Hereburgh News and Gossip

Compiled by News Hound, Peter McDonald.

Click on a news headline below:

13 September 2000There's no place like Dome
5 September 2000 Kerry Who?
5 September 2000 Hereburgh at Ballyshannon
31 July 2000 Lords of the Dance
27 June 2000 Where did you get that hat?
19 June 2000 Such a perfect day
12 June 2000 "McDonald - where's yer troosers?"
12 May 2000 Morris dancers - malicious and sadistic?
25 April 2000 Three generations in St. George's Day celebrations
13 March 2000 Aching limbs and Balti
2 January 2000 A truly festive season

There's no place like Dome

It seems that even Hereburgh Morris couldn't boost the fortunes of the Millennium Dome. We hoped that our appearance there on August 26th might improve their profitability but, within days, they received another £47M grant to keep them going for a few more months.

However, we did enjoy our visit and our performances with Heather and Gorse near an orifice of the Body Zone. We couldn't help feeling that the Dome deserved more credit than it gets and that bad publicity seems to fuel more bad publicity and then ridicule. It's almost worth a visit just to see that special Blackadder film.

We must apologise to anyone travelling on the Jubilee Line that morning who didn't appreciate the sight of Pete J dancing Jockie to the Fair. However, we did notice quite a few smiles on the faces of London's normally reserved tube travellers.

[13 September, 2000]

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Kerry Who?

While trawling the Internet for unexpected news of Hereburgh members, I came across the following article. It was a complete surprise because I had no idea that Kerry was (a) that young, nor (b) washing windows in Alberta in November 1998.

From the Salt Lake Tribune - 'News of the Weird' - Dec. 98: 'Soft Landing'
Window washer Kerry Burton, 27, was only slightly injured in November after falling five stories (sic) from a building in Calgary, Alberta. Burton landed butt-first in the basin of water that was tethered to his body and bounced two feet in the air after the bucket hit the pavement.

In the same issue (just in passing): In November, the state of Punjab, India,
announced that its 18-month search for its most honest government officer (which carried an award of more than $2,000) was over, because they couldn't find anyone worthy. However, as part of the same program, the government revealed that it had found 300 corrupt officers worthy of prosecution.

[5 September, 2000]

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Hereburgh at Ballyshannon

This report from the Squire, Mike Putnam:

Perhaps we were slightly naïve, but our trip to Ballyshannon Folk Festival over the weekend of August 4th to 6th was certainly ground breaking. In retrospect, the visit could so easily have been disastrous, but as the first English Morris dancers ever to perform at this 23 year old festival, we were made to feel most welcome and were surrounded by enthusiastic and appreciative crowds every time we danced. Ballyshannon is in Donegal and situated just four miles from the border with Northern Ireland, but reports we had heard about this long established festival encouraged us to contact the organisers and ask if we could participate in this year’s festival.

The help and enthusiasm shown by the festival chairman, Ray Gaughan and his wife Fidelma in no small way encouraged us and, in the event, 38 people - Hereburghers and families - made the trip. Wearing our specially designed T-shirts we certainly made our presence felt at the opening Ceilidh and the festival committee presented us with a commemorative plate. We danced each afternoon on all three days of the festival in the open air, on streets specially closed by the Garda.

In the evening, concerts were held in a marquee with no seats! Stamina was required to stand through all the concerts, but the music and singing was dazzling in its virtuosity. The concerts finished at midnight and then the sessions started in the pubs. These seemed to go on until 4.00am, but by that time all good Hereburghers were in bed. We did have our own (slightly earlier) session in one pub and with a full complement of musicians made some excellent sounds.

On the Sunday morning we also danced on the wards at the local hospital. Only a few dancers could squeeze into the very small day rooms but the patients certainly had something to talk about for the rest of the day.

As squire I must thank so many people for making our first Irish tour so successful: Ray and Fidelma (naturally); Pete Johnson for driving the minibus; Janny for helping to organise transport and accommodation; Pete Bones and Ian Hartland for squiring in my moments of stress; Celia Neill for planning the dances, and of course all the dancers and musicians. You all did really well.

For me personally, the conversation I had with one of the publicans in Ballyshannon said it all: "Thank you.  This would not have been possible four years ago, we have appreciated your dancing and you are all well respected round here."

So, quite unwittingly and in a very minor way, I like to think that Hereburgh Morris can add another award to its growing collection, that of ‘Ambassadors for Peace’.

[5 September, 2000]

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Lords of the Dance

Our regular appearance at Warwick Folk Festival - on Sunday, July 30th - was blessed with perfect weather this year but perhaps our most memorable moment was when we danced with a roof over our heads - the roof of St. Mary's Church, to be precise.

We were honoured to be invited to dance during the annual Civic Service which meant we weren't the only ones in the church wearing funny clothes and silly hats! Our contribution was nicely introduced and integrated into the service and, much to our surprise, was acknowledged by rousing applause. We chose to perform an original Harbury dance, The Miller's Ghost, to the tune of Lord of the Dance which suits it very well. Despite a slippery floor, the dancing went well and the lone melodeon was flattered by excellent acoustics.

Dancing in a church for the first time was a milestone for Hereburgh. We hope we'll be asked to do it again some time (and we promise to leave our mobile phones switched off!).

Our thanks to 'our-man-on-the-inside', David, for making it possible.

[31 July, 2000]

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Where did you get that hat?

The answer is, "Avril made it". The hat in question was the centre-piece of Hereburgh's display at the Festival of Flowers 2000 in Harbury Church last weekend. Avril made the 1-metre diameter hat from willow and then Margaret and her team decorated it with flowers and mounted it, together with other 'props', in a prime spot in the church.

In true Hereburgh style, it was a real team effort bringing together a wide variety of skills from a considerable number of people, resulting in a magnificent display which was much admired during the Festival weekend.

Here are some more pictures in our photograph album.

There remains the issue of what to do with the hat now. Answers in an e-mail please.

[27 June, 2000]

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Such a perfect day

June 17th, the day of the Hereburgh Morris Family Cycle Ride (a.k.a. Cyclo-Booze 2000), was, as you may remember, blessed with perfect weather. Our Social Secretary, Douglas, did us proud again this year with an interesting 20 mile cycle route around the country lanes, stopping at pubs in Bishops Itchington, Ashorne, Moreton Morrell and Lighthorne.

As usual, we gave immaculate dance performances at each stop and indulged in the odd token drink. On second thoughts, that should read "we consumed a lot of beer and indulged in the odd token dance". As last year, there was still a treat in store for us after the last pub stop and, once again, Maureen was responsible. We met her at Chesterton Windmill in the late afternoon where she served chilled Pimms and strawberries and cream.

As if that wasn't enough, Douglas and Avril invited us to a barbecue in the evening. There we were able to eat, drink and relax in their garden until late, while listening to the sound of Leamington celebrating England's short-lived moment of glory in Euro 2000.

Such a perfect day!  But what are we going to do next year?

[19 June, 2000]

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"McDonald - where's yer troosers?"

That was the chorus I heard from my fellow Hereburghers when I arrived at Marsden railway station on the morning of Saturday, May 13th. It was fair comment, really. I mean, fancy driving 150 miles for the Luddite Lunacy weekend near Huddersfield and forgetting a vital part of your Morris kit. I thought it was other people who did that sort of thing.

I was the first to admit that my blue jeans were not suitable but Doug came to the rescue with a pair of navy-blue climbing trousers which were much closer in colour to our regulation black breeches. The Squire ruled that I could appear with the team so a quick change in Huddersfield railway station enabled me to feel a little less embarrassed.

The weekend, hosted by Slubbing Billy's, was everything they said it would be (by those who went last year) - the weather, the hospitality, the beer, the food, the countryside and the train journeys were all terrific. It was my first time playing in a music session on a train but it seemed to work well apart from a shortage of elbow room.

Pete Bones had a reputation to uphold so once again he organised an impromptu music session on Saturday night, this time in a room above the Marsden's Liberal Club. It wasn't the best of venues but the Hereburgh musicians enjoyed themselves with contributions from various other folk, including Nick & Mary Barber, the RBB Band and the very young May (from Yorkshire Coast Morris). It made it all worthwhile when the club secretary popped up to see us and told us that it was "quite nice" to have us there!

I had hoped to bring you pictures of the Bathroom Party that went on in the New Inn on Saturday night but unfortunately I don't want the Hereburgh web-site to get an adult-only rating. I'll try to scan in a picture of the Butterley Reservoir instead.

[12 June, 2000]

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Morris dancers - malicious and sadistic?

Surely not Hereburgh Morris?

No, this was the headline of a letter to a local paper from a resident of Henley Street, Stratford upon Avon. He was complaining about being woken at 6:30am on May Day by a group of Morris Dancers. I imagine that it was the Shakespeare Morris Men on their home patch but I'm only guessing.

The writer embellished his letter with emotive words like "disruptive", "plagued", "malicious", "calculating", "sadistic", "misery" and "suffering". He claimed that, after the 15 minute performance, he was left "an emotionally scarred and broken man" and, although he was clearly trying to cause amusement, I'm sure that he was expressing a genuine grudge about being disturbed at that time in the morning.

It reminded me of the occasion when Hereburgh Morris did something similar several years ago. We danced at Chesterton Windmill at 5am then arrived back in the centre of Harbury around 6am. We thought it would be really good fun to treat the villagers to our traditional May Day dancing but we heard later that our entertainment had not been universally appreciated at that time in the morning.

We were initially rather dismissive of "miserable people like that" but soon conceded that Morris dancing at 6am is not everyone's cup of tea. Since then, we have confined ourselves to the isolation of the windmill where there is no one to disturb and every year a small but faithful band of supporters come and watch us (and this year were rewarded by an excellent sunrise).

To the writer of that letter, I offer some sympathy and, although I didn't appreciate his suggestion that Morris dancers should go and dance on the M40, I hope he doesn't suffer "rustic reprisals" as he feared.

[12 May, 2000]

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Three Generations in St George's day Celebration

This report from Pete Bones:

The early morning mist on April 23rd indicated a promise of fine weather for St George's Day.

It has been a tradition for over a year now (just!) that, at every St George's Day, Hereburgh Morris visits a suitably named pub and dances to commemorate this auspicious occasion. Perhaps this is a tradition to pass down to our children and our childrens' children.

2000 did not break with this long-standing tradition as between 5 and 50 members of the side visited the picturesque village of Ratley to dance outside the Rose and Crown - a hostelry known for its warm welcome and range of interesting beers, all of which were again found to be in exceedingly kwaffable condition. [Editor's note: I decided not to correct this kwaint spelling]

After being appropriately lubricated, we danced to an interested and interesting audience comprising ramblers, locals and members of a local tennis club who were having a peaceful social drinks party. Our performance was well received by the good-natured crowd with whom we soon enjoyed a good rapport. This culminated in an audience participation performance. Unsurprisingly, the volunteers from the tennis club needed no explanation of what a fore-hand or back-hand clash entailed when dancing Bromsberrow Heath.

It was with certain regret that we left Ratley, which looked at its best in the beautiful spring sunshine, to go to the Rose and Crown in Warwick.

Our uncertainty was dispelled soon after our arrival in Warwick, for the fine spring weather stayed with us, and the crowd was sufficient to inspire enthusiasm in our dancing. Our numbers had reduced to something between 4 and 40, but we found there was enough to give a reasonably varied and complete show under the expert stand-in squireship of Doug Freeman, as our proper squire, Mike, had b******d off to Hull.

Our relative newcomers, David and Gill Brindley bravely donned items of borrowed kit and made their debut in public by joining in with the dancing of Vandals of Hammerwich. Being Easter Sunday it was also David's and Gill's return to alcohol since zealously abstaining for Lent. Furthermore, in the audience there were their three teenage children as well as Gill's parents. In spite of this, they danced with commendable confidence and expertise.

Again to conclude the dance spot, we enjoyed an audience participation dance which included Dave and Gill, their kids and Gill's 84 year old dad. This is three generations of one family. Is this a record?

It was a great day and well rounded off in the afternoon with a wonderful meal (with a certain amount of alcohol!) at Steve's and Maureen's. (There is no truth in the rumour that Pete Bones over-indulged!)

[25 April 2000]

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Aching limbs and Balti

This report from our Foreman, Celia:

Hereburgh's annual workshop took place on Saturday February 19th. It started with a lot of capering, giving some of our newer members the chance to master the Ascott capers in particular. Our village founder should have used a mass of people continually doing stamp capers to deter her enemies. [Editor's note: The sight of 20 or so dancers, stamping their way along the Village Hall floor, was awesome!]

In the second part of the morning, we were lucky to have Sally Wearing to teach us some Duns Tew. Sue Swift came to play which meant everyone could dance. The first thing we had to do was tie the corners of our hankies together. Undoing the original knots proved a bit of a problem, especially for Liz. Does anyone else keep the knots in when washing them? Duns Tew proved to be great fun. Thank you, Sally and Sue, for a most enjoyable session.

After a buffet style lunch, we continued with some of our own dances under Peter Mac's guidance. By teatime, the legs were beginning to give up. We continued for a little more before soaking weary bodies in reviving baths. The village bus provided transport from Harbury and we all met up at the Balti Buffet in Leamington where Doug's quiz completed the day.


[13 March 2000]

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A truly festive season

For Hereburgh Morris, the Christmas period is such a busy period for socialising although not, it has to be admitted, for dancing.

Our Christmas party on December 17th was great fun as usual - the food, the poems, the presents and the 'turns' - and so much packed into one evening that there was no time for party games this year.

A dozen of us went out carol singing around the Harbury pubs and Club on December 21st and collected £101 for the Leamington Christian Mission. To reward our throats, we finished the evening at the McDonald soup kitchen.

On Christmas Eve, 13 Hereburghers and 1 'groupie', were exercising their throats again in the guise of the 'Folk Club Choir' as, once again, we contributed two carols at the Village Carol Service (and this time we got some applause!).

On Millennium Eve, most of us met up again in the centre of the village to welcome in the New Year with hundreds of other villagers. We had considered doing a dance at midnight but there wouldn't have been room to swing a hanky, let along a stick. In any case, it would have meant putting our champagne glasses down.

Just a few hours later, at midday, at last we put on our Morris kit for our traditional Hangover Tour of Harbury's pubs. The weather was perfect - blue skies and surprisingly warm sunshine, we had good audiences and the dancing was, well, fun! Take a look at the Photo Album for some more pictures.

And there's still the Twelfth Night celebrations at Celia's still to come!

[2 January 2000]

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