Mark Rogers - the Home Page

Mark Pic

4 Castlemead Road
tel: Home +44 1453 762752
tel: Work +44 1453 731715

While this will be of little interest to most people, here's a potted history of my life...

Born 1 October 1961 in Dorking, Surrey, UK to Marjorie Ann Rogers (nee Howick) and George Charles Rogers (original surname was Smalley).

Brought up in Redhill, Surrey, where I attended Earlswood County Primary School. I was given a good grounding in folk music & dance there, with teachers demonstrating folk fiddle, trips to the EFDSS festival at the Royal Albert Hall and being the only male member of the school country dance group (so I was kicked out, as it looked odd!). I also started learning violin, but was again kicked out for the reason that I am double-jointed – thus causing an argument as the head teacher pointed out to the violin teacher that Menuhin was also double-jointed. So I swapped to cornet instead.

I moved to Dorking County Grammar School in 1973, where I was a lazy pain in the neck (the story of my life). However, I was reasonable at music, and took up percussion when, while sitting watching the school orchestra rehearse, the conductor stormed up, grabbed the cymbals from the guy playing them and thrust them to me - “Take these. You could do better than him.”. I guess I’m forever in debt to the person who was playing badly.

The school became comprehensive in 1976, and I co-organised (much to the annoyance of the deputy head, but delight of the head) a world record Daisy Chain (3,565ft in 7.5 hours by 31 people). I handled the publicity, and was delighted to get on the main BBC news bullitin, the front page of “News of the World” and syndicated around the world.

As an antidote to a Scottish PE teacher who only taught Scottish Dance, I arranged for a chap to come and teach a group of us Morris Dancing. When he turned up, he was dismayed to find out that we were a mixed school – he therefore refused to teach Morris to the girls, and taught a few social / barn / ceilidh dances instead. Many years later I met him again, when he booked one of my bands for a wedding barn dance he was calling. All the guests assumed that it was country & western, but I don’t think they noticed that we were playing English folk rock.

I had progressed through the ranks of local youth orchestras to the Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra, whith whom I played percussion & timpani, and got a good grounding in orchestral percussion under their charismatic (but often percussionist hating) conductor Adrian Brown. I started having lessons from the wonderful James Blades OBE, who was a true inspiration.

After 2 terms of A levels I was thoroughly bored – partly due to wanting to do Computing & Music but not being able to take them. So I left school in 1979. A fraustrating interview with Hoskins followed where I was given a programmers aptitude test. I got 98%, which would have been good – however, I’d gone for an operators job, which they would not give me as they thought I’d get bored, but I needed ‘A’ levels to be taken on as a programmer. So I started working as clerk at Barclays Bank in London, moved to London Life Association (London) still as clerk but where I was promised a job as a trainee programmer – which never materialised.

Working in London gave me the ideal opportunity to go to the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, where I became a season ticket holding ‘regular’, queuing up for a couple of weeks to be assured of a place in the front wor at the Last Night concert – while enjoying some damned good music. About 1982 I became signalman on British Rail at small station (I’d always wanted a train set as a kid, and they didn’t get any bigger than that). Left and trained as a computer programmer 6 months later.

I married for the first time at 21 in August 1981 to Margaret Cotter. After the reception, we went to a prom at the Royal Albert Hall, where we had a box (for a change), with cake & champagne that had been smuggled into the Green Room Bar, and watched Gilbert & Sullivan’s Trial by Jury. The BBC were recording the concert for TV, so we got shown on that, and ITN also showed up to film us going into the prom for News at 10. This was followed by going to a hotel just round the corner where there was an all-night demonstration (either pro or anti Iran, I never found out which) outside the embassy next door. I became a music teacher (percussion & timpani) at a few local schools, but it didn’t bring in much money. This was supplemented by playing for concerts/shows in the evenings and stage crewing at the Schools Proms / National Festival of Music for Youth.

We were living in South Holmwood, near Dorking, and just up the road was a post of the Royal Observer Corps – run by the RAF on behalf of the Home Office. I joined and thus became 154058 Oberver Rogers, a ‘uniformed spare time civil servant’. A wonderfully British organisation, the ROC. We sat in out 3 person bunkers on occasional exercises, waiting for the bomb to drop. And when it did (simulated, of course), we would pop up out of our hatch and change the papers in a Ground Zero Indicator – a round pinhole camera with 4 holes (N, E, S, W) in it. We would analyse the papers to see where the splot of a nuclear bobm was, and then pass a message through to our Group Headquarters via the overland telephone line. We also monitored fallout to let the public know (via maroons & sirens) when any fallout was arriving or had decayed enough to be ‘safe’. I stayed in the ROC until it was stood down at the end of the cold war in 1981. We were a strange bunch on our post (Horsham 2/32 post) – the boss had been thrown out of the WRAC (Womens Royal Army Corps) for printing CND posters on army presses, the 2nd i/c was a vegan who went on plane spotting holidays to China & Russia, others smoked dope down in the bunker (not me, I don’t smoke). But by and large, I think we were all eccentric pacifists on our post, so we all got on quite well.

Margaret & I separated in 1983, much to my regret at the time. I moved to Brighton and started working in a small computer shop, then left to work as a clerk at the Ministry of Defence (where we spent most of the time tending plants around the office, as there was no work to do). I became ovo-lacto vegetarian in 1983 (continues to today) and coincidentally moved into Brighton Buddhist Centre (Friends of the Western Buddhist Order) for 1.5 years 1983. I found meditation too difficult, mainly due to distractions – my brain is often going too fast, and have too much cynicism build into me to accept religions. I had a great desire to strip away the religious trappings that have been put onto Buddism over the years, but that would end up with ‘Lets be as nice as possible to each other & help everyone, and the world will be a better place’ and that’s just common sense, not a religion. The one thing from that period that still remain is being a vegetarian.

I started Morris Dancing in 1985, having seen The World Famous Ashdown Mummers practicing very simple & straight border dances in my next door neighbours garden. As they were an occasional side I also started dancing & playing for Wych’uns Morris and playing for Old Palace Clog. They were all a little too far away from home, so I started Buckland Shag Morris Men in Reigate about 10 minutes after three of us started The Buckland Shag Band (we’d been busking and someone asked us if we did weddings).

Moved to work as a computer clerk at Royal Mail Letters 1995, staying there until about 1989, where my Cholesterol level discovered to be high during a routine scanning by occupational health service at work (they thought their machine had broken down, as it would not give a reading). I also became the chairman of the local union branch for a couple of years, a task which mainly involved organising the staff Christmas Party.

Started going out with Lynn in 1989 having met her at practiced of The Corn Dollies (err - best described as a Ladies Country Dance Group – we did try to morrisify them more, but thee was a lot of resistance to doing stick dances ‘far too un-ladylike’). Moved to work as IT support person for British Telecom in 1989, where I was delighted to discover that my 2nd line manager had been in Wych’uns Morris. Together we formed ‘The Wild Hunt Morris of Bedlams Bank’ which has developed an interesting reputation.

I married Lynn on May 1st 1991. Of course, we danced at dawn, throughout the morning, then after the wedding had a feast & then a ceilidh with my band at the time (the awfully named Risky Business) with Les Barker doing some poems. Not surprisingly, we just collapsed into bed & slept once we got back to the hotel.

I had angina diagnosed in 1991 followed by rapid angiogram then an angioplasty on my left anterior descending artery. I found it interesting to be told that my cholesterol level was so high that ‘you should not be alive’ at the Middlesex Hospital (18.9 m/mol). The thing that most sticks in my warped brain was that Wild Hunt came in kit to the East Surrey Hospital when I was awaiting the Angiogram. I was on a general ward, and opposite me was an African guy who spoke no English who’d been floating in & out of a coma all week (after being taken off a flight at Gatwick Airport). He woke up just as 15 people in black tatters & black face masks (with white ritualistic markings) wandered in to find me. I often wonder what he made of it…

I also had a second angioplasty in October 2000, where a stent was put in a small narrowing in my Right Coronary Artery after the near blockage in the Left Anterior Descending proved un-openable. That sounds bad, but apparently extra blood vessels have grown from the RCA to compensate for the LAD!

In 1992 I was lucky enough to be given redundancy by BT and we moved to Cirencester, Gloucestershire on the profits – well, we had about £30,000 negative equity to pay off as well. We located the area to move to by looking for good joint morris teams, and Stroud Morris Dancers fitted the bill well. We then looked for jobs, and then for a house – you’ve got to get your priorities right!

Our 1st child, Hazel was born 27/12/95 3 weeks overdue. There were abnormalities detected with heart rate during routine monitoring so Lynn’s waters were broken, meconium found to be present as the baby was in distress. Born by emergency caesarian section (I was present), she cried once and took a lungful of meconium in. Her heart & breathing stopped, heart restarted after about 22 mins. Transferred to St. Michaels, Bristol SCBU. Her lungs recovered (after 1 collapsed), but she got kidney failure. Due to being hypoxic for so long a time, her brain started swelling (while trying to recover), and she started having severe fits. Brain scans showed mainly abnormal activity, and this worsened over a few days. She had developed severe cerebral palsy. We were given the choice of how to continue, and decided to withdraw treatment and let her die, which she did on 1st Jan 1996. Had she lived, she would have been quadriplegic, blind & deaf, unable to feel anything apart from possible pain, and therefore have zero quality of life.

Our 2nd child, Zoë was born 2nd Dec 1997, and was followed by our 3rd child, Helen, born 30th Sept 1999. While both appear to be normal (and blood tests look as if they have not inherited my FH cholesterol gene), they are interesting. Zoë is now a pupil at Stroud High School (we still have grammars in Gloucestershire) and is doing her grade 5 in flute. Helen (Y5) is at Minchinhampton Primary School and is working on grade 4 piano & grade 2 orchestral percussion. Zoë joined the National Youth Folklore Troupe of England 3 years ago, and Helen pased her audition to join back in September.

I've been working for Gable Marketing Ltd for the 17 years as 'the computer department' -I handle everything from database analysis, cleaning and programming (Paradox and Access) through statistical analysis to Network installation, admin and stripping down laser printers. I also spend a fair amount of time on the 'phone selling EverEdge metal lawn edging and Aquadyne recycled plastic drainage product on behalf of our clients

Having entered the John Gasson Solo Jig Competition at Sidmouth a few times in the past (as a musician, I might add), in August 2001 I was part of the winning pair with Sue Graham dancing. We were representing The Outside Capering Crew - my 'other' morris team. This may not mean much to most non-dancers, but within the Morris world it's rather prestigious. Members of the Crew have won this competition 6 times now (out of about 14 times) - if you've seen the Crew, you'll know why (damned fine dancing, made entertaining for everyone, taking its influence from street theatre & circus as much as folk). Since then I've also been part of the winning performance for the double jig comp (twice) and won audience appeal and 'over 40's' prizes a few times - and finally in in 2009 won the Best Newcomer award (my dancer had flown in from Washington just to enter the competition). I'm also a regular musician for Stroud Morris.

Outside home life and Morris, was a councillor for 7 years on Rodborough Parish Council, used to sing with the excellent Cappella Singers of Rodborough, and also sit on independent schools admissions appeal panels for Gloucestershire County Council.

If your have got this far, you might wish to contact me to ask me to clarify any details. Or you might like to look at some of my other sites:

Shave The Donkey – Online News for the Capering Classes
Stroud Morris Dancers
Outside Capering Crew
Gable Marketing Ltd

Mark's Morris CV:
The date shown is when I started to perform with the sides - currently I only play for The Crew & Stroud Morris.
1985 The World Famous Ashdown Mummers (dancer & musician)
1985 Old Palace Clog (musician)
1985 Wych'uns Morris (dancer & musician)
1986 Ashdown Forest Morris Men (dancer & musician)
1987 Corn Dollies of Reigate (musician)
1987 Buckland Shag Morris Men (co-founder, dancer & musician)
1987 Knockhundred Shuttles Clog (musician)
1991 Wild Hunt of Bedlams Bank Border Morris (co-founder, dancer & musician)
1991 Downes on Tour Morris (musician)
1992 Stroud Morris Dancers (dancer & musician)
1996 The Ouside Capering Crew (musician)
1998 Seven Champions Molly Dancers (musician & occassional dancer)
2001 Windsor Morris (musician)

I've also performed - as an occasional guest musician - with Motley Morris (Sidmouth), Maids of the Mill - Utrecht, Boughton Monchelsea (Sidmouth festival) and Mad Jacks Morris; and for several musician-less dancers for the John Gasson Jig competition. I also play for the finale of NYFTE shows.