John Cleese (playing the Sheriff of Nottingham): ‘What’s that over there?’
Bill Oddie (playing a servant): ‘That’s Morris Dancing, sir.’
John Cleese: ‘I’ve been a little worried about Morris lately.’
(the above is from an episode of ‘I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again’.)
Yesterday the Brighton Morris Men have their annual ‘invite a lot of other morris dancers to town’ event. I encountered some outside the ‘Earth and Stars’ on Windsor Street, just off the main streets in the centre of Brighton.
One bunch, called ‘Armaleggan’, (a Border Morris troupe, and they dress very exuberantly), came down from Oxford.
Some rather special decoration on their hats, including this Morris Minor bonnet badge:
And good face decorations
Lots of dancing with clashing sticks.
The musicians having as much fun as the dancers.
There was a more traditionally dressed (around these parts anyway) bunch from just over the hill (some did appear elderly) at Ditchling village, north of the South Downs.
And another group – Blackheath Morris – from SE London. Not sure if this is dancing or fighting – but good-natured stuff anyway.
Clashing sticks did figure large, but Ditchling danced with hankies as well, though I will spare you any more. The pub sold a fine Dark Star beer, but no glasses allowed outside. I said, ‘but I’m here to watch the dances’, and the barman produced a pewter pint tankard for me. With such excellent service I had to stop for a second pint.