Morris minor, parts thereof…

Just a short film of a very small selection of the morris dancing and their bands yesterday in Stroud, there to celebrate Wassail. What a talented bunch.There were too many to film all of them all of the time, but these few give the flavour of the event. Make sure you don’t miss it next year. A brilliant way to cheer people at the most miserable time of year.

This was no morris minor.


See if you can spot this chap!



This was no morris minor.

A day out in Stroud to see the Wassail. Read all about where it comes from here

In actual fact, I saw more of the Morris men and women than the Wassail thing itself as by the time I’d had a spot of chilli and bread with the horse nearby I was at the back of the crowd outside the Subscription Rooms in Stroud. That aside I got loads of shots of the very fine Morris Dancers, who were all very accommodating, but then if you spend time decorating yourself like this you must expect some attention. I’ll leave you to enjoy the images, and will try and post a short film of the action tomorrow.



This chap looked good against the carpet shop


Some fine looking Morris Women too


This one had taken to a sheep, or might have been related.


And these two caught the eye, now where do they get their make-up?


No bull from this chap


This one was very fetching and fierce in his green hosiery.


The one behind this chap looks suspiciously like the chap in my drawing here

Country dancing of a sort.


This bloke’s day job is psychiatric nursing, I hope he takes the make-up off before his next shift. He was one of a group that had travelled down from Birmingham to perform.


And this one’s day job was sweeping chimneys, perhaps he’d come straight from work.

Last but not least was this chap, who was really dressed to kill. There was not a morris minor amongst any of them. They were all brilliant!




The new King gets busy.

Our latest episode of Nicky Tams the King of Nosepipe
as told by Gordon Thorburn and illustrated by myself




Why can’t people leave things alone?

“Never mind,” said King Nicky Tams The Easily Led, when he noticed his feet weren’t touching the floor. “Hello, everyone in Nosepipe. This is your King speaking. And a very special hello – to YOU.”

He couldn’t think of anything else to say, which hardly mattered seeing as nobody was listening, so he read the palace copy of the Nosepipe Courier and Advertiser. In the International section he was intrigued to see that some other countries didn’t have Kings ruling on their own. They had Governments to help the King, or Queen, and they had people called Prime Minister.

Indeed and amazingly, some countries didn’t have Kings or Queens at all.

King Nicky Tams, young as he was, could see the benefits of the Government system. The work could be shared: one for me, two for the Prime Minister, one for me, three for the Prime Minister. And if anything ever went wrong, you just blamed the Prime Minister, fired him or her and found another.

But who should he have as his Prime Minister, the first ever in Nosepipe? His Dear Mama filled the bill but Nicky Tams wasn’t THAT easily led. In fact, he thought that when he grew up, he might change his name to King Nicky Tams The Not As Green As He’s Cabbage Looking.

Next to Dear Mama, the cleverest person he knew was a girl in his class at Nosepipe County Primary called Ealfritha Agnetha Hrothgardottir (pronounced Ay-al-freeta An-yetta Krottgar-dotteer. Didn’t they have funny names in the Olden Days?). Ealfritha could recite her thirteen times table without ever making a mistake, and she could do long division.


…and can I change my name to Tracy

The King summoned Ealfritha, showed her the newspaper and asked her if she would like to be Nosepipe’s first Prime Minister.

“What’s the money like?” said Ealfritha. “And can I change my name to Tracy?”

“One thousand Brass Farthings a year,” said the King. “And yes.”

“Better than a slap in the chops with a wet haddock,” said Ealfritha, AKA Tracy, and that was that.

“Your first job,” said the King, “is to nip down the corner shop and buy up all the Eye of Newt. Here’s the sponduliks.”

“Certainly, Your Nicky Tamship,” said Tracy, and off she went.

“Dear Mama,” called the new King. “Dear Mama!” Scary Mary arrived, looking very pleased with herself.

“Dear Mama,” said the King. “My very Dear Mama. That which thou hast done unto my father, lo and behold, so one day couldst thou do it unto me, even with a toothbrush or any small, straight thing.”

King Nicky Tams had gone all old fashioned and high up, carried away with the excitement and importance of what he was saying.

“It shall not be. Away with her!” he cried to the palace guards. “Cast her forthwith into the deepest dungeon.”

“You can’t do that!” screamed Scary Mary. “You dirty rat. I’ll… I’ll… I’ll… turn you into a… I know. A cornflake.”

Queen Scary Mary grew even more scary as her eyes narrowed, her shoulders hunched, her fingers flickered, and she began her second Royal Spell in 24 hours.


See that moron on the throne?

Crinkle up his skin and bone!

Crisp him like a flake of corn…

‘Ere! Me Eye of Newt’s all gorn!

And so it was, because the King, thinking ahead, had pinched it out of her handbag. She couldn’t get any more and so that was her stitched up.

The palace guards took her down to the deepest dungeon, cast her forthwith, and there she was left to write her memoirs in permanent obscurity. Well, maybe.


…and there she was left

Tracy, meanwhile, had disposed of the last remaining Eye of Newt in a safe place, by which she meant a place only she knew about. She then returned to the King’s presence.

“OK, Your Nicky Tamsness. I’m in the shop and I’m like, all the Eye of Newt, please. I mean. How cool is that? What’s next?”

King Nicky Tams The Easily Led thought about this question. If the same question had been asked of his late father, the Muscular King, the answer would have been a resounding “Nothing”, because nothing really needed doing at that moment.

The country, after years of enlightened and muscular management, was running very smoothly. Don’t try and mend an engine that isn’t broken, the old king might have said to himself. Instead, his son said, out loud and to Tracy, “What do Kings usually do?”


Looking for a seam


I like to look for a project for the coming year and when I find something, I will probably ‘do it to death’. A bit like a stand-up comedian who finds a good story to follow and then proceeds to mine it for all it’s worth, I try to do the same.

I’m not sure quite which seam to mine this year but folk dancing and ancillary musicians might be one. The danger at times for me is that I leave the seam before fully exploiting it, so haircuts had their day but there are more to be done there.

Hair today and Hair tomorrow…

Border guards had a fair outing but they too found their way out of their predicament and are probably now, still together, guarding a building site somewhere, and still not speaking to each other.

Wiggling extremities together, will it help?

The British Character was given a good going over and is also an unfinished project in some ways. It was great fun to do but I’m ready to try something new.

Pont: Graham Laidler, and the British Character

I’m posting my contribution to Gordon Thorburn’s book, the next one is due to be here tomorrow. I have been complimented on his words quite a lot and have tried to make it clear that they are not my words, just my pictures, but hey ho, whatever.

The first one started here and is every week until it ends naturally. It’s a fun piece.

Nicky Tams, King of Nosepipe

My little red book is still around and was another of the seams that I mined for a while. In this instance, I did finish it and had it printed. What I’ve not been very good at is selling it. All very well doing it, another prospect getting the great British public to buy it.

My Little Red Book: Glossary

The key to all my projects is that I have to enjoy doing them. Not a bad way to spend the day, only marginally better than succesfully growing carrots.

The carrot barrier, how’s that sweet pea?







Country dancing of a sort.

I recently did this drawing and the original is going to be sold for charity by my chum Robin, who is keen on this sort of thing. For those of you not familiar with this sort of thing, then it usually goes under the title of Morris Dancing. I’m sure you’ll find out lots more about it on-line, and you could start here:Morris dancing . I’m not a massive fan myself but remember well when I saw some females of the breed doing a very energetic version up in Yorkshire many years ago. It really was something to behold, with the added excitement that they seemed to be bashing rolling pins with each other, and they wore clogs to give it extra frisson. Frisson? They won’t like that up in down to earth Yorkshire.

“Chums? You can’t keep calling people Chums”, I am being told.

“Why not? ”

“It sounds like you’ve just stepped out of the pages of a 1950s comic about school pals and the like”

” Well if he’d been at school with me he would have been a ‘chum’ but he’s too young for that. So I shall continue to call him a ‘Chum’. I might even call him an ‘Honourable Chum’.



More magic from Scary Mary.

Our latest episode of Nicky Tams the King of Nosepipe
as told by Gordon Thorburn and illustrated by myself




This is an extremely scary part of the story which must only be read at room temperature.

That night Scary Mary started her spell. As it was to be a spell against the King, she needed one very special ingredient. Without this special ingredient, spells cannot harm Persons of Royal Blood. She needed… Eye of Newt!

She also needed some chocolate mouse-dirt, some fluff that had been blocking up the Hoover, and a bit of that greeny blue fur which you can find at the back of the fridge on a small piece of paté wrapped loosely in aluminium foil. If there is no greeny blue fur, there will be some thick, wrinkled skin on an egg yolk in the bottom of a tea cup. Use that instead.

Magic Words are also required, plus a few more ingredients. The ingredients should not pose a problem but the words might. Please. DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, READ THESE WORDS OUT ALOUD, at any temperature. Someone might hear them and shout them out backwards at you. So:

Eye of Newt and Low Fat Spread,

Dead Fleas from the Doggie’s Bed.

Juice of ONE Frog, freshly squeezed,

Hanky Scrapings, freshly sneezed.

Crisps of Cheese and Onion flavour,

Chew it up and never waver.

Curry, past its Best Before date…

(deep breath)

Then, taking off one’s slippers and sneaking down the corridor past the sleeping sentry, up the stairs and around the corner to the King’s bedchamber…

Nickytams4 2

In total silence, at the door wait.

This is exactly what Scary Mary did. When she heard the King going to the loo she crept into his room, spat out the spell mixture onto his pillow, and scarpered.

The King came out of his bathroom and got into bed. He put his head on the pillow, took one accidental sniff and leapt back into the bathroom. There, he attempted to remove the spell mixture with his toothbrush.

And that was how they found him the next morning, standing stiff as a board in his pyjamas with his toothbrush up his nose.

Prince Nicky Tams was immediately proclaimed King Nicky Tams The Easily Led, and was shown into the throne room. He ascended the throne. When he’d ascended it and sat down, his feet didn’t reach the floor.


Same time, same place, next week, next episode.

Thanks for dropping by.

Recommended reading for the next year…


Apart from the above you might consider the following blogs that I found really fun to read, and as you speak the next lines you should assume the voice style of “Smashy and Nicey” ( UK readers will understand, the rest assume a second-rate Radio DJ style )

Smashy and Nicey


Coming in at Number 5 its Phil Taylor with his American take on stuff, he mentions names in his blog that we over here have never heard of, but it does n’t seem to matter. He’s a funny guy, but then you’d need a sense of humour over there…

Phil Taylor

Squeezing in at Number 4 is Julie writing as Mawil! Who would have thought that I’d find women running of the slightest interest, now that sound a little weird so we’ll skip on through. I find it strangely entertaining.

Woman Running Blog

Here at Number 3 is an Irish bloke writing about loads of things, his family being one of them. It’s a really good read. Look out for it


I’m ashamed to confess that coming into the Number 2 spot, it’s Becoming Betty. Here’s someone who reports and reviews American food, mainly it seems from somewhere called Trader Joe in California. I wrote a blog saying I thought that their food must be the root cause of their problems, if this is what they eat! It’s a fascinating journey through ingredients and sugar. I can’t resist it.

Betty’s Blog, though she’s not called Betty

No doubt about my top of the blogs blog-pickers. It has to be The Immortal Jukebox written by Tom Hickey. I look forward to every one of these blogs and find that after I’ve left it I always, not only feel better, I’m better educated! And I go looking for the music he posts. It really is by far and away one of the best out there. Number 1!

You must go there

Number One Hit

I wonder who’ll be my top of the blogs next year.


There are several others not far behind these, and my tastes change from month to month, even from week to week. Others not mentioned but well worth a visit are Dave What, fresh from the UK City of Culture Dave What

Spellchecker is so insistent here that what has only one t! He has two.

And then there’s A Northeast Ohio Garden

Some great pictures on here and what’s not to like about gardening?

And then there’s Max Gor, the London photographer chap

I just love his pictures of people, not all of the time, but most of the time. He has a real skill and I suspect he must have a charming nature, and nerves of steel to ask if he can take the pictures of the people he features. Well worth following.