BB - 25th Anniversary

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For more pictures of the weekend see gallery pages 'Guest Teams' and 'BB and Friends'

12th - 14th July 2002 - a celebration of 25 years of gusto, spirit, legendary and Leafield.....

The planning for the weekend started late in 2001, when a small team of Paul, Jane, Rob and Lee, conceived the master plans which would eventually lead to the most successful weekend BB have hosted since its 21st some 4 years earlier. Actually the only weekend but that's by the by.

With hindsight their most inspired decision (amongst many other inspired decisions) was to use the base found by Miriam and Rob of St. Mary's School, Mortimer, with an overall theme for the weekend of 'Back to School'. In fact the school turned out to be an excellent base, with ample room in the grounds at the back of the school for camping, a reasonable size hall for eating and the ceilidh, and unrestricted access to the school sports facilities including their small but perfectly formed and heated swimming pool. We had been worried for several days beforehand that the recent wet weather (several weeks of it) would severely restrict what we could do and prevent access by cars to the campsite which would have provided severe logistical difficulties for car parking, but in fact the weather was almost perfect throughout the whole weekend which certainly helped though we would have had a good time anyway.

Proceeding started on the Friday evening when we were joined at the school by camping guests from Betty Luptons, Bullnose, Pigsty, Redbornstoke and Stroud. They would be joined on Saturday by teams from Jackstraws, Insword and Chiltern Hundreds, and on Sunday by Windsor. All fine teams in their own right, and who combined over the weekend to bring out the best in each other. But back to the Friday night when the fine weather, Jerry's Soup of the Day and Rob's gazebo bar got proceedings off to a relaxed start - well, very relaxed in some cases.

On to Saturday morning when all the teams just managed to squeeze onto the various charabancs provided by Stewarts Coaches of Mortimer, a couple of which were driven by BB. First stop was Reading, with the teams divided up between 2 spots in Broad Street plus the Town Hall. These proved surprisingly good places to perform since the full pedestrianisation of Broad Street, and the sunny weather helped draw good and appreciative audiences. The first hitch of the day though occurred when Cliff from Redbornstoke felt unwell and had to be taken to the Royal Berks Hospital - he turned out to be fine in the end but it added a bit of drama for everyone else! After this the sides split for lunch between The Bull at Barkham and our very own Queens Oak at Finchampstead, and then on into our home town of Wokingham to perform outside Waitrose and a massed stand in the Market Place to the bemusement of the good people of Wokingham, unused to seeing 150 fine quality morris dancers crammed into their home town. Not a hotbed of traditional English activity, the centre of Wokingham, or indeed any activity in particular since the big supermarkets started building their new stores on the edge of town, thereby killing the town centre,bb25bb3.jpg (45792 bytes) well that and the inability of the local council to come up with a sensible plan for the centre for the last 20 years which amongst other things would resolve the major traffic problems through having through traffic pass directly through the shopping area on roads which used to struggle to accommodate wagons and carts a hundred years ago. Anyway, where was I? - oh yes, the massed stand went very well, and BB finished off with 'Little Fairies' with particularly inspiring musicianship from Jane, Sue and Bob.

After the massed stand everyone retreated back to Mortimer's school for Simon and Yvonne's tea and biscuits, and 'School Sports Day', led by Tim with help from Bob. bb25timhead.jpg (29510 bytes) Suitably dressed in headmasters gown and wielding a big stick, Tim successfully organised a series of events for the smaller boys and girls, and then the bigger boys and girls, with Bob's stickers for prizes and everything, which was going really well until some of the bigger boysbb25timsplash.jpg (37902 bytes) decided they had had enough of being bossed around and chucked him in the swimming pool. We were all naturally very concerned for his wellbeing, but it has to be said he did make a very satisfactory sort of splashing noise as he went in. After this he did carry on organising more games but somehow the edge just seemed to have been taken off his authority ......

Various impromptu games and some imbibing continued until the first of 2 sittings for supper, organised very effectively by Jerry, with just a teensy bit of help from other loyal BB kitchen staff - oh, and the local pub, who actually cooked and delivered most of the food. Somehow while this was going on, a fairly vigorous game of almost real hockey was going on outside on the playground, later hailed by some of our guests as the highlight of their weekend, which I suppose doesn't say a lot for the Morris. 

bb25ceilidh1.jpg (31435 bytes) By this time, many of the attendees had changed into school clothing ready for the evening. This included some particularly outrageous outfits, though special mention must be given to Redbornstoke's team effort - its amazing just how good some of them look with their hair done nicely and a bit of lippy. The evening featured a ceilidh with the incomparable Bismarcks as the band, all of whom had also entered into the school theme spirit, with Ed looking particularly menacing in his mortar board, Nina looking particularly naughty in short skirt and pigtails, and Gareth looking like a big bloke dressed up as he plinked and plonked away all night. As caller we had Jethro, who also got into the bossy headmasterly role with worrying ease, but called some excellent dances.

bb25ceilidh2.jpg (24202 bytes) It wouldn't have been a BB occasion though without some spot entertainment. During the first break, Jameson and Lee reprised their Sand Dance, first and last seen at the 2001 Bunfight, but performed again with great panache, though Jameson's stick on eyebrows developed a life of their own during it. This was followed by an excellent spot from Betty Luptons, dressed as schoolgirls at Hockey practice (with jolly hockey sticks too), and performing one of their dances suitably adapted with frequent interruptions while someone (deliberately) went wrong - great fun, even with the none too subtle dig at BB's Fairies dance "plenty of eye-contact girls! Its very important!". Also during the first break, Tim awarded a prize for the quiz he had been running during the day, where every team had been asked to answer questions of local information, the answers of which could have been spotted during the day if everyone had their eyes open, though this became harder for some teams as the alcohol levels grew during the day.

In the second break, Sue Graham won the prize for identifying the most Bedlams from their baby photographs which had been on display, though most people had been convinced that Mike and Jameson were girls, though of course this is only true part of the time. And then it was time for BB's main spot, which had been decided to be a reprise of our 1995 Bunfight smash hit 'YMCA', better known as 'In The Bedlams', but incorporating references to some of our other favourite spots over the years. Malcolm had put together a tape with suitable snatches of spot music, so first on were Simon and Jane as the Schwarzkopf Formation display team doing some of the Bavarian Woodchopper Boys dance including obligatory bottom slapping, followed by John at his most Rolf-like with a very authentic 3-legged Jake the Peg, then a sinister looking Tim in his element Flashdancing, next Sue and Bob as cheerful cheeky Cockney chappies, doffing and twanging like there was no tomorrow, and then the biggest drake of them all, Jameson, preening himself and flocking around like the big flocker he is. At last the opening strains of YMCA started and on came the 'real' Village People lookalikes with Paul as cute cowboy, Rob as cute red indian, Jerry as naval officer, Mike as construction worker, and Lee shoehorned into a 2 sizes too small traffic cop outfit. bb25ceilidh10.jpg (37471 bytes) While Malcolm then strangled the vocal, everyone attempted to do the dance which had been choreographed at practice 2 days earlier, though about 30 seconds into it most people forgot what that was and just stuck to the vigorous pointing. It didn't matter though, it went down very well, with most of the audience singing and clapping along, and as soon as we had exited we were called back to do it again - just as well really as that's what we had planned - and some of the side swapped hats for the second version, with Paul producing for some reason best known to himself a Viking helmet. However someone started the karaoke tape a bit early so our re-entrance was a bit high speed, and the second time through was even less structured than the first - but did we care? - naah, not by that stage! After the second performance, we were called back again, this time by the guest sides to say thanks for the weekend and for Adrian from Redbornstoke to present us with some wine as a birthday present - aaah, thanks chaps!

All great fun, and after the spots were done we still had time to enjoy more of the Bismarcks before it was time to wind down the evening.

That took us to Sunday, and planned spots in Windsor. Once again the weather was excellent for us, and we enjoyed good spots in Peascod Street and the Two Brewers until a final massed stand after lunch at the Donkey House, after which it was time to say goodbye to all our guests, all of whom in turn said how much they had enjoyed the weekend. It was also time to say thanks to Paul for putting so much in to organising the weekend, and to say how much we were looking forward to him organising the next one. (Joke, Paul, joke...).

bb25bbfinalswim.jpg (48237 bytes)The weekend hadn't quite finished though - all the Bedlams and partners, including Mike and Lyn who had been working on the Sunday, returned to St. Mary's School for a final clear up and then final swim in the pool and late afternoon chill session with some of the remaining wine and beer followed by some mutual self congratulation in typical BB style - but perhaps for once deserved!

In fact the weekend was a success because of a number of factors but not least because of the way everyone in the side, and their partners, all made really valuable contributions in their own way. However a special mention should go to Jane and especially Paul for doing the majority of the organising, arranging the programme, and liasing with other teams.

Finally, Yvonne was our very own 'David Bailey' for the weekend, literally snapping at everyone's heels throughout, and she and Simon produced a fantastic album of the weekend crammed with photos and other memorabilia which is a great souvenir of the whole event. No doubt it will be dug out by future generations to look at in wonder, awe, and amazement in years to come "look at that lot, no wonder morris dancing died out early in the 21st century ..... "

bb25bbsimyv.jpg (37258 bytes)

For full reports of the year 2002 go to BB 2002 Monthly Diary.
You can also see pictures of all events in the various Picture Galleries, and pictures of the BB 25th weekend in the special Guest Teams and BB and Friends picture features

 

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