"Here we all are then together..."
Trying to organise Kemp's is tantamount to herding cats and has truly been the bane of our long-suffering (and now ex) "Reluctant Bag"! So, just this once, here we all are then together... in one place... at the same time.
First up, our collection of squeezers and cat-gut scrapers who somehow manage to bash out mostly correct tunes most of the time and so enable the dancers to shamble on and form a set.
Just as "everybody needs a bosom for a pillow", so every Morris side needs a Greg Snell. Affectionatly known as "Ned". Ultra reliable rememberer of tunes and can match name of tune or dance with how it goes. Possibly the fittest in the side... rides ridiculous distances on his bike but, unlike Gary, tends not to have drunken encounters with roundabouts and cars... organiser of the 2010 Whit Tour and cause of some uncharitable remarks from the Reverend Woodham re his navigational prowess.
Gary Creissen - long time dancer who, in deference to his knees and sundry other bits, has resorted to box playing. Understands the meaning of life and does things with plants... will argue that black is white after a few... owner of a serious Landy and multiple instruments - some of which he can play. A good day is when he replaces his volume of blood with beer... twice… Resident pedant… a bit rich coming from a Guardian reader. Meloderous Brother.
Paul Taverner can look a tad grumpy on occasions but he's not really. Pupil of the legendary "Win" Winstone, he has been known to play one dance to the tune of another... on more than one occasion! The other half of the (not very) famous Meloderous Brothers. Works on the well-known musical principle of "play enough notes and the tune's got to be in there somewhere"! Wife used to say he looked stupid in his sun glasses - since taking up the Morris, she now says he just looks stupid... ex Bagman.
Janet Anderson - long-term Kemp's "Man", scraper of the cat's guts and long-suffering wardrobe mistress. Keeps a constant watch on the Mens' breeches and stands ready with needles and thread at the merest hint of a split on the inner thigh. Declared that Paul's waistcoat has nine lives and is responsible for ensuring at least three of them.
Mike Jones - should more properly be listed under "Dancers" but known also for concertina wrangling and contributing much to our overall sound. Keeps us on the straight and narrow, solvent and in possession of public liability insurance... able to demonstrate that, given sufficient beer, mass is no impediment to height achieved in the leaping.
A man notable for having the most taped-up melodeon bellows in the Morris, Stewy has a vast repertoire of dodgy songs... likes hot tea... Has the ability to fall asleep whether seated or standing up and, these days, has to be coaxed out of hibernation .... into loud Hawaiian shirts and ukuleles.... also dances with Norwich Kitwitches... makes chilli vodka... no known antidote... you have been warned.
So now to those who puff, blow and generally make the dancing happen; some with a lifetime in the Morris and some lately arrived.
Jon Hooton - Squire from 2021/23 (note the shiny, silver-plated brass on his baldrick). Has probably lost count of the number of sides he's danced with and has had 1.5 minutes of fame on TV making learned comments on things historical. Plays whistles, calls for ceilidhs and dances jigs and French stuff. No wonder he looks so knackered.
Roland Wouters - our very own "Flying Dutchman" and relatively new to the Morris and Kemp's. Despite this (and being a 'foreigner' to boot), unanimously voted in as our current Squire. Highly promiscuous Morris tart who will dance with anyone. Knows a lot about science and colleague of Gary. Organiser of exchange visits with Helmond Morris. Jeff repeatedly blames him for leading him astray and forcing him to drink more beer. Unbounded enthusiasm.
A long-time watcher and loiterer, Jeff Hepple has been hanging around the Morris for ages and has finally been dragged, kicking and screaming, into Kemp's. Proof that old dogs can be taught new tricks. Always up for another dance and another beer. Sometimes falls off his bike on the way home and blames Roland when he gets that look from his wife (who is having none of it). Very popular as he has a large van and can carry sticks.
Pip Conrad - a perfectionist... so a rarity in a Morris side... knows lots of dances and can teach them to others... sometime purveyor of embrocation, surgical trusses and knee supports... a certified truss fitter and a big hit with village ladies of a certain age... such a nice boy. Our ever-patient Foreman.
Tim Huggins - a bit of a two-timing tart having been Squire of some other outfit in Suffolk whilst dancing with Kemp's... like Ford Prefect, always knows where his towel is... lives in the sticks and probably eats roadkill.
Bert Bremner - our (ex)"Reluctant Bag" and (current) public address system... loud. Citizen, comrade and local servant of the masses... a sensitive soul who also has the very handy capacity to laugh at himself... as well as others... has been known to take umbrage... Whiffler.
Peter Salt is a fully paid-up member of the "Zipper Club"... knows lots of history and thinks everybody else should too... dracophile and creator of Snap... can be argumentative... makes fairly disgusting alcoholic pick-me-ups that he disguises in a child's drinking bottle and offers to unsuspecting members of the public. Nuts!
The Reverend Richard Woodham. Old sea-dog in a past life but now keeper of our souls... ex Bagman who prays unceasingly for the current one.. Treats us all as lost sheep... blames his cardiologist for most things... wears a look of benign frustration and acute anxiety most of the time. Prefers not to dance Trunch Bypass as it reminds him of his time in Papworth.
Nigel Wimhurst - octogenarian, multi-instrumentalist and (still) a dancer... carries much of life in an old wooden vegetable box strapped to his bike... wears a trademark ill-fitting cardigan in a shade of pale orange that defies description... knows lots of dances.
Whilst most of Kemp's are losing their hair, Barry Mobbs' just keeps on growing. Some say that he wears a badger on his head.... whatever - it's not a wig. Married into a family who converse almost entirely in Norfolk dialect. Woodworker and transporter of sticks.
David Ball... fairly newish (by Kemp's standards) member who considers himself the "luckiest man alive" and, for the most part, wears a grin like the Cheshire Cat. Dances with great enthusiasm and usually ends up in the right place at the right time. Newly appointed Bagman for 2024 season... that'll wipe the smile off his face!
The ever youthful Steve Conneely still manages to defy gravity when dancing. Has a very large train set and gets to play with it on those bits of track overlooked by Dr Beeching. Tells awful jokes with incomprehensible punch lines. Organiser of a great many memorable Whit Tours. Known for violent streak when dancing Kett's Rebellion.
John Holt - dedicated and loyal Kemp's Man who takes every opportunity to tell us how good Woodside are (were). Would like Kemp's to dance Woodside dances. Very chatty and will talk to any and every member of the audience.
Howard Templeton... very experienced Morris dancer who often seems to be in a world of his own. Has battered old suitcase for trips away which he only thinks to pack when the transport is waiting outside his door. Sometime dancer with Golden Star. Dances with Kitwitches and does other weird stuff. "Planet Howard" must be a very surreal place indeed.
Conor Smith - will dance anything with anyone. Can dance and play box at the same time. Wears a permanent look of "I'm the cat who's got the cream". Winner of the Cliff Barstow Jig Competition 2023 and now assistant Foreman (a problem shared is a problem halved) to Pip.
Children of the Morris and other waifs and strays...
Adam Wade-Matthews ... once a Morris Minor but has grown a lot... undisputed champion low-slung breeches wearer and grower of dreads in his day.. had his eyes opened on the last trip to Winningen (allegedly)... can leap as high as Steve. Bouncy
Will Bremner... dances a lot with different sides and a proper musician who knows what those dots on lines mean... uses all the buttons on his many melodeons. Son of Bert but much, much quieter. These days a rare visitor this far East.
Theo Conrad... quite possibly the quietest member of the side and an all-round very nice chap. Has learnt his Morris steps at his father's knee (so to speak) and therefore dances with precision.
Norfolk (and Norwich in particular) has a long association with dragons... unlike Suffolk where the map just says "here be monsters". Kemp's have the support of two magnificent representatives of their kind... Snap is a delicate wee beastie and only comes out on very special occasions. Eric, on the other hand, is gregarious, very hardy and he do like a bit of rough and tumble!
Busty Rollocks is an essential member of our touring side... notable for his ability to extract cash from onlookers including the 20 quid note from a small child at Stokesay Castle (yes, we did check with the parents)! - he has no shame and knows no fear... given a free run down the hill from Monsal Head when he "got away" from Steve.
Harvey Hyatt... shy and elusive member of Kemp's. Known as "Lazarus" on account of him being exhorted to "come forth" from his tent and appearing to rise from the dead after a particularly heavy night on a Knots of May / Kemp's tour in Suffolk.
.... and finally, on the shoulders of giants...
Norris "Win" Winstone RIP
Patrick Maidment RIP
Mark Cook RIP
Tony Gomme RIP
Peter Mayne RIP