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May Day moans for the Morris

PUBLISHED: 14:44 07 May 2008 | UPDATED: 08:57 13 July 2010

DISTANT bells jingling ever closer is a traditional sound at our house on May Day morning.

They herald the return of my partner after he's "danced the dawn" in North Walsham town centre with the rest of his Weavers Morris mates.

DISTANT bells jingling ever closer is a traditional sound at our house on May Day morning.

They herald the return of my partner after he's “danced the dawn” in North Walsham town centre with the rest of his Weavers Morris mates.

I always look forward to hearing about the public reaction to this little-known English custom.

Last year a police officer arrived on the scene, summoned by an irate sleepy resident, and asked them to “move along now please”.

Several years ago a police car also cruised past them and they were given black looks by its occupants after a furious woman had thrown up her window and yelled at them in her pyjamas.

That was the year when the side included a former vicar of North Walsham, a well-known principal of a North Walsham sixth form college, a magistrate, a primary school head teacher and several other respected members of the north Norfolk community.

And there was the occasion when they had to dance and dodge their way around a refuse-collecting lorry which either didn't notice them, or didn't care, as it reversed directly into their path.

My partner's report was more optimistic last Thursday. Yes, the market traders who had been busy setting up their stalls had completely ignored them, but a couple from Mundesley had purposely got themselves up and driven to North Walsham to watch.

Weavers did cheat a bit this year. They didn't start dancing outside North Walsham's parish church until 6.30am - long after Dawn had risen and was back home cleaning her teeth after a leisurely breakfast.

And talking of breakfast - the dancers always like to end with the full Monty, so to speak. Fittingly it was the town's Cockerel restaurant which catered for the early-morning performers last week; opening up specially to serve them eggs, bacon and the rest.

Having spent the winter practising, Weavers are now in full “dancing out” mode and will most likely be shaking their hankies and bashing their sticks at a venue near you shortly.

This year they'll be passing round the hat to collect money for the Benjamin Foundation, which supports needy young people and others across north Norfolk in many important ways.

Look out for them at the Alby Crafts May Fair this Sunday afternoon, Barton Turf fete on June 7, various north Norfolk pubs on Thursday evenings during June and at the Benjamin Foundation's annual garden party in the grounds of Mannington Hall on July 12.

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