A great weekend and show

This weekend was the annual Thaxted Ring Meeting - that’s a massive meeting of Morris dancers in the small Essex town of Thaxted. I usually take the unicycle. In fact, I’ve been stopped by members of the public as far away as St. Abbs in Scotland and asked, “Aren’t you the one with the one wheeled bike at Thaxted?” (Fame, but, sadly, no fortune.)

The climax of the weekend is a massive show in the main street. It’s a proper English main street, with houses, cottages and a couple of pubs, and a market hall. The slender spire of the church stands guard at the top of the hill. Most of the buildings are hundreds of years old, with traditional Essex pargetting (decorative plaster work on the outside). It’s real ‘chocolate box’ scenery.

And it’s under the flightpath for planes landing at nearby Stansted Airport, but you can’t have everything.

For a couple of hours, the main street is closed to traffic, and a crowd of about 2,000 people watches displays of dancing by about 20 Morris teams. And while that’s happening, the Fools (including me) go round the crowd and keep them awake with tricks and routines.

A few years ago, all I could do with the unicycle was ride it. I could freemount most of the time, and I could steer, slow down, and stop. That was it. I ‘entertained’ the crowd by pretending (sometimes too convincingly) that I was about to fall off.

Last year, I learned to idle and reverse, but not confidently. I uncluded a bit in the show. It helped me keep at the right pace in the procession before the show starts - we have to process a few hundred yards down a hill at a speed slow enough for the musicians to walk and play.

This year, the idling is 100% reliable, as is the freemounting. Even with a few pints of beer inside me, the unicycle knew who was in charge.

And the reaction from the crowd was so much better. With confident idling, I could stop and talk to people. At the end of the conversation, I could reverse away and three point turn before riding off. If people asked if I could do any tricks, I was able to idle one footed, await the applause, then idle one footed with the free leg dangling. If you let on that something is an achievement, people will applaud it… my clapping the hands under the free leg trick raised a few laughs, and, for some reason, a little bit of hopping on the spot really impressed.

I know I’m more of an entertainer than a technical skills man, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much difference those few skills made not only to my confidence, but to the impact on the crowd.

Two separate people made serious enquiries about where they could buy unicycles, and asked sensible questions about wheel size, price and so on - they were both serious enough to write down www.unicycle.uk.com and www.unicycle.org. This sort of laid back performance gives people chance to show an interest in unicycling; in a way, I think it’s better than performing in a style which makes it look intimidatingly difficult.

I might get some leaflets printed with FAQs.!

Anyway, a great weekend, with lots of beer, lots of dancing, music and song, and made better by a slight leavening of unicyling.

Re: A great weekend and show

Sounds like a good weekend!

I forget who it was a while back saying they carried a few cards with various numbers and addresses on… I started doing this recently, it seemed quite a good idea…


Re: A great weekend and show

back in 1969 I went to the “feria” at Vic-Fezensac
(the place in Gasconny for err… gasp… bullfighting)
this is a really a wonderful place for brass-banders like me.

that year there were unicyclists that performed tricks in the crowd
(for example rushing towards you and performing a dare-devil U-turn, Ooops you were startled).

ever since I wanted to unicycle… and give it go only last year!

so you may have made more converts that you think!
just wait 30 more years…:wink:



Re: Re: A great weekend and show

If you ask Roger from unicycle.com, he’ll give you some of his cards to give to people, saves having to write stuff down all the time, or rely on people remembering www.unicycle.uk.com.