In our in most current section, the aim is to meet the average Britain to see what they get up to on a daily basis. This week our lifestyle and culture reporter was sent deep into the West Country to see what she could find. After three days she managed to find some wi-fi at a deserted Little Chef just outside of Ilminster to tell us she hadn’t found anyone.
But then the man who cleared her coffee cup with a barely recognizable ‘thank you’ seemed just about as everyday as you could get. So taking a chance she asked if he was game to be a feature for Everyday People and Their Everyday Lives, to which he replied,
“Oh err oi dunt knuw aboot thurt i never ‘eard of no rambler paper, buts why the hull nawt!” with a typical country smile showing little teeth.
The man in question, Talbot Winterbottom, 72, of Frog Lane, Dinnington has lived in the hamlet all of his life. In fact he has never been further then ten miles from home. This is because of his love for two things. The once great national game of Tiddlywinks and the traditional dancing of the Morris. And that’s all a man needs he says.
When you think of Morris Dancing, images of aging men with ale bellies and their alewives dancing and whacking sticks in the many lost villages of England, come to mind, and that’s exactly how it happens.
Sadly Talbot’s dance group has lost many of its members due to things like arms bums & tums and Jazzercise becoming more popular, even among the geriatrics of Deep Somerset. He began, what is known in the industry as prancing the Morris, at the age of 9. Since then he has never faltered a dance .
Through his passion for bells and neckerchiefs he found his other great love, Tiddlywinks, and was actually alive for the birth of the modern game in 1955. He is the longest running member of The Dinnington Winking Tiddlers Team. They have never won a game.
(Translated from the original dialect)
“Ever since I can remember I have been dancing and working my wrists. See there isn’t much round here by way of fun for a young lad. My father passed during the Second War due to a case of severe dysentery. My mother thought I might have been homosexual, she figured it was phase but when I kept dancing she realized what I loved. . .
I have seen the decades come and go, but the Morris endures till the end, as does the tiddly winks. I promised my late wife that I wouldn’t stop skipping and flicking, and I haven’t. I will do this to my last breath.”
As cities grow and technology consumes us, this old man still burns the flame bright for a culture that is being replaced. He endures in this green corner of England.