stage, impressive light and sound systems, plenty of room for the audience at long tables, and a bar which seemed to be open 24 hours. From the moment we arrived at Hamburg airport, we were looked after most efficiently, with a coach laid on to take us to the small but very pleasant hostel which we had exclusively, and next to a catering college where we were served 3 meals a day which on the whole were very good though with a slight emphasis on processed meats and cheese. Still, you can never have too much processed meat or cheese, can you? - well yes, actually.

Our trip
hadn't started too promisingly, when on the way to the departure gate at Heathrow, Simon Pipe decided to try his new earplugs, apparently bought to cope with Lawrences's snoring, and got one stuck. Still, he enjoyed his trip to Hillingdon Hospital to remove it, and we enjoyed seeing his luggage removed from the plane as we boarded. It also meant that Simon had the chance to experience the very efficient German train network after he flew out on his own the next day, still arriving in time for our first performance though not our pre performance rehearsal. Such things are not really a problem for Simon, who prefers to live on the edge, though they are something of a problem for everyone else as we try to work out which edge he is on at any particular moment.  Due to another administrative oversight 4 sets of bacca pipes and a large flag spent the week at Jerry's house rather than the festival, but the flag plan was waived (gettit?) and the bacca pipes substituted by belts, after only a short 3 hour discussion about the rationale for getting the belts on stage (though in fact the belt plan worked well when used). Altogether we had 5 performances, though none of them was more than 20 minutes, and therefore the one hour show we had been told to prepare for and which we had carefully rehearsed, was slightly redundant. However we put the best elements from it into a 20 minute routine which each side had to perform during the prize show on the Saturday, with 2 prizes at stake - an audience prize voted for by the audience, and a jury prize, voted for by a jury made up of one representative from each side - a bit like X-Factor, but with less tears. No, we didn't win either of the prizes, although we felt our performance had gone very well - however we were up against some extremely high standard sides with very good, slick and carefully rehearsed routines. In addition, we weren't sure whether the audience really 'got' English Morris dancing as it was unlikely they would have come across it before, as opposed to the West and East European routines. Well, that's what we told ourselves anyway, after the Serbians won the audience prize and the local German side won the jury prize, which our judge Shirley agreed was a fair result as they let her out of the straightjacket.     

Overall though
the trip went very well, we were all happy with our performances, and we were generally well looked after though it was difficult to find out sometimes what was really going on. We also spent more time hanging around waiting for our turn than was really necessary (though the dinky free heart shaped ice creams helped the waiting), missing out on opportunities to see more of the local area. Perhaps also it was a shame there was not more opportunity for fraternisation with the other teams - although some joint events were arranged they were not well attended, and were dominated by extremely loud live bands and Europop discos which were perhaps a little out of keeping at a European Folk Festival. However one of the bands, Polkaholics (German Polka/Reggae/Ska - you can never have too much German polka, can you?), was extremely good and shifted a large number of CDs to us afterwards. Of the other teams, the Austrians provided lively and varied routines (4 lederhosen clad woodchoppers laying into an innocent log will remain in the memory, as will the tuned cowbells and the bloke who stood there doing nothing but cracking a 40 foot whip for a few minutes - not someone to argue with), and the Serbians had some spectacular Russian Cossack style (or possibly Serbian style) routines. We suspect though that the Serbians had a few under 30 ringers in there, whereas we only had the one ringer in Emma, substituting for Sue Graham who of course had injured her shoulder dancing with the Big Caper in Sidmouth. The trip was also notable for the final performances as part of the Capering Crew and Big Caper from Brian, who had decided beforehand to spend more time with his Maths marking in future - he will be much missed in our performances. And the crew will have to get someone else to beat up Simon P during some of their dances - no shortage of volunteers I suspect, though of course shortage will be an essential prerequisite of any replacement .......

For full reports from 2006 go to the BB 2006 Monthly Diary 
For full reports from 2005 go to the BB 2005 Monthly Diary 

Back to Latest News
Back to Home Page

Home

  Latest News   Future Events   Meet the Team   History   Repertoire   Bunfights   Media   Gallery