BB 2017 Summary


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Report from the year 2017

Amazing! Astounding! Astonishing! A-unbelievable! BB made it to its 40th year!

And the year started with BB in reasonably good shape. Long term injuries to some of our experienced dancers had been a problem, but the welcome sight of some new dancers had meant the team approached its 40th birthday year confidently.

And one of our new dancers, Charles, was quickly in action at the first event of the year, a Haddenham ceilidh on 4th February with the Bursledon Band. We did a 4 dance spot, with Charles joining for the final Jolly Jockey. All went well, no injuries, minimal dropped sticks - a good start to the year!

After the rarity for BB of a Sunday practice at a mirrored dance studio in Woodley in February, a great opportunity for several of the team to keep admiring themselves throughout, the first outdoor event was on Sunday 23rd April with a day at the Oxford Folk Festival, with both Charles and Ben playing a full part. Another good day's dancing, at the end of which we were approached by a Spanish TV crew making some sort of promotional film, and we were asked to have a speaking part. This turned out to be repeating several times "welcome to Oxford!" - I think by the end we had it nailed.

Next, on Wednesday 10th May, came a dance out at the Queens Head in Wokingham along with Windsor Morris to celebrate our illustrious foreman's 50th birthday. A cheerful evening, though Jameson claimed to be unimpressed by Sue and Bob's Lucy Worsley masks, claiming his allegiance had switched to Alice Roberts. However we noticed at the end of the evening he quietly made off with the Lucy Worsleys, to do with them we know not what...

The following weekend came one of the season's highlights with a weekend away, mainly to attend the JMO Day of Dance in Leicester, but also to celebrate David's forthcoming marriage to Heather. Saturday started with an opening ceremony in Jubilee Square, and was followed by spots in Halford Street, at the Clock Tower, at the Jewry Wall Museum, the Newarke Houses Museum, and finally Leicester Cathedral, now the home to Richard III.  Some of the team were a little unkind about the size of Leicester's Cathedral, but really (though I must declare some slight personal bias here) could there be a better city in England for Richard to finally rest his bones? (Though of course he had been resting them there for a while under a car park). The day finished with a closing ceremony in Jubilee Square, where BB were one of very few teams invited to perform one dance in front of the 60 assembled teams (Windsor were another).

Overall the dancing on the day went well - except - well, the day was partly a celebration for David, and some of the team thought the best way to celebrate was to have a bottle of whisky to pass round. My, weren't people thirsty! - and the bottle was soon followed by a second one. It was the second one, I'm afraid, that was David's downfall - to the extent that when performing in a 12 man Cavalier at the Cathedral, he had to be prodded around from place to place throughout. By the time he got to the closing ceremony he really wasn't too well, and had to be helped back to the fortunately nearby Travelodge where several of the team were staying.

That evening a celebration dinner had been arranged at the Queen of Bradgate bar/restaurant, but unfortunately David was unable to make it. Nevertheless it was a fun evening, and the props that had been brought to dress up David instead found their way onto Tom. And later on, just as we had done 6 years earlier after the equivalent meal for Jameson's the forthcoming marriage, we went back to the hotel and watched the closing stages of the Eurovision Song Contest! We know how to live in BB.

The next day we had planned a rendezvous at The Bell in Adderbury, a morris friendly pub conveniently on the way home from Leicester. A recovered David was able to take part in the dancing, and we were able to apply the various props he had missed the previous evening. What a great air guitarist he proved to be!

Then just 3 weeks later, on Saturday3rd June, came the actual wedding. This was held in Worplesdon, near Guildford, and BB and Windsor had been invited along to the evening celebration at Worplesdon Memorial Hall following the lunchtime ceremony. David and Heather looked resplendent throughout, and both of them were able to join in a couple of dances with their sides outside the hall with the wedding guests looking on. This included (for the first time ever) a joint dance, Highland Mary with BB on one side and Windsor facing them on the other, both doing their normal steps - it worked surprisingly well. The morris dancing finished with BB's Fairies and (of course) a magic arch through which all the guests duly proceeded led by David and Heather, before heading inside for a hog roast and a live band. A great occasion and a well matched couple!

The next 2 Thursdays were dance outs with some excellent teams local to us: Thursday 15th June with Taeppas Tump at The Beehive, White Waltham, followed by Thurs 22nd June at the Stag and Hounds, Binfield, both very enjoyable evenings. On Saturday 24th June, we were guests (or did we invite ourselves? not sure...) of Windsor morris for their Day of Dance, along with Rockhopper. Rockhopper's musician was very late arriving, so Tom did an excellent job of filling in, finishing learning each dance approximately 10 seconds before going on and playing it faultlessly. We had spots in Peascod Street and at the Two Brewers before having one dance each at the Rotary Fayre in Alexandra Gardens, and then finished with spots at The Boatman and the Guildhall.

The following Thursday was another evening dance out of a different kind - as guests of Kennet Morris for their annual dance out during Henley Festival week. A slightly different kind of audience this time with several blazered gentlemen, rowers and past rowers, admiring the dancing. And just a couple of days later we were Kennet's guests again, this time for a day of dance in Reading to commemorate their 60th anniversary. 15 local teams took part, and we enjoyed spots in Broad Street, at The Minster, and in the Market Place before a final assembly in Forbury Gardens for a dance from each team interspersed with one or 2 massed dances.

This was to be our last public appearance for 3 weeks, as our attention (and practice time) switched to preparing for our big 40th birthday celebration weekend. Preparations for this had started almost a year earlier, with committees meeting regularly throughout the winter to plan some of the entertainments for the weekend (The Fun Committee), and also the organisations and practical details for the weekend (The No-Fun-At-All Committee). Eventually, after all the planning, the weekend finally arrived and on Friday 21st July we and our excellent weekend guest teams (Brighton, Chinewrde, Oyster and Silver Flame) assembled at the venue we had hired for the weekend, Tadley Rugby Club, near to Aldermaston in West Berkshire - transformed for the weekend into Billy Bedlam's Holiday Camp! The extensive grounds surrounding the rugby pitches were used for camping, and all of BB were also transformed into holiday camp Redcoats (or more accurately Red-and-White-Coats), and all the indoor activities and meals took place in the large clubhouse room, also transformed for the weekend into the 'Hawaiian Ballroom'.

On Friday evening, various soups, bread and cheese were served to arriving guests, and the clubhouse bar was open for liquid refreshments. Jameson had put together a couple of quizzes for visitors (and BB) to puzzle over, based on TV's Only Connect programme, and a very sociable social evening followed. Then on Saturday morning after breakfast, each of the guest teams performed one dance each to the other teams before two 55 seater coaches arrived to whisk us and our guests off to the day's dance locations - The West Berks Brewery, near Yattendon, a small independent brewery, and also the Milestones Museum of Living History on the edge of Basingstoke. All of the teams were also together at lunchtime at two adjacent pubs in Sherfield-on-Loddon - the Four Horseshoes, which served us lunch (excellent sandwiches and chips), and the White Hart. BB split into 2 teams for the day - BB A, with Roy as musician plus Robert as excellent occasional drummer, and BB 1, with Sue and Bob as musicians, with each team just about having 7 dancers, but which worked out fine. The weather though was a bit mixed, with showers throughout the day making it difficult at the outdoor venues, though the Milestones Museum being all indoors was an excellent venue.

The coaches arrived back at Tadley around 5, in time for tea and cake before some It's a Knockout games for the teams on the sports field (indoors if wet) (which it was - so indoors then). Some especially memorable team games followed - winding up a stick of rhubarb on a long piece of string proved particularly therapeutic, and in the end was easily won by BB's Florent, looking very Frenchly nonchalant as his nimble fingers outpaced all the opposition - though sadly he had to be disqualified for being one of BB. The Spacehopper relay races also proved extremely exciting until the point where one of the competitor's head came into contact with the hard floor, causing the race to be abandoned as a draw. The rain outside then cleared in time for the exciting coloured water relay race, where each member of the team had to run the course with a small cup of water and fill a sweet jar at the other end, the jars containing a coloured powder which helped to show how full it was getting. Brighton attempted to fill their jar faster by using tankards, but then found the task harder when their jar was removed.

Supper for the evening was a BBQ, cooked freshly by an outside company brought in for the evening, and who did a great job, especially as during the early part of their cooking they had to contend with a monumental downpour. Once that was over, puddings (provided by us) were consumed, though somewhat messily by some of Brighton and BB during a dance where they were only allowed to eat them through the joined arms of their partners (you had to be there, really). After that the tables were cleared away and the evening entertainment (or "Talent Night") could begin. And, hosted by our very own Jerry in smart MC's jacket, what an evening it turned out to be!

BB got proceedings off to a start, coming on in our stripy blazers but with the addition of a straw boater and cane (canes made by Lee). After a cheesy entry we adopted a 4 by 4 formation for a dance we had been practising for a few weeks, with choreography by Will, to the song 'Putting on the Ritz', this particular version by Robbie Williams. A great start, and after that proceedings moved along with every holiday camp's favourite, the 'Knobbly Knees' contest. Our own Bob was the judge, moving along the line of ill assorted male and female knees, and proved to be not at all put off by a late entry of a very familiar pair of knees indeed. Next up was Silver Flame's spot - a take off of appalling talent contest entries with an appropriately slimy compere - though actually we quite liked the balloon modelling. Then it was time for some judging of competitions running during the day - firstly the 'decorate your coconut' competition. It was a difficult choice for guest judges Jill and Sally, with some excellent offerings (imaginative use of a melon amongst them), but in the end Chinewrde's bikini clad offering won, possibly on account of the marmalade rum it was filled with. And after that it was time to bring on our wonderful 40th birthday cake, made for us specially by Will's sister Maria, with the 2 halves brilliantly iced to look like a BB top hat and a BB rosette. And the first cut just had to be made by our longest serving member Paul. Next up, Oyster sang a song called 'Bedlam's Holiday' to the tune of 'Summer Holiday' - "We're all going on a Bedlam's Holiday, sticks and hankies for a day or two" etc, and including the particularly ironic line given the day's weather "It never rains on Berkshire Bedlam". After that came an act which was a surprise to everyone in the room, and especially the rest of BB - originally billed as 'Dazzling Dave Steptoe', but introduced on the night as 'Elvis Steptoe'. And in came David, hair brylcreemed back, 70s shades, blue suede shoes, clutching a microphone, who promptly tore into 'All Shook Up'. And shake everyone up he certainly did - a brilliant performance, with a great impression of Elvis's voice, all the actions and movements, microphone twirling throughout, and - most impressive of all - managing to keep a straight face while the room just erupted. After finishing he was immediately called back for an encore, and gave us Moon River, and finally Blue Suede Shoes. Without question the performance of the night!

 He was a tough act to follow, but Chinerwde next gave us their own rendition of 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar', with the Caterpillar gradually growing as it added more people until eventually it was beautifully sick all over John just before metamorphosing into a beautiful butterfly, though confusingly the caterpillar was still very much in evidence at that point. After that Brighton got everyone in a large circle for a confusing clapping routine involving yourself, your neighbour, yourself, the other neighbour, and then it was a bit of a blur. Great fun though! In between all these spots Jerry was valiantly filling in with some of the jokes submitted by various teams during the day. Sadly he ran out of time before he could properly explain the difference between jam and marmalade - perhaps another time. And then, as if the evening hadn't been wild enough already, a series of cheesy disco hits for people to join in with, and soon there was a dance floor full of people happily and with great relish doing all the approved actions for Oops Upside Your head, The Macarena, YMCA, and many many more. But eventually we came to the final routines of the evening - BB entering again, and this time breaking into a routine first performed almost 5 years ago their own interpretation of Gangnam Style. After that all the BBs gathered together to sing the traditional Holiday Camp closing song, 'Goodnight Campers', which brought the official celebrations to a close, though the unofficial merriment continued for quite a bit longer.  Overall a great night, and a reflection of what so many of BB and all our guest teams had put into it!

The next morning, Sunday, after breakfast the campsite and clubroom were cleared and everyone proceeded to Reading for a day's dancing, where we were also joined by the wonderful Windsor Morris. The dance venues were Forbury Gardens, 2 locations in Broad Street, the Market Place, and finally a gathering of all the teams outside the Town Hall for one dance each. All of the teams put on a great show throughout the day, and miraculously the rain pretty well held off for us. The last spot outside the Town Hall was also very memorable, with each team doing a great final dance - BB had saved the Sword Dance to finish off the whole weekend, which also went down very well. after that, and some final photos, it was time to say goodbye to all the fabulous teams who had joined us for the weekend. Another truly memorable anniversary!

In fact though that wasn't quite the end of the anniversary story. While the teams had been dancing in Reading on Sunday, they were seen by one of the BBC Radio Berkshire presenters on the Andrew Peach morning show, newsreader Sarah Walker, who reported on air on the Monday morning that she had seen "an obscene amount of morris dancers in Reading on Sunday", including "some women dancing with what looked like pallet knives...". This was latched on during the show, and people were asked to phone in if they had any idea what it was about. Eventually Brian from Kennet phoned in, and explained it was to do with Berkshire Bedlam's 40th birthday celebrations. He was asked about us, and somehow in the ensuing dialogue we were described first as 'cabaret morris', and then somehow as 'almost burlesque dancers'. As a result of this, we were immediately invited to go on the show the next day (Tuesday 25 July) to show what 'burlesque cabaret morris' was all about (gulp). Anyway, as a result, Alun, Mark, Charles, and Malcolm all went along to the studio next morning and were featured on the show from about 9.15 to 9.45, including a short demonstration done to the music of an iPhone held to a microphone - not ideal but just about worked. And after doing it the 3 presenters also had a go - Andrew Peach, Sarah, and sports guy Ady Williams, a Welsh football international and former captain of Reading FC. Not sure what they all made of it, especially Ady, but they seemed impressed, especially by the fact that (apart from Malcolm) the dancers were all young!

And then on to Sidmouth for Folk Week, starting on Saturday 5th August. On the Sunday, yet again BB were able to field a team on the prom, with several members who were there for the week, plus Sue, just there for a couple of days, David, also just there for a couple of days to be a Tommy for Silver Flame, and Florent, who drove down just for the day for his first Sidmouth experience - merci beaucoup! On the Sunday afternoon was the jig competition, with several participants from BB, though sadly none in BB kit. In the solo jig competition, Will did a fabulous Hammersmith Longborough jig, accompanied by the excellent Jim Sawyer, while the double jig competition featured Mark and Alun at the start, reprising their winning Fools Gambit jig from 2016, though accompanied by Jerry this time in Tom's absence. It also featured Jameson dancing an Oyster jig along with Colin Pigden, a BB member in the mid 1990s, and finally Will again, dancing a jig in a piratical type outfit along with Kynan Parker-Roth and accompanied by Jerry, all 3 wearing matching piratical bandanas. When the prizes were awarded, it was a double success for Will - first place in the solo jig and first place in the double! Both very well deserved, and a great pleasure also for all of the BB members watching.

And BB members continued to feature during the week with booked teams - as mentioned David was down for the weekend to Tommy with Silver Flame, while Jameson was with Oyster all week and Tylers Men on his Oyster day off. Will was also with Tylers Men, and later in the week Mark joined in some of the dances of the excellent young American team formed just for the festival, Great Circle. Great to see so many of BB playing a full part in the week!

Sat 2 Sept saw us at the Wallingford Bunkfest for another good day at what is always a great event, and a couple of weeks later on Thurs 14 Sept we celebrated Paul's 60th birthday (even though he's actually 84) with a dance out at the Queens Head in Wokingham followed by a generously subsidised pizza at Pizza Express. Next up was a day in Lewes on Sat 14 Oct at the Lewes Day of Dance, part of Lewes Folk Festival. A small team of just 6 dancers, including some of our less experienced members, did full justice to the BB name during another enjoyable day.

And then before we knew it, the end of year season was on us again, starting with the Bunfight on Sat 25th Nov, with the Beatles flavoured theme 'A Hard Day's Bunfight'. The usual great range of outfits on show, and this year's band The Diatonics, assisted by Nick calling as usual, put on a great show with many of their ceilidh tunes featuring part (or occasionally all) of a Beatles song. In the first interval we performed Damce of Chance (tricky when you're wearing a zebra crossing or silver hammer), and then later reprised our 40th weekend's 'Putting on the Ritz' - blazers, boaters, the lot! Next day was the Wokingham Winter Carnival - affected this year by the town centre regeneration, but still a good day with the sunshine making up for the cold (almost).

The year then finished in more or less traditional style, with our Xmas meal on Thursday 21st Dec, this year back at the Bull at Barkham, and then with out St. Thomas's Day dance out in Wokingham town centre on Saturday 23rd Dec. The difference this year was that with much building work going on in the centre of Wokingham, we weren't able to dance outside the Town Hall as usual. Instead, we started in Erfstadt Court before moving on to the Queens Head for not only some dancing outside but some carol singing inside, ably led by David, and including David singing 'It'll be lonely this Christmas' in the style of Elvis. In fact Elvis had never sang that particular one (Shakin Stevens) but hey-ho. A fabulous end to the year!    

Reports from earlier years are also available - 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 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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