We have gone speeding past the end of January and I realise I have now been officially ‘in post’ as Squire of MMM for almost a month, since the MMM AGM in early January.
At the AGM, there were no last minute electoral shenanigans, due process was observed and Squire regeneration took place painlessly.
I was presented with the accoutrements of office :
- Two Staffs of Office from the Morris Ring for my safe-keeping. Why two? One was presented to Mersey Morris Men and we also have the original Staff of Office presented to our predecessors at Liverpool Morris Men in 1936
- The Squire’s tankard, freshly engraved with my name below the names of those that have held the office before me, starting with Ken Winter in 1959.
- And for my baldricks? The Squire’s badge which has the normal blue and yellow colours reversed. Great for those ‘spot the difference’ competitions!
Then, the grim reality of my predicament began to sink in. When you are a ‘normal’ member of a morris team, whether dancer or musician, you can turn up to practices and events, and just wait for something to happen, because someone will tell you what to do.
Apparently that life of being a ‘passenger’ is behind me for the next three years! People are waiting for someone to tell them what’s happening, and then looking at me to do it!!
Luckily, during the practice season, Richard our Foreman is actually the one to be obeyed.
With our dance season kicking off with Devil’s Dyke Ring Meeting in early April, my first intellectual challenge as Squire will be creating a mental matrix of our dance repertoire – easy/intermediate/challenging + hankie/stick + regularly danced/never practised etc, and mapping the varying abilities of our team of dancers and musicians on to it.
I can see without that picture, it is difficult to build a sensible dance set list for any specific event with the dancers available. And I applaud those that have done it before me!!
This year, jigs were introduced as an integral part of every Monday night practice for the first time since I’ve been a member of Mersey MM. This has given members of all abilities an opportunity to have a go at a jig from each of our main Cotswold traditions – Fieldtown, Bampton, Headington, Bleddington and Sherborne. More recently, four of us attended the excellent Jigs Instructional organised by The Morris Ring to be immersed in dancing morris jigs from multiple traditions for a complete weekend – knackering and totally mind numbing!
As part of this re-introduction of jigs back into the wilds of the Wirral, I decided that jigs should form an integral part of our performance repertoire this summer, and that this dance ‘burden’ ought to be shared by as many as possible(!) rather than by just 2 or 3 long-standing members as has happened in the past. And so to make things easier, jigs will not only be performed solo but in twos or threes.
Turning this “Squire’s declaration” into “performance reality” will be an interesting summer challenge for everyone, and the team have already been warned!! We will get there 🙂