BB 2012 Summary


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Reports from the year 2012

2012 - 35 not out!

The first outing of the year was an invitation to Oyster's Mayday weekend, last visited in 2008, along with this year's other guests Windsor Morris and Stroud. BB weren't able to join the weekend until Sunday 6th, thereby missing an extremely cold Saturday in Broadstairs, followed by an even colder ceilidh in an historic and consequently very well ventilated barn in Littlebourne. On Sunday in Canterbury the weather was a little kinder, and we had good dance spots in Rose Square and outside the Marlowe Theatre during the day before gathering at Barham Village Hall for a Dickens themed evening, it being his 200th birthday year. This was a very well organised party evening, with various entertainments throughout including guest spots from all the teams. BB had chosen to resurrect the Cockney dance, pressed into service many times over the years in several different guises since its first creation in 1994. The main features, several heys on the side, the wheel of death and the reel of death, were retained, but a new circle of death was added along with a pocket picking figure - and all done this time to the jolly tune of Consider Yourself, bashed out cockney style by Sue, Bob, and guest musician Emma. To make sense of the spot, Oliver Twist, ably played by Mark, was invited by the Artful Dodger, ably over-played by Will M, to join the gang and consider himself one of us, though quite why he would want to is a difficult question. The evening also featured excellent spots from Stroud and 2 from Oyster, during one of which Jameson, playing Tiny Tim, gave his adopted parents, played by his real parents in law, 2 fine but unexpected kisses. An excellent moment, enjoyed by everyone in the room except for two people.
The next day saw us joined in Whitstable by other local teams for dancing and a now traditional procession featuring Maid Marian, Robin Hood, and a Jack in the Green played by Jameson in the middle of various green foliage. The weather stayed fine for the dance spots and various processions, one of which had us processing somewhat precariously along the harbour wall. The day finished with a final procession to Whitstable Castle, the singing of the May Song, a dance from the guest teams (Fairies for us) and a fish and chip lunch.

Two weeks later saw us in Moulton in Northamptonshire for the Moulton Village Festival weekend, ably organised by Moulton Morris. We were only able to join for the Saturday, which featured dancing around the village and in particular a Maycart, containing the May Queen and her attendants. This is decorated with flowers and pulled around the village by lines of Morris Dancers heaving on long ropes, which also bear greenery decorated structures. BB quickly worked out though that by taking up stations behind the cart, the amount of pulling required would be minimal. The day finished up with a crowning ceremony and show dances from the guest teams, followed by a highly civilised high tea in the Village Hall. So despite the slightly grey and unseasonable weather, this turned out to be a highly enjoyable day, and one which we all agreed we would like to repeat some time in the future.

2 days later a small but worthy team had a very pleasant evening dance out with Jackstraws and Customs and Exiles at The Alfred, Upper Hale, near Farnham. This was followed on Sunday 27th by a return to the Kirtlington Lamb Ale, an annual event which we had missed for the last few years. The day always starts early with quite a long procession from the edge of the village back to the church, for which this year, to our surprise, we found we had a full team. After a church service there is another procession back to the village school playground for a sweet ceremony featuring local children before various dance spots around the village. The day culminated with one dance from each of the visiting teams, and we know by now that Kirtlington's Nigel will always insult us over the PA system during our dance. This year we made it easy for him by doing Coconuts, trying to ensure they got stuck or broken as much as possible. But as always an excellent day blessed with copious sunshine, despite the generally very poor weather throughout the rest of May. 

The weekend of 2nd to 5th June was the Queens Diamond Jubilee weekend, with nationwide events and street parties up and down the country. We weren't able to take part in anything over the main part of the weekend as too many of the side were away doing other things, but on the Bank Holiday Tuesday (5th June), a team got together for some dancing in Wokingham. The weather forecast had been for the weekend's generally awful weather to continue, but we were able to get a reasonable amount of dancing in before the rain became too heavy. Starting in the Market Place, we visited The Queens Head and The Ship before another final spot in the Market Place, and then back to Jameson and Emma's to christen their BBQ, bought by us for their wedding a year ago but unused so far. Unfortunately though the persistent rain meant it would have required a blowtorch to light, so we had an indoor substitute non-barbeque instead, much drier and probably considerably healthier as well.....

After our annual visit to Avebury to meet Holt for a dance and a sing on 21st June, a small but select BB side (5 dancers plus occasional helpers from TOCC) were at Stratford on Avon for the now annual Joint Morris Organisations (JMO) Day of Dance. The small team acquitted itself well, especially in a spot outside Shakespeare's birthplace where we could feel the hand of history upon us - or maybe that was just the lunchtime beer?

And then, after years in the planning, months in the rehearsing, and endless hours in the 'Fun Committee' meetings, it was time for the most momentous event in our 2012 calendar - BB's 35th Birthday Weekend of Dance and Other Stuff from July 6-8. BB are not generally very organised at organising their own weekend - once every 5 years has seemed about enough given some of the angst involved in organising past weekends. However it had been decided the previous September to really go for it this time, and after some deliberation invitations to join us for the full weekend were sent to 7 very fine teams from all around the country. Choosing who to invite was tricky - we decided from the outset to exclude teams that any of BB were also members of which immediately limited the field considerably. But we were very pleased that all those we did invite said yes - Betty Luptons Ladle Laikers, Boggarts Breakfast, Flag & Bone Gang, Fools Gambit, Great Western, Holt Morris, and Mortimers. Together with Windsor joining us on the Sunday, this gave us a great line up and a wide range of dance styles. We also had to decide on a format for the weekend and with the London Olympics looming it was a no-brainer decision (literally) to go for an Olympic theme throughout with sports events, medal ceremonies and an Olympic themed party evening on the Saturday. 

The weekend was based at Trevelyan Middle School on the outskirts of Windsor, where Emma teaches, and which was also the venue in 2011 for Jameson and Emma's wedding celebrations. It's an excellent base for a morris weekend, having extensive grounds for camping, though it does have the drawback of being on some of Heathrow's flight paths which can give rise to engine noise at anti-social times of the day, night, and early morning. However suitably armed with ear plugs our guests started arriving on the Friday evening with a wide variety of tents, camper vans, and caravans. They were greeted by BB members resplendent in their 'BB 35th' uniforms of red polo shirts, and a very pleasant social evening followed with a light supper, copious volumes of beer and wine, and a 'Spot The Morris Team' picture quiz. 

The recent weather had been truly appalling, with almost continuous rain during May and June flushing away the threat of drought from earlier in the year, and the portents for the weekend had been for more unsettled weather throughout. So it was with some trepidation everyone set off from the school on Saturday morning for dancing in Windsor, and indeed during the first dance spots there were some sudden heavy downpours which soaked those unlucky enough to be dancing at the time. However, undeterred the dancing continued until the 8 teams split into 2 groups, one taking a boat trip down the Thames to Staines while the other group went by coach, and then after lunch the groups swapping for the return journey. To provide some further entertainment on the boat journey, 2 activities had been prepared. Firstly, Bob had provided each side with appropriate materials to make a team flag (on a large piece of card) to be used in the later medal ceremonies (of which more later), while Lee had provided straws and other materials for making a model of the Orbit Tower. Several of each team took to this with considerable enthusiasm, and with some very artistic results. Meanwhile though the rain held off for the afternoon, allowing dancing to continue outside the Old Town Hall in Staines, and later by the Windsor Wheel in Windsor, and then Bachelors Acre for all the teams.
Back at the school on Saturday afternoon it was time for some team sports. Firstly came the coloured water relay race, appropriately using coconut shells to transport small amounts of water down the course to empty sweet jars, and won by Mortimers depsite some fairly serious cheating by Great Western. Then came the 'ski-ing' race, consisting of 3 people walking astride 2 planks, with Great Western legitimately winning this time after mastering a suitable technique. Finally it was the Spacehopper Relay race, which basically consisted of men and women who should perhaps have known better falling off Spacehoppers while everyone else laughed at them. 
Then it was time for the evening 'entertainment' to begin in the main school hall. After an excellent barbeque supper organised by John, the opening ceremony commenced, starting with the parading of Rob's fabulous Olympic torch around the hall, carried by Alun with a phalanx of BBs on either side. The torch was then used to 'light' Rob's equally fabulous Olympic flame (with thanks to Emma for flicking the switch backstage). After this Andy, our very own 'Boris' for the evening with beautifully appropriate green hair (not quite the planned colour apparently but it still worked), formally opened proceedings with an excellent nonsensical speech, partly in Latin, and insulting Great Western along the way - always a good idea. This was the signal for the BB cheerleaders to appear for their mighty cheerleader dance routine, a reprise of the spot first done at the 2009 Bunfight, and once again it went down a storm - thanks for the choreography and patience in instruction, Steph!
The evening was then taken up with a succession of spots from guest teams, more indoor sports, and medal ceremonies for various events. The spots included synchronised swimming on the stage from Mortimers (we were all waiting for the upside down legs and weren't disappointed), gladiatorial ancient Greek-ish contests from Fools Gambit, Betty Luptons silent Holy Mothers, Flag & Bone's at times highly dangerous line up of alternative athlete's careers, Holt's acapella antics (loved the wigs), and a succession of games from Great Western rigged so that the masked royals won every time - a bit like real life. These were interspersed with medal ceremonies, where team's flags (made earlier on the boat trip) were held aloft while a suitable national anthem was played according to where the team came from (e.g. Ilkley Moor, I've got a Brand New Combine Harvester, Robin Hood etc) while the audience stood, hands clasped to hearts, singing lustily. It made everyone feel very humble (well, that was the general idea anyway). And somewhere in the middle of all this was a ceremonial BB 35th cake cutting ceremony, with Boris striking a mean pose and wielding a mean knife while spouting some meaningless drivel, again in a fine simulation of real life.
Overseeing all this mayhem as M/C for the evening was Paul, resplendent in the blazer of responsibility. Miraculously he somehow held it all together until it was time for the closing ceremony which started with Boris, still looking a little green, handing over the torch to Vladimir Rob Putin, suitably suited and booted for the occasion. He was of course representing Russia, home of the next Winter Olympics in 2014 (OK, it should have been to a representative of the next summer games in 2016 in Rio but that wouldn't have suited what we'd planned next). After this a series of BB Russian Cossacks appeared, and the stirring Russian national anthem was played (loudly - thanks Emma) before the 'Kopak' music started and the Russians were off on a variation of the dance last seen at the 2006 Bunfight, including Rob's infamous cartwheels (performed better than ever despite the handicap of a suit). And after a final fast polka, that was it for the evening!

And then on to Sunday, which turned out to be the best day weatherwise for some time, with clear blue sky for much of the day and only 1 brief shower at lunchtime which didn't interrupt the dancing. We had chosen to go to Reading for the day, which proved to be a surprisingly good place to dance, and (now joined by Windsor for the day) teams danced in groups of 3 in the morning in Forbury Gardens, the Market Place, outside the Town Hall, and in Broad Street where we had some good audiences. The day culminated with dancing for all teams in the outside performance area at The Oracle, effectively an amphitheatre where the tiered steps and surrounding bridges and walkways alongside the canalised River Kennet provide excellent viewing opportunities for spectators, of which we had plenty. All the teams taking part managed to pull out something special when it was their turn, meaning the weekend was able to finish on a real high for everyone.
So overall a very successful weekend, with huge thanks to all the guest teams for throwing themselves so enthusiastically into whatever situations arose, and providing such high standards of dancing as well. Within BB, huge thanks to everyone in the side for their contributions, large and small, and also to a few non team members - Emma for massive contributions in lots of ways, Linda for cake making, Sue G for help with cake decorating, Angela for videoing, and other partners for their forbearance. Bring on the 40th!

But it's ever onwards (and ideally upwards) for BB, and on Thurs 19 Jul we were at one of our favourite locations again, The Cricketers at Hartley Wintney, for an excellent evening with Mayflower Morris. This was followed on Sun 5 August by a lunchtime appearance on the Sidmouth seafront along with many other sides. The afternoon featured the annual Jig competition, which had an exceptionally high standard this year, but BB audience members were delighted to see success from our younger members, albeit as Fools Gambits. Firstly Alun put on a great show in the solo jig, coming third overall with his musician Tom Wright, and then Will M and Mark performed a very elegant double jig, with Ollie King as their musician, which deservedly won them second place.

August Bank holiday weekend, 25th to 27th, saw us at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival, where the weather was mainly very kind apart from one short monsoon like downpour. Amongst other high profile dance displays, we found ourselves with a 10 minute spot in the 'Global Dance Project' show on the main stage, a 90 minute dance show featuring English, Scottish, Irish, African, Caribbean and Bhangra dancers as well as some knockout drummers. Despite minimal rehearsal time on the stage we were able to put together a good 3 dance spot (Princess Royal, Cavalier with swords and Coconuts) as well as take part in a frenetic finale with everyone crowded on stage attempting to do something (anything) in time to the drumbeats. But with Hammersmith and Windsor also taking part the Cotswold flag was flying high, though the other dance traditions were also very well represented including Declan, the Irish stepper with feet considerably faster than Usain Bolt's. Apart from the dance show, over the 3 days we also had good spots on the Village Stage and in the town, as well as a procession and other impromptu stuff, though sadly Alun lost out in an unoffical leapfrog contest with Chris Campbell of Hammersmith (yes, thanks Hammersmith, but we knew we weren't singing any more - in fact, we hadn't actually started).

After a small but perfectly formed team had a good evening with Customs and Exiles at The Calleva Arms, Silchester, on Thursday 30th Aug, it was off to Wallingford on Sat 1st Sept for another appearance at the Wallingford Bunkfest, a weekend festival which has gone from strength to strength in recent years after a difficult period a few years ago. Blessed once again by great weather, we had some good dance spots in town and on the 2 stages on the Kinecroft before the real highlight of the day, another visit to Sue's back garden in Shillingford for the annual (pineapple)Chunk(s)fest. The Chunkfest has also gone from strength to strength recently, with more pineapple every year and even more tempting cakes and biscuits, ably served by Sue and her ever willing parents. The event's success brings in more and more attendees each year - looks like an extension into next door's garden may be needed next year ....

Our final event of the main dance season was the weekend of 15/16 September when another somewhat reduced side attended the '7 Champions Ail' weekend, based at the Village Hall in Benenden in Kent, quite near the legendary treacle mines. Another excellent weekend, blessed with great weather and fine teams (7 Champs, Downes-on-Tour, Gaorsach, Iron Men + Seven Guilders amongst others). Sue was otherwise engaged (completing the Great North Run in a highly respectable time) so Emma had kindly agreed to fill in for her on accordion, and an excellent job she did for us over the weekend. On the Saturday we headed off to Hastings for dancing in brilliant sunshine on the seafront and in the old town centre before returning to Benenden for tea and more dancing at The Bull up the road. The evening extravaganza had a theme of simply 'Queen', which featured a variety of suitably dubious outfits including our very own Paul, dressed in a fetching off-purple 2-piece and pearls, looking just like the queen would have done on a particularly boring night with the corgis at Balmoral, the rain teeming down outside. There were also, amongst the other royals, several fierce looking Freddie Mercurys, some Brian Mays, and one or two Dancing Queens. The meal featured a variety of meal choices cooked by individual Champs (or their pressganged partners), to be followed by a series of spots from each of the guest teams interspersed with some ceilidh dancing to a particularly high class scratch band. BB's contribution to the evening featured a reprise of the Russian spot most recently seen at our 35th in July. Once again this went extremely well, especially the bit early on where at our 35th Rob strode to the front and performed a series of energetic cartwheels. Without Rob this time, Paul instead strode to the front, still in his lovely Queen ensemble complete with handbag, and performed a short sequence of 'dad dancing' moves culminating in a quick unscripted knicker flash - there's just no holding him back sometimes. On the Sunday a very depleted jig team bravely kept its end up at the lunchtime pub session, once again greatly indebted to Emma for getting all the right notes, all in the right order!

After this there were no more scheduled events until the now traditional BB Bunfight at the end of November. It had been decided that our spot there would be based on the autumn's YouTube phenomenon 'Gangnam Style' by the Korean rapper Psy. After only a little tension, a routine of sorts was put together, to be performed in our 'Men in Black' outfits. At practices we were greatly helped by newly joined David, who although unable to attend the Bunfight was able to substitute at practice in a number of positions for people who were absent (although this is not as impressive as it sounds as the routine was basically identical from every position...). The Bunfight itself was another great success - a sell-out once again, and an enthusiastic attendance with lots of younger people to enthuse over the Gangnam spot - some of whom apparently want to marry Mark after his stand-out performance at the front (see the Bunfights page for more details!). The following day a smaller than usual BB side was in attendance at the Wokingham Winter Carnival, for which the rain just about held off for our dance spots.

And then it was the end of the year - finishing off in the style of recent years with the BB Xmas meal followed by the St. Thomas Day dance out. For the second year in a row, the Xmas meal was at The Bull at Barkham, where once again we took over the top part of the restaurant area for a jolly evening including the dispersal of Secret Santa presents when Paul's back was turned. Some very fine efforts this year, including the zip line toy racing cars which some of the older boys took to with far too much enthusiasm. The evening also featured a presentation to Will B, off to Australia with Sarah for a year, of a calendar featuring lots of pictures of him in action over the 4 years he has been with us - mainly, it must be said, dressed up in a number of extraordinary costumes as is the nature of life in BB. A couple of days later on 22nd Dec we were in Wokingham Market Place for our St. Thomas Day dance out. As seemed to happen an awful lot during 2012, we managed to avoid the rain during our dancing despite heavy showers both before and after. The day featured the largest number of current BB dancers ever assembled - 16, though not everyone was dancing - however we were able to have 2 sets for many dances despite the space being somewhat confined this year. The day was also notable for 3 things - one good, one poignant, and one diabolical. The good things was seeing David make his debut for us, and very competently he performed too. The poignant one was the last appearance with us for a while of Will B, including a very fine 'Nutting Girl' solo jig, performed with his usual elegance and style. And the diabolical thing was 2 sets making a complete hash of 'Cocky Jockey Sticks', proving beyond all doubt that the dance should never be attempted without a walk through round the corner first. Still, it was Christmas ....

But - there was still one more appearance to come in 2012. And lo! - on Christmas Day did appear the wise men of Berkshire Bedlam! And 7.3m viewers watched! And said, as the images flickered but too briefly across their TV screens "whose backside was that - it looked familiar?". Yes, this was our appearance in ITV's Christmas special episode of Downton Abbey, in the country fair scenes, filmed in August in the grounds of Eton College. As Sue had been unable to make the day of filming, Jerry had stepped in on melodeon, playing many of the same notes as Sue. A team of 6 dancers had gone along, and the first action for 4 of them on arrival was to have a short back and sides haircut for added 1920s authenticity, plus, in the case of Roy, a full beard removal, requiring the assistance of a blowtorch and several strong men. The programme's costume designer had done a great deal of research to find us some reasonably authentic looking 1920s morris gear, including handmade baldricks, and the resulting kit not only looked the part but wouldn't be out of keeping today (great effort Dora!). On the day, we performed simple sequences of a couple of dances over and over while filming took place all around us, although in the final broadcast we were only on screen for a few seconds. You could however hear various morris sounds even when we weren't in shot, including the sound of clashing sticks while we were supposed to be doing a hanky dance. Ah well, that's showbiz....  

Reports from earlier years are also available - 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001
You can also see pictures of all events in the various Picture Galleries

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