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Blackheath Morris Men

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Who are Blackheath Morris?

We’re the Blackheath Morris Men. We’re from south-east London and we’re a jolly fine bunch of fellows.
Our interests include drink. If you want to join up, have a look at the contact page for further information. Then come along as soon as Mr. Johnson says it’s OK. Alternatively, if you work for him, come along tomorrow. *

We are available to perform at just about any event that you care to mention - in the past we have danced at the Olympic Closing Ceremony, as support to Hawkwind back in the seventies, in the Red Sea and outside Woolworths in Lewisham on several occasions.



*We’ve left the crossed out bit in so that future generations can understand the crippling impact of Covid on Morris dancing. We also think the sentence is quite funny. ** Mr. Johnson was a UK Prime Minister and should not the confused with the Mr. Johnson who, in the 18th century, was credited with the first dictionary, the opening entry for which was not “Aardvark”

Overview

Easter Chair Lift

Olympic Closing Ceremony

Anywhere with beer

Watch Video

Morris Dancing at Wimborne Folk Festival

Video from Morris Hub's youtube channel!

Welcome to The Duke Horse

The Duke Horse is the Blackheath Morris Virtual Pub. Hence the expression, “see you in Duke Horse” Meet our merry band below..

Upcoming Events

We'll also be doing some other things, all of them really good - but we haven't decided what they are yet!

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Friday 1st July - Sunday 3rd July

Queens Oak/Rose & Castle

Weekend of Dance

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Thursday 7th July 19:00

Info TBC

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Sat 9th October

End of Season Tour with guests (to be arranged)

Maritime Greenwich

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Monday 26th December

Boxing Day Tour

Blackheath

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Future Events will be appear here

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Tributes of Blackheath Morris

Geva

Eulogy written and presented by Richard Sanderson at his funeral on Friday 4th October 2019 It's very unusual to arrive at any Morris event and not find Geva there before you, sitting at a table, a pint of beer in front of him, finishing off The Times crossword, reading glasses at the end of his nose. Today of course is the one occasion when you wish that he hadn't arrived before us. I got to know Geva about 15 years ago, when, at the behest of Dougie Adams, I joined Blackheath Morris. I ended up sharing quite a few journeys home with Geva, as he, like me, lived in Hither Green. These journeys would be full of hilarious banter as we conversed to and fro about all aspects of the morris...

I got to know Geva about 15 years ago, when, at the behest of Dougie Adams, I joined Blackheath Morris. I ended up sharing quite a few journeys home with Geva, as he, like me, lived in Hither Green. These journeys would be full of hilarious banter as we conversed to and fro about all aspects of the morris... OK that's not really true- the conversation was largely a monologue from me, hugely enthused by the newly discovered world of the morris, Geva's contribution on the other hand would generally be monosyllabic, occasionally a gnomic sentence, or if he was particularly taciturn, a nod.

Geva's taciturnity (yes that is a word, I looked it up) was legendary. Like the time Nodge was giving John Offord (also quiet bloke) and Geva a lift in his car to some Morris event. For the whole journey Nodge held forth, enthusiastically discussing all manner of things, and receiving zero response.In fact It actually got to the point that Nodge forgot they were there.

But let's not mistake taciturnity for grumpiness, Geva wasn't a grumpy man, he had his dislikes (kids in pubs, the smoking ban, animals, overpriced beer, all sports except perhaps tiddlywinks, politicians, morris lines not straight enough....) But he wasn't grumpy. In fact although he rarely started a conversation, in a comfortable setting (the pub) he would converse and give his opinion, peppered with a dry humour. He absolutely wasn't somebody you would try to avoid, because he was actually very friendly. But it would be pointless trying to avoid him anyway as he was always there.

Geva was the member of Blackheath Morris with longest unbroken record of service - over 40 years - there are others that may have been in the team for longer, but all of them had taken a significant break, Geva was just there. There at every practice, blizzard or heatwave, week in week out. And in the hyper rare event of him not being there he would have informed you in triplicate several times for weeks beforehand.

Geva liked a drink. Beer in particular, and although his social life revolved around the pub in one way or another in my experience he rarely appeared drunk in the cliched, wobbly, slurred speech way, just sometimes he looked a bit sleepy...but there are some great stories involving Geva and drink, some of which I'll share with you ...some, more notorious ones, you're more likely to hear later on....

There was the time he made the basic rookie Morris man mistake of not pitching his tent at an Ale before going drinking (we've all done it). Eventually he struggled to put up the pole at one end, before crawling in the grotesque, shapeless bag of the unassembled tent, to the cheering and encouragement of the rest of the team.

There was the time at Saddleworth, returning at stupid o'clock to the church hall where he was staying accompanied by Ken, Mel and Rick. As Rick reached the top of the church steps, he started to fall. Geva, in the perfect position to save him, gallantly stepped out of the way, allowing Rick to crash to the ground. "I could have damaged my accordion" was his explanation.

Patch told me about a time when he and several other newer members of the team needed to get some sets of morris bells made. Geva helpfully organised a "Bells Workshop" at his gaff. Although some bells were certainly made, the best part of the day was spent consuming a bottle of...Bells whisky.

Like I said, Geva wasn't a grumpy man, he took everything with a kind of patient good humour, and it was this lack of exasperation with us that would lead to some of the teasing Geva received from the team - like at practice barricading the door to the toilet with hat stands, small tables, instrument cases etc... every time we went in the loo, every week. The fact that he didn't explode, or even sigh as he extricated himself and returned to the practice hall somehow just made it funnier, and him more endearing.

At previous Blackheath Ales (Morris gatherings for the uninitiated) there used to be a "Guess the Weight of Geva" competition. Next to the details of the competition pinned to the wall were columns detailing "in" and "out" since the start of the day. The mind boggles.

It was Graham and I that came up with the song "What a Friend we have in Geva" after I discovered that if you only half-listen and are maybe a bit drunk "Geva" sounds a little bit like "Jesus", so after discounting "Geva's hands are kind hands" and "Geva wants me for a sunbeam" Graham wrote the immortal "What a Friend we have in Geva", the instrumental version of which you heard

Aaron play today -and I guarantee most Blackheath men will have had some of the lyrics going around their head as it was performed. Despite the fact that the song includes some rather rude lines about flatulence (something else I’m really not going to discuss here), it is a song full of admiration for a man who, as we have discovered led a remarkably full life for someone who could quite accurately be described as "unassuming" and was the lynchpin of organisation in Blackheath Morris.

Because Geva was, very rarely in a morris man, quite exceptionally organised. One of the more surprising things we discovered after Geva's death was that he kept a daily diary, noted in small pocket diaries. We also found a sheet which seems to detail dates that were important to Geva..

These include- 14th August 1978 - 1st Morris Practice 7th October 1978 - 1st Morris Tour 3rd September 1979 - possibly first dance out with Blackheath (just over 40 years ago) 19th August 1980 - Paris with Blackheath 26th December 1981 - 1st Boxing Day Dance Out 5th June 1982 - Dwyle Flunking with Blackheath.

“The English game of dwile flonking (also dwyle flunking) is an East Anglian pub sport, involving two teams of twelve players, each taking a turn to dance around the other while attempting to avoid a beer-soaked dwile (cloth) thrown by the non-dancing team.

25th June 1983 - Bought synthesizer ( hands up who saw that coming?)

And this is just in The first five years. It becomes clear to us that Geva did lead a very full, if foreshortened life. And it was a life lived with different groups of people, his loyal mates from the pub, meeting at The Talbot, including Andy who did so much to spread the awful news about Geva's sudden death, Blackheath Morris, Fowler's Troop and Fowlers Molly, the music sessions at the Star and Garter, and of course Margaret and his family who he would visit at regular points twice a year unfailingly.

There are the things he did that we're going to miss hugely, the annual barbeque in his garden (one of the few occasions his Morris friends and his pub friends would be in the same place), the garage- scene of the infamous Blackheath AGMs where cool discussion could descend into full scale vitriolic ranting, and the curries. Geva made amazing curries - the pride of the team. He himself liked a curry enormously, so much so that I heard several stories that involved him falling into his own curry.

So we're all here today to say goodbye to a kind, generous and unfailingly faithful friend, a musician, a dancer, a drinking companion and, it turns out, a Doctor Who fan. He led a life that was so full that I've inevitably had to miss things out, but I'm sure we'll hear much more later.

We'll remember him at every AGM, or when we dance "cuckoo's nest" and the sound of the keys of his accordion sticking don't come, at Deptford Jack in the Green, Hastings, Cropredy, Rose and Castle or Saddleworth. We’ll dance forever hearing the inevitable criticism “the lines were shite”

We'll have a drink, a play and a dance for him this afternoon, and we'll chat and remember a really great bloke.
dog-walker

Byron Daniels

Byron was once described in a national newspaper as "an itinerant Welsh poet, bricklayer and Morris dancer", although apparently he hated the article in which this appeared. To this can be added; tree impersonator, mallet dancer, ballet dancer and above all guiding hand and icon of Blackheath Morris Men.

The Foot and Death Morris were formed at Goldsmiths College in New Cross, S.E. London. Byron played a major part in the team becoming Blackheath Morris Men and moving into "the real world" where he tried to attract "artisans and workers" into the team, he often pretended dismay on discovering that a new member was "educated" or "a professional".

His face has appeared on two team T shirts, in one case a photo montage designed by Bill (William) Dudley catching him with a pint and a roll-up and one of his favourite sayings "fair play yeoh" (this design also features on the

Team posters), the other an instantly recognisable cartoon on a shirt celebrating the Team's 21ish anniversary. He also has a verse to himself in a Blackheath Song featuring another well known saying, "just one more pint yeoh" and he lives on in a dance which begins with a loud yeoh and in a curious kick while sticking in Adderbury known as a Byron.

There are many stories about Byron including why the team changed to black trousers (don't ask) the mystery of the "missing" lung, the pint of mixed red and white wine in a non beer selling wine bar, all of which continue to provide the team with fond recollections.

Byron also danced (or fooled) with many other teams and played his part in the seventies Morris dancing revival in the SE of England. He was also a founder member of Tylers Men. His notebook contained details of every dance he'd seen in the early days and a few more besides. He was known by teams throughout the country who always asked after him, not only of Blackheath Morris Men but other local teams. As a member of one of these teams said, "I have met many people throughout the country whilst dancing; many of those knew Byron or knew of him. There are not many of us who can claim that".

Always faded jacket wearing, always drunk and always swearing, fair dos yeoh always declaring; we'll miss Byron Daniels.
dog-walker

Doug Adams

Doug, who died on 21 September 2012, was a great musician to dance to because his playing gave a 'lift' to the music - a rarity among non-dancing musicians. Doug never got to dance himself because he joined us with at leg injury sustained in a Sealed Knot battle - the beginning of a long string of setbacks to his health. It was a great coup for Blackheath Morris when he joined from Greenwich – we reckon this was about 1980, but our record keeping is pretty rubbish. Even though he was a non-dancer, he was a great one for getting things right and was very vocal in his opinions on the standard of dancing, both good and bad.
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This superb four piece jigsaw of our late musician and gaffer, with Mr. Pickwick looking on, is yours for only £25.00. This is an ideal Christmas present for the kids. It is not so difficult as to become boring, nor too easy as to be no fun - and this is one of the few jigsaws without any sky. The team imbecile, Judas Pastry, managed to complete the jigsaw in just under four hours. Above, you can see the original jigsaw pieces and the results of his labours. It is presented on flimsy A4 paper, to save on postage costs. E-mail the bagman to buy

A Very Serious:

CROSSWORD

Games

Vegetarian Crossword

Despite their long tradition, Blackheath Morris like to adapt to change and to reflect modern attitudes. That is why we have added a vegetarian option to our web site. We created this vegetarian crossword, and asked the team vegetarian to review it. Here are his comments. "I thoroughly enjoyed this crossword and will certainly be returning to try it again. These days, many places add vegetarian options because they feel they have to. Not so with this crossword - it is first class and is the perfect accompaniment to a glass of Elderflower wine. If I had to make one criticism, it is that there is no lettuce in it - but that is purely a matter of personal taste."

The many moods of John Offord

Our ex-Bagman, John (LJO) has retired and now does voluntary social work. He recently did a stint with the Samaritans, but left after 4 of the 5 calls he received committed suicide. 2 of those 4 had dialled the wrong number.

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Guns

Code of Practice

The concept of the gun, so legend has it, was introduced by AWOL, a member of Blackheath in the 1970's. Being an ex-army man, we assume it was from here that the idea originated. Recently, there seems to have been some confusion and dispute within the team about what constitutes a valid gun. After months of argument, the following code of practice was laid down. To a man, the team do not agree with this code of practice, but the majority feel that is should be published to avoid confusion. We believe that this code of practice ranks alongside any documentation produced by the EU in Brussels.

1) A gun may only be given by a team officer. The Gaffer is specifically excluded (save the exception in rule 2), as he may be privy to information that could adversely influence the outcome.

2) Where no gun-eligible officer is present and a gun is required then a secret ballot will take place amongst the remaining team. Nominations for the length of the gun shall be made and must be seconded. The "length of gun nominations" must comply with the rules laid down herein. In the event of a tie, the Gaffer may cast the deciding vote.

3) When the length of the gun is in dispute, the officer carrying the day shall be determined according to the event being undertaken by the team. At a Morris event or private booking, the gun officer ranking shall be Squire, Foreman, Bagman. At a practice, the ranking shall be Foreman, Squire, Bagman. At a team event at which there is no dancing, or where kit is not worn, then the ranking shall be Bagman, Squire, Foreman. The Senior Gun Determination Officer has the right to delegate the giving of a gun to a junior officer. When giving the gun to the team, the junior officer must indicate his authority (i.e. the delegating officer). The team must accept the gun, but have the right to interrogate the delegating officer when appropriate. If it is found that the junior officer has abused his position he will automatically be subject to a specific item on the agenda at the AGM, where he will be required to account for his actions. If his explanation is inadequate, he may be pelted with missiles, including but not limited to, a spoonful of Geva's vegetable curry, by the rest of the team.

4) Whilst a non-officer is not permitted to issue guns, they do have a responsibility to convey accurately to anyone who has missed the gun exactly what the gun is and exactly how much time has elapsed since the gun was issued. This is in case a non-officer arrives after a gun has been issued and neither the gun-issuing officer nor any other eligible officer is present. The conveying of inaccurate guns by non-officers should be a disciplinary offence reportable to the AGM and attracting a penalty no greater than and no less than that described in clause 3 for junior officers who abuse their position. (Without this guideline, non-officers will have a license to lie to the unwary about guns).

5) The length of a gun may not be divisible by five. The team may consider any such gun null and void and are not required to advise the gun-eligible officer of his mistake. The initial gun must be greater than six: of course, interim guns may be less, but still not divisible by five (see 8)

6) Where the officer realises his mistake, his corrective gun may not be less than his erroneous gun. For example, an erroneous gun of 10 may be replaced by one of 11, but not by one of 9. As before, erroneous corrective guns are considered null and void.

7) Where a gun-eligible officer gives a corrective gun, he may not seek to gain any alcoholic benefit from the additional length. A breach of this rule is classified as "unjust enrichment" and as a penalty the officer must enrich all members of the team present to the same degree.

8) Where an update to the remaining length of the gun is required, it may not be divisible by five. Breach of this rule invokes clause 6), with the penalty reference length being that which was last uttered. (If necessary, the remaining length may be determined by giving the original length minus the current length.)

9) The gun-eligible officer is solely responsible for the recording and monitoring of the gun length and the team have no right of dispute. Where a gun is given by proxy (see 3) the delegate assumes the same authority as the gun-eligible officer.

10) Advice of gun length may be given in any verifiable form: verbally, written (manuscript or text message). The use of morse code, semaphore, foreign languages etc. are allowable on the condition that there is someone present in the team who can make a full and accurate translation.

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