Hankies not guns

Morris Dancing addresses problem of youth gang culture: Hankies not guns

Cam Valley Morris Men danced at the Glastonbury Music Festival - we believe this is a first for a Ring Side.

Extract from The Morris Ring Newsletter No. 40, August - September 2005.

They also got a mention on Radio Five Live (approx 12.10am Sunday night/Monday morning), when the station interviewed Festival leavers. The gist of which, is as follows:

The Rose with a Naked Lady

Reporter: What did you think of this year’s festival?

Festival Leaver: My husband and I have been to many, but this was the best yet.

Reporter: What was your highlight?

Festival Leaver: Coldplay were excellent.

Reporter: What was your most memorable moment?

Festival Leaver: Watching a naked woman dance with some Morris men in the Greenpeace field on Sunday.

Sabotage at the Old Down, Emborough (where Cam Valley used to practise)

As reported in The Telegraph, 7th February 2004.

An “explosive device” was detonated last week inside the speed camera that welcomes motorists to Emborough. As dawn broke over the A37 on Monday, the £40,000 camera wasn’t photographing anybody. Bill Filer, 67, the landlord, greeted incomers with an inscrutable smile. “I think it was the Mendip Mafia.” Meanwhile, at the counter-sabotage HQ, Shepton Mallet police station, there came important news. “Dynamite was not involved,” said Det Sgt Mike Porter. “This was a home-made device, using easily accessible explosives.” Perhaps, then, the workers of Somerset’s many limestone quarries, with access to industrial explosives, could be ruled out. Which left just any farmer with a spare shotgun cartridge and any man or woman with enough money to buy fireworks. The “Mendip Mafia” hadn’t graduated to coded warnings.

Then came inspiration: that small sign behind the bar. It was nothing less than a recruiting poster, for an organisation with uniforms, ranks, discipline, and a fierce pride in ancient English freedoms. Not only that, it met every Monday in a back room of the Old Down for “practice”. Somewhere in Somerset, a telephone rang. The squire of the local morris dancers was pretty shocked. Yes, his name was Trevor Hughes. Yes, most of his men did have points on their licences and, yes, two were qualified pyrotechnicians with a detailed knowledge of fireworks. “They are very sensible, though,” he blustered, “It’s nothing to do with us … but I can’t vouch for everybody.” He tried again. “You are most welcome to come along. I can assure you, you won’t find any terrorists. We are the Cam Valley Morris Men. We are just a bunch of men who dance. Sorry.”

Cam Valley now practise at the Hunter's Lodge, Priddy.


This was also visited by The Telegraph in its guide to the best of British pubs, June 2004.

Hunter’s Lodge Inn sits in no-man’s-land on the crossroads of two unmarked lanes in the flatlands below the Mendip Hills known locally as the Somerset Levels. The grey pebbledash building, with its peeling sign, Marmite-brown windows and low porch running along its length, is reminiscent of a redneck bar in an American film.

It was a late spring lunchtime when I pushed open the cheap mahogany-veneer door and stepped into the dimly lit saloon bar, with its bare boards and mean open fire. On a settle in the far corner, I could make out a pair of shadowy workmen. Nearer to me was the bar’s only other customer, an ill-dressed, chain-smoking fidget struggling with a newspaper crossword.

My footsteps echoed loudly as I walked up to the plain bar. “A pint of Butcombe’s,” I said to the woman behind it. She heaved herself out of her chair and silently pulled me my pint of cask ale from one of a row of seven steel barrels racked up against the wall. I asked her if she served food and she turned towards the blackboard and soundlessly pointed at the words “Bread and cheese £2.50”. I ordered it.

A large slice of 2in-thick, fresh white bread, with a 1in-thick slab of local Cheddar and a home-made pickled onion, was delivered to my table on a pretty, but chipped porcelain plate. I had, I thought, stumbled upon the perfect ploughman’s lunch in the perfect unspoiled West Country pub.

Then my mobile phone rang. It cut through the quiet of the bar like a Eurovision song at a John Cage concert. The builders, the fidget and the old crone looked up and stared at me unblinkingly. I turned off the phone and made a general apology.

“We’re the ones that are sorry,” said a menacing voice from the gloom.

I took that remark as my invitation to leave.

Later in the day, I met up with my old drinking chum, the author Martin O’Brien. He is a former travel editor of Vogue who is well versed with the wild west. I recounted the hillbilly tale of my trip and he tapped his forefinger knowingly on the side of his nose and said: “Banjo country.” He didn’t mean the Wurzels.

Doctor Who is attacked by Morris Dancers

Doctor Who is attacked by Morris Dancers