send you Seasonal Greetings.
send you Seasonal Greetings.
illustrates various events during the year.
Last year we
carried out our traditional Christmas events: our Border
Morris tour, to the
Groom and the Fox and Hounds, Clapham; the Devonshire
Arms and the White Horse, Bedford; the
party where we danced three Border dances; and
Boxing Day, when we danced on Bedford Embankment and
then at the Swan Hotel, where we introduced the formal
proceedings by singing the Boar's Head Carol.
The New Year started with our annual Plough
Monday Plough Play tour - we started at the Wellington
Arms; moved to
the Three Cups and the
and finished at the
Having postponed our AGM for the 80th
Anniversary celebrations, it was held in early January.
Our new Bagman is Phil Nicholson, the other officers
In late January, representatives attended the
funeral of Daphne Nicholls, long time supporter and good
friend, and wife of our honorary life member, Roger
Our own great loss this year was Jonathan ‘Georgie’
Birch, a very popular member of the Side.
He was out dancing with us on the Border tour,
but later ‘felt unwell’ and had brain surgery for a
He was making good progress but on 12 March, he
felt faint and died suddenly.
He leaves a wife, Anita, and two young sons, Matt
She has said that ‘... Bedford Morris played a large
part in his life and meant such a lot to him ...’.
He was known affectionately as ‘Georgie’ for his
role as King George in the Plough Play.
His Funeral and Thanksgiving Service was on 27
March at Clapham Parish Church.
Bedford Morris Men and a large contingent of
police formed a guard of honour and Les Skinner played
the coffin into church with Monk’s March on the
concertina and later to the graveyard with Flowers of
During the service, the Men sang hearty choruses to
support Tim Durrant when he sang Rolling Home.
After the burial, the Men danced at the ‘Wake’.
March we joined Letchworth Morris at their energetic
Annual Curry Ale.
They joined us as usual,
together with Offley
Morris, as the Summer Season started on May Morning - a
freezing and misty first Wednesday in May.
However, by 6.30 a.m., the sun was fighting
through and the Men sang the May Carol and the Northill
May Song. A
selection of Morris dances followed, then Folk Dances
Two professional photographers were in attendance and we
featured later in the day in the
We then made our traditional first outing to
dance at the Fox and Hounds at Riseley, this year in
Although Jan Zielinski had retired, we were greeted by
the new landlord and his wife.
They had chosen to have the ‘grand re-opening’ of
the pub to coincide with our visit and the Charles Wells
brewery bus was present with a barrel of Bombardier on
board for the Men. We
later sang some favourite songs and made music until
closing time. It
was a very long day, but someone had to do it!
The Ickwell May Festival followed on
the Holiday Monday and was rewarded by a sunny day after the
floods of last year.
With Letchworth Morris, we danced at the Crown,
Northill, and later led the Procession from Northill to
Ickwell and later busked at the Ickwell Pavilion.
Past Fool, Andy Malleson, joined the band with
We danced a full Wednesday evening
summer programme, despite some less than ideal weather.
At our second May Wednesday at the Cross Keys,
Cranfield, we also practised a couple of North-West
next week was at the Horse and Groom, Clapham; that
evening started in Clapham churchyard, where we were
joined by the Birch family and danced to remember ‘Georgie’
Birch; we then passed around the Loving Cup in his
memory, a very poignant ceremony.
We then danced at the pub, and our evening
concluded with celebrations of the Squire’s birthday and
also that of Allan Alsop.
The last two Wednesdays were at the Fox,
Carlton; and the Victoria, Wilden.
Also in May, we helped with Harrold village’s twinning
event at Carlton Village Hall.
Their twin-town visitors from Sainte-Pazanne
shown some Morris dances and Sue Melvin danced some clog
ran a teach-in and sang songs.
meal was followed by guessing - generally incorrectly -
the origin and grape type of various wines - we would
have been more successful with beers!!!
On the first Wednesday in June, we
danced at the Wheatsheaf, Bow Brickhill, where we were
welcomed by Andy Malleson and Jonathan Ginn who joined
with the musicians to play for some of the dances.
At the March Hare, Dunton, we were joined by
Offley Morris Men; the après-Morris, included
refreshments, and excellent music and song from Les
Skinner; one of the ex-Albury Morris Offley men; and the
[former?] publican of the John o’Gaunt, Sutton.
The March Hare deserved its award as local CAMRA
pub of the year as the real ales were excellent.
We danced next at the Polhill Arms, Renhold, also
showing some North-West dances to keep in practice.
Also in June, we danced for the
Official Opening of ‘The Higgins’, the extensively
refurbished Gallery and Museum; with events from dawn to
dusk, we were dancing in their courtyard at breakfast
time, and for the first school party, having already
danced by the Castle Mound [see our card].
We revived our North-West tour
visiting the Wellington Arms, the Kent Arms, the Burnaby
Arms and returning to the Wellington – an excellent evening with
accompaniment by members of the Bedford Town Bank,
conducted by Roger Nicholls.
Also in June, representatives attended the Forest of Dean Morris Men’s weekend and others
joined Offley Morris at the Bright Star, Peter’s Green.
In July we danced at
and Bear, Emberton; the
Arms, Souldrop and on
a Thursday, with
Letchworth Morris at the
Stone Jug, Clophill.
Tradition was restored for the final
Wednesday in July when we danced at the
In late August we were invited to and
attended the Saddleworth ‘Rushcart Festival’, pulling
the Rushcart and dancing in Greenfield, Uppermill,
Delph and Dobcross.
Next year is their 40th anniversary
and we have been invited to attend, and are already ‘in
practice’ and hope to be accompanied by our friends from
the Town Band.
In September, we danced two spots at an evening ‘village
fete’ - including a ‘beer tent’ (without canvas, but
with free real ale!) - at
University as part of the
entertainment for an International Fruit Supply Chain
At our AGM at the month’s end the Officers were
In October, at the 36th Bedford Beer & Cider
Festival at the Corn Exchange, we danced before and
after lunch (with beers!).
As usual, two weeks later we danced two shows for
the Apple Day event at Bromham Mill, and although poor
weather was forecast, it stayed dry for us, although the
drizzle returned soon after we finished!!
Our practice season is now in full swing, at Ravensden
Village Hall on Wednesday evenings at 8.00pm.
We still need more fit young, or not so young,
In November, John Frearson attended Anker Morris’s Ale -
good companionship, four beers from the Church End
brewery, a substantial supper, and energetic dancing.
The following Saturday, a larger number attended
the Brackley Morris Ale, where Roger Nicholls was also
present; he had reformed the Brackley Side more years
ago than he would wish to remember.
We had a further bad scare in November, when our
Foreman, Simon Melvin, had a heart attack.
Fortunately prompt medical attention, and various
‘stents’, mean that he is now starting his recovery and
although he may not be dancing at full speed for a
while, we hope he will feel up to some ‘coaching’ before
and Capers” Border tour will be on the 18th
December (the Wednesday before Christmas) and we will be
performing at the Fine Companions Party two days later.
On Boxing Day we will be on Bedford Embankment
and then at the Swan Hotel.
In the New Year, we will be performing our Plough
Monday Mummers’ play.
The dates and venues are listed below, on our
card and also on our website -
We thank our ‘hosts’ for their generosity, tolerance and
friendship through the year, and hope to see friends old
and new, this winter season and next year.
Meanwhile, to you
all, Wassail, and a very Happy Christmas and peaceful
For details of
how to join Bedford
information on events; or to check dates/times for the
- or visit
Archive information [items always welcomed]:
- John Frearson -