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Scratch Morris sides

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Wyrd Sister 03 Sep 04 - 04:43 PM
Bernard 03 Sep 04 - 04:49 PM
Liz the Squeak 03 Sep 04 - 04:51 PM
Manitas_at_home 04 Sep 04 - 03:29 AM
GUEST 04 Sep 04 - 06:21 AM
Wyrd Sister 04 Sep 04 - 01:50 PM
Folkiedave 04 Sep 04 - 02:18 PM
GUEST,Anne Croucher 04 Sep 04 - 09:23 PM
Liz the Squeak 05 Sep 04 - 03:52 AM
jonm 05 Sep 04 - 04:15 AM
GUEST 05 Sep 04 - 08:14 AM
GUEST 05 Sep 04 - 08:19 AM
Folkiedave 05 Sep 04 - 08:26 AM
ced2 05 Sep 04 - 02:10 PM
M'Grath of Altcar 05 Sep 04 - 03:08 PM
GUEST,nikkih 05 Sep 04 - 07:38 PM
GUEST,Anne Croucher 05 Sep 04 - 08:09 PM
Geoff the Duck 05 Sep 04 - 08:16 PM
Geoff the Duck 05 Sep 04 - 08:37 PM
Geoff the Duck 05 Sep 04 - 08:42 PM
Uncle_DaveO 05 Sep 04 - 08:51 PM
Geoff the Duck 06 Sep 04 - 05:01 AM
Sttaw Legend 06 Sep 04 - 06:56 AM
Mrs.Duck 06 Sep 04 - 01:35 PM
GUEST 06 Sep 04 - 02:03 PM
Folkiedave 06 Sep 04 - 03:16 PM
GUEST 07 Sep 04 - 03:38 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 07 Sep 04 - 01:19 PM
Wyrd Sister 07 Sep 04 - 02:29 PM
Les from Hull 07 Sep 04 - 02:40 PM
Folkiedave 07 Sep 04 - 03:06 PM
alanww 07 Sep 04 - 04:06 PM
GUEST,Anne Croucher 07 Sep 04 - 06:49 PM
jonm 08 Sep 04 - 03:01 AM
GUEST,Anne Croucher 08 Sep 04 - 05:01 AM
GUEST,Jess A 08 Sep 04 - 06:18 AM
GUEST 08 Sep 04 - 06:58 AM
GUEST 08 Sep 04 - 07:08 AM
GUEST 08 Sep 04 - 07:17 AM
Geoff the Duck 08 Sep 04 - 08:23 AM
Les from Hull 08 Sep 04 - 08:45 AM
Folkiedave 08 Sep 04 - 02:42 PM
GUEST,Geoff the Duck - don't know where my cookie 08 Sep 04 - 03:52 PM
GUEST,Anne Croucher 08 Sep 04 - 07:18 PM
Folkiedave 08 Sep 04 - 07:37 PM
Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull 09 Sep 04 - 07:15 PM
GUEST 10 Sep 04 - 05:02 AM
AggieD 10 Sep 04 - 06:46 AM
Paco Rabanne 10 Sep 04 - 07:02 AM
The Fooles Troupe 10 Sep 04 - 07:08 AM
Sttaw Legend 10 Sep 04 - 07:26 AM
Paco Rabanne 10 Sep 04 - 07:30 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 10 Sep 04 - 07:33 AM
Sttaw Legend 10 Sep 04 - 07:35 AM
Mrs.Duck 10 Sep 04 - 01:21 PM
GUEST,Roger Kennington 11 Sep 04 - 07:44 AM
Les from Hull 11 Sep 04 - 01:14 PM
Mrs.Duck 11 Sep 04 - 01:24 PM
GUEST,Peter from Essex 11 Sep 04 - 04:47 PM
GUEST,Flabber from Gasted 12 Sep 04 - 02:11 AM
GUEST,Roger Kennington 12 Sep 04 - 09:12 AM
Mrs.Duck 12 Sep 04 - 09:23 AM
GUEST 12 Sep 04 - 09:34 AM
selby 12 Sep 04 - 09:52 AM
Les from Hull 12 Sep 04 - 10:11 AM
GUEST,Fritha! 12 Sep 04 - 03:37 PM
Mrs.Duck 12 Sep 04 - 03:49 PM
Folkiedave 12 Sep 04 - 05:53 PM
Wyrd Sister 12 Sep 04 - 07:51 PM
GUEST,Dealer 13 Sep 04 - 06:56 AM
GUEST 13 Sep 04 - 07:02 AM
Mrs.Duck 13 Sep 04 - 10:51 AM
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Subject: Scratch Morris sides
From: Wyrd Sister
Date: 03 Sep 04 - 04:43 PM

Here is a letter sent to the Morris Ring Circular Number 46, Spring this year and therefore referring to 2003.
Comments please!


"This is the time of year that we review the highs and lows of last season and make plans for next year. There is ( quite rightly) some debate within the morris movement about how we maintain standards. However, most of us agree that we should avoid giving ammunition to those members of the public who are all too ready to mock morris dancing. In this regard, two events last summer caused concern to a number of dance sides and festival organisers. Both involved unscheduled performances by 'ad hoc' dance teams. Neither did anything to enhance the reputation of Cotswold Morris. We witnessed both, and have been encouraged by a number of people to raise this matter openly.
The first event, at Sidmouth Festival, involved 'Motley Morris'. Not the established border side of the same name, but a random group of dancers who were not even in kit and who had clearly made little or no effort to standardise their dancing. Nevertheless, they danced at an official performance spot alongside invited teams, from England and overseas. Sidmouth calls itself 'First Amongst Festivals' and has a justified reputation at home and abroad. Consequently, members of the public, and international dance teams, could assume that the cheerful shambles of Motley Morris represents an acceptable standard for English traditional dance reinforcing the poor public image of Morris dancing.
Although their stunt backfired, at least Motley were well-meaning. The same cannot be said of 'Scratch Morris' who disrupted another excellent festival at Whitby. In past years their stunts at Whitby have included 'gatecrashing' the 1999 dance finale photo (which was meant to be used as the millennium programme front cover), and offending many by starting to carry a mock coffin in the parade. This year, they invaded the parade, barracked and attempted to trip dancers from another team, and 'gatecrashed' the finale at the bandstand after being explicitly told by the dance coordinator not to perform there. They had clearly set out to annoy Organisers and performers alike.
There is a long history of fooling in Morris and the best teams (Great Western, Windsor etc) can hardly be accused of lacking in humour. Their comedy, however, is an adjunct to the dance. The clown on the high wire is the best acrobat, not someone larking about and bringing the show into disrepute. As the squire of one team said to us ' there are enough people taking the mickey out of Morris dancing without morris dancers doing it'. Every experienced Morris Fool knows that there is a fine line between being funny and silly. This stuff is well the wrong side of the line.
There may be debate about the value of such performances on aesthetic or historical grounds. After all, some of these folks are experienced dancers. They may genuinely believe that what others regard as their tatty kit and their erratic dancing are representations of the anarchic, anti-authority spirit of the "real" Morris tradition. We should try to avoid becoming embroiled in a sterile internal wrangle, and think instead about what the public might want to see. Roy Dommett wisely observed (albeit in a different context) that what matters is not so much what dancers think, but whether they perform what the audience enjoys watching. Judging by the hostile reception they received from the crowd at Whitby, Scratch Morris still have a good deal to learn about pleasing audiences. Be that as it may, their habit of wilfully disrupting performances by booked teams at public dance events is wholly unforgivable.
Best wishes"


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Bernard
Date: 03 Sep 04 - 04:49 PM

Rather pompous... making a valid point, but badly...


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 03 Sep 04 - 04:51 PM

Hmm... at least when Hammersmith disrupt a dance, they do it in full and proper kit, with the good grace to accept it back when it happens to them (even if it's a giant doing it!)

One day, someone is going to turn on the likes of Scratch Morris and it's not going to be pretty or a good advert for Morris dancing.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 04 Sep 04 - 03:29 AM

Just a point,the Motley Morris at Sidmouth is, in fact, very well established and has been running for at least 20 years. It's a good opportunity for people to learn new dances and refresh their knowledge of old ones.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Sep 04 - 06:21 AM

This is extracting the urine, it's not a serious letter, IS IT?


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Wyrd Sister
Date: 04 Sep 04 - 01:50 PM

I'm afraid it is a very serious letter, faithfully transcribed. No catheters inserted.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Folkiedave
Date: 04 Sep 04 - 02:18 PM

The letter was serious and was first published in the Morris Federation newsletter. I was unaware of it being republished elsewhere.

I can only agree with the sentiments wholeheartedly.

When Morris dancing is treated so badly by the media in general (and often deservedly so) then to give people the opportunity to mock it further seems daft to me. Some people treat their traditions seriously (the rest of Western Europe for example)and are treated equally seriously by their media. We often don't, and thus we get the media we deserve.

As for giving people the opportunity to learn new dances I am all in favour. But then to show the public an ill-practised, recently-learnt, dance? Why? Poor singers do it and they remain poor singers.

If people need to behave like prats perhaps they could do it in the privacy of their own homes.

Incidentally the person who wrote the letter was happy to include his name. Why has it been omitted?

Best regards,

Dave Eyre
Sheffield City Morris.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 04 Sep 04 - 09:23 PM

I have gone along to watch the Motley Morris during Sidmouth week for many years, but am unaware of any 'stunt' they were involved in last year. This year I decided to get more involved and took my drum along, and it was great.

I feel that there is a basic right to be an amateur, fundamental to the British psyche - in an environment where there are lots of polished performers, dozens of well rehersed and uniformed groups there has to be a place for those who arrive without a team, without 'the right kit' - and the Motley Morris provides it.

The dancers do go wrong sometimes, they are not always in step and their performance of the steps varies - but why is that a bad thing?

Are we so fixated with Performance Art that the dance is not important? As for 'the audience' - we don't have to accept a TV mentality, total separation between performers and audience is a very modern concept. So is the Morris Ring come to that.

I am a singer - but I do not perform for an audience, I expect the involvement of others, that is Folk.

The Motley Morris is just people being there and doing the dances for the dance - not for the side - not really for the onlookers, just for the joy of it.

They have not disrupted other sides or performers, not that I have ever seen - I have never even seen a dancer get into a pet, or an argument of any kind. I have seen them demonstrating steps, explaining the order of the dance, first one person then another, so as to make the best they can of their diversity.

That is not anarchic behaviour - that bit of the promenade that week is possibly the only bit of truely democratic ground in the country.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 03:52 AM

Actually, I've seen a world reknowned (sp? - it's a bad day) team dance, in a highly public format, using different styles within the same dance. It all depends on whom they learned the dance from. Two part (i.e., not complete) teams combine to form one whole team and they deliberately stick to their own style.

At least Motley admit to being bits of allsorts - that's what Motley means!

LTS


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: jonm
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 04:15 AM

When the morris is done abroad, both local folkies and the general populace love it - it has the tradition and obvious history in the movements and the music, but it also has the vigour, violence and often the precision that European folk dances lack, even though they are taken vety seriously by their public and their media.

On a world-class stage like a major festival, reported in the international press and televised, English traditions need to be presented at the highest possible standard - quality music, precise, vigorous dancing by well-practised sides, where only those teams with a track record of quality performance are invited. Anything less is inviting the press to ridicule the whole folk community.

We need to be taken seriously by audiences, particularly on a major stage, even though I know of no morris man who actually takes himself/herself seriously. It is more than possible to have a laugh while putting on a high-standard show. This is what ALL the other teams at ALL the other festivals were doing!

I dance with three Ring clubs who all put on good shows while having a good time. Unfamiliar dances get practised at pubs with no audience and we turn up the wick for a good crowd. I have also danced or played with half a dozen Open/Federation sides with the same philosophy.

There is a place for the motley morris - it's good fun, but, since it's not done for the benefit of the audience, why not do it away from crowds? I have danced with scratch teams in the past most enjoyably, although they were generally made up of dancers with enough ability and experience to put on a credible showing even when performing dances for the first time (!) - and we all made the effort to turn up in kit!

The Hinckley Bullockers go out on the Saturday nearest to Plough Monday. The dances are simple, most men have only practised them once beforehand, the kit is basic but distinctive (most men could knock it up from what's already in the average morris wardrobe) and the performances are entertaining and anarchic, increasingly so as the beer wears on. Dancing is done to small audeinces who enjoy the anarchy, but recognise from the "team" element that this is intentional. Any old scratch team with random kit or no kit doesn't have this - and the Bullockers are performing in small villages.

The One Day Wonders are another side - they get together on a Friday night once a year, seven dancers and a musician, and an appointed foreman teaches half a dozen dances nobody has ever done before. On the Saturday, the team goes out and performs those dances at pre-booked venues. The "buzz" of the unfamiliar is there, but the standard of dancing is extremely high.

Dancing unfamiliar dances with new friends is good fun and most enjoyable, but it's place is in massed morris or away from critical audiences. On an international stage, the only way to give credibility to the tradition (something we need if we are going to attract new recruits) is for performances to be of the highest possible standard.

My equally opinionated two penn'orth.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 08:14 AM

"Fifty years on and the Morris Travellor seems set to provide comfortable, reliable transport for some years to come. It's been said before that the Morris Minor was a vehicle ahead of its time. Who would have believed fifty years ago that we'd be talking of the Traveller as everyday transport in the 21st century"

So please don't scratch the sides respect them.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 08:19 AM

Readers of Practical Classics magazine have voted on their top 100 favorite cars, and top of the pile came the Morris Minor beating other favourites such as the E-type and the MGB.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Folkiedave
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 08:26 AM

Ann,

This basic right to be an amateur that you believe in - who are the professionals?

Dave


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: ced2
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 02:10 PM

Do scratch morris sides have fleas? If so I really pity them, in addition to the leg-bell affliction to have fleas must drive them to distraction. Come to think of it does that not explain something?


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: M'Grath of Altcar
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 03:08 PM

Not many morris tunes are minor


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST,nikkih
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 07:38 PM

when I first went to Whitby the scratch morris was made up of morrismen who had turned up without the rest of their side/team and who wanted to dance. They got together and made up a team for the week and performed Cotswold morris. They were all good dancers, enjoyed the week and the audience showed their appreciation with a generous contribution to the 'bag'. In recent years it has become something else that is not as well received and is at times as previously mentioned an embarressment to the morris world.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 08:09 PM

The professionals?

Anyone who wants to be - apparently.

It seems that these days there is no room for doing things on an ordinary level, just for the enjoyment of it.

Surely at Sidmouth, where there are places people can go and pay money to see morris sides go through their hopefully polished and perfect performances, there should be somewhere for the waifs and strays who just like dancing.

Anyone offended by the happy souls they find dancing or playing for one hour (6.30pm onwards opposite The Marine)need only shield their eyes and pass on.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 08:16 PM

I'm not really sure why this letter has been stuck into this forum. I don't actually see it as being relevant to anything. The letter itself is certainly either misinformed or mischievous and if it had been sent here by the original author (I don't know who that was) I would have regarded it as Trolling.
I assume that our respected Wyrd Sister is NOT the author of the original letter.

The letter appears to have the purpose of denigrating two morris dance teams. One which appears at Sidmouth Folk Festival and calls itself "Motley Morris" or something similar. The other being Whitby Scratch.
I have never been in a position (due to either finances or holiday allocation from work ) to be able to get to Sidmouth, so I don't know who dances there. I do, however, know a lot about Whitby Folk Week, as I have not missed a year there since 1981.
I arrived in Whitby the year I had finished University and made friends with an assortment of people. That first year I was invited to join the Friday end of festival parade by the musicians accompanying a country Dance display team. I can't after all this time recall what the dancers were called, but the musicians who made me welcome were Mick Peat and Barry Renshaw of the Ripley Wayfarers.
The following year I had started dancing with Boars Head Morrismen of Bradford. Before going to Folk Week, I was advised to take my morris kit along with me. I did so, and found myself dancing with Whitby Scratch.
I could at this point give you a brief history of Whitby Scratch Morris Team, but 22 years with the same dance side does not fit in a single paragraph. In fact, it would not even start to be covered by a pamphlet. It has covered friendships, marriages, births, deaths (Not ALL of these during the actual week), floods, scorching sunshine and some of the moments in my life which I am most proud of, in particular some of the best Morris Dancing I have ever witnessed. I have watched the children of Scratch morris men grow to be adults with children of their own.
One thing which the Whitby Scratch Morris Dance Team is NOT is Ad-Hoc. We have a long history of organisation and performing in public, in fact we have danced during Folk Week more frequently than any other dance team I am aware of. Our aims and goals in life are to entertain an audience and put on a show. Something which many "dance sides" do not do.
We are a "Scratch" team in the definition that we round-up stray moris dancers and invite them to dance out with us, but the core of the team are people who have danced together for up to two decades, which is considerably longer than the members of some "Booked" dance sides.
(THUS ENDS PART 1)
(several other bits to follow!!!!)
Quack!!
Geoff the (Whitby Scratch)Duck.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 08:37 PM

Whitby Scratch (History - Part 2)
When I first danced with Whitby Scratch I was a member of Boars Head Morrismen (Bradford). We wore blue tabards and a 3 cornered hat.
I danced with the scratch wearing a 3 cornered hat and blue tabard.
Other people out dancing that year belonged to different morris teams. They did not wear 3 cornered hats. They danced dances I didn't know and if they did a dance I knew from Boars Head repertoire, they did a different version of it.
It didn't matter!
The audience - once it was explained to them - could understand that people who dance with an assortment of different dance teams should not be expected to do steps in the same way.
What the audience did appreciate was the fact that we were performing for THEM. We were not hiding away in a darkened room "playing with ourselves" we were out trying our best to entertain them.
Years have passed, and these days we have our own "team colours", but our agenda is still to dance to the best of our ability and to entertain an audience. Some people seem to have a problem that our crowds enjoy what we do. I cannot understand why! Perhaps it is because our collection is no longer handed to the organisers of the folk festival. It buys T-shirts for the dancers instead.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 08:42 PM

It's getting VERY late - further parts to follow another day.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 08:51 PM

What if Morris' sides don't itch?

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 05:01 AM

We used to itch when we spent the week in tents on a temporary campsite with very limited washing facilities. Things are not so bad since I have been in cottages with proper baths and showers.
We did try to sell a "Scratch and Sniff" book one year, but there were no takers...
Quack!!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Sttaw Legend
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 06:56 AM

The Morris Traveller had automatic de-lousing fitted as standard.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 01:35 PM

I'm a little unsure where the idea that the Whitby Scratch Morris is not well received. They draw an audience wherever they go and they all seem to enjoy what they are watching. Obviously since meeting Geoff my involvement with the Scratch has changed from audience to participant as a member of the band but all I see is a lot of people getting a lot of pleasure out of watching some extremely good dancing!


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 02:03 PM

Why on earth has this thread been started. Some one obviously has an axe to grind but this is not the place to do it. The various joke posts (NOT malicious may I add) have tried to ease the tension.

"Wyrd Sister" you've stated you are not the author so WHY put it in, it appears just to cause ill feeling which you have certainly achieved, if you have a gripe, pick up the phone or use PM.

I am not a follower of Morris but I thought it was for fun and entertainment, I was not aware it had become a den of political intrigue and one up-manship.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Folkiedave
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 03:16 PM

Ann,

If by professionals well-practised sides who perform for the benefit of the public then say so.

If by amateur you mean sides that haven't bothered to practise together performing for the benefit of the public then say so.

GeoffTD, can you address the specific complaints since here is one side of the story taken from the first posting.......

"In past years their stunts at Whitby have included 'gatecrashing' the 1999 dance finale photo (which was meant to be used as the millennium programme front cover), and offending many by starting to carry a mock coffin in the parade. This year, they invaded the parade, barracked and attempted to trip dancers from another team, and 'gatecrashed' the finale at the bandstand after being explicitly told by the dance coordinator not to perform there".

So did Scratch Morris with its long history gatecrash the finale photo; did they carry a coffin and if so why; and did they in 2003 invade the parade, barrack etc....and were they asked not to perform somewhere and then do so? And was it funny, serious or what?

I am happy to read both sides of the story.

Dave
www.collectorsfolk.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Sep 04 - 03:38 AM

Well their's a good bit to go at their, the plot thickens, any answers anyone please?

I will be looking at Morris teams in a whole different light.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 07 Sep 04 - 01:19 PM

Hi Folks,

Sorry to play Johnny-come-lately, but I've been off the net for the past few days, and unable to contribute to this thread until now. May I please make a couple points, and try to clear the air a bit?

First point. Although I didn't write the letter which started this controversy, the author did consult me during the drafting, because I also witnessed the events it describes. The concern which underlies this letter is shared by a considerable number of people. Some Mudcatters may believe this concern is misplaced, but please accept that it is genuine.

Second Point. I am entirely in favour of informal, impromptu, or "scratch" Morris teams performing in public. I think they are a Good Thing, and should be encouraged. So do the organisers of the Sidmouth and Whitby festivals, who clearly state that any such teams are very welcome to participate – PROVIDED that they do not interrupt, or disrupt, the official dance programme. This is the key issue.

Now for the air-clearing.

The Sidmouth incident took place during a programmed display in the garden behind the Anchor inn, in front of an audience of at least 200 people. The headline act was an excellent dance team from Spain, who put on a stunning show. Supporting them was a bog-standard English Morris team, trying hard to perform their dances as well as possible for the enjoyment of the punters.

Motley Morris turned up uninvited, just before the start, and asked if they could dance as a part of this show: the MC said "yes".    In fact, Motley were not at all bad, as scratch sides go. Most of them could dance a bit, and quite a few seemed to know the particular dance they were supposed to be doing (though not all of them knew the same version of it). But inevitably, their sets were fairly ragged, and with most of them wearing ordinary beach clothes, rather than Morris kit, the overall impression was fairly shambolic. On the promenade, or out in the street, a performance like this would have been perfectly appropriate. But as part of the official programme of an international festival, it was, I believe, out of place.

As regards the Whitby incident – well, there is a long history of scratch teams dancing there, and I'm all in favour of them continuing to do so. What kit they wear, and what style they dance in, is entirely their own business. But gate-crashing official festival events and deliberately disrupting the dancing of other teams is not acceptable, and they should stop doing it. End of story.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Wyrd Sister
Date: 07 Sep 04 - 02:29 PM

A few clarifications: I am not the author of the letter. I did not include the author's name as I wanted comment without any side issues arising. I did not wish to gripe or cause ill-feeling or troll or other nasty things. I was aware of this letter but few of the other people I spoke to in Whitby this year had seen, heard of or read it. I thought that since some of them were those being written about it was only right they have the opportunity to do so, and to reply if they wished.
If I have mistaken the nature of 'discussion forum' so be it.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Les from Hull
Date: 07 Sep 04 - 02:40 PM

I've always thought that Whitby Scratch Morris were one of the most entertaining sides that I've seen at Whitby. Years ago (when it was an EFDSS festival) I was always happy to contribute to their bag, and they easily collected more money for the Festival than any other team.

Later on, I was happy to join them regularly as a musician. I'm not particularly a Cotswold player but I'm happy to contribute both in and out of pubs to what is still a very entertaining team, who welcome new dancers every year and give them a chance to dance.

The comment about a hostile crowd is simply untrue. Whitby Scratch Morris get better crowd reaction than any other dance team I've seem in Whitby.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Folkiedave
Date: 07 Sep 04 - 03:06 PM

I do think it is a legitimate item for discussion for Mudcat. And I do know the author and I have asked him to comment - unfortunately it is probably his busiest time of the year,,,so it may be a week or so.

Dave


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: alanww
Date: 07 Sep 04 - 04:06 PM

Oh dear! Yet another Mudcat thread which is too big for its boots, fuelled by mischievous comments by unnamed GUEST(s?)! If there is a scratch morris side at a particular festival, which is recognised by the management of that festival, and it arguably oversteps the mark, then it up to the festival management to sort it out with the organisers of the scratch team! And that should be an end to it!
It certainly does nobody any good for Mudcatters to pontificate about it, thus generating bad feeling all round, which seems to be exactly what the unnamed GUEST(s?) seem to want!
"Dancing and singing, bell ringing ...!"
Alan


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 07 Sep 04 - 06:49 PM

Hmm Folkiedave has got entirely the wrong end of the stick.

I don't mean anything to do with the public at all in any way -

Perhaps if I use an analogy - perhaps tennis would be a good one.

During Wimbledon there are the top players - battling it out after practising for hours every week, dedicating their lives to being the best, perfecting serves and buying the ultimate in top technology rackets, wearing whites with a discrete but visible to TV audiences logo.

They have an audience, but they don't really care, the audience is not important to them. They are there to be the best and would probably not be bothered if there was no one in the stands - in fact they might prefer it, less distraction.

All over the country there are parks with tennis courts, and there the amateurs meet to play. They go and play because they like to - they meet people and get a bit of exercise out in the fresh air. The next people on the court might turn up and watch, the last people on the court might stay for a while, passers by might pause, there might even be applause, but the players are there to play the game, because they like to. There might be some who are young and inexperienced, or old and getting slow - the youngsters might run and get the ball, the old might explain top spin or tactics, or offer to umpire.

Do you see what I mean? It is the interaction, the doing of the thing - and 'the public' are really irrelevant.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: jonm
Date: 08 Sep 04 - 03:01 AM

I'm not quite sure I agree with the tennis analogy, it's more a question of concerts vs. busking:

If you have paid for tickets to a public performance, your expectation is to see the best possible show. This is certainly what the tennis players provide, but their lack of interest in the audience (Ilie Nastase excepted!) is due to the competitive nature of the activity. If you go to a concert, you expect the performers to be well turned out and well practiced, entertaining to the best of their ability.

Busking is done to a transient audience - if you don't like it, you move on, you are in no position to demand your money back or to express disappointment with what you witnessed. If the buskers are poorly turned out and less well-practised, that is to be expected.

It is also the case that many impromptu street shows are more entertaining than formal concerts.

My issue with scratch morris teams is if they cross the boundary and participate in formal events where public expectation is particularly high. I must say, I have danced with many scratch teams at festivals and morris events, we have often outshone the "official" teams and have put on a highly entertaining show, but on none of those occasions did we try to gatecrash formal shows uninvited.

IF the Motley and Whitby scratch teams are guilty as charged, then while it is true that this is an issue the festival organisers must deal with, it is also the case that they are opening the whole of the morris to unjust criticism and/or ridicule (i.e. for the standard of what they do, not the nature).


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 08 Sep 04 - 05:01 AM

Oh wow

Turning up at a scheduled event in a pub garden and being not bad at dancing but wearing ordinary clothes!! - I can see how that would deface the whole of Cotswold morris in the eyes of The Public.

I do find it amusing in a way - that some people can only thing of doing dancing or playing as something with an audience and money involved.

There must be other people who do folk things because that is what they do, surely?

Anne


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST,Jess A
Date: 08 Sep 04 - 06:18 AM

Anne,

nobody, as far as I can see from reading all the previous posts, has been suggesting that there is no place for Motley Morris or other scratch teams, or that the only reason for doing morris is for an audience and money. YES there are plenty of people who do all sorts of folk things because that is what they do for their own enjoyment, and that is fine.

BUT

plenty of people involved in morris are distressed by the fact that in England, morris is often seen as something to ridicule or be embarrassed about, whereas in other countries national dance teams are accorded a lot of respect. This may not be something that bothers you personally, but it does bother me!

When you put a scratch side (who by their own admission are just doing it for fun and by their nature can't be _that_ tight dancing-wise because they don't practice together) side by side with a booked team who have been working for months to polish their show, you are inviting comparison. Your average non-folky audience member might easily go away thinking 'if that is my national dance it doesn't look too slick compared with the romanian/swedish/tibetan team, oh dear, how embarrassing, is that the best the english tradition can offer?' thus reinforcing the idea that morris is something done by a bunch of enthusiasts for their own pleasure and not something that your average non-folky english person might want to admire or be proud of.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Sep 04 - 06:58 AM

"if that is my national dance it doesn't look too slick"
Now you are extracting the urine, come of cloud nine and stop trying to be elitist about people dressing up and dancing with sticks, which I dont have a problen with if thats what they want to do. It's not a national disaster, we dont have to call out the troops if they have the wrong clothes on, or indeed no clothes at all.
Just enjoy you are looseing grip on reality.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Sep 04 - 07:08 AM

Intresting thread creep
But are not a lot of the scratch team regulars of The Tap & Spile wich has an intresting thread elsewhere


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Sep 04 - 07:17 AM

they all need to grow up
stop being so elitist
and start to enjoy life


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 08 Sep 04 - 08:23 AM

I am known to sing in the Tap and Spile on occasion. My family are often with me. Les from Hull sometimes sings in the Tap and Spile. At other times in the Endeavour or the Black Horse. Apart from that I can't think of anyone else from Whitby Scratch who does anything other than pass through the Tap in the way every other morris team passes through when not dancing. (obviously this makes me part of a conspiracy to make folk elitist and exclusive??? I somehow think not!).

FolkieDave -
A coffin... belongs to a local celebrity name of Count Dracula. It was first seen being carried through the streets of Whitby carried by a number of men in black. I think it was advertising the Dracula Experience. For two or three years someone from the Scratch borrowed it from the Count and toted it during the final parade.
At no point has ANYONE suggested that it might have caused any offence, and I would suggest that any such suggestion is simply manufactured to suit somebody's attempt to denigrate our presence.
Personally I never really saw much point to the coffin. It took too much effort to carry and prevented at least 4 of the crew from dancing. That said, it is more appropriate to Whitby's legend of literature than anything else in the procession.

Tripping of dancers :-
NEVER. We are dancers and know the problems which can be caused by a fall during dancing. Nobody in the Scratch - or any other dance team I can imagine, would deliberately cause another dancer to fall. Mishaps and accidents happen, but no morrisman or woman would EVER deliberately cause one.

Right - I've got work to do, so may return to this discussion at some later point.
Quack!
Geoff.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Les from Hull
Date: 08 Sep 04 - 08:45 AM

Start to enjoy life? Actually that's why I play with Whitby Scratch and sing and listen in the Tap 'n' Spile! Isn't it elitist to exclude people? We welcome any (male) Cotswold dancer and any musician and I've met lots of new friends this way.

Geoff's right - I never saw any Scratch member tripping dancers. I've only seen two dance team members who seemed upset with Scratch's attending the final dance display. On each occasion I thought they were having a laugh as it seemed so out of character. For the rest of it it seems that the dancers were glad to meet up with old friends from the dance fraternity.

It does seem odd that Whitby Scratch Morris are only now getting criticised for doing exactly the same things they've been doing for more than 20 years.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Folkiedave
Date: 08 Sep 04 - 02:42 PM

Ann,

If you feel that audience is irrelevant than do it in the privacy of your own home. To me it is essential - though I have been known to perform in front of a man and a dog. They got as much of the "show" as the ten thousand did on another occasion.

Guest, Jess A has it precisely to my way of thinking.

Geoff - the original comments were:

"In past years their stunts at Whitby have included 'gatecrashing' the 1999 dance finale photo (which was meant to be used as the millennium programme front cover),

Did you?


and offending many by starting to carry a mock coffin in the parade.

I can see how this was an attempt at something though clealry not everyone appreciated it.....

This year, they invaded the parade, barracked and attempted to trip dancers from another team,

I accept that you didn't attempt to trip but what about the rest?

and 'gatecrashed' the finale at the bandstand after being explicitly told by the dance coordinator not to perform there".

Did you gatecrash the Bandstand. Were you told not to perform there?

I am not having a go at Scratch/Motley or any other side. I happen to think that well-practised morris is great to look at and that the opposite is also true. I am therefore happy to support the original letter writer in his general contention.

As for street clothes, no objection to them whatsoever and nowhere have I suggested such. Tyler's Men danced precisely like that and I loved them.

But if the original complaint is true then IMHO there is a case to answer...... but no compulsion....

Dave Eyre
www.collectorsfolk.co.uk
Sheffield City Morris


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST,Geoff the Duck - don't know where my cookie
Date: 08 Sep 04 - 03:52 PM

FolkieDave - Get a life.
I am NOT going to justify myself in the face of made-up accusations.
Whitby Scratch ARE and ALWAYS HAVE BEEN a part of Folk Week. We have ALWAYS been part of the final procession and have ALWAYS danced in the final dance display.
On certain years we have carried and escorted the Garland, collected officially and maintained order within the proceedings. We have asked no special treatment for these services to the festival and quite frankly have received none. Last year during the final approaches from before the Pier Hotel to th bandstand I did not see much of the procession. There was an obnoxious person driving a white van who was attempting t run into the collectors and the musicians belonging to the last team in the procession. I had to stand between him and them as a barrier, to give them safe space without him accelerating sharply up to them as he wes doing when I became aware of the situation. I also took the abuse from him after I very conspicuously borrowed pen and paper and wrote down his registration number plus description of the van and driver, so that if he did actually run over anyone I would be able to give the police full details.

A couple of years back the parade was cancelled with no given notice because some dance team complained that it was raining on that afternoon. There were several groups who had NOT been informed of this unprecedented decision. (I can recall very few occasions during my 22 years at the festival when it has not rained through the final procession. ) One of these groups who had turned up was the Childrens Orchestra, who in the light of poor weather had acquired Kazoos instead of their violins etc. They were very disappointed about the cancellation, and also were ready to process. Nobody had the honour or guts to actually arrive at the Crescent and speak to hem personally - all was via hear-say. I was asked by one of the parents if I could help, so did with pleasure. I spoke to the police officer in attendance, and he decided that he could not justify closing roads, but he would help us carry on. As a result I led the procession of children from the crescent to the spa.
Perhaps some of the people who claim to be running bits of the festival should take as much responsibility for the people who attend it as those in the Scratch do.
Subject closed.
Quack!!
Geoff the Indignant Duck.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 08 Sep 04 - 07:18 PM

Sigh.

Folkiedave - Again you totally miss the point - have you ever heard the suggestion that men came from another planet? Not the mars venus thing. My personal suspicion is that men came on a club trip from Alpha Centaurii and got so drunk they missed the bus back.

I do folk - me and other people altogether singing, playing music dancing - can I explain it any simpler?

I am not claiming Copper Family status but my father's father played little devil doubt in a mumming play - somewhere around Youlgrave in Derbyshire I think, my mother's father was a good Irish tenor when not drunk, my mother's mother had a tendency to sing quite a lot and so do several of my aunts - my mother always sang around the house, but she is gone now - my dad played an autoharp in his youth but seemed to take no injury from it, and we had a piano in the house for my sister to play - I always favoured more portable instruments.

I do sing at home - and in the car, and in the garden - and when I go out it is to the folk club and I go to Sidmouth, even if only for one day in the year, every year for the last 26 years - so I can sing with other singers - does a pattern begin to emerge?

This year I took my drum and went to find the Motley Morris - and I bought a whittle - one of those three hole whistles. The fun is in joining in.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Folkiedave
Date: 08 Sep 04 - 07:37 PM

Ann

I didn't write "the audience is irrelevant" you did.

I question that. Simple enough. I happen to think that people often (but not always) do dance to entertain an audience. It isn't compulsory, but if you do it for an audience then to my mind you respect them and do it to the best of your ability, practised and together. "Scratch" IMHO is not really good enough. Otherwise you do it in the presence of consenting adults.

Geoff - I can only take the diatribe to mean that despite all your good works, that Scratch Morris did do those things.

Geoff - you are correct - subject closed. Unlike most who have written to this discussion (and thanks for that Anne I really do appreciate that you do it too)I am happy to sign my name to my opinions. As I always do.


Dave Eyre
Sheffield City Morris and Collectors Folk.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 09 Sep 04 - 07:15 PM

Who is Morris, and why should we scratch his sides?


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Sep 04 - 05:02 AM

I'm back from my hols to this bloody hell !


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: AggieD
Date: 10 Sep 04 - 06:46 AM

I have kept my silence so far, but our unamed GUEST has made my blood boil totally.

Les from Hull, if it isn't elitist, then why only male dancers?

Anne if you are involved with a regular team you will surely know the hours of practice that are put in by every side, mostly trying to perfect what they do. Many teams do go out & regularly dance to one man & a dog & it makes little difference to them as they do enjoy what they are doing & do so as much for their own pleasure as for a display. However I know how embarassed many teams are by scratch sides who insist on dancing in very public arenas, no matter how good the individual dancers are, they are still shambolic because they never practice together.

As FolkieDave has pointed out Morris & for that matter most folk music & dancing is ridiculed by the general public & the media, & many people have been striving for years to pull it out of the mire & into a respected form of entertainment.

While I do feel that people should enjoy the paticipation of all types of folk music & dance, I feel that if we as a genre are presenting ourselves to the world, then we shouldn't on very public occasions present ourselves as a load of bunglers. I am sick of people taking Morris as a joke. In England we have no other form of National dance & Morris is the nearest we come to it, so if you want to go out in a scratch side, then at least make the effort to make sure that you have some kind of uniformity in both what you wear & the performance that you give.

Angela


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 10 Sep 04 - 07:02 AM

All fascinating stuff! How come Hull folk club hasn't got it's own Morris team then chaps? Fancy starting one Les? jOOhn?


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 10 Sep 04 - 07:08 AM

Or at least erect a small billboard explaining just why you are not dressed all the same, and maybe doing slightly different versions of the steps, and just what a Scratch Morris Side is - and why you do it just for the fun of doing the dancing....

I had a Morris Major for a while once, and I parked badly and scratched the side...


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Sttaw Legend
Date: 10 Sep 04 - 07:26 AM

It's really good to see everyone enjoying themselves, having fun doing what they want to do.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 10 Sep 04 - 07:30 AM

Good morning Dave, you're a nifty little mover aren't you? Fancy signing up for our new Morris team? I'm up for it.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 10 Sep 04 - 07:33 AM

Time to sign off and bid farewell to all the friends I've met on this thread.

To Folkiedave - thanks for your support and your words of wisdom. By the way, I saw Sheffield City Morris at Warwick this summer, and was impressed by the dancing and the kit – those braces are fab. Also saw the Sheffield Giants at Whitby a couple of years ago – wow, what a spectacle! (But it must be devilish hot inside those costumes.)

To Ann Croucher – I think I understand your point of view (even if my ancestors did come from Alpha Centauri). But I'm not sure that you've fully understood mine.   I believe that free-form dancing to please oneself, AND organised dancing to please an audience, are BOTH good things.   But I also think that (usually) they don't mix well.    I love cauliflower cheese … and I love vanilla ice-cream with chocolate sauce… but not at the same time.   I don't want to pour melted cheese on your ice cream … please don't pour chocolate sauce on my cauliflower.

To Geoff the Duck – I've enjoyed your banjo playing, and Mrs Duck's singing on numerous occasions, so have no wish to fall out with you. Moreover, I have heard from several independent sources that Whitby Scratch Morris were at one time an impressive outfit, who made a valuable contribution to the Festival. However, I can only judge them on what I've seen over the past few years, and have to confess that watching their dancing has given me very little pleasure as yet.   But taste is a personal matter – maybe they're doing it right, and I'm just a nit-picking old curmudgeon. Anyhow, if they enjoy their dancing, and have an audience that enjoys watching them do it, then jolly good luck to them.   

As to the events at Whitby in 2003 - well, I was there, and saw them happen. Some members of Scratch Morris did gate-crash a spot which was supposed to be part of the official dance programme, and did refuse to move on when politely requested to do so.   And some members of Scratch Morris (or persons masquerading as such) did attempt to disrupt the parade. Some of them did physically harass members of one particular team (against whom they seemed to have a grudge). This could quite easily have caused an accident.   Now it may be that these trouble-makers were not 'proper' members of Scratch Morris at all (it's difficult to tell when the team doesn't have a recognisable kit of its own). Nevertheless, immediately after the parade ended one of the most prominent figures in Scratch Morris came over and made a formal apology for their behaviour to members of the team who had been victimised. I rest my case.

With goodwill to all, and malice towards none, farewell and Wassail!

Mike Sutton: Hexham Morris Men


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Sttaw Legend
Date: 10 Sep 04 - 07:35 AM

I've got the figure for it, and could make a tankard from an old fairy liquid bottle, count me in Ted


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 10 Sep 04 - 01:21 PM

Sorry Mike but we were there too and at no time did the Scratch gatecrash anything as they were part of the official parade and also part of the official dancing at the bandstand as they have been for the past 20 or more years. There is often light hearted banter between dance sides and I saw nothing that was more than this or could at anytime have caused an accident. As to recognizable kit - the Scratch all wear the same kit on Friday as t shirts are printed for the purpose. The one exception to this is Geoff but then noone would recognize him in a t shirt :0)


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST,Roger Kennington
Date: 11 Sep 04 - 07:44 AM

Just returned from a week away to pick up on this debate. I was the author of the original letter to the Fed and Ring although as I made clear I was encouraged to write by members of other sides and festival organisers. My opinions are clear in the original letter so I needn't reiterate them.. although I suggest that some of the later contribitors go back and have another look.

Regarding the principle of whether informal teams should dance.. that is entirely a matter of opinion. Mine is that it is fine as long as they put on a decent show in kit and do not disrupt the official proceedings.

As far as Scratch Morris at Whitby are concerned I think Geoff's and Les' memories are failing them. I did not see the coffin incident myself but here are a few facts which I observed first hand.

Fact one: In 1999 they pushed themselves into the grand finale photograph at the Bandstand. This was meant to be the cover photograph of the next year's milleniuem programme. I know for a fact that the dance organiser (R.Mc) was absolutely furious about this.

Fact two: At least twice Scratch Morris have been dancing at official venues and run over into the time when the booked sides should be dancing (if it has happened to us twice then presumably they have done it to other teams also).

Fact three: in the parade in 2003 Scratch Morris ran ahead of the parade, cut through the Ship pub and tried to barge into the parade in front of us. When we refused to let them in one member of Scratch attempted to trip up one member of our team (BB).

Fact four: at the end of the parade they were specifically told not to dance in the finale by the dance coordinator (RU) but continued to do so. This not only upset her but angered a number of members of other teams (specifically Barley Break and Rivington). A former dance coordinator (SA) remonstrated with Scratch's ringleader (JMc) who then went round the back of the Bandstand apologising to all the teams.

Again it is clearly a matter of opinion at to whether dancing in shorts, cardboard hats and using balloons is a good thing or not. But willfully disrupting the efforts of others teams and the organiser is not.

I see some of these folks at the Sheffied Carols. Can I make a suggestion. We'll all take some red noses this year. Just as Will Noble gets up to sing the Mistletoe Bough I'll nod. We'll all whip the noses on and break into Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. All in favour say 'aye'.

Yours with bells on and proud of it

Roger Kennington
Hexham Morrismen


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Les from Hull
Date: 11 Sep 04 - 01:14 PM

I'm sorry to hear about your sense of humour by-pass operation, Rog. I hope it can be soon put right again. You'll appreciate that you've upset a lot of people by publishing your article like this without having the courtesy to speak with us.

Did anyone explain to Scratch Morris about the Millenium photograph? Hm, I thought not.

Whenever Scratch Morris has shared a dance site with an 'official' side, we've reached an arrangement with the sides dancing there. I've never seen an 'official' side who have danced after us wait for the crowd we collected to diperse so that they can gather an 'official' crowd.

So one of Scratch Morris attempted to trip one of your team. If this is the case I apologise unreservedly. But the way it came out in your acticle it seems it was one of our main occupations. You said 'they' and 'dancers'.

You might have an objection to cardboard hats, but was there any need to jump up and down on one in the Tap and Spile long after the dancing was over? It was you wasn't it?

One thing I will not apologise about. Scratch Morris gives an opportunity for members of other sides, or dancers and musicians of sides which have disbanded, to go out and dance and play and be entertaining. And they can be joined by other musicians who don't play Cotswold so often to play for them. And hopefully this may encourage people to join an established side. Who knows?

The next time that Whitby Scratch Morris upset you in some way, come and have a word. Don't let your anger rule you.

Les Ward


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 11 Sep 04 - 01:24 PM

Well said, Les! In my few years with the Scratch Morris (band) there have been a number of times when 'official' sides have arrived as we are finishing a set and have been only to happy to wait a moment or two and have on numerous occasions invited the Scratch to remain and join them. Only on one occasion to my knowledge has there been an objection and this was by someone who walked into the middle of the Scratch dancing and pointed to his watch saying loudly 'there's an official dance spot here in two minutes'! I don't know who that was - perhaps you do!


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST,Peter from Essex
Date: 11 Sep 04 - 04:47 PM

Having read both sides in this thread the words "pot" and "kettle" come to mind.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST,Flabber from Gasted
Date: 12 Sep 04 - 02:11 AM

Having read through the thread I think their's a touch of jealousy towards the Scratch Morris teams for some reason, maybe they are having more fun, heaven forbid. Please correct me if I've come to the wrong conclusion, I'm merely an observer in this interesting debate.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST,Roger Kennington
Date: 12 Sep 04 - 09:12 AM

I think it is regrettable that this stuff actually got on to the web from an in house newsletter discussion. I had no part in that and was not consulted. As we know from work, e mail diplomacy can become unnecessarily intemperate. Can I just assure folks that our sense of humour is still well intact but stuff that week was way out of order. It was taken up with the perceived leader of Scratch Morris in the manner described and he subsequently apologised to all the dance teams (not just us). I have previously had perfectly amicable discussions with friends in Scratch Morris and no doubt will do so in future.

I have no doubt that these discussions will continue hopefully over a pint somewhere. In the meantime I am happy to respond to private e mails (see the original article or via our website) or phone calls. Certainly no more comments from me in this my first foray into any online chat room.

Cheers

Roger K


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 12 Sep 04 - 09:23 AM

I agree Roger this would have been far best left to private debate over a pint or three. Let's not let it spoil any future events.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Sep 04 - 09:34 AM

I think they've decided allready on future events, Scratch Morris and the like aren't in them! not up to scratch, not as good as the "professionals"!!


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: selby
Date: 12 Sep 04 - 09:52 AM

Roger
Please continue to discuss this issue, this as far as I and many others are concerned is what mudcat is about, discusion!!!!!
To continue with the discussion, as I remember it many years ago any morris man whose side was not dancing at whitby brought his kit and danced with the scratch in his sides kit but still wore his sides kit with pride, this was a colurful and proffesional experiance. As I percive it now the ethos of the scratch side has changed in so much as the individuals do not dance in their sides kit but in "civvys" (some collectors would argue that this is the correct way)with a scratch T shirt. The question to the scratch people is, should the side go back to what I believe was the origanal concept of dancing in your sides kit?
Keith


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Les from Hull
Date: 12 Sep 04 - 10:11 AM

Keith - that's a very valid statement. I too remember when dancers danced in their own side's kit, and indeed it was a very colourful experience. It also reminded other sides and the general public that our dancers were not just a crowd scraped together from the streets. I'm not sure how many of our regular dancers have kit but I also wish they'd wear it.

On the Friday we appear in matching Tshirts that we ordered and paid for on the Monday. These have a humourous theme, for instance the top hats that received such a bad press were related to Martin Scorcese's film Gangs of New York, which to us became Martin Scoresby's film Gangs of Whitby. Most of our dancers now wear Scratch shirts from a previous year, but to people looking from a distance just look like any other Tshirts.

It's probably not so important for musicians, and very few of L'Orchestre Super Scratch are Cotswold musicians (or even musicians!) so we just turn up in summat colourful until we Tshirt up on the Friday.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST,Fritha!
Date: 12 Sep 04 - 03:37 PM

Well i have been going to Whitby Folk Week since '91 since i was born that is! This meaning i am one of the few "young" folkies. People are always complaining about there not being enough young people being involved or even knowing about folk. Scratch Morris is a good way of getting those much needed young people involved, it gives them something fun to watch. Morris is fine yeh it's some odd but normal part of my life but it get's so boring (no offence meant) and so Scratch Morris uplifts it a bit and it's a laugh. It's what young people want to see not middle aged men jumping about with hankies boring people we want to see some fun. SO they shouldn't have "gate crashed" but who cares since when were folk festivals so uptight. Let people get involved. As long as they consult some one on the management team that's all that really matters if they're hopeless well good for them it's given us something to laugh at and it shows anyone can do it, whether they're good or not they've shown bravery and courage and guts which is more than a lot of us! I danced with a well known clog team (the Newcastle Cloggies) since i could stand up and there were many festivals they would perform at when there were loads of them but all of a sudden people left for one reason or another and they didnt perform. I currently dance with a rapper team at school. We're taught by Ricky Forster of the High Spen Blue Diamonds, the world of rapper owes an awful lot to him and yet my team are still not that great but we go out and perform when ever we can. We've danced at the festival in Hexham for young people for the last 2 years. This year we totally mucked our first spot up but has that stopped us... has it hell we're just as strong now if not stronger, we got back into the step prefectly fine and then carried on from there in the same spot we lost a pair of glasses, a badge and a sash but our Tommy got them out of the way. After the dance people came up to us including David Oliver who was playing for us and they all commented on how good we were by carrying on a lot of people at tha point would just have ran off stage but no not us we carried on and thats what made the show and my day just knowing we could do that. I have been doing rapper since i was 3 and so i knew i would manage if we went wrong however 2 members of the team had only been dancing a month and they still did it. My point is that whether your good or not get out there and do your thing. It shows what a good performer you are and it entertains people!


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 12 Sep 04 - 03:49 PM

I think the Whitby Scratch have a long future to match their long past. They do ensure that the dancing is good - they couldn't get away with the fooling if it wasn't! As to wearing of kit - well I don't think it makes that much difference and since Geoff doesn't have one anyway he wouldn't look any different (probably a little LESS colourful if in a kit!!!) Just a small point - if Scratch were told or asked not to dance at the bandstand last year it was not passed on to the dancers. They have been part of the parade and dancing at the bandstand for over 20 years! I just hope this will all end amicably and everyone can enjoy the festivals in their own way without unpleasantness on anyones part.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Folkiedave
Date: 12 Sep 04 - 05:53 PM

I did promise myself not to contribute to this thread but then I came across this - talking about Sidmouth...........

There's always a scratch team here that just dances, who don't practice together, just meet for the week. And I think it's the worst damage you can do to Morris dancing. It's the end of the day, it's ten o'clock, they've all had a few drinks, they think it's great, they're having a lovely time - and I'm sure they are - but it doesn't look spectacular or impressive or even fun. It just looks a mess, and I think that's the worst aspect of Morris dancing, and that's what I would hope people deal with. 'Cause I just find it very upsetting. It's unworthy of the art.

Written by John Kirkpatrick.

And since "sense of humour by-pass" keeps getting mentioned perhaps our website might convince people otherwise.....

http://www.citymorris.f9.co.uk/

Best regards,

Dave Eyre


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Wyrd Sister
Date: 12 Sep 04 - 07:51 PM

Is there any way of the originator of this saying "Discussion, great, but now thanks, enough"? I'm beginning to understand how Pandora must have felt with the box already!
Talking of boxes, I'll now have my say, which perforce is related to the Whitby end of the proceedings as I don't have the first-hand experience of other scratch sides.

As a fairly new (i.e. the last seven years or so) Scratch watcher/follower/devotee/participant in various order, I am beginning to suspect I must be one of those who have instigated or accelerated its perceived downward trend - not asking for sympathy or contradiction or blame here, just having my say.

I was around for the coffin incident. Whitby Scratch has been known to process to the chant "Bring out your dead!", which I have always interpreted as a self-deprecating appeal for new members. On this particular occasion we were doing so when by pure serendipity this Goth guy walks out of a shop with his mate and a coffin. They explained they were taking it for a walk around Whitby as they did on occasion. It was suggested their walk should coincide with ours, but somehow they disappeared leaving the coffin behind. Given the death/ resurrection links of folk (in some interpretations) and the Friday being the end of the festival and all, it did kind of make sense at the time. If anyone was offended it was not stated openly. If anyone should have been offended it was Geoff and Mrs Duck, since I think it was their marriage year. (Comments noted, Geoff) In later years it didn't seem such a good idea. After all, it was so last millennium, deah! (By the way, another year some builder lobbed a dead pigeon at us. We laughed, and moved on.)

The parade - as long as I have known, it has been the tradition for Whitby Scratch to divert through the Ship. I repeat Les's apology if anyone felt they were, or were in danger of being tripped.
The bandstand - 2003 theme: "Gangs of Whitby". And I know there were several temporary members there that day who perhaps didn't have the long-standing experience, understanding and forethought which surprisingly does go into Whitby Scratch. Incidentally, I think the term 'Scratch's ringleader (JMc)' used above is not the most flattering, suitable or accurate.

The photo - Mrs Duck I think it was who answered the point about the Millennium photo.

Being recognisable - I know its Folk Week, but how MANY men of a certain age are there walking round Whitby in faded T-shirts, shorts and BELLS?

Having fun - I'm all for it. The Morris Ring thinks it's fun to have little do's with consenting males in private. So I'm told, as a member of the other half I have to go by hearsay. I don't mind that.
Members of the public enjoy watching Scratch, and laugh a lot. They enjoy listening, and laugh some more. Other members of the public find it not at all amusing and move on. Whether these separate audiences react in the same way to booked teams, I cannot tell.

Participation - new musicians are given confidence then go off and continue during the year in other guises. Obviously, so do the dancers, but they are not 'new' in the same respect, as all are accomplished dancers in their own right.
I fear I may be becoming tedious now but I still have a couple of points to make.

Roger - I apologise if I have offended you by widening the number of participants in the discussion. 'In-house newsletter' to Fed and Ring covers most dance teams in this country, but often bypass most dancers and musicians. It was because so many people I tried to discuss this with had not seen the letter I stuck it on in full, not wanting to precis, misquote or anything else which could have misinterpreted what you said.

Mudcatters - I am a little disappointed that Geoff and Les and Jane have have been left to respond when many more of you have close knowledge of Whitby Scratch.
Fritha - good on yer, kid! Stick with it, even through those tricky years when you may not wish to perform in your local area.

Another word to Roger. You doubtless have seen some of the same faces at the carols. I've seen yours there sometimes. I'm not sure how Will Noble crept into this thread, but I'll have my red nose ready for when you give the nod! Who knows, maybe that will be absorbed into the tradition.

SHOUTY BIT! PLEASE, I GENUINELY WANT DISCUSSION, NOT RANCOUR!!!!!
(Five exclamation marks - please refer to Pratchett's 'Masquerade' if you don't appreciate the significance.)

Finally, it was through Whitby Scratch that I came to know of Mudcat. Thanks, guys!


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST,Dealer
Date: 13 Sep 04 - 06:56 AM

If it's only scratched I'll buy it, is it for sale?


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Sep 04 - 07:02 AM

There was a couple of young rapper teams who danced in the showcase at Whitby, they had only been together for the week, but on the Friday night took the the pubs of Whitby and danced brilliantly.
Wes these another pair of Whitby Scratch sides.


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Subject: RE: Scratch Morris sides
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 13 Sep 04 - 10:51 AM

Whitby Scratch Morris Team is a long established team with a core membership that have danced with them for many years. Yes, they do invite new people to join but there are many who never miss barring injury (even our wedding didn't stop Geoff). It was mainly for this reason that the wearing of 'other sides kit' was abolished (at least ten years ago)in favour of a more casual uniform. Geoff describes it as a 'seaside kit' since the main participants tend to sport shorts t-shirts and bells. It is a long time since they could be described as waifs and strays and dance together with as much if not more precision than many 'kitted' sides.


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