May Day 2008 Blog
As summer comes trundling down the seasonal cart lane, Woodside spring into action to greet the first light of the long days, as has been customary since 1977. As tradition dictates, the venue once again is Cassiobury Park, and Dave Dunham, also driven by a sense of tradition, arrives just after the start of dancing, ready to capture the day in both image and word…
As I have maintained for a number of years now, against varying degrees of protest, sunrise over Watford is officially at around 05:32, and that arriving at 05:15 does not constitute a major breach in ritual integrity, which may cause chickens to express sour milk, and cows to stop laying eggs. However, I do appreciate the argument put forward by some, that should my DTA be put back to 05:15, the resulting ETA would likely overlap with the desired moment of celebration, and thus cause the above mentioned agricultural catastrophes. A fair point really. So, not wishing to be the cause of further woe to the world’s embattled economic state of affairs, I set out with the best of intentions, arriving at a more than respectable 05:05, having put in a late surge to pip Tim at the post to avoid being the latest May Day Woody in the park by about three inches.
A major feature of the May Day 2008 meeting was the introduction of two new members to the early morning discipline. Charlie and John both proved well up to the job, and started their first season as they hope to go on. Also present was an old friend of the side, Nic W, who has joined us at a number of dos over the last eight years or so, and came along today to mark a big change in his life: he has just invested in a new business which may allow him to start taking a more active role in the side. We were able to toast the birth of his new project in some excellent Sloe Gin which he brought along. Good luck Nic!!
The dancing went as well as could be expected; early morning dancing is unusual as, in my mind at the very least, we get going before our bodies have had a chance to compress to the optimum operational standards. That is, as I seem to remember being told, when we get up in the morning, having been laying down flat, for the most part, all night long, however short that long may have been, our bodies stretch out, and take time to settle back down to our normal standing length/height once rotated into an upright angle. Dancing an hour of the Morris first thing on a May morning brings that compression into sharp focus as you caper around the park, accelerating the shrinking process.
We were fortunate again to have a small but high quality audience, many of which are familiar faces as regular attendees of the event. All present were rewarded with not only an exemplary display of dance, but also with a very pleasant and mild morning, though no sign of the sun through the overcast sky. There were no monkeys fashioned from brass in attendance this year - for once!!
Around about six fifteen, we all get the call we were waiting for following a brief consultation between the Squire and the Foreman, and it’s time to down tools and head for Roger’s for breakfast, where the long suffering, but always chirpy Iris had been slaving away to provide early morning sustenance for the undeserving rabble that descended upon her home. First of all, we tucked into a bit of the old Bucks Fizz, in an imbibing sense rather than an auricular sense: there is only so much punishment a man can take that early in the morning and an assault on the senses by Bobby, Cheryl, Jay and Ken may have brought the day to an abrupt and unnatural end.
Soon the porrich was doing the rounds, and although the majority were enthusiastic takers, it soon became apparent through polite conversation, that the May Day tradition of the oaty treat was not to be considered by some as an extra-ritualistic addition to their diet.
The traditional English soon found its way onto a plate, and the now traditional discussion about sausage quality was raised, with direct comparison between Tim and Roger’s sausages being made. Tim set a new standard in sausage quality some years back, one which will be very difficult to beat. Though I refuse to state at which end of the quality spectrum Tim’s sausages stand out, so as not to upset him. They were Waitrose though, so it must have been how he cooked them.
We set off for Merry Hill School at about 10:00, and all arrived safely in time to put on a show for the kids there. A couple of Woodies have children at the school, and they’re still at an age where the presence of a close family member in bells and ribbons is an exciting, rather than excruciating prospect. The visit came about through an invitation to the team from the school's caretaker, Jim. A talented musician and singerhimself, Jim is also a regular at Saracens and the Swan in Bushey; activities that have lead him to consort with the likes of Charlie, Sam, Wayne and my good self on a regular basis.
The dancing went well, for the first dance and a half, but then our usual show stopper at this type of event made an entrance. Norman the Dragon, a thousand year old Finchley Firehorse, only has to peek from behind a bush at these events, and all interest in the dancers is lost. We managed to claw back a bit of respect when we dragged up some of the teachers to join in with Bonny Green.
Then it was on to the Paper Mill, where we motored through a nice set of dances, then ordered dinner. Following my bacon and onion dumpling and mash (highly recommended), dancing became an impossibility, so we sat and played a few tunes, chatted about the coming season, and looked forward to the cycling tour in September, when we would most likely ending up once again at the Paper Mill.
By three o’clock we were flagging though, and the promise of a lift back to Watford was just too tempting, so it was off home for a bath and a some kip (no pictures available).