Photo by Robert Flach.
I've got more sticks for North West, but there's always the temptation to teach Border in preparation for Anonymous Morris.
What type of morris do they dance?
Here's what the Discworld wiki says:
Morris has evolved in many traditions, but it is usually a competitive form of group dancing using props (handkerchiefs, bells, sticks, swords) and pitting sides against each other in team precision and individual skill in athletic steps. Sides may have from four to ten performers but the Ramtops version calls for teams of eight: six dancers, a musician and a spare (in the very likely event of injury.) The extra man may also act as the "Fool", mocking and pretending to interfere with the dancers or passing the hat among the spectators. Outside Lancre Town there are eight standing stones known as The Dancers; one of the named individual stones is "the Piper".
The Lancre Morris Men are six-time champions of the Fifteen Mountains All-Comers tournament. The Ramtops style is rather more athletic and, perhaps, competitive, than many, and seems similar to Rugby in potential for injury. The Stick and Bucket Dance, particularly, has resulted in many long-term disabilities.
As one of their number said he once watched a bunch of cissy townsfolk trying it and there "wasn't even a groinin' in an hour", it seems that the whole point of the Lancre version is to triumph through the artistic application of fighting moves. Somewhat like ninjitsu. Which explains how the Lancre Morris Men manage to so effectively batter so many elves during the long night's dance during the events Lords and Ladies.
Note that this is a dangerous, competitive and probably combative dance. All of which reminds me of the cartoon series 'The Cloggies' by Bill Tidy.
The Cloggies, an Everyday Saga in the Life of Clog Dancing Folk was a long running cartoon by Bill Tidy which ran in the satirical magazine Private Eye from 1967 to 1981, and later in The Listener from 1985 to 1986. It gently satirised northern British male culture, and introduced a shocked nation to the scurrilous delights of Lancashire clog-dancing. This particular variation of the art involved two teams dancing towards each other in formation, followed by each attempting to cripple their opponents with gracefully executed knee- and foot- moves.
Remind you of the Lancre men?
In fact, 'Lancre' sounds a lot like 'Lancashire'...
'Lancashire clog dancing' is, of course, another name for North West morris. (the vast majority of NW dances come from Lancashire and we're the only morris dancers to wear clogs)
Which means that the Lancre men dance North West! Yay!
So, who's coming to the workshop and does anyone want to offer their services as a musician?
Being given a wonderfully detailed Omnian tract by a Watch member.
Getting a card for those who may be dead, depressed and suffering prejudice from the living.
Getting a happiness charm from a witch.
Meaning to leave an offering at the shrine of the goddess Procrastina, but never quite getting around to it.
Playing 'Empirical Crescent' (I think the Seamstresses made the playing map) and watching the expression of total bemusement on the face of the guy who won on the third move (his first turn) as sharikkamurand I congratulated him on his tactics and commented to each other on how we'd overlooked the totally obvious tactic that he'd made and thus double-bluffed the more experienced players. (That's one of the joys of playing Mornington Crescent spinoffs, you should never, ever explain the rules to novice players - he hadn't a clue what he'd done to win!)
Wearing a sari for the first time at a convention and getting compliments on it.
Doing poi to ZHL strings and having to go faster and faster as they speeded up the music!
Getting a bit of massage from Tal that did wonders for the back I'd hurt when I got out of bed - and being calmly filmed by Charlie as I swore every time she found a really bad bit while I was attempting to explain the Maskerade rehersal to his camera. (I'll be highly amused if that makes it into the final cut!)
A month or two before the con, they contacted me and said "How would you like to be a guild deputy?"
I thought about it for all of three seconds and said "Sure, why not?" (And when they gave me a choice, I opted for "Explorers, Wandering Teachers and Librarians")
About a month before the con, they contacted me and said "We're looking for someone appearing in the Maskerade who's willing to be filmed pre-con by a TV crew doing a documentary on Pratchett and Alzheimers"
I thought about it for about ten seconds, and said "Sure, why not?" and then "Oops, guess I'd better work on a suitable Maskerade entry" (So I started rehersing a new poi routine)
About a week before the con, they contacted me and said "The people running the dragon racing simply aren't going to be able to manage it, could you possibly take it on for us?"
So I thought about it for long enough to send a few emails to find out just what the dragon racing actually was, and said "Sure, why not?" and started working on a few ideas to add to the entertainment of the event.
How did it all go?
The members of the Guild were wonderful people, came up with lots of great ideas, entertained many people, entered/won competitions, manned a very popular book-crossing table that re-homed several boxes full of books, worked many hours as volunteers and propelled us to a very respectable second place in the Guild competition.
The TV man was great, filmed both pre-and at con, and I dare say (following the normal rule of these things) that I'll appear for a few seconds somewhere in the final version.
The poi routine (after many disasters and accidents learning it and loads of practice sessions in odd moments at the convention as I adapted the routine after leaving my original set of poi on a train...) came out fantastically well and without a single hitch on stage (and loads of people were lovely enough to say how much they'd enjoyed it).
The dragon races went really well. The extra entertainment that I'd asked the Guilds for meant that the gaps between races had everything from Klatchian dancing to a spirited performance of the Dwarf national anthem. (The words are "Gold, gold, gold, gold")
The (pre-arranged with the people who came up with the ideas) 'cheating' included everything from a pair of blue-skinned Nac Mac Feegle picking up a dragon and carrying him down the track at great speed, to the witches dosing a dragon with scumble and using a MacGonnagle to bewitch another with a sad ballad, to the assassins killing all the riders in the last race (apart from the one they'd bet on). (I gave guild points to all the victims who sporting died in suitably dramatic poses).
It was fun - and loads of people were lovely enough to say afterwards how much they enjoyed it.
The rest of the con was good too - I even saw some parts of it!
So I went up to as many of the committee as I could find afterwards, and told them how much I'd enjoyed it.
The Birmingham Metropole works as a con hotel (a few glitches, but more than overweighted by the plus factors) and those who went on the Explorer's Guild bat walk will tell you that there are three species of bats within spitting distance of the hotel!