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by Banbury Bill - February 2000

This month, a new concept in column-writing from Banbury Bill: rather than hit you with a whole column all at once, he's going to ramble on throughout the month, topping up his column whenever there's something to say. A fresh column will be started for each month. So even if you think you've already dipped in to the current offerings, keep an eye on the date of the latest additions. New material will be added at the top of the column. And if you think the column's not interesting enough, it's because you haven't told us any good stories lately. E-mail with any gossip.

Two winners - and a teaser for the Quizheads

A bunch of posies each to Alan Jeffries and Geoff Colvin, winners of our first Bunch of Posers competition. We were worried that there wouldn't be any correct answers but, no, it seems there are quite a few people out there who spend their time doing pointless puzzles when they could be practising their dancing, or something.

Alan will receive an Images of Tradition pack from the English Folk Dance & Song Society, containing a set of 55 "trading cards" featuring such morris greats as William Kimber, Jingy Wells and Sam Bennett, as well as leading figures from the folk movement in the 20th century. He also gets an enamelled badge of Cecil Sharp, and a flick-book derived from an early film of the great man, messing up a country dance.

Everyone else will have to buy their own copy from EFDSS (who've recently updated their web site, by the way. It now features lots of pix from Headington Quarry's centenary celebrations at Christmas).

As for Geoff, he could have taken home the brand new Aston Martin DB8 - we tried to persuade him - but he settled instead for a copy of The Gift, a fine collection of music by the Adderbury Morris and Fairport Convention fiddler, Chris Leslie.

Geoff says: "Keep the Donkey coming, nice to have something that shows the Morris some respect - a change from the, rather dull now, knocking in Folk Roots." Thanks, Geoff. So you won't be wanting a free subscription next time, then?

When we launched A Bunch Of Posers, we said we may or may not keep it going, depending on whether we could be bothered. And.... we can't be bothered.

But why worry, when you can win a prize from our rival publication, The Fezhead Chronicles, by answering three simple questions? They are:

1) What did George Gaddaffi do before his backflip?

2) How did the Romans adjust for planetary wobble?

3) What did Clint invent in 1983?

The answers to all these questions, and plenty more you'd never want to ask, can be found in the latest issue of that bizarre publication, The Fezhead Chronicles, also known as:

Shave The Donkey cannot be held responsible for any feelings of dizziness of mental derangement you may experience after reading The Chronicles.

Jig gig

Our antipodean correspondent tells us of plans to stage a jig competition in New Zealand, on the national morris tour next January. The prospect of a week's dancing and fine company in the Land Of The Long White Cloud should be incentive enough for anyone planning to enter, but for those of a more mercenary bent, we understand the prize is unlikely to cover the cost of flying out from the northern hemisphere.

Chief exec Allan does the Wal-Mart shuffle

PROOF that indulgence in the capering arts is no bar to career success: Allan Leighton has been made chief executive of the Asda store chain in the UK despite freely admitting that he's donned the bells.

I can recall reading about the leader of a workshop who asked how many of those present had confessed to colleagues about involvement in the morris. He was dismayed when hands shot up.

I've managed to keep it a secret from my own fellow workers, despite one of them once turning up at a team practice. Discretion's been my watchword ever since the day the truth came out in a previous job: my editor stared at me in frank dismay and then, after a moment's silence, said: "I'd never have employed you if I had known you were a morris dancer."

I think he meant it. This was about two years before he went off and launched The Sunday Sport, the newspaper famed for exclusives about London buses going missing and turning up on the Moon.

If you're a big shot in business, though, I guess you can simply front these things out, judging by a small item in The Times' City Diary of February 12.

It says the only interesting thing known about the "macho" Allan Leighton is that he "is an enthusiastic morris dancer."

It then quotes Mr Leighton's denial of this charge: "I used to be in the Brackley Morris Men, but I haven't done it for eight or nine years. I only put it on my CV to get noticed."

Shave The Donkey had actually been tipped off about Mr Leighton's past, but regrettably, we couldn't pursue the story to a conclusion. Our informant commented that now there was a morris person in charge at Asda, perhaps they'd sell better beer.

Fed leadership sets out new party line

For those who've been wondering what future style and direction the Morris Federation will take on after its change of leadership, we offer this further insight from new secretary Fee Lock:

"The inaugural meeting of the new Morris Federation Committee took place today in sunny Walthamstow I am pleased to announce that a new database of morris sides is now in existence, categorised as follows:

The A-list: Those sides who throw great parties and invite me;

The B-list: Those sides who throw great parties and don't invite me; and

The C-list: Those who need a little help.

Workshops on moving from the C-list to the A-list will be held on an ad hoc basis on Saturday nights.

Fee x"

So there you are: aspirant morris teams may wish to re-think their practice nights.


2000 Simon Pipe, Mark Rogers, The Outside Capering Crew

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