Reports 2010 - Crook Morris

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2010 Reports
Wassailing 17th January

No report, but here are some photos

Evie, our own poet in residence
One weekend in mid February,
little Evie was so merry.
For she was at the place of Langdale,
where there was no hail or gail.
Just sun, lake and hill,
her happiness this did fill.
She had not a fear,
for she knew Hexham, Shilhill and Pecsaetan were near.
Her fun began on the Friday,
or at least that's what she did say.
Now let free and loose,
she decided to make a chocolate moose.
With Rosie she explored the grounds,
then went on to climb a very big mound.
Then the sun did set,
so chips she did get.
Her belly full now,
much like a cow.
She decided to play cheat,
but no one she could beat.
After four hours of play,
she decided to hit the hay.
Now on the Saturday
she rose quite late,
cos been tired she really did hate.
She had breakfast with her friends from crook,
this they happily took.
Then she set out on a walk,
to her good friend Rosie she did talk.

After their two hour adventure,
at the pub they did linger.
One O’clock Sally appeared,
but tired and ill Evie had steered.
Up to the hostel they did trek,
trying to avoid the muddy beak.
Evie went straight to bed,
she felt almost dead.
When she woke again,
all most gone was all the pain.
The hours passed with lots of fun,
including tunes from the melodeon.
By seven O clock everyone was in fancy dress,
some people looked a right old mess.
Curry was served and went down well,
until off went the fire bell.
Pirates, Indians, Fairies and Lost Boys,
all went out to the night's joys.
After a while they ventured back
in,then they could have pudding.
When everyone was done,
they went off and had some fun.
Except for crook that had to clear away,
but they didn't mind cos they'd had a good day.
The party started with a few ceilidh dances,
then each side did their performances.
Hexham a dance,
in which they did prance.
Crook a game,
this was not at all lame.
And Pecsaetan a play,
which was good Evie did say.
People then played,
sung and danced,
until they could no longer prance.
The last to give a big yawn,
went to bed at three in the morn.
The sun rose far too early the next day,
Little Evie just wanted to stay and lay.
But she got up, dressed, ate and packed her bags,
then went out and put on her rags.
She was much more tired and colder,
so almost fell asleep on her friend's shoulder.
Twelve O clock came near,
so down the steep hill everyone did steer.
For Martyn and Jen they did have to wait,
which everyone did a little bit hate.
The five side took it in turns to caper, galley and half hey,
for this the audience did pay.
It was a beautiful sight,
when everyone was in kit all tight.
Crook's baldrics,get the mick.
Silhill's rags,make them look like hags.
Hexham's top hats,fit for cats.
And Pecsaetan's bells,sound all over the fells.
But then the great weekend had to come to a close,
so little Evie could go home and have a doze.
You know how it is. You work away from home and get back from a trip to a barrage of answer phone messages. Most are perfectly normal but then there is the one that starts with the words ” Are you the man that has something to do with morris dancing?   If you are will you give me a call on…… I’m…….. from……..” That was the last bit and it was pretty indistinct.  I nearly just deleted it but after a few days I phoned the number and found myself chatting with a Border TV producer.  
She explained that they were planning a programme on interesting and different hobbies.  Would we be interested in being in it?  Would we!!!  Years of the media negative portrayals of our traditional dancing and they were offering us the chance for Crook to redress the balance a touch.

The side all agreed that it was an opportunity that we just couldn’t pass up so we let them know we were more than happy to spend half a day going over and over the same dance! The fact that they wanted the presenter to join in was an added bonus.
What a fascinating experience the day was. We were right that there would be a lot of repetition but the film crew were certainly professional in catching highlights and asking for the parts that weren’t so good to be repeated. I had a list of the main positive points that the side hoped to get featured so that when the presenter came to interview us we were primed to get as many in as possible. Of course several disappeared in the editing but never mind.
Ian, the presenter, was tall and overweight.  Oh, but we did have fun with him as he got more out of breath and more red in the face.  He wasn’t bad at the figures but the stick striking absolutely lost him and we actually had one of his expletives bleeped out when I managed to crack him on the knuckles.

The producer was true to her word and did let us know when the programme was scheduled to go out. Wonderful, most of the side were in France and the rest had popped down to support Richard Hannah at Upton Folk Festival!
However, some of us saw it and it has been saved on a DVD.
How do we feel we came over in the final cut? Not bad at all.  As ever the side is clearly enjoying itself, we got Cotswold and Welsh Border featured, a good spread of ages and both sexes were featured, the music was lively and the message that morris is fun was certainly transmitted.
Martyn Harvey, Foreman

Squire's Tour 2nd October
As Squire of Crook Morris, Rique originally organised a tour that centred solely around tea shops – not the usual as you might imagine, but his passion. However, after consideration he thought he might get lynched so he conceded by swapping the last tea shop for a pub.

Firstly, we congregated outside Jumping Jenny, the tea shop attached to 'Brantwood', on the shores of Coniston Water.  We were bathed in watery autumnal sunshine (lucky, as it rained heavily the day before and the day after!).  We enjoyed a backdrop of the Old Man topped with a grey whispy hat plus the steam launch Gondola chugging elegantly up and down the lake.  Get the picture, have I set the scene enough?

Suitably replenished with hot coffee, tea, bacon butties and the like we danced for an intrepid outdoor café audience and those folk momentarily diverted from their intended visit to Brantwood, in a sort of 2 for 1 cultural exchange.

Having enjoyed ourselves so much we moved on to the second venue, the Lakeland Motor Museum at Backbarrow. We danced outside the café again, keeping our sticks and unbridled enthusiasm at a safe distance from the gleaming chrome and lovingly polished bodies of vintage Rolls Royce, MG and other motors from a bye-gone age. Some of us took the opportunity to get a closer look and paid the entrance fee, the rest of us stuffed our faces again!

Once more with feeling … off to the Strickland Arms, a pub which also has a good reputation for food, that sits aside a quiet road by the Sizergh Estate.  We were pleased to be met by 2 of Crook’s founder members, now Honorary Members, Colin and Margo, who were feeling a little nostalgic for the sound of English concertina, melodeon, fiddle and drum, the clashing of sticks, the crisp flicking of hankies, nifty footwork and the usual Crook bon homie.  In exchange they offered up apples for the picking from their walled garden, a place where we have languished on many occasions, enjoying their hospitality and pick-me-up after all the hard work at the end of our legendary Weekends of Dance. (Watch this space for details of our 30th Anniversary Weekend do in July 2011.)
The day ended with Crookites sauntering off into the pub for the usual music session, well earned rest and a glass or two, I think I heard mutterings of “at last”.

All proceeds from the day are ear-marked for the Pakistan Flood Disaster Appeal being organised by a friend of Crook - Richard Hannah, from Upton upon Severn in Worcestershire. We are grateful to be able to contribute £120. Well done and thanks one and all for your contribution to a great Squires Tour.

Cumbrian Christmas Ceilidh
This was our third year. The first two had been very popular and successful but you can't rest on your laurels and we decided to make some changes and see if we could improve on an already excellent event.
The changes we made were:-
● A curtain of celtic bedspreads to reduce the music bouncing off the back wall.
● Reserved tables for the larger groups.
● Table plan for these groups.
● Candles for the tables.
● Mince pies served at the tables.
● The 2 dance spot were combined into 1 to make the ceilidh sessions a little longer.
● The Kendal Revellers, an English Carol group, included a Christmas reading.
● We asked the band for developments so they incorporated a 3 piece brass section for the second half and a sound engineer to give us the best sound possible.
So how did this work? Did it make any difference?
Well Crook certainly all felt that it was definitely the best one yet.
The feedback from people who had paid to come positively clearly approved of the reserved tables and plan, loved all the decorations, the service of mince pies got a thumbs up, the 1 dance spot was spot on and the singing quite awesome, the brass in the second half gave an impressive lift to an already buzzing night and the sound was as good as we have managed over the 3 years- overall a very big yes the changes had worked.
Crook were still floating on air at practice on the Monday immediately after the ceilidh. We all agreed that it had made it feel as though Christmas had arrived.
It was no surprise that we unanimously agreed that we will do it again in 2011, our 30th year as a side.

We do love the feel of the hall but it does have its problems - we would like one a little bigger, it’s a nuisance that the car park is full with cars from the earlier starting Carol Concert in the Parish Church and the difficult acoustics - so we will keep our eyes and ears open for a move.
We will certainly have fewer tables to try and create more dancing space.
But whatever happens everyone can look forward to 2011 and Crook Morris’s 4th traditional ‘ Cumbrian Christmas Ceilidh '.

Martyn Harvey ( Foreman )

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