THE NEWslETTER OF TIGERFOLK
As the big R word (retirement/redundancy take your pick)becomes a reality today it also reminds me that I will no longer have access to a state of the art IT system and that any future communications will be undertaken on my lap top which at times can be temperamental in the extreme. So how will this affect future editions of Tatters? At present I can’t really say other than I’ll do my best in the short term and see how it works out. Possibly the newsletter will be sent directly to the web site and it can be viewed from there; if that is the answer then I will let everyone know in good time.
In the meantime thank you for your patience during this transitional period and one way or another we’ll endeavour to keep you all up to date.
Sunday 3rd February 2019
Stanley emerged from the dark days of the late 1970's and has been terrorising the cultural world ever since.
He has written hundreds of songs in a range of styles on a vast rake of subjects. There are old-style songs on current happenings and modern style songs on ancient events. There are poems, pastiches, parodies, and possibly anything.
Apart from the silly and very silly material, Stanley has always been writing serious songs to confuse the situation further. He has performed hundreds of times at a wide range of events all over UK and occasionally beyond.
Stanley has been performing all over UK and occasionally beyond at a wide variety of locations and events. He always tries to be both relevant and entertaining. (The pigeon-hole to put this stuff in is "miscellaneous-ish")
I cannot tell you how much personal pleasure it gives me that John has booked Our Stanley for the Tigerfolk Birthday night. Need I say more? Bring on the cake and the candles!
Review January 19
Happy New Tigerfolk Year everyone. Our first session of the year was very enjoyable, mostly singers, one storyteller and several musicians including a double bass!!, First time we’ve had a double bass I think, it was great to see and hear.
With Corinne in charge we rambled through, the Tour de France, Barleycorn and various New Year celebrations. Reminiscences of Mike Waterson, long been one of my favourites, Scottish Belles, Norfolk pedlars, snow and wassails. Then on to the Irish which started a great conversation. With the recent passing of Tim Lyons, he was the main topic, with many tales told of meeting and hearing him sing in various locations but the one that topped the lot was Dave and Maggie’s tale of getting Tim arrested for stealing car seats. Apparently having seen some car seats on the side of the road Tim thought they would be good in the back of his van so he acquired them only to be confronted by the police a few miles down the road for stealing, the owner had washed them and left them to dry?? Hilarious and just the sort of thing that often comes out on a relaxed night such as this. We then ambled on through winter songs but with an optimistic view of summer arriving soon, while a few more carols and wassails rang out. Then a complete change of tune (pardon the pun) to a discussion on songs with gratuitous violence and their suitability for children, songs of seduction and riddle songs even a bit of Fats Waller, right up my street, I love a bit of early Jazz. More wassails, more optimistic songs of spring, some quiet complentative songs, some music hall about bodies in bags and deep freezers, the broad range continued, as wide a range as cats to the old troubles in Northern Ireland.
We ended lifting the roof off with a fine rendition of ‘The King’, it was 12th night after all. Hope to see some of you soon at Tigerfolk 2019.
Leicester Morrismen appeared on BBC Radio Leicester in 1967. It wasn’t a programme that attempted to portray dancing by field recordings and deep meaningful discussion on its origins etc., no, they performed a plough play. The Sproxton Plough Play was collected from Albert Healey, then residing in Melton Mowbray but originally hailing from Sproxton( pronounced Sproston, a small village in the north-east of Leicestershire some 3 miles from the Lincolnshire border) , by Chris Cawte aided by other members of the side. Albert had performed the play in and around the village before the First World War when a lad. He recalled that they practised in a cowshed before venturing out over the festive season. On this recording of the play Albert played Tom Fool “The best part” according to Albert and his original fools’ hat and the whip of the Farmers Man are in the archive of Leicester Morris to this day.
The side performed the play for a while but as time went on and the pressures of life on a small number of dancers increased, the play and the number of dancing appearances declined. Come the 70s and young thrusters, recruited by Roger Grimes, helped to redress the fortunes of the side but only with dancing. It was some 10 years later that conversations started, over ale after practice nights, that the idea of performing the play began to concentrate the collective mind. By then only Jeff Halford of the original cast was still active in the side and so we worked alongside him to bring the play back. He was of the strong opinion that the play should be declaimed with all characters, apart from the doctor, walking on together and forming a semi-circle from which each in turn stepped forward, declaimed and returned to place unless involved in further dialogue. Well, as time went on although we kept, more or less, to this way of performing, individuals grew into their parts and the play evolved. Some things began to work and others didn’t, but as is the way, those that were successful were incorporated and the others withered on the vine.
Perhaps Leicester Morrismen are better known as a Border side under the name of Red Leicester than as a Cotswold side and as Red Leicester they have danced for nearly 40 years at Whittlesey Straw Bear (Originally when the side started dancing Border Morris faces were black but some 30 years ago the decision was made to use red grease paint because of the connection with Red Leicester cheese and sheep raddle, hence the name of Red Leicester came about). The suggestion was put forward that we should perform the play there after the days dancing was done at our legendary, originally “Lock In”, meal and sing. The logistics of trying to remove greasepaint after a hard days dancing and imbibing was considered too onerous a task and so performing the play with red faces started……...what would Albert and the old boys have thought of that. I hasten to add that at other times of the year the play is performed without make-up.
Traditionally, the side has danced at the Griffin at Swithland, on the Charnwood Forest, on Boxing Day and the play is performed as well in all its ruddy glory. For the first time in a few years we were able to go along and catch up with everyone at Swithland and enjoy the show. The courtyard of the pub was rammed with folks all watching and generously donating to charity, nearly £400 for the children’s hospice, Rainbows, and after a couple of dance shows, Tom Fool stepped forward. A smock and a dunce’s hat with the letters TF on it was the garb for him, that’s how it was and maybe is at other times of the year but not today. A smart white suit emblazoned with red festive designs dressed the frame of Pete Johnson who has played the part since it was revived all those years ago. The crowd were respectful and many were listening but those further back couldn’t necessarily hear all that was being said so there was not quite so much interest. The play features a number of songs and when they started then the whole crowd fell silent. Quips and by-play peppered the performance with the crowd responding accordingly and considering it took over 20 minutes it was a great credit to the boys that they held the attention of the large audience so well and for so long.
Many of the side have taken part in the play, some like Pete, have made a character all their own, whilst others have been involved for shorter periods of time. All bring something of themselves to their parts and it is so entrenched in the side now that the Sproxton Plough Play runs through the veins of Leicester Morris and long may it continue. So thanks lads for entertaining so many people on Boxing Day and also on so many other occasions’ time in so many places over the years.
The archive of the side which now runs into many volumes holds memories galore for many people but as far as the play is concerned surely, there can be none more precious than when Leicester Morris men performed the play in Sproxton a couple of decades ago. It was a beautiful May Bank Holiday evening and the day had started at 7o’clock in the morning, dancing to welcome in the summer. Throughout the day we danced at various villages in and around the north-east of Leicestershire culminating in a last dance spot in Sproxton and then having the privilege of bringing the play back to its home. Now, I am pretty sure that Albert and the old boys would have definitely approved of that.
See you at the Stumble Inn