Friday, 13 July 2012
Eagle and Child, Weeton
Sporting hanging basket head gear, clogs with a story to tell and braces grappling to hold the show together, the Original Garstang Morris Men danced like it was 1972.
The motley troop was once a fixture on the gala day circuit including starring performances in the 1972 and 1992 Guilds, before they danced off into the sunset.
After several of the troopers left Lancashire, with some even moving abroad, commentators claimed the Originals would never perform again.
But like former welterweight boxing champion Ricky Hatton chomping for a return, the Original Garstang Morris Men craved one last hit of glory in the Guild spotlight.
After long and complex negotiations between agents, the troopers dusted off their old kits and met at a top-secret location to begin practising for the most sensational of comebacks.
Within days the internet was awash with rumours the Originals were back. Their spokesman issued a public denial and after several men wearing flowery hats were photographed entering a church hall, he claimed it was a ‘coincidence’.
But later that week a press conference was called and before the world’s media, it was announced they would be performing at the Weeton Gala Day with a Guild date to follow if it went well.
And to the delight of the assembled crowd every clog clip, streamer stretch and tricky twist was performed with the same gay abandon which made them such a hit in their prime.
They formed up among a fantastic array of creativity and colour including a marching swing band, excited youngsters in fancy dress and a Muppets float to name just a few.
And what was at the very centre of this fantastic festival of British quirkiness?
Where was its heart? What bound the whole thing together? The Eagle and Child.
Set back from the green, jam-packed with character, tradition, a big beer garden and plenty of real ale, it is pretty much as good a village pub as you could hope for.
But occasions like the Weeton Gala Day show that places like this are much more than jumbles of old wooden beams and tankards, they are the fabric of rural society which turns a scattering of posh houses in fields, into a community of friends.
The Originals are now said to be stepping up their preparations for their Guild gig though they were last spotted enjoying the pub beer garden.