«Join in the fun and learn whilst collecting points using this A - Z guide to the noble art of the Cotswold Morris and The Kennet Morris Men. The ...»
Join in the fun and learn whilst collecting points using this A - Z guide
to the noble art of the Cotswold Morris and The Kennet Morris Men.
The person with most points at the end of each season will be … the winner.
Jon Holmes is our accordion player, and he uses a piano accordion, so called as it has a piano style
keyboard for his right hand. His left hand sometimes plays buttons to produce bass notes and chords.
Although called a piano accordion, it is in fact more like an organ as it is a wind instrument using bellows to sound the “reeds”.
But the main difference between a button accordion and a piano accordion is that it burns a little faster.
U-Spy Points: 1. Score 50 if it’s burning, or the keyboard is on the left as it’s upside down.
Jon Holmes Badge The Kennet Badge has evolved over the years from a letter “K” written in felt tip on a green card to today’s cross-stitched design. The Oak & Stag are from the crest of the Royal County of Berkshire’s coat of arms and the blue represents the River Kennet. The white stuff in the water is probably from the time that the Whitley Wood sewage farm discharged into the river.
U-Spy Points: 1, or 10 if you spot an old felt badge with a stag that looks like a rabbit. 50 points if you steal the badge so we can make Brian have the new one. And the really good news – you can buy a leather badge for £2, and if you’re a Morris person you’ll get a discount – and 20 points Baldric This is the name given to the cross belts worn over our shirts. The red and green outermost colour on the shoulder must be worn as port and starboard, very important when we’re all at sea. Our badge is worn on the cross on the front when a dancer has reached the high standard demanded by the Squire.
U-Spy Points: 1, or 10 points for spotting a baldric with no badge. 50 points if you can’t see the badge because the dancer is wearing his baldrics inside-out, or he’s fallen on his face.
Bells Morris dancing and bells are synonymous. Each man in Kennet makes his bell-pads to his own design using a variety of bell sizes. Some tune each bell pad differently so they know which foot they are stepping on, if they can remember which is which. They do not wake up the earth, just the wife when you arrive home tired and emotional after a hard night’s Morris dancing.
U-Spy Points: 1 for a pair of bell pads, 10 for a man dancing without any, and if you’re lucky enough to find a lost bell, that’s not been stood on, 50 points … and the bell.
Inside or Outside Foot?
It is vitally important that each performer starts a dance on the correct foot. The inside foot is the one nearest to the opposite number, and the outside foot the other one. Some dances, especially, where a galley or similar is involved, require all dancers to start on one or the other.
Other dances require everyone to start on the same foot, so one side of the set will be on their inside foot and the other their outside. Many dancers dance on the ever popular wrong foot.
The rest probably don’t know their left from their right. Not to be confused with inside leg.
U-Spy Points: 1 point per man if you can spot a wrong foot. 20 points if you don’t.
Trafalgar Square Nov 2003 Matron Matron is a new character who was introduced to Kennet in July 2010. Before that she had a “virtual” presence and was said to be responsible for allowing some of the men out for the evening, so long as they were back in time for cocoa. She also took the blame for not making sure dancers took their memory pills when a dance figure was particularly badly forgotten. Now she is available to administer her nostrums, tonics, tinctures and emetics to our ailing and failing members in reality.
U-Spy Points: 1 if Matron has to attend to a dancer, 10 if she remembers the memory pills.
Clive Allan Melodeon Properly called a “diatonic button accordion” the melodeon is a favourite instrument of Morris musicians. The melody-side keyboard contains one or more rows of buttons, with each row producing the notes of a single diatonic scale. The buttons on the bass-side keyboard are most commonly arranged in pairs, with one button of a pair sounding the fundamental of a chord and the other the corresponding major triad (or, sometimes, a minor triad), and sometimes are actually used; so simple even young people can play it. The main difference between a piano accordion and a button accordion is that it burns a little slower.
Matt Smee U-Spy Points: 10 points for only one melodeon playing, 5 points for 2, 0 for any more than 2 playing. Score 20 points if you spot the melodeon player smiling.
Processional Goring Heath Alms Houses (appropriately named Alnut’s Hospital) May 2008. The Kennet Evolution?
On certain occasions we dance in procession, one of our favourites being our traditional Wheatley Processional on Spring Bank Holiday at The Alms House, Goring Heath (see above - you might guess that we don’t dance it very often). You may also see us process on to the dance spot, and even process off. But it is more likely to be the equally traditional Kennet “Shamble Off”.
U-Spy Points: 1 for a Processional On, 10 for a Processional Off, 20 for a Processional Dance, 0 for a Shamble Off (far too easy)
Spot the queue at the bar when the Morris Men arrive at the pub, have a half time break, finish dancing, start singing and finish singing. It’s an occupational hazard we just have to get used too.
And don’t ask about the Gents’ Loo. (See also Processions above.) U-Spy Points: 1 point for each man in the queue. 10 points if you hear “No, after you.” Rounds
A damp day in Wrotham; Hartley Ale June 2011 Venues The best way to collect U-Spy points is to attend as many of our dance venues as you can, as published in our Summer Dance Programme each spring and handed out freely at dance spots. The programme is also downloadable from our Website www.kennetmorrismen.co.uk.
The “Wives and Girlfriends” regularly accompany their men to our many venues, including weekends away, and are much a part of Kennet as the dancers. Many have been friends for many, many years. The WAGs are well rewarded for their loyalty (and perseverance) at our Ladies’ Night and on our annual End of Season Tour, which always includes an exotic shopping location (coincidentally, near to a good pub).
U-Spy Points: 1 for each WAG you can spot, 5 points if her man remembers to buy her a drink on pub evenings and 10 points if her man actually talks to her during the evening.
The WAGS carolling 2011 Zzzz The Squire of The Morris Ring attempts to awaken the Kennet contingent after The Hartley Day of Dance Morris dancing is a strenuous activity, oft carried out in the baking heat of the English summer, with only beer to quench our thirst. No wonder that the men sometimes have to rest to revive themselves ready for the next vigorous performance … or more beer.
U-Spy Points: 5 for each sleeping man spotted. 10 points if he still appears to be dancing, 50 points if he’s missed the tour bus.
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I hope you have enjoyed our light-hearted look at this finest of English traditions and have learnt a little more about Cotswold Morris and The Kennet Morris Men. Any similarity to I-SPY books is completely coincidental. Besides I think you ought to do the spying, not I. If you want to learn even more, visit our Website www.kennetmorrismen.co.uk where there is a mass of information about our dances, our full programme, and maps of the venues.
You will also find other books in this (growing) series. U-Spy Kennet Morris Dances is a guide to our 2016 season’s dance repertoire, Your Welcome to Kennet Morris, an introduction for anyone considering joining us, and a companion volume, The Kennet Morris Men – A Foolish History. Have fun.
Yours foolishly Peter de Courcy 17 February 2016