Gog Magog Molly – The Menace of the Fens

Gog Magog Molly – that’s what this dance troupe call themselves.

And The Menace of the Fens is how they describe themselves. Their dancing surely must (must?) have something in its history and genesis that is in common with Morris Dancing.

There is a comment on the page of their website that details the dances that states, “Traditional molly dancing was nowhere near this well documented, or danced with this much precision.” So Molly dancing must have a history rather than it being something dreamed up by the troupe.

A quick google for Molly dancing brought up a Wikipedia page that states

Molly dancing is a form of English Morris dance, traditionally done by out-of-work ploughboys in midwinter in the 19th century.

I don’t know what the origin of the coloured faces of this troupe is, but surely it is an extension of blacking their faces to conceal their identities.

Because Wikipedia also states that

Molly dancing is most associated with Plough Monday, the first Monday after Epiphany. Tradition has it that as a way of filling the gap between Christmas and the start of the spring ploughing season, the ploughboys would tour around the village landowners, offering to dance for money. Those who refused would be penalised in various ways (see Trick or treat) including having a furrow ploughed across the offender’s lawn.

The dancers, wishing to gain employment from those same landowners shortly afterwards, would attempt to conceal their identities by blacking their faces with soot and dressing up in a modified version of their Sunday best, typically black garments adorned with coloured scarves and other fripperies. It was originally an all-male tradition but with one of the members—the Molly—dressed up as a woman.

Man with green face lost in thought

Strange that when I changed the theme just now and posted this with only the photo, it (the photo) doesn’t show up except in the single post.

Let’s see whether adding text kicks it into showing the photo.

No, still not.

OK – changed the theme again. All OK now.

Aha, I think it is a problem with WordPress not syncing or clearing the cache or something, and probably not a theme problem at all. I say that because when I look in another browser, the text ends with ‘No, still not.’ and doesn’t pick up the next short paragraph. Will it pick up this paragraph now?

Why Does The Horse Hold Its Head Out Like That

This is a New Forest horse, or to be more exact, it is a photographic representation of a New Forest horse.

The horse is walking along, as you can perhaps tell.

I wonder whether someone who knows horses and horse behaviour can say what the angle of the horse’s head indicates?

It is not held high and it is not bent to graze, so what dictates that the horse holds its head out in front like that?

Maybe I simply never noticed that that’s what horses do when they walk? But I don’t think so.

Maybe it is the breed?

Second Version Of Horse

Acanthus Leaves

These are Acanthus leaves, not that I knew it when I photographed them in the Fellows’ Garden at Christ’s College today. I asked one of the gardeners and he referred me to the head gardener who was repotting a bush. The bush was one of two bushes, a pair, that had been in pots that dated from 1642 (or some similar date). One of the pots had broken into nine pieces and we agreed that four hundred years was pretty good going for a pot. So, because one of the two pots had broken apart, the gardeners had to repot both bushes in new pots.

So they were repotting the bushes and I asked what the plant was (I had taken a snap on my phone so that I could show him). When he said it was an Acanthus, my mind span off into my schooldays, being taught the elements of Greek architecture, with Acanthus leaves decorating Corinthian columns. Could I still trot out Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, the stages in Greek column design? Almost.


Here are the shrubs, min-trees, (?) in the pots. I looked at them again today and if I had to say what they are I would hazard a guess that they are Yew. But I am not sure. I looked for a gardener to ask but couldn’t find one. Maybe next time.

And here is a leaf I felt and bent over. Thin as paper, bends easily, not what I expected – I expected something stiffer.

The entrance to the Fellows' Garden at Christ's College in Cambridge, with the gate flanked by shrubs in pots - mentioned in the article
An acanthus leaf bent over to show how rigid or otherwise it is.