HiStory by John Ide 10/09/07
As a 20 year old member of the then thriving Grimsby Folk Song Club, I was approached by the man no other than Stanley Compton, to see if I was interested in taking up morris with the other like-minded
fools. We rehearsed in the side room of the now defunct Lifeboat Hotel, (Kingsway,Cleethorpes). As I remember it was always a three-pint night, one to start and two more as the prespiration started to appear.
We learnt all the moves from books about Cotswold dances. Starting with the 'Gospel according to Stanley' we practiced an easy dance with short sticks. What fun we had crashing into each other on the hey and trying to get the stepping right.
So to the summer of '68 - love, peace and Sidmouth! What a week we had. In the pubs 'til late, plus late night ceilidhs then at 10.30 next morning in the tent with Hugh Rippon for morris dance tuition. Stan, the bringer of jollity and fun, seeing there were six of us fools suggested a 'fish-slapping' dance for the Friday night final ceilidh. He acquired from the local fishermen sowesters and capes which I still remember as rank.
We went from strength to strength learning as we went and displaying anywhere we could spread the word. I remember the first Boxing Day dance out. We didn't have a bus,so it was cars. I imagine four cars rolling up at a pub and funnily dressed men getting out was quite a sight then.
Our musicians, being John Conolly and Brian Dawson, sang a couple of songs and we then went outside in the frost and snow to dance. Some pubs provided 'punch' to drink and knuckles got rapped (stick dances were considered more showy) as the proceedings carried on.
Then the committee came up with the best idea yet - the Cleethorpes Folk Festival, at the time based on the pier, with song and dance given almost equal status.
Just to give some background,at the same time as learning Morris we were also being taught country dance so when the dance displays were on the Pier Gardens most of us were doing both morris and country dance displays (anything for a free ticket with Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick as top of the bill for three days). We were all worn out at the end of the weekend!
In the suumer of '69 I changed my employment and became a shift-workér so getting to practice got harder, but I soldiered on and one folk festival I was on night shifts, so it was home at 7.00am, two hours sleep, morris practice with Hugh (who was a fixture at the Festival), then dance displays. Home at 7.00pm, two hours sleep and another shift. The folly of youth.
Then the dreaded thing happened,a female appeared in my life with no interest in the folk world,song club or country dance and the Morris disappeared from my life. So forty years later I'm found and asked to the Boxing Day tour as a ‘Thank you'.
Watching the present side I feel like taking it up again - I need it to lose weight! Once a fool with bells on,always a fool with bells on.