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The Yangtze Incident
 
Pete Johnson of Leicester MM and Sem Seaborne
Pete Johnson of Leicester MM and Sem Seaborne

After a busy dancing season it's refreshing to take a week or so on vacation enjoying the traditional delights of another culture. However, Murphy's Law of Coincidence sometimes intervenes, as it did when Pete Johnson of Leicester MM found he was visiting all the same locations as Sem Seaborne of Icknield Way MM when they met in Beijing on the same extensive tour of China in September.

As Leicester and Icknield Way don't meet up that often (despite Dad (Ian Hubbard) being Squire of one side, and Son (Graham) being Bagman of the other), there were plenty of stories to swap in the bar after a day ogling the sights. However a great opportunity arose when after sailing down the Yangze River for three days, the prospect of a final party was announced with a request for guest participation. What could be better than upstaging the American Karaoke Elvis impersonators with some traditional English dancing to complement the excellent traditional Chinese dancing on display.

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The problem was that as the meeting was entirely unexpected neither Pete nor Sem had kit or music. With the help of an outstanding Tour Leader (Liu "Mike" Nanhui), bits of silk, coloured paper, flowers and sun hats were rapidly cobbled together and multi striped luggage straps turned into baldricks using beer mats as crests. Two bell-pads were fashioned from the tops and bottoms of the local Tsingtao Beer cans with enthusiastic help from wives and fellow travellers in generating sufficient empty cans. A Yamaha keyboard was located and although all the voices were labelled in Mandarin careful panel removal revealed English titles underneath.

Pete is not a regular jig dancer for Leicester but had recently attended one of Bert Cleaver's excellent instuctionals, and after appropriate amounts of Tsingtao recalled sufficient information to get through Fool's Jig (Bampton) and Ladies Pleasure (Bledington) with only one rehearsal. The vital "breather" between jigs was provided by Sem teaching the assembled audience of British, American, Canadian, German and Chinese tourists the words and actions to "The Man who Watered the Worker's Beer". The Chinese government have already launched an enquiry.

It all went to great acclaim, and could signal further opportunities for joint Leicester - Icknield cultural initiatives (Ian and Graham please note!). If anyone else has danced the morris on a boat down the Yangze, please let us know, otherwise we'll note this as a "first", executed with great missionary zeal and Tsingtao beer. Cheers.

Sem Seaborne
Icknield Way Morris Men
October 2005

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