The fateful meeting, or how I became a would-be Morris Man (Oct 2012)

Part the first – The fateful meeting, or how I became a would-be Morris Man

It was a normal Autumn Saturday in early October and it was raining.  For want of something to do, the current Mrs King suggested we go to the craft fair being held in Heswall as part of this year’s Heswall festival.  I think she was trying to hint it might be an early Christmas shopping opportunity.

As we were dodging the puddles she noticed a couple of gentlemen, well more accurately she heard a couple of gentlemen, walking down the street in what she assumed was Morris Dancing attire.  I hadn’t noticed/heard as I was concentrating on trying to think of a way of cutting short the visit for something more interesting, like cutting the front lawn with a pair of nail scissors.

However, she chose to interrupt my reverie with a cheery “You’ve said you’ve fancied having a go at that haven’t you.”  To which I muttered something about probably being tired and emotional at the time.

Having spent a seeming age but luckily not a fortune communing with the crafty people of the Wirral we headed back into the (hopeful) sunshine only to be greeted by more rain.  While struggling with the brolly we almost literally bumped into two more similarly clad gentlemen.  One was about seven feet tall and the other had a duck on his head.

Muttering my apologies and trying to scurry on my way I suddenly heard she who must be displayed shout “Go on ask them about joining them”.  I was trapped.  I tried to escape but heard the tall one telling my now possibly short-lived beloved that they were a local group that met on a Monday evening in Thornton Hough Village Hall.

“But I can’t dance” I said.

“I’ve never been able to dance” I said.

“I’m allergic to bells” I said.

“That doesn’t matter” he said, “Can you drink?”

“Well….” I muttered, “Maybe just a little, but never to excess, you understand.”

“See you on Monday then” he said.  And that was it.  Off they went jangling their bells with every step as if it was the most normal thing in the world.

So Monday dawned with a far too cheery “Are you going tonight for your first foray into the ancient English tradition?” from the other side of the bed.

“I’ve told you I’ve given up my days of football hooliganism,” I replied.

I tried to explain that I was very tired after a fraught night’s sleep interrupted by dreams of men covered in bells hitting me with sticks while pouring pint after pint of foaming real ale down my neck.

“Nothing unusual there, then,” the soon-to-be ex-current wife joyfully replied.

As the evening drew nigh I tried all sorts of diversionary tactics – I even got the Hoover out – but I realised I would never be a man again in her eyes if I didn’t go.

“What’s the worst that can happen?” she asked.

“Splintered chins from the clattering of the bells and a cracked skull from being thumped with the sticks” I nervously replied.

So I went.