Five months of dancing contents
It’s been a busy five months or so since the last Buzzard issue. From May to September, we danced just over 300 dances at over two dozen events. Those events included:
- May Morning in Oxford and the Botanic Gardens;
- Levellers’ Day;
- days of dance in the Wye Valley and North East;
- one festival each month (Chippenham, Botley, Wads Stock, White Horse Folk Festival, and Bunkfest);
- at least fourteen dance outs.
Many thanks to Charlotte for arranging a great summer programme, and squires Jim (unavoidably in absentia) and Pete (per proxy) for keeping us organised at those events.
Our AGM is out of the way, and we’re now firmly back into practice season with Pete taking on the role of foreman. We have also had a change of venue for our post-practice sessions to the Seacourt Bridge: thanks to Tracy and the team there for making us feel most welcome.
The first event of our autumn-winter season had us dancing in the harvest with the good folks at the Hogacre eco park. Judging by the volume of the apple harvest, it looked like our wassailing efforts there way back in January did the trick. Roll on the next one!
Meet the morris contents
Name: Nerys Hamutal Groß
(Nerys means “lady”, Hamutal means “of the morning dew” and Groß means “tall”, make of that what you will.)
Trying to work out what to do with my life.
Special morris skills:
I am equally likely to get the hey/sticking wrong wherever I am in the set, so don’t mind changing positions.
Instruments you play?
Properly: cello and ukulele
Rather badly: guitar, piano, recorder, fiddle, anything I can get my hands on…
How long have you been a morris person?
About a year.
How did you become one?
I went to a workshop to see what it was like, and that turned out to be the first step onto a slippery slope towards wearing bells and waving hankies about outside pubs on Thursday evenings.
Interests outside morris?
I currently seem to be spending most of my time unicycling or playing the cello. (Not simultaneously. Yet.)
What’s that funny squiggly thing at the end of your surname?
It’s a special letter invented to confuse British bureaucracy. (“Name exactly as spelt on passport” is always a fun question to answer…) All it means is a sharp s sound after a long vowel sound. It’s called an “sz” and I think it was probably formed as a combination of the two letters in old-fashioned type.
Why is your cello called Heinrich?
He is named after my grandfather’s grandfather, Max Heinrich Groß.
It’s quite a long story (he’s an old cello!) which can be read in full here.
Do your non-morris friends think you are strange?
Of course. I should hope my morris friends do too.
Is morris cool?
Who wants to be cool?
Has morris changed your life?
I now spend a lot more time in pubs.
The sexist songs sung by all-male sides. Although I have now discovered a brilliant (and of course rather dodgy) Bonny Green song for female dancers to sing in revenge…
Best morris moment(s) so far?
Too many to choose between…
Most embarrassing morris moment?
Nothing too major so far, but considering I have (at least) two left feet and can’t tell left from right, it’s probably only a matter of time. (That said, I think Nigel has managed to get a photo of me going the wrong way in sidesteps…)
Probably Shave the Donkey. Partly because of the “how far can you caper” aspect, partly because of the interesting reactions you get when you announce to people “this one’s called Shave the Donkey”.
Least favourite ditto
The one with the overhead sticking (Lads a’-Bunchum – Ed.). Too scary.
Changes all the time. Currently it’s a tune called “man on a grass roof”, written by a friend at the English Acoustic Collective Summer School (who will probably be very embarrassed by this). It’s a lovely tune, and, because she wrote it on the viola, it’s also one of those rare tunes that actually work better on the cello than the violin.
Best place to do morris in?
I recently danced an impromptu Bonny Green (with one longsuffering friend) next to the portable toilet things in a very cold and wet field somewhere near Nuneham Courtenay, and the bemused looks I got were priceless. I was also wearing a bright yellow rain poncho…
Do you go clubbing?
I have not yet found any clubs that play morris tunes.
Complete this sentence: Small frogs …
Tell us one thing about you we don’t know
I have anosmia (no sense of smell).
What does the next year have in store for you?
Good question. I shall tell you when I know.
What advice would you give someone just starting morris dancing?
I would pass on the very wise advice someone gave me back in autumn: “If you’re feeling nervous about dancing out, you just haven’t had enough beer yet.”
And finally… contents
One for those feeling any hint of a winter chill: