Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Morrising at Wndmills?

I read Don Quixote over the summer (it's the classic text on the Mid Life Crisis, chaps), and was interested to see the poor old Knight victimised by a Morris man.
"During this conversation, it unluckily fell out, that one of the company anticly dressed, being the fool of the play, came up striking with his morrice bells and three full-blown cows' bladders fastened to the end of a stick. In this odd appearance he began to flourish his stick in the air, and bounce his bladders against the ground just at Rozinante's nose."
"The jingling of the bells, and the rattling noise of the bladders so startled and affrighted the quiet creature, that Don Quixote could not hold him in; and having got the curb betwixt his teeth, away the horse hurried his unwilling rider up and down the plain, with more swiftness than his feeble bones seemed to promise."
(Part 2, Chapter XI, "Of the Stupendous Adventure that befell the valorous Don Quizote, with the Chariot or Cart of the Court or Parliament of Death.")
Sounds a pretty clear morris dancer, in a translation of a Spanish book written in 1615. Unfortunately, the copy I was reading - Wordsworth Classics - doesn't say who translated it or when.

There's a copy of the book online (the Ormsby translation), which describes the attacker as in a mummers' dress with a great number of bells."

There's plenty of Spanish versions, picking an early edition we get:
Estando en estas pláticas, quiso la suerte que llegase uno de la compañía, que venía vestido de bojiganga, con muchos cascabeles, y en la punta de un palo traía tres vejigas de vaca hinchadas; el cual moharracho, llegándose a don Quijote, comenzó a esgrimir el palo y a sacudir el suelo con las vejigas, y a dar grandes saltos, sonando los cascabeles, cuya mala visión así alborotó a Rocinante, que, sin ser poderoso a detenerle don Quijote, tomando el freno entre los dientes, dio a correr por el campo con más ligereza que jamás prometieron los huesos de su notomía. Sancho, que consideró el peligro en [que] iba su amo de ser derribado, saltó del rucio, y a toda priesa fue a valerle; pero, cuando a él llegó, ya estaba en tierra, y junto a él, Rocinante, que, con su amo, vino al suelo: ordinario fin y paradero de las lozanías de Rocinante y de sus atrevimientos.
Which Babel fish translates as :
"Being in these talks, it wanted the luck that arrived one from the company, that came dress from bojiganga, with many bells, and in the end of swollen a three wood vejigas of cow brought; which moharracho, arriving itself at Don Quixote, began to use the wood and to shake the ground with vejigas, and to give great jumps, sounding the bells, whose bad vision thus it excited to Rocinante...
What's a "bojiganga"? It seems to be an old word without a modern English translation. But the Spanish definition is "Compañía teatral ambulante del Siglo de Oro, de pocos integrantes, que representaba comedias y autos", which seems to translate as a "small travelling theatre company which puts on comedies ("and cars").

So I guess that's more of a mummer than a morris dancer...

Strike the sticks quietly at McGlynn's

No pictures of the men this time. With only seven men, no one had a spare hand to take them.

The Queen's Larder was, as usual, busy but indifferent, with more enthusiasm from the diners outside the restaurant next door. We persuaded a French lady to join in Bonny Green Garters. She looked surprised.

Two dances into a show at McGlynn's, we were asked to stop by a man whose children were trying to sleep.

What made this more ironic, is we'd only just said goodbye to some very high-spirited and intrusive children who should have been in bed long before. Since those kids were the only audience we'd got, we tried to involve them - but their parents called them away for some reason.

Anyway. after we got the request to stop, we finished the dance we were about to do - a graceful and subdued Balance the Straw to Jeremy's muted but soulful sax.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Second Bloomsbury tour

Hot on the heels of the Ecology centre, another visit to Bloomsbury.
We went back to the Queens Larder and danced for the tourists and people eating out, and for possible new member Chris.

Then off to McGlynns, a quiet pub in a side street.
Perhaps just a bit too quiet...
We were joined for the second dance by loads of kids who just appeared from nowhere and joined in, then ran off almost as quickly.
And then, ironically we were asked by a local to be quiet as he had just put the baby to sleep. Just as we were about to do what would have been quite a noisy stick dance.
So we did dance it, but ...v.e.r.y...q.u.i.e.t.l.y.... very gentle taps of sticks...

And then we called it a day and enjoyed the pleasant evening air.
Another neighbour, coming by told us that there were more morris dancers due on Wednesday, so maybe baby will need ear plugs

Gillespie park Ecology Centre

A lovely afternoon at the Ecology Centre, perfect weather, an appreciative audience, and just enough men to make up a full side.
And Jeremy brought our bells back from the Prince's trust do too.
(which was aparantly very good)
Even though it's just around the corner from the Aresenal's new Emirates Stadium, Gillespie Park feels like it's right out in the countryside.
A friendly dinosaur joined in and posed for pictures

Unfortunately we missed John Hegley and Rob Newman but enjoyed some of the other acts.

The press were there too, Andy, a local photographer was taking photos for the Islington Gazette.
I'm sorry, I've lost the paper I wrote your site down on, Andy, so if you chance to read this, contact me and I'll edit it in.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Would you trust this woman with your bells?

This is Holly Davies, from the Prince's Trust.

Look at her bag -- she is carrying ALL our bells.

Apparently, she's persuaded a group from her office to learn Morris and put on a public performance for charity, this Thursday at Cecil Sharpe House.

Either that or she's just stolen the bells of an entire Morris side for a dare... we'd better make sure there's at least one of us at the show on Thursday, just to make sure.

It's all for charity - helping disadvantage youth (which is what the Prince's Trust does).

It's therefore firmly in the revived Morris tradition. As we all know, Mary Neal started the revival with a side of disadvantaged girls in London. And here they, are, courtesy of New Esperance.

Holly caught us as we finished up another successful but exhausting Canal Festival outing - our third year at an excellent festival.

As usual, my photos are just of cute baby owls. Oh, and some dejected men, stripped of their bells. Luckily, Peter's done us proud - see below.

Oh yes, and anyone else want to challenge the Islington Boat Club to a canoe race next year?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Islington Canal Festival

We've been coming to the canal festival for a few years now, it's an enjoyable afternoon, dancing by the canal side. The weather held off, after an unpromising start to the day, and it was nice and sunny, no doubt due to the power of the morris...

We fitted in between the likes of African drum and dance, Pearly kings and queens, Tragic Roundabout, and the amazing pedal powered machine that saves the world.

We all gave our bells up at the end to lend them to the Princes Trust, who are doing a fund-raising show at Cecil Sharp House - the senior managers have all been persuaded to learn Morris Dancing for the show...