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 ~ Bedford Morris Men ~

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


 
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Bedford Morris - Christmas Newsletter 2014

Bedford Morris Men send you Seasonal Greetings.  

Last year we carried out our traditional Christmas events: our Border Morris tour to the  Wellington; the Bedford Arms; and the Three Cups and the Castle in Newnham Street.  We attended the Fine Companions’ party where we danced Much Wenlock, Winter's Dream, and Fanny Frail.  On Boxing Day, we danced on Bedford Embankment and then at the Swan Hotel, where we introduced the formal proceedings with the Boar's Head Carol. 

In the New Year our annual Plough Monday Plough Play tour started at the White Horse, and progressed to the Devonshire Arms, the Gordon Arms, and finally the Cricketers in Goldington Road.  In late January, we celebrated Angus Darling’s 70th Birthday at his Burns Night Bash at Goldington Church Hall.  Later in March we joined Letchworth Morris at their energetic Annual Curry Ale. 

Letchworth Morris joined us as usual, together with Offley Morris, as the Summer Season started on May Morning - a fine morning.  The Men sang the May Carol and the Northill May Song.  A selection of Morris dances followed, then Folk Dances for all.  The following week we made our traditional first Wednesday outing to dance at the Fox and Hounds, Riseley.  The Charles Wells brewery bus was again present with a barrel of Bombardier on board for the Men.  We later sang some favourite songs and made music until closing time.

The Ickwell May Festival followed on the Holiday Monday and we were again rewarded by a sunny day.  With Letchworth Morris, we danced at the Crown, Northill, and then led the Procession from Northill to Ickwell.  A member of Greensleeves Morris who was in the area joined the music.

We danced a full Wednesday evening summer programme.  On our second May Wednesday at the Cross Keys, Cranfield, we also practised a couple of North-West dances.  The next week we were at the Sun, Felmersham and on the last May Wednesday was at the Wheatsheaf, Bow Brickhill, where we were welcomed by Andy Malleson and who joined with the musicians to play for some of the dances. 

On the first Wednesday in June, we danced the first of two North-West tours to get ready for Saddleworth.  We visited the Ship, the Castle and the Three Cups with the Royton, Colne and Preston dances being performed with a fair degree of accuracy.  In June we visited the March Hare, Dunton, which well deserves its CAMRA awards as the real ales were excellent - and they also produce an excellent cider.  Later in June we danced at the Polhill Arms, Renhold, also showing some North-West dances to keep in practice, and then at the Anchor, Great Barford.

In mid-June, some of the men visited the Forest of Dean Morris Men for their family weekend.  The tour took in Beechenhurst; Ruardean; Goodrich; Symonds Yat; Tintern and finished at Soudley.

Our second North-West tour in Bedford was in early July, this time with music provided by the Bedford Town Band.  We danced at the Wellington Arms, the Kent Arms, and the Burnaby Arms.  The Town Band was as usual excellent – responding to the dances and Roger Nicholls was able to play his tuba and hardly needed to conduct except on the occasions that the drummer lost the time!

Later in the month we danced at the Horse and Groom, Clapham, and were very pleased to see the late Jon Birch’s family in our audience.  We also danced at the Bedford Arms, Souldrop and then on a Thursday at the Stone Jug, Clophill, where we were the guests of Letchworth Morris Men.  We finished July with an excellent evening at the Three Cranes, Turvey, as the ‘normal’ end of season pub, the Bell at Odell was closed for refurbishment.

In mid-August, we danced for the celebrations of Anthony Heywood’s daughter, Emily's marriage to ‘Nav’ at the Kings Arms, Ampthill Road.  We assembled in the bar where a poly-pin of Shefford Bitter was provided, then traversed the dining room to great applause from the 250 guests.  After a varied show we joined the celebrations.

This year, as mentioned, we attended the 40th Anniversary Saddleworth Rushcart week-end which also served as a ‘Ring Meeting’.  We performed our North-West repertoire, including the newly relearned Royton, and the Colne and Preston dances.  The Side was very honoured that members of the Bedford Town Band, under the direction of Roger Nicholls were able to join us on the Saturday to provide the traditional brass accompaniment.  We met up on the Wednesday before, for a final practice with them.  The Rushcart this year coincided with the Bank Holiday weekend and on the Saturday we helped pull the Rushcart around the villages.  We showed our dances - and showed off ‘our’ brass band – with performances at Uppermill Library; Delph Club and at the Navigation, Dobcross.  On the Sunday, the band had to leave us as they had an engagement back in Bedford.  Fortunately Roger Dorman had his melodeon with him, and past member Keith MacDonald, back from Germany to play for Chanctonbury Ring, was also keen to play for us.  We danced Preston and Colne at Saddleworth Church and later at the Cross Keys Inn.  The Side received much applause.  During much of Saturday and Sunday we were followed, supported and filmed by Wayne Allan, who danced with the side in the 1970s whilst with the US Airforce in Bedford and later in Germany; he is now retired and living back in USA.

In mid October we danced in the afternoon at the 37th Bedford Beer & Cider Festival at the Corn Exchange and that evening at a somewhat mis-titled ‘folk show’ at Bedford School.  The following weekend we danced as usual for Apple Day at Bromham Mill.  Fun was had by all and each of the two spots included a ‘teach in’ for the audience.  During the afternoon, Fool Tim did an excellent interview with Pilgrim Sound which he claimed ‘… was the cider talking …’!!

At our AGM in later October the Officers were all re-elected.  Our practice season is now in full swing, at Ravensden Village Hall on Wednesday evenings at 8.00pm.  We still need more fit young, or not so young, men.  Having had a scare last year when our Foreman, Simon Melvin, had a heart attack, we are pleased to report that not only has he danced during the year, but he has also taken up the accordion and is becoming a competent musician.

Our “Carols and Capers” Border tour will be on the 17th December (the Wednesday before Christmas) and we will be performing at the Fine Companions Party two days later.  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 on 12 January.  The dates and venues are listed below, on our card and also on our website - www.bedfordmorrismen.org.uk. 

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