HiStory by lan N Horsley 17/02/07
As the ' swinging 60's' began I celebrated my 13th birthday so I was part of the 'baby boom' and experienced the musical explosion during my teenage years. Towards the end of 1967 music was being taken seriously with our hero John Peel at the helm playing ‘underground’ or way-out music by groups like the Incredible String Band, Third Ear Band, Soft Machine, Fairport Convention etc.
Liking roots music of England I purchased 'Morris-on' which was strange, basic but with gusto. That changed me. But who were these mystical characters that roamed the countryside dancing and playing music of previous centuries? On a chance encounter, at Burwell in Lincolnshire, out for an evenings drink we were greeted by the sound of bells and a strange form of collective dance. Wonderful -— but we had to move on. At the next port of call, the Royal Oak, Little Cawthorpe, the same bunch of hankie waving fellows caught us up.
Out with the LP "Morris-On'. What else is like this I wondered? "Son of Morris-—on', Hens March and Lark in the morning medley from Fairport, tracks from Steeleye Span, a bit of Bonzo Dog Doo Dah etc.
At this time we were running a riverside pub,drinking cider and improving the pub to a taste of the past. One evening in walk a couple of ‘plain clothes' morris dancers who asked if they could use our tavern as a venue on a dance-out tour. "Yes" was the speedy reply. I think things went well because they revisited. In January 1983 we introduced to the area the Lincolnshire Waes-hal! Of course Grimsby Morris Men were asked to attend to perform several dances and give the occasion an air of authenticity. Once or twice they missed and their place was taken by the local Brass Band but once into their regular haunt they became the resident attraction.
After many visits to us at the Brandy Wharf Cider Centre to perform and celebrate the Waes—hal or Field Day in July plus other occassions (I feel to mutual benefit) on 12th July 1999 they appointed me an ‘Honorary Member‘ and gave me a members Sweat Shirt, drinking tankard, framed certificate and 'stick'. "If ever you have a Monday evening off come and join us at practice!"
January 2003 saw our final Waes-hal at Brandy Wharf as we left that business we had run for 31 years early in February. On the last Monday of March I ventured down to the practice hall and was made most welcome. The week after we were on holiday. So, from the second Monday of April 2003 I have been a regular at practise and dance-outs. Initially out-of-step, out of timing, out-of-my-head not knowing if I was coming or going. Where do I go next? All of 2003 was wasted, as was the first year on taking up trying to play the violin because of my right-arm difficulties and co-ordination. Ken Watson couldn't watch me and play his instruments as our timings were different. I couldn't hear the music for concentrating on my stepping. With perseverance by the trusty crew and myself I think we got through those dark days.
In 2003 I was sectioned into the Special Projects committee which was a learning curve on the whereabouts and quantity of Morris Sides for the Cleethorpes Folk Festivals. At the A.G.M. of 2005 I was asked to take on the responsibily of the Archives, a set of documents and photographs dating back from 1967, the formation of the Grimsby Morris Men. This 'job' I love as being retired I have Plenty of time to look through them, enlarge photographs for displays, make leaflets,and generally make them more accessible to members and the public by introducing display boards.
I am now looking forward to being part of the 1967 - 2007 "Forty Great Years" celebrations,