|The men were all agreed, the morning seemed lighter than in previous years at 4.45 a.m..
Normally we would gather in the pitch dark but on this particular May Day the sky over Stanstead had a definite rosy tinge to it.
Was sunrise going to be unexpectedly early in 2011?
Would it wreck the Squire's impeccable timing of the dance programme?
We would have to wait and see.
The musicians warmed up in the barn with a tune or two, while the dancers waited patiently for Squire to reveal the identity of the morning's first dance.
|Squire waited patiently hoping someone had recovered his Baldrick, last seen in the bar of the Angel Inn on Boxing Day.
Luckily Mr Bangs had rescued it.
|By now, tension was rising to fever pitch as Squire finally announced "Vandals".
The dance was elegantly executed with a special hey where eight men danced it properly while two extras circled around them.
|Checking his H. Samuel Ever-Right watch (other cheap and tinny timepieces are widely available, and the Squire's use represents no endorsement on the part of the Morris Men of Little Egypt
), Squire was keenly aware that we were running slightly behind schedule so the dancers and
musicians moved straight on into
Some finely-timed sticking was observed, and some wasn't.
|After a couple more dances it was time for that nerve-wracking moment - starting "Ring O' Bells" at exactly the right time so that it would finish
just as the sun rose over Stanstead hill.
The musicians played the introduction. "Not this time, Not this time, Not this time ... This Time!"
With precision timing for which the Squire is justly renowned, plus a couple of extra back-to-backs, his aim was achieved with the final flourish of sticks lit by the first rays of the morning sun.
|With the sun now contributing a little warmth to the morning, we could not put off the traditional Kit Inspection.
The men lined up while the officers of the side passed comment.
Despite this being the first dance of the new season, certain amounts of contamination were noted on some shirts and trousers.
Spillage. seepage and ullage were all present, while cream trousers, non-regulation hankies and bell pads transposed were among the other offences.
Much the same as usual.
One final dance was requested by some of the newer men who'd been practicing it for many a week - "Skirmish".
A bold choice for 6 a.m., but danced well without a single injury.
And then it was off to The Angel where Kevin was preparing breakfast and Paula brewing tea.