HiStory by Chris Weeden 07/01/08
TWENTY SOMETHING YEARS BEHIND THE BELLS
My first contact with Grimsby Morris Men came in early 1981 after a chance meeting with one Ken Fox. Having had an interest in Morris Dancing for several years I met Ken at a branch meeting of the local Diabetic Association (funnily enough on foot care). Anyway, I vaguely recognised him so approached and asked the fateful question of “eh up, where do you lot practice?" or words to that effect. Having gained the relevant information I duly turned up at the hall the following week and the rest, as they say,is history.
Once I had suffered several months of knotted hankies and bruised knuckles, my first impromptu dance out came in the summer of that year,at the'Green Man'Stallingborough. The Squire called for Green Garters so Mike Nightingale threw his rag coat at me and said "you've been coming long enough, get in there". Needless to say the kit was finished in short time so that I didn't have to dance Cotswold in a Boarder (border) rag coat again.
In the eighties of course we had plenty of men and were often able to field two teams at the same time (gosh,think of that,two teams [!!!). In fact to list them all would take more paper than I've got.
Needless to say we were a great bunch of guys and always welcome, although there was the occasion when I arrived in Lichfield to be told in rather a gruff manner that the rest of the team where over in the corner of the campsite in disgrace, something about practising a dance in the early hours of the morning, but I have it on goed authority that it was another team that just looked like us (maybe)!! OK, so it was us in those days we were young, we were fit and could dance the socks off anybody and often did. Now we just think we are young and fit and struggle to pull our own socks on. Ah well happy days, YES THEY WERE.
Then, towards the end of the eighties, it started to fall apart. Experienced members relocated for work reasons, others took time out to have families. Whatever the reason we found ourselves short on numbers for several years at one time we had three people on a reguler basis, some weeks we just went straight to the pub (shocking!). However our perseverance at the hall (and pub) paid off, we are now back up to the teens of members all with age and experience (although not neccessarily in dancing drinking is not
a problem) but we live on te keep dancing and passing time in good company.
The last twenty odd years have seen terrific outings and trips. Of special note is the annual Boxing Day booze cruise, enjoyed by ali whe get on the bus, sometimes the public stop and watch and maybe give something for whatever ‘charity we are collecting for.
Over the last twenty six years I have had the geod fortune to take part in several exchange visits with dance teams on the continent, primarily with "Spiel and Tanzkries" from Seelze near Hannover, Germany but also a French dance team "Olivier du Clisson" from the Breton area of France, obviously!!?
But we have had many good trips in jolly old England too including canal trips and various folk festivals. Two that come to mind are Towersey Folk Festival, this trip was only marred by the
fact that as a team we peaked on the Thursday evening, unfortunately the festival didn't start until Friday (ah great days!!). The other was Warwick,well it was memorable fer me as I remember staring up
at the castle walls right up the skirts of some very attractive American tourists. Of course I looked away ...eventually!!
LICHFIELD : who could forget Lichfield?
IRON BRIDGE : another good do.
DANCING ENGLAND : that went well as I recall (multi-coloured hair and all, I think Paul Sheldon's custard boots are still in the archives (hopefully sealed in a suitable container).
GATESHEAD GARDEN FESTIVAL : great party but then we had to dance.
CROOK WEEKEND : BARNARD CASTLE : DURHAM FOLK PARTY -
And let us not forget ALFORD CRAFT MAREET. Good beer,great cricket match (Grimsby always won) oh yes and we danced too but not always in a straight line. Lines seem to be an ongoing problem — but we live in hope.
All in all twenty six years spent having fun,doing what we enjoyed doing and passing time in good company, and not once spilling any beer. So here is to the next forty (months not years, after all we are not getting any younger).
Long may we dance, sing and keep England's Traditions alive for the next generations.