Saturday, 5 October 2013

promotion, mst, morris

A strange week.

Promotion within the library - a wonderful privilege but also much to take in. The MSt residence and meeting the students - a lovely, exciting few days.

Then the funeral on Friday. Very moving. A warm, life-affirming service in the middle of which the Morris side that is based at Alan's pub danced in the church crossing.

With apologies to Milan Kundera.

We sit in the chancel with the other latecomers because the church is so full and half-way through the service we hear the familiar sound of Morris bells. We stand up, lean forward and catch glimpses, imagining what must be happening.

Men in white with bowler hats dance in a ring, others skip in from the side chapel. Big men, slender men, young and old, each dainty enough to dance on a penny piece. Round and round they go then they step into the air - surely they must do - spiralling past the Anglo-Saxon stones, up through the floor of the belfry, past ropes, before bursting out of the medieval masonry, to join with jackdaws circling the tower. They look down at the ancient barrow in the churchyard, spy the outline of a Roman temple in an autumn lawn, wonder at the remnant of the Burford road heading for a ford in the Thames now long gone, the little market square at the base of the minster (where these days film makers create Downton).

Then they are suddenly back with us, drawing on every ounce of energy and poise, gleaming white and kicking chinkling bells, dancing for Alan. They tip their bowlers to the coffin and are gone.

(The photo? The three-fields walk, done early on Friday before the funeral.)


  1. Many congratulations on your promotion, Frank, and on that evocative piece of writing. I admired the sweep of history imagined from the Morris mens' view very much.

  2. A wonderful eulogy for your friend Alan, after last weeks post I thought nothing would top that, this did.

    Congratulations on your elevation!

  3. Thanks very much, Margaret and Rupert. The Morris dance was a very powerful experience - everyone I've spoken to has said that. I'm glad something of this came across in the post.