Summer into Autumn 2016
Our last edition of the Buzzard came out just after May Morning; it has been a fine summer of dancing since then, both near to home and further afield. We’ve danced at a great number of our favourite pubs, fêtes and festivals, and visited a number of less frequented venues, such as the 7 Stars at Marsh Baldon. Contrary to our regular experience, it did not tip it down at Chippenham in May, although this was perhaps more than made up for by the rainfall at Swanage, at the end of the season.
Talking of Swanage, particular commendation is due to Esther and Elsa. This was their first season dancing out, and our numbers at Swanage were on the low side, yet they did not shy away from performing an impressive number of dances as two of a side of only four dancers! Thanks also to Charlotte and Leslie (the other two dancers), Steve (acting squire and musician), Audrey (musician), Mick and Susie (moral support / photography).
All in all, since May day, we’ve danced at:
- 14 dance outs at pubs
- 3 festivals
- 2 weekends of dance
- 4 events
We have danced over 280 dances. Our favourites were Banbury Bill, Sidesteps, Vandals of Hammerwich, and Constant Billy, danced over 25 times each. In contrast, Shooting featured only once.
Practice season is well underway again, and our AGM has passed. Many thanks to our officers for their work over the past year: Jim (squire), Charlotte (bagman), and Pete (foreman). Barbara P. will be our squire for 2016-17. Pete and Mick will continue as foreman and treasurer. Charlotte will continue to act as bagman, but Leslie will assist with a view to standing for the post next year.
Sadly, we say farewell to Nerys, who is off to study in Würzburg. We sincerely hope that she will come and join us for tunes, dancing or both, whenever she is back, though!
From now until the 8th of December, we will be practising at the Botley WI Hall on Thursday evenings from 8pm, followed by a session in the Seacourt Bridge from around 9:30pm. There is no practice on the 15th, as we will be off to Shippon for the Havoc Christmas Dinner! Practice dates and other events can be found on our calendar.
(Many thanks to Barbara P for the photos, from White Horse Folk Festival.)
Before they were morris
by Nigel Northcott
With a wife and 2 boys – currently 13 and 17 – I work part time as a chaplain in the Prison Service, manage a horticultural project and dabble with academia. I play racketball and squash and am currently training as a squash coach. I mountain bike at least 20 miles twice a week and run most days. Yet I still felt I had a bit of spare time for the Morris! I’m following in my mother’s footsteps: she danced at school 77 years ago, and I proudly wear her EFDS badge on my kit. And, dear me, its catching: my partner Sue now dances with Old Speckled Hen and, when not resting my son, Oliver, dances and plays with the Havocs!
Meet the morris (instruments)
by Barbara P.
The violin is a stringed instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello.
The word violin comes from the Middle Latin word vitula, meaning stringed instrument. The violin, while it has ancient origins, acquired most of its modern characteristics in 16th-century Italy, with some further modifications occurring in the 18th century.
The violin is sometimes informally called a fiddle, regardless of the type of music played on it.
So says Wikipedia. However, I have observations to add to this. A violin plays classical music and is played by a chap in evening dress; you may see him on a concert platform, or at posh parties, performing as part of an orchestra or a string quartet. He lives on canapes and drinks fizzy water or one small glass of sherry. His violin may be old but it is spotless and insured for thousands. A fiddle, however, plays folk tunes and is played by a chap in a tee shirt and Towersey trousers. You may see him in festival marquees or small old pubs, or anywhere there are morris dancers; he will be performing as part of a motley collection of people playing melodeons, mandolins and bagpipes, and one or two strange instruments you’ve never seen before. He lives on sausage sandwiches and pints of Gubbins Old Ale. His fiddle may be old and worth thousands, or it may be newly acquired from Hobgoblin for £50 including the case and the bow; but you will see it resting on the bar table in a pool of beer and crisp fragments.
A violin is played high up under the chin, with a shoulder rest and a chin rest; a fiddle may well be played like this, or it may be jammed into the fiddler’s midriff without any additions at all. This is called ‘First Position’. Variations in tone may occur when people knock the fiddler’s elbow on their way to the bar. This is called ‘Vibrato’. If the fiddler gets so drunk he mislays his bow altogether, he may pluck the strings with his fingers. This is known as ‘pizzicato’.