Goldhill Fair, Shaftesbury with a little help from our friends

Goldhill Fair is one of our favourite regular dance outs. And we were lucky this year to get perfect weather for it too. Starting with the ritual coffee at the top of the said Goldhill – which featured a Hovis bike this year in honour of the fondly remembered advert to the strains of the New World Symphony. The view was truly wonderful this year.

imageOrganization was as usual – sign the side up for a time as appropriate and dance on the road in front of the town hall. It does seem a little haphazard arrangement whereby the sides sign up as they arrive, but it seems to work alongside the quite casual approach taken by the fair. It’s a good surface to dance on as well – flat paving blocks – with the obligatory manhole cover working its way into the middle of the arena as usual. We then tootle off for a perusal of the fair stalls – often requiring a stop and purchase at least one plant stall by one or two members. Or in my case the cider stall – there’s no room for more plants in my jungle/garden. Lunch in the Abbey Gardens has become more interesting of late as there is now usually a lunchtime musical interlude of some sort. It was KGB this year, although I think the lads were probably a little young to remember the Cold War at all. We cornered the bench up by King Alfred this year – normally we’re down on the grass – so we had a grandstand view for people watching. This is whilst being watched furtively out the corner of his eye by Alfred who has the most strange expression on his face.

Having put the world to rights over lunch, we resumed dancing, following on from a really good brass group – a couple of bass trombonists in there. Good round off with Always Look on the Bright Side of Life given that the Monty Python quintet are doing their last ever shows at the moment. We got three dances in before the rain really threatened. A few spots over lunch gave fair warning for the forecast deluge, so we counted ourselves lucky and called it quits – only to discover that it didn’t start raining and stayed bright and sunny, but we’d mentally packed up and gone by that time.

When it comes to our dance spots we come with clutter. Spare instrument cases, bags of sticks and hoops, kitbags, fleeces, shopping etc. We find ourselves a likely corner near the dance spot, hopefully out the way of feet and dancers, and plonk it all down. Then, clogs on, sticks in our mitts, we head off to entertain the unsuspecting public leaving our bags and things by the bench/wall/bin or whatever came in handy. At this point we need a little help from our friends. It would be so easy just to be hopeful of the honesty of the world and hope that they were all safe – after all, who needs a dozen bell sticks if they’re not a Morris dancer? It’s all our other possessions that’s left to chance: except that we have a wonderful set of guard-dogs. The tag-alongs, Morris Widowers, supporters, bag-carriers, assistant photographers, critics, husbands, partners and general good eggs are our unsung heroes. Without them, we’d be tied to the bag pile. At least one dancer would have to stay to guard the collection of belongings, especially during a procession where we start at the opposite end of town. Without our helpmeets and friends we could not do this. Without them there would be no photos of the event today – I was in every dance and couldn’t take the photos this time out (this happens quite often). So, in the best of non-English sentiments… “Whae’s like ’em? Damn few and they’re a’ deid.” Many thanks to our personal Unsung Heroes – long may it continue.

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