Yesterday was my last day as a Morris Man, a full day tour arranged by the Yateley Morris Men, with eight different men's sides in attendance.
If you have no idea what a Morris Man is, I can recommend this short article by one of our novices, Simon: http://uk.geocities.com/springgrovemorris/JoiningASide.html
or for a slightly more tongue-in-cheek view, try to see "Morris: A Life With Bells On".
For four years I've been a member of Spring Grove and Off-Spring Morris, based in the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames. I joined in the Autumn of 2005 because I was looking for a musical outlet where I could play my recently acquired Melodeon. I had until then been spending Monday nights at an English Folk Music evening class in Chiswick, but the Chiswick Council decided to double their fees overnight. About the same time, I spotted an advert for musicians to play for Morris Dancing, so I made my way along and joined the Spring Grove team.
That first Autumn I was one of three musicians playing for the side, and as I wasn't very adept on the melodeon I also took my fiddle along. Big mistake as far as learning the melodeon went, because now I was the side's only fiddler, and a fiddle plus a melodeon sounds better than two melodeons. I also was encouraged to dance, so I ended up with three different roles, fiddler, melodeonist and dancer. Overall the three complimented each other and kept me busy, but required three times the work.
However by the the 2007-2008 Season I was finding the travel increasingly difficult and tiring, as I am actually quite a way from Kingston and I was getting home very late on a Monday night, so I restricted myself to turning out with the side when I could, but not attending practise as I had for the previous 3 years.
In place of Morris practise on Monday evenings, I rejoined my English folk music group, who had by now relocated, ironically to a pub back room five minutes walk from my house. Most of my old friends were still playing there, and I was soon up to speed on the favourite tunes. We play occasionally for Country Dances, so I get my musical fix locally, and the fun of playing for dancing.
So it's farewell to Morris, at least for now. There is a Morris side in Portland, but that's too far for regular attendance, and I don't really want to hang onto my old hobbies when I'm in the USA, I want to develop new interests and make new friends.
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