THE ORIGINAL BEDFORD MORRIS MEN PERFORMED WITH OUR FRIENDS THE LETCHWORTH MORRIS MEN AT THE DUNTON WASSAIL 2018. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED.
WORDS: PAUL CARTER
We assembled in Church Farmyard where the crowd gathered, and warmed ourselves with Franklin's mulled cider, then danced alternately:
Letchworth: Jubilee Dance (Ilmington), Valentine (Field Town), Lads A'Bunchum (Adderbury)
Bedford: Much Wenlock, Whiteladies Aston, Dilwyn, Fanny Frail
A fine performance with swagger and style led from the front by the Squire and Foreman in full-feathered headgear. Letchworth then ran an audience participation Shepherds Hey while our men repaired to the back of the barn to reappear shortly after as Horn dancers.
After a first meet in the farmyard, the men processed to the orchard with the crowd following to hang cider-soaked toast in the trees. Les lost the feeling in his frozen-out fingers but somehow Jeff kept on playing. After a second meet, the men disappeared at the far end of the orchard. As they made their way back to the farmyard, out of sight, the crowd were entertained by Singtastic, and then sang Apple Tree Wassail and Here We Come A Wassailing followed by the Wassail toast: Here's to thee, old apple tree.
Afterwards we repaired to The March Hare which was soon rammed. Music started up in a corner with Bill and Roger's daughter on fiddles, Adele on 32string harp, a couple of melodeons, Martin on accordion, a recorder player, and Les on concertina.
After a while the Brafront Guizers performed their play with only enough room to stand in a line.
Then the singing started with the three sides trading shanties, drinking songs and ribaldry in a succession of greatest folk hits.
Singing: Skinner, Daye, Carter, Cooper
It was Alison's birthday so we sang her Happy Birthday. As midnight approached and the pub emptied, we rolled home as much as we could remember, and that would usually have been it, but four men stepped up for Brimfield and then Angus, who had been keeping an eye on things, sang Abdul the Bul Bul Emir.
Drumming by toilet: Darling
Finally, a professional seed merchant demonstrated a rubbed out sample, leaving a scatter of husks on the floor. By the time we were on the road, tomorrow was already Plough Monday.
Drinking: Melvin, Durrant, Daye, Nicholson
Songs: South Australia, Khaki&Blue, New York Girls, Bring Us A Barrel, Yarmouth Town, Red Roses, Pleasant&Delightful, Lily the Pink, King, Fathom the Bowl, John Barleycorn, Those Were The Days, Liverpool Lou, Alchohol's Not Poison, Martin Said To His Man, When Jones' Ale Was New, Ro'me
Tunes: Rose Tree, Oyster Girl, Brighton Camp, Winster Gallop and many more.
Dancers: Durrant (S), Nicholson (😎), Melvin (Fm), Allsopp, Barnes, Besant, Cooper, Darling, Daye, Horner, Miller, Munnery
Music: Skinner (concertina), Towns (fiddle), Carter (melodeon), Darling (drum, triangle), Miller (melodeon), Besant (tambourine), Munnery (crossbow)