All posts by Richard Teare

The Story of the Dancer, St Mary’s Adderbury 09 December 16

On Friday 9th December, AVMM performed The Story of the Dancer at St Mary’s Church, Adderbury as a fund raiser for SingingforSyrians (Helping the most vulnerable people in and around Syria) See: www.singingforsyrians.com/

The Story of the Dancer is a fictitious tale based on a factual 1st World War event – the Christmas truce that took place in December, 1914. The story is dedicated to those who died and in that context, it recalls the fact that many Morris dancers perished and this nearly led to the end of the tradition. The story focuses on how singing briefly stopped a war and united soldiers from both sides in a shared vision of peace. It is also about a love of Morris dancing and the final part of the story describes the revival of the tradition by a new generation of young dancers in the 1970s.

The Story of the Dancer is a unique blend of Morris dancing, music and storytelling, written by AVMM musician Donald McCombie and performed by AVMM. It continues our respectful connection with the dancers who died during  the 1st World War as portrayed in the film The Way of the Morris.

Pictured below, AVMM dancers and musicians with Victoria Prentice MP

Adderbury & Blenheim Palace, 15 October 16

Our last two dancing engagements before the AGM (see date below) provided an interesting contrast in context and but both went very well. In the morning we assembled at St Mary’s, Adderbury where we danced for 30 minutes, in honour of our dear friend and great supporter of AVMM, Barbara Minter. We then joined in the very moving memorial service which celebrated her life. We joined the rest of the congregation for refreshments afterwards, before heading off to Blenheim Palace to dance two sets (13 dances) at the Literature and Film Festival. Once again the weather was very kind to us and the large crowds relishing the sunshine seemed to enjoy our performances. As usual there was a healthy mix of Morris aficionados and mystified tourists. Best wishes to all and thanks for supporting this wonderful tradition throughout the season,
John (Bagman)

blenheim

The AVMM Annual General Meeting with be held at the Bell, Adderbury on Wednesday 23 November, commencing at 7.30pm

St Mary’s Church, Adderbury 07 October 16

The battle of the Somme

July 1, 1916 – November 18, 1916L The battle of the Somme   fought in Northern France, was one of the bloodiest of World War One – in total there were one million casualties. The war of 1914 – 1918 claimed the lives of thirty men from Adderbury. Each of these men is being commemorated throughout 2014 – 2018 by the bellringers of St. Mary’s Church by ringing a Quarter Peal on the centenary of each death. Of these thirty men, four were known to be members of Charlie Coleman’s Edwardian boys Morris side.

The first of the Morris dancers to be lost was Private Percy Wallace Pargeter of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry 60 Brigade, who was killed in action on 7 October 1916 during the Battle of Transloy Ridges on the Somme. The pouring rain turned the battlefield into a barely negotiable morass. He was 20, and given the battle conditions it’s no surprise that his body was never recovered.

The Adderbury Village Morris Men honoured these four men, none of them having a known grave, by visiting their memorials in 2008, the 90th anniversary of the ending of WW1. Percy’s name is engraved on pier 10 of the Thiepval Memorial. He was the son of Harry and Sarah Pargeter, Mill House, Adderbury.

We are again paying tribute to these past dancers by adding our own ceremony to the occasion of the bellringing. The Quarter Peal was being rung at 6:30pm on Friday 7 October 2016, so we gathered at the lych-gate in Morris kit at 7pm while the ringing was still in progress, to remember Percy Pargeter killed 100 years ago.

The sound of the half-muffled bells was a sombre accompaniment to our pause in the churchyard while Edd Frost planted a poppy cross in the Garden of Remembrance.

Moving into church we then performed a modified repeat of the ceremony we held at Thiepval. The proceedings were led by the Squire, who is indebted to Bryan Sheppard for the use of the text from 2008. Jim Plester read a poem The Soldier by Rupert Brooke. The wreath provided by Edd was laid by Chris Holmes below the war memorial in the South wall, followed by a pause for silent remembrance. Donald sang his own composition Never Dance Again, we all joining in the chorus. Chris Garrett read a poem For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon. The ceremony concluded with a celebration of the return of the Morris to the village through the efforts of Bryan Sheppard and Jim Plester amongst others, by us all singing The Happy Man. By this time the bellringers had come down from the tower to observe our tribute.

Spirits were then lifted by a performance of the Shepherd’s Hey double jig. This was preceded by the music once through on the instrument of the Trenches, the harmonica played by the Squire. The main musicians, Donald, Jim and Malcolm took over for the dance by Chris Holmes and Edd Frost.

07-oct-16

Men present were Edd Frost, Chris Garrett, Chris Holmes, Pete Jordon, Donald McCombie, Jim Plester, David Reed, David Snell, Malcolm Wood and John Wright.

Also in attendance were Mesdames Garrett, Jordon and Plester. It was lovely to have the support of the ladies as we did in France and Belgium in 2008. It being well after dark and no street dancing possible a few of us repaired to the Coach & Horses for a drink and a natter.

Dave Reed

Apple Day at Mary Arden’s Farmhouse, 24 Sepember 16

We were asked to provide a small Morris presence to add extra colour to a Tudor Minstrel performance in the village of Wilmcote so we sent two men and a horse. The event  on Saturday 24 September was well attended and generated a good deal of interest in the Morris and several discussions about the AVMM tradition and the origins of the Morris. A gentleman from Madrid knew a lot about the Berber people and genetic links between these people and some Scots.

mah

Initially our men were invited on stage to join in choruses on a selection of local and Elizabethan songs. Later we demonstrated 12 examples of our repertoire of dances also involving Charlie the ‘Oss, who proved very popular with the large number of children present. We sang two Adderbury songs, Landlord and Happy Man and even attracted a potential recruit who mastered the basics of Sweet Jenny Jones and Brighton Camp – a very promising find from Bloxham.

John Ekers and David Reed

Milton, 03 September 16

Squire David Reed writes:  This afternoon we revived our traditional end of season pub stop at the Black Boy Inn, a celebration of Chris Garrett’s birthday due on Wednesday. Unfortunately, although in attendance, he had a note from home saying he was to be excused PE today. The same applied to Bob Southern who ventured over from Worcester to watch us. We wish our two medical cases a speedy recovery. The weather was somewhat damp but our 8 fit dancers and 3 musicians squeezed in 9 dances between the showers. The pub provided us with bowls of delicious thrice cooked chips and we enjoyed a natter in the bar when the rain got the upper hand. Thanks chaps for turning out on a damp day – it was great to see you all.

Stourton Wake

 

Bledington, Gloucestershire, 19 July 16

At the invitation of the Gloucestershire Morris Men, AVMM danced with GMM and Eynsham Morris at The King’s Head Inn, Bledington, on Tuesday 19 July.

Squire David Reed writes: Setting off at 6:45pm on the hottest day of the year, the car temperature gauge was still showing 30C though fortunately, the King’s Head dance area was in shadow. We got the evening under way with Sweet Jenny Jones assisted by melodeon from Mike Thomas of GMM followed by Beaux, Flasher, Buffoon, Washing Day and Brighton Camp (5 of us + 5 young Snell and Teare family members & friends). For our last two dances, we borrowed experienced members of GMM – Lads a’Bunchum (with Paul Gilman) and Black Joke (with Bob Entwistle). Paul can often be seen in the crowd on our Day of Dance each year. After darkness fell, GMM led us in a music and song session in the open air with additional contributions from Eynsham and AVMM.

Bagman John Ekers adds: The setting was perfect on a balmy evening with a full moon. Our Squire did a spot of moonlighting himself, donning his straw hat for our hosts (Squire Dave can be spotted in the photo below) and he also led the music and song ensemble in a couple of unaccompanied songs.

IMG_2008 Gloucestershire Morris Men dancing Vandals of Hammerwich (Lichfield)

Thanks to all who have been able to support the side thus far – it has been a lot of fun. See you all again in September at Chris Garrett’s birthday bash on Saturday 3rd September in Milton .

Bloxham, 06 July 16

We ventured out on Wednesday 6 July and danced at two Bloxham pubs. Donald and Dave provided the music for the six dancers. Dave has now swapped his fiddle for a viola – classy Morris! First stop at 7:30pm was The Joiners Arms where we did just four dances due to a lack of audience. Bagman John Ekers writes: The Joiners was as lively as I anticipated. A couple of Polish chefs watched from their kitchen and some bloke saw us start dancing and quickly rang for a taxi. Said chef even filmed us on his phone, and in fairness to the passenger patiently waiting for his taxi we shouldn’t have assumed he was there to see us!

Joiners Arms

Squire David Reed writes: The short walk across the Old Bridge Road brought us to The Elephant & Castle for 8pm where we put on a lengthy show of ten dances for those in the beer garden. Not a huge audience but we were competing with Wales v Portugal on TV from Stade des Lumières. The non-football fans gave some welcome applause, and as well as the beer there was a good selection of ciders, including Dorset Dabinnett and Rosie’s Pig. As usual we concluded with Brighton Camp including audience participation – a Forester (from Cinderford) and an Australian (from Newcastle, New South Wales).

Our next pub evening is The King’s Head (The Green, Bledington, Chipping Norton OX7 6XQ) on Tuesday 19 July at 7.45pm. We are guests of Gloucestershire Morris Men, who have also invited another Oxfordshire side – Eynsham. Should be an interesting variety of dances, including of course those from Bledington itself.

Market Place, Deddington 22 June 16

AVMM recently began a mini-tour of local pub venues.  Squire David Reed writes: At 7.30pm on Wednesday 22 June, we met outside The Unicorn Inn, Market Place, Deddington. We had a splendid turnout of musicians (accordion, two fiddles, melodeon and whistle) to accompany our Fool and six dancers who performed 14 dances. Our arrival caused some excitement among the pub clientele so we started with an attentive audience through until our much needed mid-session beer break. We resumed with our usual enthusiasm but when the crowd had dwindled to two by 9pm, we decided to wind up the evening. It was a great pleasure to see Mrs Plester who came out with Jim to watch us, especially as she couldn’t make it to this year’s Day of Dance in April. Well done to press-ganged Morris man Giles Snell for wielding my camera and surviving Brighton Camp.

Dancing 'Sweet Jenny Jones' in the Market Place, Deddington
Dancing ‘Sweet Jenny Jones’ in the Market Place, Deddington

We hope to see you at our next pub dance out in Bloxham on 6 July.

Candleford Beer Festival, 11 June 16

On Saturday 11 June, AVMM performed at the 2016 Candleford Beer Festival in Fringford. Bagman John Ekers writes: Many thanks to the seven dancers who gave such a fine performance at Fringford yesterday and to our muscians Donald and Malcolm for keeping us in step as we performed 14 dances in our two sets. The whole event was a great success and I am very grateful to those who turned out as well as to members of the side who couldn’t come along, but sent messages of support.Fringford

AVMM’s next outing is on Wednesday 22 June when we will dance outside the Unicorn in Deddington starting at 7.30pm.

Wroxton Annual Fete 30 May 16

On Bank Holiday Monday 30 May, AVMM danced at the picture postcard village of Wroxton on the occasion of their annual fete which featured the usual stalls: cakes, books, bric-a-brac, Tombola and skittles. Squire David Reed writes: As English as you can get and enhanced by Morris dancing by the duckpond, we put on two splendid performances (13 dances in all) to a good crowd and very complimentary organiser. Thanks to those who turned out to give us a full set, enabling a professional display accompanied by two musicians. [Pictured below, AVMM dance ‘Roast Beef’] Roast Beef, Wroxton