New Year’s Day 2017 at The Cricketers, Hartley Wintney
Under threatening skies, with a forecast of heavy rain we gathered for our New Year’s Day ritual. Bit of a swap shop going on as lost and left morris and mummers kit from Boxing Day was reunited with owners. Morris snouts were twitching as some good looking roast dinners were wafted around.
In recent years The Cricketers has become much more Morris friendly, and we enjoyed a fine pint (the chips were excellent, too) until the Fool silenced the throng gathered in the bar with a subtle notice that dancing was about to commence outdoors to an unexpected round of applause.
A slight delay as we all watched some bizarre extended car contretemps, gave everyone a chance to admire Tigger as he prowled around….
We didn’t let the light spotting inhibit a spirited rendering of Happy Man, but as we moved into the Holly & the Ivy the precipitation increased, although it has to be acknowledged that our audience stuck to their posts as doggedly as the men.
By the time we reached our fifth and final dance, the Upton-upon-Severn sticky, the weather was doing a fair imitation of what that town has become infamous for in recent years. All spritely enough and the crowd gradually grew and we were delighted to see plenty of old friends in the audience roaring us on! Great to have some littlies in the audience as well. Raining harder by now, the fool and horse starting to smell – a hard aroma to define or to bottle…a sort of ‘eau de morris’ with earthy, beery, sweaty essences.
Mummers transmogrification time with David and Baz/Elliott/Andy jigging to wild applause. Well done lads. Mummers ready, also starting to pong a bit…. Intense and divided debate about whether to be daft in the wet…or daft in the dry. Earning the undying gratitude of the cast, the landlord agreed to the Mummer’s Play being performed indoors. We directed the largish crowd into the already packed pub and then the mummers squeezed in…hardly room to swing a sword. Admittedly it was something of a crush, and as King George despatched the four sons they had to die in a neat heap at one end of the room. The dead sons died tidily under chairs/tables and started to form a sort of human Jenga set despite muffled complaints from the base layer. Father Christmas had to lob the Doctor’s ten guinea fee across the heads of part of the audience, and raising the sons back to life proved tricky. It worked really well though and the crowd rose to the occasion. Dr Who raised the dead to life with crowd chanting the magic word ‘Brexitmeansbrexit’. Great fun for all!
Our audience proved very generous as the hat was passed around, confirming that the Yateley Morris Men bring joy whatever the weather throws at us.
Our sincere thanks to The Cricketers for their welcome and their morris friendly flexibility.
Aaargh! Twelth Night mummers tour still to come…
January 6, 2017
8.00 pm The Crooked Billet, Hook
08.45 pm The Crown, Old Basing
09.30 pm The Mill, Old Basing