Wild Hunt Bedlam Morris, based in West Croydon, were only six dances into their show at The White Lion, in Warlingham, when officers gate-crashed and halted the display, following a complaint.Yes. One complaint. One.
After pleading with the officers to be allowed to continue, the 15 dancers were told to stop their Tuesday night show, in the interest of "community relations".Hmmm, I wonder what my chances would be of getting some boisterous Diwali dancers or Eid celebrants silenced for the sake of ‘community relations’? Probably slim.
And unlike DumbJon, I fear any new recruit challenged as to exactly what's so 'offensive' about morris dancing could reel off a whole spiel of guff drummed into him at Hendon.
The dancers are baffled and angry:
"It's the first time we've encountered anything like it.
"We felt treated like yobs. But we've got ex-oil executives, business owners and a school secretary in our group.
"We just feel aggrieved that something that has such a long history in the country, at a time when it is hard to keep the old traditions alive, should not be allowed.
"We do it for the love of it. It wasn't as if it was ad hoc, but we obviously offended someone."And in modern Britain, that’s all it takes, it seems. Despite the fact that morris dancing holds a particular position with relation to the bylaws:
So sacrosanct is Morris dancing, it was exempt as a form of entertainment under the Licensing Act 2003, so that pubs could continue the tradition at no cost.I wonder if the police were unaware of the rich tradition of morris dancing? Probably not. Not in Croydon. I bet you they could give you chapter and verse about Black History Month and the Gypsy & Traveller traditions, though! It’s bound to be covered in their diversity courses…
A White Lion worker, who did not want to be named, said: "The police came because they got a complaint from a neighbour.
"I think everyone was a bit surprised really. Morris dancers have been dancing around in the area for years, so I really don't understand it."Me neither.
A Surrey Police spokesman said: "We received a report from a member of the public about noisy revellers outside the White Lion pub in Farleigh Road, Warlingham.
"A neighbourhood police officer attended and spoke to a group who matched the description given.
"The noise had already stopped and no formal allegations were made and the group left the area without incident."Translation: “*shrug* Yeah? So? Storm in a teacup, innit? 'ere, sign my petition about that Winsor geezer, eh?”