Thursday 23 August 2018

A Morris Border (not Border Morris)

Here's a hearty little project from earlier in the summer, for my morris men in Southampton.

King John's Morris Men wanted a new poster for dancing dates. I thought it would suit a dense border with plenty of details to pick out, taken from dances and songs, along with assorted rural, maritime and alcoholic titbits and ephemera.

Here, because you want to know and because I want to tell you, is a full contents list:

  • At the top:
    • Roses - for The Rose Tree In Full Bearing.
    • Hops - the importance of beer cannot be overstated.
    • The KJM badge - a portcullis, representing Southampton Bargate, above water.
  • At the bottom:  hollyhocks, wheat, trout and watercress (very small), more hops, tankards and a barrel being rolled out - as in the song Roll Out The Barrel.
  • At the sides:  an oak tree (on the right) and an apple tree (on the left, complete with ladder and scrumper), containing...
    • Bells - Ring O' Bells usually ends the King John's running order and Haste To The Wedding is included if we feel up to the challenge.
    • A shepherd's crook - Shepherds Hey features in several morris traditions.
    • Rifles - there are several shooting dances... including Shooting.
    • A fair - for Jockey To The Fair and the Hampshire song Taro Fair.
    • A mill - for Maid Of The Mill and possibly Milley's Bequest, which I may have misunderstood.
    • A ship - well, this covers various maritime references and several shanties featured in the KJM singing sessions - John Kanaka, Sugar In The Hold and many more.
    • Piglet - a plaster pig's head - is the King John's mascot, who comes out from time to time to cause trouble among the audience.
    • The pony, hound and cow are decorative but add to the rural idiom...
    • ...and, for a spread of birdlife, a seagull, falcon, woodpecker...  and the other kind of kite.
  • In the centre:  the accoutrements of the morris - a top hat, stout shoes, sticks for clashing, bells for jangling, hankies for waving, the fool's brush and bladder (for tickling and bopping respectively) and our main instrument, the mighty melodeon.

Now, there are several dances that we do but that I couldn't work out how to draw, at least at such a small scale:
Bonnets So Blue, Balance The Straw, Getting Upstairs, Bean Setting, Broad Cupid, Saturday Night, The Vandals Of Hammerwich, Cuckoo's Nest (I should have got that one in), Old Black Joe, Beaux Of London City, Sheriff's Ride, Nuts In May... and whatever Trunkles are.

They all deserve drawing, as do these, although we don't dance them at the moment:
Lads A Bunchum, The Captain And His Whiskers and The Old Woman Tossed Up In A Blanket / The Old Woman Who Carried A Broom.

Look for King John's in the Southampton area and sometimes roving farther.  There are monthly singing evenings and around Christmas there will be mumming and border dancing.  First, on 15th September, KJM is hosting FOLK DANCE SOUTHAMPTON, featuring numerous visiting dance groups in the centre of Southampton and a ceilidh in the evening.

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