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 ~ Bedford Morris Men ~

" Founded 1932....Part of England's living heritage "

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Bedford Morris - Christmas Newsletter 2012

Bedford Morris Men send you Seasonal Greetings.  

Last year we carried out our traditional Christmas events: the Fine Companions’ party; and our “Carols and Capers” tour to the White Horse, Newnham Avenue; The Five Bells, Cople; The Anchor, Great Barford; and The Horseshoes, Blunham.  On Boxing Day, we danced on Bedford Embankment and then at the Swan Hotel, where we introduced the formal proceedings by singing the Boar's Head Carol.  The New Year started with our annual Plough Monday Plough Play tour - we started at the Wellington Arms; moved to the Three Cups, Newnham Street and then the Cricketers. 

In February, we performed at an 80th birthday party at the Horse and Groom at Clapham, they wanted a group that was of similar age!  In early March we joined Letchworth Morris at their energetic Ale, and in mid May, we joined Aldbury Morris at their Ale. 

The Summer Season started on what was expected to be a wet May Morning.  However, at 6.30 a.m. the rain abated and Bedford, Offley and Letchworth Morris Men sang the May Carol and the Northill May Song.  A selection of Morris dances followed, although drizzle returned for the Folk Dances for all.  The Bedford Museum was filming for Archive footage on local customs, prior to attending the May Festival.  Unfortunately, due to heavy rain and flooded car parking, that event was cancelled for the first time in its history. 

We danced a full Wednesday evening summer programme, despite some less than ideal conditions.  On the first Wednesday in May, we made our traditional first outing to the Fox and Hounds at Riseley.  Although not the warmest evening, we were greeted by a large crowd as it would also be almost the last event for our host, Jan Zielinski, who was retiring after some twenty plus years.  Once again we were refreshed by the barrel of beer that Jan so very kindly provided and he later joined us for some favourite songs until closing time.  On the next four May Wednesdays, we visited the Carpenter’s Arms, Cranfield; the Horse and Groom, Clapham; the Three Cranes, Turvey; and the Wheatsheaf, Bow Brickhill, where we were welcomed by Andy Malleson and Jonathan Ginn who joined with the musicians to play for some of the dances.  We were also visited by an old friend, Martin “Shag” Graetz, from Pinewoods MM in USA. 

In late May we helped out on Channel 5’s “Cowboy Builders”.  The householder was Michael Snow, a former member of Standon Morris Men, the producers had noticed an arch of Morris sticks in a wedding photograph - and thought a similar “surprise” should be staged.  After hiding round the corner, we made an arch of sticks when they came out, and we then danced for them.  Little escaped the cutting room floor, but we had a few moments of “fame”! 

June was Jubilee season: Angus Darling and Ray Horner gave a “teach in” for a charity event at the Wellington in Bedford, and on the first Wednesday, we danced at the Sun Inn, Felmersham, and then on the next Wednesdays, at the Victoria, Wilden [a new venue]; the Five Bells, Cople; and the Polhill Arms, Renhold.  Also in June, representatives attended the Forest of Dean Morris Men’s weekend. 

In July we danced at the Guinea, Moggerhanger; the Bedford Arms, Souldrop and then in the middle of the month, we attended the Letchworth Ring Meeting to help celebrate their 90th Anniversary.  On the penultimate Wednesday we were at the Bell, Odell, where we had both sun and heavy rain showers, but were treated to an excellent rainbow, as can be seen on the back of our card.  Our final night of the season was a Thursday, so that we could join Letchworth MM at the Stone Jug, Clophill.

 

In October, we celebrated our 80th Anniversary with a Day of Dance.  It was based at the Bedford Guild House, conveniently in the town centre.  Our guests included Anker MM from Nuneaton; East Surrey MM; Letchworth MM; and Manchester MM; the Past Squire of The Morris Ring, Bob Cross, and Paul Cross, both from Chalice MM, who had joined us for our trip to Erlinsee in Germany, a couple of years earlier, also attended.  

 

Some of our guests arrived on Friday evening for supper in the Guild House and a few beers at the Wellington.  The majority arrived on Saturday morning, either to join us for breakfast, or for coffee and doughnuts.  A number of Bedford Men who had moved away, or are now out less frequently, including Arthur Ronald; Keyth Richardson; Bill M G Towns and Peter Davey attended in kit and swelled our ranks. 

There were two morning spots: in Church Square and outside the Harpur Centre, before we visited the 35th Bedford Beer Festival, where we danced and had a lunch of Bedfordshire Clangers.  We also felt obliged to sample some of the beers!  In the afternoon, we danced outside Marks and Spencer’s; in Silver Street and finally, outside the Swan Hotel.  Refreshments in the form of tea and cakes were available back at the Guild House, but most took further liquid refreshment at the Wellington.  Whilst a spot for dancing was available, it seems all felt enough dancing had been done.  However, music was played and songs were sung with many enthusiastic choruses.

 

We then returned to the Guild House for our Feast.  Many more former Bedford Men attended, indeed some had been following us in Bedford during the day, including: Philip Cambers; Derek Collins; Doug Greenwell; Bruce Garner; Hugh Hamer; Roger Nicholls; Geoff Nichollson; Mike Sargeant; David Towns and Graham Wild.

 

The main hall of the Guild House had been suitably decorated, with the tables decked in orange and blue, and “80” sprinkles, formal Menu Cards and a turned wooden “Bierdeckel” [tankard cover] for each attendee as a souvenir of the occasion.  The excellent meal provided by Joanna Daye and her team, comprised: Avocado à la Grecque; Ragoût of Jersey Beef; a selection of home made puddings; and a superb choice of “real” cheeses.  Three barrels of a draught “Real Ale”, Inclined Plane from the Langton Brewery, lubricated the attendees.  Various toasts and short speeches followed, including one from the guest of honour, Councillor Sylvia Gillard, Speaker of Bedford Borough Council.  The Loving Cup was passed with due ceremony whilst songs were sung.  The tables were cleared and dancing followed, with many of our visiting members dancing and Roger Nicholls joining the massed band.

 

Later in October, we danced two shows for the Apple Day event at Bromham Mill, in front of record crowds - it had stopped raining for a while - quite an event - but the drizzle returned once we had finished!!  Our practice season is now in full swing, at Ravensden Village Hall on Wednesday evenings at 8.15pm. 

 

In November, representatives visited Anker MM in Nuneaton for their excellent Ale, with good companionship, five beers from the Church End brewery and a substantial supper, and energetic dancing.

 

Our AGM will be held early next year.  Our “Carols and Capers” Border tour will be on the Thursday just before Christmas and we anticipate performing at the Fine Companions Party the next evening.  On Boxing Day we will be on Bedford Embankment and then at the Swan Hotel.  In the New Year we will be performing our Plough Monday Mummers’ play.  The dates and venues [as available] are listed on our Winter Programme.  

We thank our “hosts” for their generosity, tolerance and friendship through the year, and hope to see friends old and new, this Winter season and next year. 

Meanwhile, to you all, Wassail, and a very Happy Christmas and peaceful New Year, from the Bedford Morris Men. 

For details of how to join Bedford Morris Men; information on events; or to check dates/times for the Summer contact:

 Ian Daye -  Tel: 01582 883009;  Email: ian.daye@btinternet.com - or visit  -  www.bedfordmorrismen.org.uk

For Archive information [items always welcomed]: - John Frearson -  Email: johnphfrearson@btinternet.com