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.”