About this episode:
Dr Katherine Brent from Wotton-Under-Edge has danced the Morris since she was 18 years old for sides including Red Stags, Winterbourne Down, Rag Morris and Madcap Morris. She also teaches beekeeping for Rory’s Well, a charity dedicated to regenerating the local economy of an area in Sierra Leone. In this conversation, she describes the history and traditions behind morris dancing and the origin of the colourful rag coat. She explains why she is passionate about the introduction of Inga alley farming in Sierra Leone, which regenerates the soil removing the need for the traditional “slash and burn” cultivation, and argues the badger cull is neither “scientific nor successful” in reducing TB, which is why she remains opposed to it.
Back in February, as I was on the way to Gloucestershire to interview Mark Frith about his Oak Trees, one of my producers dropped a bit of a bombshell.
It not only transpired that her boyfriend had been raised in the next-door village to Mark, but that his parents were still local, that his mother was a Morris dancer, and that she had also operated as something akin to a Badger Cull Saboteur.
A couple of pints to the wind, and having spoken the week before to Astrid about her mini models of Morris dancing mustelids, it seemed wholly appropriate – nay mandatory – to invite this mysterious multi-faceted women to to talk to “Trees A Crowd”.
And so I was introduced to my producer’s boyfriend’s mother – otherwise known as Kathy Brent.
This interview was a joy to record (and not because I got to dress up as a morris dancer and to prance around a pub with bells on) for knowing nothing more than the fact Kathy was a morris dancer and had first hand experience with the ongoing badger cull, I was not expecting the talk to stretch off into Beekeeping, African Civil Wars, and providing a new series of permaculture in Sierra Leone.
There are people all over this country doing great deeds to protect this planet and its inhabitants. It goes to show – never judge a morris dancer on the size of their hankies.
BRISTOL RAG MORRIS:
MORRIS DANCING – WIKIPEDIA:
SAVE THE BADGERS – THE BADGER TRUST:
BRUSHER MILLS – THE SNAKE CATCHER OF BROCKENHURST: