Dances With Sticks…

Hark, I hear bells in the summertime and not a reindeer in sight. What can be happening? Why ’tis the Morris Season… And I was out last night Morris spotting in Somerset, lured outside by the warmer and lighter evenings, and tipped off by a single line of text on my FB feed that the Wyvern Jubilee Morris Men would be a-capering and clattering their sticks not so very far away…IMG_2617 (2) It was a fine stand with just six men to dance and one musician. The core side. They presented a ribald chaos as they fractured and reformed, the Squire calling commands to go ‘hands around’ or ‘back to back’. There was a good audience who applauded with vigor. Many of the revival sides, like the Wyvern Jubilee, which started back in the heady days of the 1970’s folk revolution are facing losses due to the passing of time, and newer, more youthful sides are overtaking territory traditionally danced by these men. There is a new revival taking place. But the Wyverns are not going away.IMG_2619 “It’s an opportunity to reset and rediscover the fun,” as one said to me, and they have new faces and enquiries every season. I lined up with them to do a little ‘bean-setting’, a Cotswold dance which involves clattering sticks and circling about. We were imitating the planting of legumes, a fertility dance then. I was part of the audience participation that this side does so well, involving bystanders, birthday girls and children of all ages…IMG_2606 It’s possible there is no better reason to leave the house on a week-night than to meet up with like-minded folk and leap about in a pub garden, and afterwards in the bar there was much laughter and sharing of chocolate birthday cake between sips of cider. I certainly hadn’t laughed so much in a long time. When things can get a bit difficult and work or family or both combine to drive a person around the bend I guess the sense of shared experience and community in a Morris side can act like a pressure valve. The evening certainly benefitted my mental health no end, and I can’t say I have trouble anywhere except for in the space in between my own ears from time to time.IMG_2608

Waking up this morning took longer than usual, my head heavy with the later than normal week-night outing, but there was a lightness to my step as I lit down the stairs and I was sure I felt a twinkle in my eye when I left for work. I haven’t ‘danced-out’ for a while and was thoroughly incognito when I arrived at the Inn, but was well persuaded by these fine fellows that I should bring my own bells and hankies next time I’m abroad of a Summer’s eve in Somerset…see you there perhaps?

You can keep up to date with the Wyvern Jubilee Morris Men on their Facebook page which has their program for the year. Next Thursday they are in Longburton at the Rose and Crown and the Thursday after that at The Quarry in Keinton Mandeville…




About 14thcenturypoet

Author of The Legend of Zonza, an historical fantasy based on traditional Italian folk tales...
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