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Let's start with a bit of culture, namely All's Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare. In Act II, Scene II, the Clown says:
No, I don't know what it means either but I am sure that it had them rolling in the aisles at the time and it does imply that morris dancers have been celebrating May Day since Elizabethan times. So Kettle Bridge Clogs uphold this worthy tradition by dancing over Barming Bridge (or Kettle Bridge as it is also known) every 1st of May at 7:15 pm. This is also our excuse for eating copious numbers of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.
This year, May Day had started quite showery (though not as bad as a Tempest, it must be said) but thankfully the rain had cleared by the evening. There has been a lot of work done on the Medway River path and the area by Barming Bridge is much improved, with the vegetation having been tidied up and a beautiful tarmac path laid.
A good-sized crowd had congregated by 7:00 pm when the dancers and band started to move to the far side of the bridge. After the obligatory group photo, the dancers lined up, the band started playing and the procession began, bang on time at 7:15. This was the first time over the bridge for two dancers, namely Wendy and Tracey, and they did really well. Ian challenged the audience to try to spot which were the debutante dancers — newbie or not newbie, that is the question. The May Day procession is a kind of initiation rite and they can both now consider themselves properly inducted into the weird and wonderful world of Kettle Bridge Clogs.
The ceremonial Churchtown dance over the Medway was followed by excellent performances of KBC Processional, Sidcot, Marston 8 and Annie's. No Comedy Of Errors here! In the meantime, Mary WJ took round the basket of badges and leaflets while Mary B distributed the traditional cake to the crowd. The sponge was delicious — in fact just As You Like It.
Proceedings at the bridge were brought to a close with the normal opportunity for the audience to have a go at dancing Churchtown. As usual, there was some enthusiastic participation, particularly from the youngsters.
Then it was up to The Bull for a couple more dances — Saint Helens Gala and Aughton. By now, the temperature had dropped and everyone was rather feeling the chill so no-one objected when it was announced that the dancing was officially over.
There was just the traditional group photo and the presentation of Eva's birthday cake to do before we all sought sanctuary in the pub. Here the celebrations continued with the singing and playing of May Day tunes. I suspect that there may have been some drinking too, as there seemed to be some Merry Wives in evidence and someone whose name I will not repeat got as tight as Andronicus. Everyone agreed though that All's Well That Ends Well. Kettle Bridge's season had now officially begun!
Chas Bedford attended this event and has published his rather excellent photographs on Facebook. I do encourage you to take a look to see how it should be done! Click here to see the photos.