Fools, squires, and bagmen

first_imgMiranda Kaufmann discovers that there is more to Morris Dancing in Oxford than just old bearded gentlemen with bells onInstantly recognisable by their white outfits and strange accoutrements, all Morris dancing groups have their own identifying quirks.“The Ancient Men” is a fairly appropriate moniker for the Oxford University Morris Men, reflecting the average age of participants. Some dancers are female, easily spotted by their lack of beards. Purple waistcoats and breeches are exclusive to the Maids of the Ducklington Morris.In the unlikely event you spy a group of beardless Morris men, they may be the 18-30 group on a dancing weekend. If accompanied by a hobby-horse, they may be linked to Banbury (of nursery rhyme fame). You may also see props such as lobsters or sheeps’ skulls on sticks. No group is complete without a Fool. The leaders of the Morris dancers have suitably antique names, such as Squire and Bagman.The Morris is an ancient tradition, possibly of “Moorish” origin. Dancers used to perform in black makeup. While we might find this politically incorrect, our Puritan forebears were more worried by the sacrilegeous implications: “They strike up the Devil’s dance withall: then martch this heathen company towards the church and churchyards, their pypers pyping, the drummers thundering, their stumpes dancing, their belles jyngling, their handkercheefes fluttering about their heads like madde men.” (Philip Stubbes ‘Anatomie of Abuses’ 1583) This was the sort of dancing that Cromwell did away with.Morris dancing was revived in the early 20th Century by the Tabs. Yes, it was our cousins in the Fens who are responsible for all this mirth. Joseph Needham, Squire of the Cambridge Morris, initiated the formation of the Morris Ring, the national federation of Morris dancers, in 1934. The commitment of these early enthusiasts is unquestionable. Walter Abson fell asleep in an initial meeting and awoke to find himself appointed Bagman. The onerous bag-dragging duties were presumably unlikely to be accepted while conscious.On the weekend of 21-22 May, you could go along to Kidlington Lamb Ale, a revival of an age-old village festival. Here, in 1679, the custom was: “On Monday after Whitsun week there is a fat live lamb provided, and the maids of the town, having their thumbs tied behind them, run after it attended with music and a Morisco dance of men, where the rest of the day is spent in dancing, mirth and merry glee.” The glee was no doubt enhanced by copious consumption of Real Ale, still the Morris dancers’ favourite tipple. This year’s event will conclude with a barn dance.If this sounds rather too lively, Morris dancers can be observed communing with nature at the annual Ducklington Fritillary. Here, the dancers adorn their sleeves with purple and yellow ribbons, the colours of a rare local flower, the snake’s head fritillary. If you can’t make it to Ducklington, the flower can also be found in the grounds of Madgalen College.If, inspired by these traditions, you are keen to try Morris dancing for yourself, you could join one of twenty different groups found in Oxford and its environs. The Oxford University Morris Men practise weekly, as do the Rogue Morris, a women’s group.ARCHIVE: 0th week TT 2005last_img read more

SBC Bookies Corner: Grab’em by the Midterms

first_img Submit Related Articles StumbleUpon Share Billed as the most important midterm elections in modern US history, this 6 November US states decide their representatives for the House & Senate. Can the Democrats secure their much desired ‘Blue Wave’, or have polls underestimated President Trump yet again? Furthermore, will Midterms 2018 showcase the lead cast for the US  2020 General Election… SBC gets the bookies lowdown!  __________________Katie Baylis – BetfairSBC: The majority of midterm polls indicate a ‘Democrat blue wave’. How confident can Democrats be of flipping the House and Senate, or will history simply repeat 2016 proceedings?  Katie Baylis (UK & Europe PR Lead Betfair): With polls indicating the Democrats are on target for a majority in the House of Representatives, it’s no surprise that punters on Betfair Exchange see it that way as well. A Democrat Majority is currently at odds of 4/9 or a 69% chance, with a Republican Majority at 2/1 or a 31% chance.The battle of the Senate is a tougher proposition for the Democrats of course and they are a long shot at 13/1 to or just a 7% chance of gaining a majority, but if they can take the House of Representatives then we are set for fireworks over the next term with President Trump’s plans sure to be blocked and delayed at every turn, leading to an even more tumultuous pollical climate in the States than ever before.Sarbjit Bakhshi – SmarketsSBC: At a market-level, what are the most hotly contested 2018 gubernatorial races. What states should political punters be monitoring?Sarbjit Bakhshi – Smarkets (Head of Politics – Smarkets): At a state-level, Smarkets sees three intriguing gubernatorial races, which pitch Republican Trump-MAGA stalwarts against fresh Democrat faces.First up,  the Florida Governor Election has been regarded as a toss-up race between two partisan contenders for the Senate, Congressman Ron DeSantis (Republican) and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (Democrat).Our market has Gillum last traded at 68%, which indicates that the black Democrat backed by Bernie Sanders will take the seat. DeSantis is strongly aligned with Trump and his ‘Make America Great Again’ programme.Meanwhile, the Georgia race between Stacey Abrams (Democrat) versus Brian Kemp (Republican) is particularly intriguing. If Abrams wins, she will be the first female African-American Governor in US history. At present Smarkets,  has Abrams at 44% against Kemp, but this race is regarded as a toss-up by most political commentators even if Democrats haven’t won a major statewide office in Georgia since 2000.Finally, Nevada is just too close to call, who will replace outgoing Republican Governor Brian Sandoval.At present we are leaning to the Democrats, as Adam Laxalt (Republican) last traded at 49% against Steve Sisolak (Democrat) at 56%. There is another deep ideological split in this race with Laxalt garnering the support of Trump and Sisolak wanting to support the marijuana industry in the StateMatt Shaddick – LadbrokesSBC: Will the midterms reveal US 2020’s Presidential Candidates for both the Democrat and Republican parties. Which US runner has caught the public’s attention?Matt Shaddick (Head of Politics – Ladbrokes): Whilst these midterm elections look likely to be the biggest ever in terms of betting interest, they probably won’t impact the 2020 Presidential race all that much.Even if the Republicans do much worse than expected, there doesn’t seem all that much danger to Trump being the nominee.On the Democrat side, the one new runner to emerge has been Beto O’Rourke, Ted Cruz’s opponent in Texas. A narrow loss might be the best scenario for those who got on the Beto 2020 bandwagon early and at big prices.Joe Lee – Paddy PowerSBC: Does a Republican loss of the House & Senate, necessarily lead to a Trump impeachment and resignation? Is this Democrat wishful thinking… Has President Trump been underestimated yet again?Joe Lee (Head of Trump Betting – Paddy Power): A few weeks out from midterm madness, the words ‘Trump’ and ‘Impeachment’ are forced back together like an aged boyband trying to rekindle glories past.The balance of power in both the House and the Senate are back up for grabs which some believe will pave the way for Trump to be impeached. The US Constitution allows for Impeachment of a sitting President when the House of Representatives votes in favour by a majority followed by a trail in the Senate. If the individual is found guilty in the Senate by two-thirds or more, then they are removed from office.Currently, Paddy Power bet 4/11 (73%) that the Democrats hold a House majority after these midterms. That could be step one in pushing an impeachment case to the Senate where things may come a cropper.The Democrats are seen as 9/1 underdogs (10%) to hold control of the Senate. You’re looking at some fancy prices to have both of these happen couples with an Impeachment, which means the Democrats are most likely going to continue to be Trumped for now…at least until 2020! Flutter moves to refine merger benefits against 2020 trading realities August 27, 2020 Share Paddy Power raises awareness of Missing People with Motherwell ‘silhouette’ stand August 7, 2020 Bakhshi and Shaddick launch ‘Art of the Possible’ podcast tracking US 2020 developments August 10, 2020last_img read more