Reminiscences of an 'Old Fart’
I was 58 years old when I joined Wreckers. And how did I come to join? Roger Willcocks, a farmer from over Pillaton way whom I knew mainly from my professional land agency and valuation work, telephoned me out of the blue in February 2001. He asked me whether I would go to St Dominick Village Hall that Thursday evening with him. I asked him why and he wouldn’t tell me, so I said no! Roger then advised me that a Morris dancing side was looking for new members to join. So, I had to make an immediate decision and I agreed to meet him at the hall. Roger was, I believe, feeling somewhat bored as his stock had been culled due to the foot-and-mouth disease which was rampant is this area.
We were welcomed by Sally Hamlin, the Squire (and melodeon player) of Wreckers Morris, and the rest, as they say, is history. I have rarely missed a practice or dance-out unless on holiday since then.
So what made me stay with Wreckers? Frankly, it was, and still is, the music. The band at that time had several melodeon players. I recognised several of the dance tunes as they were traditional English folk songs which I sang in school when I was 7–8 years old. I find the music, particularly with melodeons, makes my legs start to twitch in time ready for the dance to start. The actual dances are interesting in their variety, taxing my limited brain power to memorise the sequences, but it is very much the music which mainly attracts me to Morris.
I always remember my first practice session because I inadvertently rapped Becky’s knuckles (or was it Lesley’s?) with my stick, and was pointedly told that if ever I did that again they would not dance with me!
Needless to say I was a slow learner, but stepping was not much of a problem having been in the army cadet force at school. It was not until someone (was it Paul, Sally’s beau?) told me that all dances start on the left foot and that all sequences basically have eight steps that suddenly the mist lifted and learning new dances became much easier.
Undoubtedly, Morris dancing helps one keep fit. Luckily, I have never had a problem on this front being continually active on our smallholding and walking some two miles most days, and once a week up to seven miles. And Dr Moseley’s media advice on what to eat and how to exercise is surely good common sense.