But the Club did continue, and at the first meeting of the Autumn term, the leadership devolved upon Jack Heaven. A benedictory telegram from Cameron was then opened and read:
"Foot it featly and keep it up"
(Signed) Old 'un.
Subsequently, a long-sword, bright and shining, was engraved with the names of all those who were members at the time, including that of the Club's honorary member, Mrs Matthews, and at the practice on January 10th, 1930, it was presented with suitable ceremony to Cameron in recognition of his services.
During these pre-war years the public side of the Morris had a very different character indeed. There was little by way of 'tours' as we now understand them, but instead an enormous number of formal demonstrations was given in a wide variety of circumstances at fetes, schools, churches, Women's Institutes and all manner of public events. Some were not without their humorous moments, as for example at a function in aid of the London Hospital (1934) when the men danced before a small audience in a marquee, on grass and sloping ground with a tent pole in the way.
Breakdown in transport both public and private occurred from time to time, while problems of music amplification were encountered as early as 1932 in Oxford "from a mullard van". Even keeping the log was not without risk: on one occasion the 'chronicler' found it difficult to give an accurate account of the meeting on Friday June 15th 1934 owing to his late arrival in a state of inebriation.
Competitions and shows were very popular at this time, some of the dancing being conducted on a scale sufficiently large to require the use of the Albert Hall. The frequency with which the Club entered competitions is matched only by the frequency with which they obtained high-marks, and some of the mark sheets together with the judges' comments have survived to be included in the log. At the Ilford competition in 1927, Greensleeves carried off the prize in the sword section with Escrick, and later that afternoon decided to make a last minute entry for the Country Dance section in collaboration with the Lumps of Plum Pudding, which called for a hasty rehearsal in an empty marquee some four minutes before going on. Their subsequent performance drew from Douglas Kennedy the remark that he was "please to see that the team was not over-drilled".
It was in 1927 that someone in the Club coined the word 'preliminating' to describe the competitive selection of teams aspiring to be chosen for the Society's Annual festival, or even for the Albert Hall. One of the preliminating events was held in the Parry Theatre of the Royal College of Music, where dancers were required to perform on a stage more suited to opera, in front of a sky-blue back-drop and with a piano in the wings. Such surroundings tended to make the Greensleeves side self-conscious, but they were nevertheless selected to appear at the Albert Hall by the judges (Roland Heath and Douglas Kennedy) one of whom observed of Queen's Delight that "the split jump has an arm movement which I notice that they avoided tonight". The Albert Hall meetings were themselves grand affairs, and if the programmes are to be believed the Club is likely to have danced to music directed by Ralph Vaughan-Williams or Imogen Holst.
Problems of attendance at practice were in evidence from the start. In 1930-1 they seem to have been particularly acute when the average attendance was six and two-thirds men. The Log does not tell us whether the two-thirds man danced or played music, but it must have been interesting.
The Formation Of The Morris Ring
In April 1934, Joseph Needham of Caius College, and Squire of Cambridge Morris Men, sent to William Ganiford a copy of a circular letter which had already been distributed to Morris clubs at Oxford, Thaxted, Letchworth and East Surrey. Needham apologised for the letter's late arrival:
"By an unfortunate oversight, it was forgotten that 'Greensleeves' should have received a copy at the same time, and I sincerely trust that you and the members of your club will forgive this error."
This was the letter which proposed the foundation of the Morris Ring! The error was duly forgiven and after some discussion within the club it was agreed that Greensleeves should become one of the founder members; though in his summary of the year's activities, the Squire expressed the misgivings felt in some quarters about this move:
"It is believed and hoped that this will not in any way ... curtail (the Club's) independence."
The association between Greensleeves and East Surrey has been a long one, the first outing taking place on May Day 1937. This was entirely successful, thanks to Greensleeves member Len Bardwell who happened also to be the East Surrey Bagman! The log comments "May it be the first of many at which the Club is represented."
A Ring Meeting of the same year at Thaxted was the first of its kind attended by the Club. In those days meetings were devoted to formal instruction in a selected tradition or traditions on Saturday mornings followed by the public dancing of them during the remainder of the day. On this occasion the log records laconically, "yet another variety - hopefully put forward by the Squire as final - has now appeared." Collections made during public dancing through the entire event amounted to ten pounds. During the speeches (which were too long) at the ensuing feast, there was remark on the "constant itch to improve dances which need no improvement."
The following year the Club was again represented at Thaxted, though only two members managed to attend the later meeting at Stow-on-the-wold, and they returned with the news that "the speeches were more numerous and deadly than ever." But this did not deter Greensleeves from attending the Spring meeting of the Ring at Cecil Sharp House in March of 1939, where
"....instruction in Headington .... under William Kimber .... was, as usual nowadays, a matter of telling us what we had learnt and danced hitherto was all wrong; for instance, in the heys we were told that the middles must always go up, which means that they never dance the figure of eight of the hey at all."
Later that year there was another tour (May 13th) with East Surrey, again the work of Bardwell and a little under four weeks after this came the annual visit to Thaxted. It was by all accounts a good meeting, and
"In consequence of a strong rumour of free beer at Castle Hedingham all Greensleeves members allocated themselves to this tour."
At this point we come to the outbreak of war. The first meeting of the new session was cancelled owing to so many members being involved in the evacuation of children. Subsequent practices became less frequent and the Club found it impossible to present a full side at the Ring Meeting. However, those present at the Feast decided that arrangements for the ensuing Thaxted Ring, should go ahead, but all other proposed meetings dropped. Practice was resumed in May of 1940 and continued through the summer, but entries in the Log become increasingly brief until the record is brought to an abrupt end by a short dramatic statement which seems also to mark the end of Greensleeves:
"Forced to abandon meetings owing to enemy action etc."
Greensleeves Morris Men