The members of the Team were invited to submit their own spiel. Most of it is true, some has to be taken with a large bucket of salt.  In many cases, where apathy has got in the way, the webmaster has had poetic license to make it up!

Life President

John B [JB]:

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Founder of the side, many times Foreman [Teacher] Squire [Leader] and Bagman [Secretary]. John has been given the tribute of Life president for his ceaseless contribution to the side. He set the standards that we continue to aspire to achieve.

Also, he has been accused of having eyes in his backside, as well as the sunshine coming out of it!

T’committee

  Steve L:  Squire [Noble Leader?]

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Being a  friend of JB’s, he was in the unfortunate position of practicing a Marathon Run with John when John asked if he was interested in dancing. Steve tentatively joined us, and stayed [The fool!] For 15 years or so Steve has managed to avoid high office, but this year was railroaded in to the role.

Martin B: Foreman [Dance teacher]

Martin has been with the side from 1993, and had no previous dance experience, but has proved to be one of our best dancers. Martin has the dubious privilege of  trying to keep the standard of dancing up. He takes a lot of stick, but also gives it

Ken H: Bagman [Secretary]

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Only recently joined us in 2010, Ken has the proven ability as an administrator of a team’s most arduous and thankless job. So whether he wants the job or not, he’s got if for life!

Critch: Moneybags [Treasurer]

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Critch’s miserly attributes make him an excellent Moneybags. However,  in 2013  he had an aberration and bought a pint each  out of the bag for the side! He’s still getting over it!

T’musicians

We have a policy of having only two or three  musicians playing for us when we dance in public. We have learned that too many musicians spoil the broth [Er,  I mean Dance]. The music becomes ‘mushy’ to the ear, and  the dancers need to hear the music accurately for meter and timing, as we frequently say “The Music tells us what to do”. All of our musicians are or have been dancers, so they know well how to time the music to the dancing.  It’s by ear and experience, not notes on a page!

John S:

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John is our principle musician, in younger days an excellent dancer. Now he prefers to play button melodian, also Ukulele in post dance pub sessions.

Al C:

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Al, a former dancer is now our second Musician. He will occasionally dance at practice, but prefers to play.

In this picture, he looks  to be in pain, but is actually mid-song in a post dance pub session. Al is an excellent Concertina player.

Glen B:

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Founder member of the side. Occasional side musician, and stand-in Foreman. He is also an excellent dancer and has been dancing since the late 1960’s. Glen steps in to the music as a break from dancing, or to support or replace the above two musicians when necessary. Glen plays piano accordion.

The mere Common Folk!

Baz B:

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Baz…. Upon returning to England from the far-East, Baz found the local ‘rave’ scene lacking, and scoured the local nightclubs for a good dance!  Alas only short skirts, bulging bellies, and tottering anti-tottie could be found, and conversation let alone a good dance was sadly lacking!  Disregarding all ridicule from his peers and accepting the social suicide such a move would surely make, Baz followed his old man’s encouragements to join Tarka.  What a bloody good idea, finally social dancing lubricated by self-medicated mind altering drugs such as snuff and ale, and great banter!!!… not so different from the ‘rave’ scene he had so desperately sought!!  The rest, as they say, is history!… Baz

John W [JW]

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JW fell into bad company when he moved to N Devon and woke up to find himself a member of Tarka Morris Men. He’s stopped wondering why now.                    Why? It makes people smile; it shows there’s a life beyond X Factor; its in nobodies pocket and never has been; its  anarchic and disciplined at the same time; it’s a chance to show off; its male fellowship; it’s the music made visible. .. JW

Jeff B:

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Founder member of the side.
Jeff and our illustrious leader JB were running partners for many years before the formation of Tarka and shared many 10 milers and half marathons together. It was on a  cold wet January night and Jeff & John were running together when John uttered those immortal words ‘I’m going to form a men’s Morris side, how do you fancy joining?’ After deliberating for all of 10 seconds Jeff though ‘ this would be different’ and consequently was one of the founder members of Tarka. Jeff also tells the story of the time John went to London to watch the London Marathon and agreed to take photos of the Bideford Running Clubs athletes, including Jeff.The only problem was that John forgot to put a film in his camera!
Jeff is always renowned for his generosity and is always the first man to  take out a shilling or two and buy drinks for the whole side. [I don’t think so- ED]
Over the years Jeff has been Squire and also keeper of the original scrapbook – pre-digital imaging.  As Squire he was quite often the butt of many jolly japes. On one of Tarka’s local tours in the early 1990s he lost his coat and eventually found it fluttering at the top of the flag pole at the Beaver Inn, Appledore. Mr Glover, the side’s clown, had a mocking look on his face but the jolly jape was returned (on Glover) in the form of Hettie Bumphrey- but that’s another story! Jeff also hosted many parties at his home for the Morris and other assorted scallywags. At one such party the contents of his drinks cabinet disappeared and were eventually found buried in an adjoining allotment garden. Never mind, they were still drinkable, which is more than can be said for the bottle of champagne found in a bucket of Morris men’s urine. Tarka has played a large part in Jeff’s life for  2 decades or more. Although there has been much merriment from members old and new it was the dancing and particularly the way Tarka danced that appealed to Jeff’. After one particularly vigorous performance of the Quaker in Morlaix Square, France, Jeff was heard to say ‘I’m knackered, but that was nearly as good as running a half marathon’. In all a brilliant 2 decades or so.
Thank you Tarka members old and new!… Jeff

John E. Known as John The Vic; Team Chaplain, Dancer

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Bumped into Tarka Morris in Appledore in 2008 and was given a telephone number which I rashly phoned some months later. Pleased I did because I have always liked watching The Morris but previously hadn’t had the ‘bottle’ to try it. Wasn’t easy – but everyone was very supportive and its great fun and good companionship…. John the Vic

[John’s gentle sense of humour is a joy to the team. He has an friendly earthiness rarely shown by members of the Clergy.  His prayer for grace: “Heavenly Father, Lord Divine, who turneth water in to wine, bless this day, these humble men, who try to turn it back again!” -ED]

Phil O:

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At Phil’s request we have omitted his photograph for security reasons. Danced in his youth, but spent many years working for various forces. Recently joined Tarka after retiring from full time work.

 

Gordon B:

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Moved to North Devon after retiring as Flight Engineer on Concord. Keeper of the Side’s Scrap Book, and , yes, his hair is NATURALLY brown and he is fit [swine to both!- ED], even in his progressing years.

Phil H:

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Founder member of the side.

Phil saw Green man Morris Men at his school’s fete in 1964, when he was only  15. He liked what he saw. Whilst on a weekend home from university he saw Faithful City Morris Men at their first Dance out in 1968, and was then asked, within a few weeks, whether he would like to go to a practice with Manchester Morris Men. He was hooked. Subsequently, after starting out with Manchester Morris Men [where he first met Keith L, below] he danced with Faithful City, Southport Swords, Oxford City Morris Men, Barnstaple Morris Men, Muddiford Morris Men, and then Tarka Morris Men. Oh! By the way, he is also a founder member of the Original Welsh Border Morris Men. He still dances occasionally with Oxford, Faithful City and annually with OWBMM. He has, what is common with Morris Dancers, OCMMDD (Obsessive, Compulsive, Must Morris Dance Disorder), ask his long suffering wife!

Indeed ask most wives/partners many of whom will identify with this in their own male Morris dancer!

Woff:

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Previously with Barnstaple Morris Men, and a founder member of Tarka.  Tarka Musician, Woff is now unable to travel with us and only turns out once a year on Boxing Day.

Country Members

These are members of the side who live outside of North Devon, but contribute, when they can, to special events/trips away

Keith L:

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A friend of George C:
Dancer and musician, Keith started Morris with Manchester Morris Men in the 1960’s. Since moving to Swansea in 1971 he has been a stalwart of The Men of Sweyn’s Ey, and a country member of Isca Morris. He has joined Tarka both in Devon and at away fixtures…. Keith

George C:

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Founder member of the side

Morris dancing – wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole due to being “volunteered” at the age of about 9,  to dance with a visiting Morris team. I hated it.  About 30 years later I was taxi-driving my 8 year old son, Jonathan, to a Men of Sweyn’s Ey Morris practice and they were one short. I still don’t believe I allowed myself to be cajoled into filling the gap…., but I’ve never looked back.

I changed jobs three months after joining Men of Sweyn’s Ey, and immediately joined Muddiford and  Milltown Morris Men in North Devon. However it took a year to sell the house, so I was practicing in Devon, and was just about good enough to dance out with Men of Sweyn’s Ey at the week-ends!

A year after moving to North Devon I heard that a new side was starting – Tarka. My son and I were both there on the first practice, and I regularly danced with both Tarka and Muddiford for the next 7 or 8 years. Brilliant  times – the dancing, the people and the après Morris. My major problem was trying to remember which side I was dancing with, because there was quite a lot of overlap of dances from the same tradition, but with each side doing it in their own style.

A move then to Scotland, so farewell to Tarka, and I then danced for 3 years with Jenny Geddes, a North West team in Edinburgh. Back to academia for 3-4 years, doing A PhD based in Watford, when I returned to Cotswold Morris, with St Albans Morris Men. An excellent 3 years with them, and at around that time I re-established contact with Tarka, with occasional dance-outs at festivals such as Upton on Severn, with the main highlight being a trip to China – a privilege to be invited. Also, at around the same period, two trips to the Czech Republic with Isca Morris Men. A Morris tart? You decide.

For about the last 8 years I have been dancing with Bristol Morris Men. More Cotswold but with little overlap on traditions between Bristol and Tarka, so dancing with Tarka can be interesting: Valentines at Bristol is Ascot, at Tarka it’s Fieldtown. Autopilot doesn’t always work! At Bristol I was Bagman for a couple of years and was elected Squire this year. They haven’t kicked me off – yet!…George

Steve M:
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Having moved to Chelmsford in 1983 I was looking for that little “something” to fill the evenings, when I saw Chelmsford Morris dancing. After their summer dancing had finished I was encouraged to come the winter practices. After a few months I was taking my first dance out. What a great time was had by all, at the dancing and the sessions in the pub afterwards, together, commonly with like minded people. I was hooked. After twenty years, and moving to Devon I thought that the time had come to hang up the bells. How wrong I was. An invitation to join Tarka and travel was too good to turn down. After China, the trips and special events have become a little less exotic, but still remain a great way to keep my hand (feet) in, and meet up with a group who know how to enjoy themselves…. Steve