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Paul White’s Diary

Porch. Vestibule. Hallway. Lobby. Verandah. They differ in varying degrees. But any one of them would do.

Our cottage door opens straight out onto the garden. The elements have no trouble gaining entrance. Leaves and grass cuttings carpet the floor. And where to put muddy boots, dripping raincoats and wet doggies?

A vestibule would be my choice. I don’t know how it differs from some of the others but it is such a lovely word and it sounds the business.

As a stop gap we erected a greenhouse just outside the door. This was going to be a repository for welly boots, soggy garments and winter coats, as well as a towel to rub down the dog. And it worked! But gradually, it filled up with other stuff, too. Hammers, saws, screws, electric drills, chisels; indeed, all manner of tools and implements as well as large lumps of wood.

A greenhouse is not the ideal building in which to be manipulating lengths of 4 x 2 and sheets of plasterboard. But needs must. For not only do we lack vestibule but we are also without any kind of workshop. So far, amazingly, no broken glass. My next big project is to build myself a workshop and then the greenhouse will once again come back into its own.

Despite its relative success as a sunny workshop, there is the odd event that serves to frustrate. There was a case in point earlier this week. Two members of our fledgeling morris side have discovered that they both have a talent and penchant for Appalachian dancing. They’ve got the energy, the desire, the shoes: now all they wanted were boards to dance on.

I had the materials lurking in the depths of the greenhouse and while the construction is ostensibly a simple task, finding the bits and cutting them to size in the confines of the greenhouse/workshop/welly store proved just the opposite. Finding space to chop plywood into the right shape was not easy. I had to be careful with lengths of batten in order to leave the glass walls intact.

These obstacles I overcame but I lost a complete day looking for the wood glue and panel pins. Not in the greenhouse. Not in the car. Not in the place where I keep the lawnmower. They had clearly been nicked! They eventually turned up, of course, but I only found them by accident. In the kitchen! Don’t ask me why, I have no idea.

But we now have two boards, two eager dancers and once they hop aboard and strut their stuff, all the frustrations of the construction phase will be instantly eased.

For they will be part of our performance, which will be a good thing from many perspectives. It will instantly increase our range of dance, it will give two musicians a chance to get up and boogie like the rest of us and it will be something very different for the audience.

Our side is small but, of course, perfectly formed. Eleven people altogether. Four musicians and seven regular dancers. The dancing element is made up of four women and three blokes (including yours truly).

Recruitment is an ongoing process. People come and people go. Those who come sometimes can’t hack it. Others look for challenges elsewhere.

We have tried posters, which have had limited response. Stories and pictures in the local press have gained us recognition but thus far no newcomers. A Facebook page (Common Morris) gets people talking.

Perhaps the best results so far have come as a result of our performances. That gets the word about as well as anything.

One night when the hall wasn’t available because the local gardening club was staging its annual show, we all headed for the pub, invited friends along and had a really enjoyable music night. We repeated that the following month and there is another one coming up. These sessions also help to spread the morris message.

There is another recruitment method I am about to try. My middle name is David. One of the other blokes in the side is called David. And so is the other. Two weeks ago, we were aware of a bloke hanging about outside the hall. He was there to try out this morris thing. His name is David.

The David factor is strong in this side. Problem solved. A quick email to everyone in the parish with a David moniker should boost numbers handsomely.

Calling all Daves, and when is a greenhouse not a greenhouse?

Paul White’s DIARY

Sally’s board in action Journalist, editor, ukulele player, and singer, Paul White has been dancing the morris since the year 2000. He is a founding member of both Wreckers and Cat’s Eye in Cornwall, helped form Couptrain Morris (France) and Turncoat, and has also danced with Lodestone. Paul can occasionally be found in Europe introducing fellow campers to the joys of morris, using baguettes, umbrellas, or tent poles for sticks. contact: twitter: @morrisbells or Facebook

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