Anne Gordon is a widely read travel writer. Her articles and photographs are published in books, newspapers and magazines. For a glimpse into her world, read on ....
Thursday, July 29, 2010
“ENGLAND'S MERRY MEN”
Throughout the summer England's folk dancers, the ‘Morris Men’, can be seen in cities and villages across the land celebrating a tradition that goes back centuries.On this particular morning, mingling with crowds, the men are dressed in traditional costume; white embroidered smocks and trousers, heavy boots or clogs with jingling bells around their legs. Headgear - depending on which dance group they belong to - are floppy felt hats, 'bowlers', black top hats and straw hats, each encircled with garlands of fresh lilac, daffodils, peach blossom and summer roses. For extra flourish, pheasant or peacock feathers are mixed in with the flowers.A musician strikes up a tune on his fiddle; an impromptu dance by the Morris Men, handkerchiefs waving, bells jingling, sets off a rhythmic hand-clapping. Beside me, 'Jack in the Green', a time-honoured figure who accompanies the Morris Men on their dances, stands motionless. I sense that I am under scrutiny. The man is invisible beneath a tree-shaped arrangement of netting woven with fresh-picked greenery. I lift my camera to photograph and am startled by a voice that comes from deep within the foliage, “When am I going to see the photos you took of us last time Anne Gordon?” Pushing the leaves aside I peer into the dappled shade of a leafy hide-out. It is Peter Lund, a professor from Oxford University who has loaned me a book on the history of the Morris Dancers. He laughs at my astonishment.But life is not always so amusing for the Morris dancers. One group I know of, was sued because an over zealous dancer, carried away by the moment, whacked one of the onlookers with an inflated pig's bladder. I doubt that he caused much harm, but in today’s litigious society, restitution was demanded and the group subsequently crumbled under the resultant debt.
From Anne with 'World Travel with Anne'