Virtual May Morning 2020

Due to the Covid-19 crisis and ongoing lockdown, Oxford’s May Morning celebrations were cancelled this year, with our dancers all safely isolated at home.

However, tradition finds a way! And so, plans for a virtual May Morning were hastily made…

Our marking of the occasion began, as it does every year, with dressing Jack-in-the-Green – this time in virtual form.

A virtual Jack in the Green, made froma photo collage of green foliage, on a conical frame, with legs poking out of the bottom.
Our virtual Jack accompanied by Lobby, the mascot of the Ancient Men

Then came the day itself.

Many of us began by rising before 6am to listen to Daily Info’s broadcast of the socially-distanced Magdalen College Choir singing ‘Hymnus Eucharistus’ from their homes, imagining ourselves standing below the tower bleary-eyed, shivering in the early-morning mist or warming ourselves with the contents of assorted hip flasks and thermos flasks. From there, rather than to Radcliffe Square, we proceeded forth in a disorderly manner to dance a symbolic dance by ourselves in gardens, quiet corners of parks, and deserted meadows.

Most importantly, Mac danced a solo version of “Bonny Green” from Bucknell, which is normally performed around Jack-in-the-Green in Radcliffe square as our first dance on May Morning – in this case, an unsuspecting front-garden shrubbery made a handy stand-in for the spirit of Summer:

Those still following Daily Info’s livestream were treated to a spoons-playing tutorial from one of our dancers, Rachael, and a dance from the squire of the Oxford City Morris Men, amongst many other delights…

A teddy bear in morris dancing kit, holding a tankard of ale
Our part-time mascot Horace sent his best wishes from Bristol

By 9am, it was time for the traditional Morris Dancers’ Breakfast – typically served at Teddy Hall, but moved on this occasion to Zoom, with a little more variety in menu options than usual, and BYO beer.

Whilst our private festivities continued online, the morris-loving public(!) had the chance to watch a series of socially-distanced jigs, which our dancers and musicians had worked hard to compile over the preceding weeks:

Graham, Squire of the Oxford City Morris Men, dances Lumps of Plum Pudding (Fieldtown)

Rachael and Greg, accompanied by Stan, attempt a socially-distanced double jig! I’ll Go and Enlist for a Sailor (Sherborne), with at least 150 miles between each of the people involved.

Nerys dances the Princess Royal, accompanied by her own playing!

Our own Squire, Gerard, dances Ladies of Pleasure (Bledington)

Alex danced his own interpretation of None so Pretty (Fieldtown)

Our former Squire Jennifer dances the Nutting Girl (Fieldtown) in Dundee

Another dance from Graham – this time Ladies Pleasure (Fieldtown)

Rosemary danced a solo version of I’ll Go and Enlist for a Sailor (Sherborne), sent to us all the way from Berlin!

Gerard devised his very own new jig specially for the occasion, “the Lockdown”, in the style of Bledington, accompanied by his own drumming…

Meanwhile in Canada, Bob danced the Nutting Girl (Bampton)

Rachael dances the Nutting Girl (Fieldtown)

And last but not least, Gerard also contributed his rendition of the Nutting Girl (Fieldtown)

Normally, May Morning would end for morris dancers at the Rose and Crown on North Parade, where we’d dance until we could dance no more, drink beer, eat sausages, and eventually settle in to play music and sing songs… Unfortunately that experience could not be replicated by electronic means, but we did send our collective greetings to Andrew at the Rose and Crown, and in the general spirit, we have this musical offering from Nick & Jacqui McGuinn to finish off the day:

Until next year: Wassail!

A virtual Jack in the Green for 2020

This year we have been unable to meet to dress Jack in the Green, as we would traditionally do on May Eve.

However, we have made some efforts at a virtual Jack.

The first shows the process of construction from previous years:

time lapse sequence of leaves being added to Jack in the Green
The next has been constructed this year, from photos of Spring foliage sent in by our members from around the UK, and even from as far afield as Toronto and Pnom Penh. Here’s the assembly process:

And the finished article, completed on the evening of the 30th of April as is traditional:

A virtual Jack in the Green, made froma  photo collage of green foliage, on a conical frame, with legs poking out of the bottom.

OUMM Summer Dancing 2018

OUMM bridge of sighs
OUMM and OCMM dancing in Oxford during Bonn week, Summer 2017

Oxford University Morris Men’s summer dance-out calendar for 2018, in combination with Oxford City Morris Men,  is (provisionally) as follows – although please check our Facebook page for confirmation on the day in case of last-minute changes if you are planning to come and see us!

Wednesday 9th of May – 7:30pm at the Royal Blenheim, 8:30pm at the Bear

Wednesday 23rd of May – 7:30pm at the Red Lion, Old Marston, 8:30pm at the Victoria Arms, Marston

Wednesday 30th of May – 7:30pm at the Old Bookbinders, Jericho, 8:30pm at the Harcourt Arms, Jericho

Thursday 7th June – The Tap Social Movement, North Hinksey Lane – with Old Speckled Hen

Wednesday 13th of June – 7:30pm at the White Horse, 8:30pm at the Kings Arms

Wednesday 20th of June – 7:30pm at the Eagle & Child, and 8:30pm at the Gardeners Arms on Plantation Road

Wednesday 27th of June – 7:30pm at the Gardeners Arms (North Parade), and 8:30pm at the Rose & Crown

Wednesday 4th of July – 7:30pm at the Head of the River, 8:30pm at the Crown on Cornmarket

8th – 15th of July – Ancient Men on tour in West Cork & Kerry

Wednesday 11th of July – 7:30pm at thePerch, Binsey

Wednesday 18th of July – 7:30pm at the Lamb & Flag, 8:30pm at the Royal Oak

Wednesday 25th of July – 7:30pm at the Isis, Iffley, 8:30pm at the Prince of Wales, Iffley

 

OUMM at Folk Weekend Oxford

Impromptu music in the King's Arms
Impromptu music in the King’s Arms, featuring rubber-chicken-as-musical-instrument.

Folk Weekend Oxford usually marks the unofficial beginning of our dancing out season, coming a week or two before our official start on May Morning.

This year we were scheduled to dance on the Saturday, with stands on Broad Street at 10am (alongside Mr Wilkins’ Shilling and the very impressive Winchester Morris), and outside the Pitt Rivers at 12:30pm (with Whitethorn Morris and our local friends Cry Havoc) – and we even managed to fit in a sneaky music session in the King’s Arms in between.

One of our fans* has taken some very nice high-quality video of our performances at Folk Weekend. The 1080p-60fps setting really does us justice.

(It also gives the Squire plenty of opportunity to see who needs extra practice!)

*press-ganged morris partner

Ancient Mummers tour Jericho

’twas the Saturday before Christmas Eve, and so The Ancient Mummers performed the Holton Play in these pubs of Jericho, Oxford:

7:15pm The Gardener’s Arms
7:45pm The Harcourt Arms,
8:15pm Old Bookbinders,
9:00pm Rickety Press,
9:30pm The Victoria,
10:00pm The Gardener’s Arms (reprise)

It was a splendid evening and the generosity of our audiences has resulted in a collection of over £300 for Helen & Douglas House, the Oxford children’s charity. Many thanks to the publicans and customers. Merry Christmas!

Happy 90th Birthday OUMM!

On 17th October 1926, Oxford University Men’s Morris (OUMM) was officially established as a self-governing body. Immediately prior to this, much of the Morris in Oxford University seems to have been centred around the Oxford Branch of the English Folk Dance Society (EFDS). For more detail, delve in to “OUMM and its background.” by Roy Judge.

We celebrated the side’s founding at our 90th Anniversary Feast on the 25th of November 2016.

Below are some historical photographs from the OUMM archives, taken in 1926.

This photo is dated 2 June 1926.
This photo is dated 2 June 1926.
Dated 'Easter 1926', (early April), GTF is Geoffrey Fiennes.
Dated ‘Easter 1926’, (early April), GTF is Geoffrey Fiennes.
Geoffrey Feinnes reported this event in his diary: "8 May – The Heather Festival. This took place on the 5th day of the General Strike and it was very difficult to keep the Morris Men together while so many of their friends had gone off to do emergency jobs."
Geoffrey Feinnes reported this event in his diary: “8 May – The Heather Festival. This took place on the 5th day of the General Strike and it was very difficult to keep the Morris Men together while so many of their friends had gone off to do emergency jobs.”