Dr Pig's Homespun Philosophy Page(s)
In 1998, I really joined Black Pig by accident. My two sons had joined the
local sea scouts and they had to undergo regular swimming tests. Swimming
sessions unfortunately clashed with my Cotswold morris practice nights so I
decided to try something new. After seeking out various other sides I
eventually decided on Border Morris. My joining coincided with a major split in
Black Pig; so much so that some of the people I originally approached about
joining had gone elsewhere, by the time I appeared a couple of weeks later, and
the new version of the side was finding its feet. Paul, the squire, told me
that the split was about whether to be more serious and pedantic about dancing
or whether just to be entertaining and have fun. Which did I want to join? I
answered that I wanted to have a good standard of dancing and yet also be
entertaining and fun! He said I had come to the right place :-)
I had been used to handling long sticks in my Cotswold world but obviously border sticking is a bit different. Black Pig are unusual amongst border dance sides in using long sticks for most dances - so that helped, as did my existing knowledge of stepping and some figures. So I progressed quite well.
I first began to realise Black Pig were a bit special after a couple of weeks when I had arrived a little early at the pub and offered to buy another couple a drink. This was declined and I was told, "No thanks. We always buy our own". This initially seemed a bit strange and then I realised that it was (a) because not everybody was as well off as each other and (b) not everyone wanted to drink at the same rate and get into 'rounds'. This in turn prompted me to take note what a varied group they were. This was not just in terms of social class nor type of work, it also covered the variable backgrounds from which we came. Now the Cotswold morris world I had been used to was essentially middle class and the members (especially in the 1970s) came from the world of folk clubs and related music. Here in Black Pig we had people who wouldn't be seen dead in a folk club and often used quite a different sort of 'f' word! There were managers, manual workers, office workers, health workers and shift workers; indeed all sorts.
The most amazing thing of all though was that we all 'got on'. There were several people with very large egos - but these did not dominate. Everybody was allowed their say and everyone's opinion was valued. The ones with the larger egos suppressed them for the common good and those with no ego, or confidence, at all were encouraged. No one was shouted at for getting things wrong and it was accepted that everyone had different strengths and abilities and that everyone could get something out of it. If this sounds a bit too blissful then I have to admit that not everyone necessarily particularly liked everyone else as their 'best friend ever in the whole wide world' but, overall, it worked. There was no animosity.
Probably the size of the group helped in this. It took me a while to realise just how big a group we were. Each week I turned up I would only know about half of the people there and it took a couple of months or so to meet everybody. This was partly down to varying shifts but also down to not just the lack of stress and pressure people felt under but additionally because different people had differing other interests. These were not just domestic commitments but completely different hobbies too. All this creates a good strategy for survival - maximum variation for maximum proliferation. It has all meant that Black Pig has been very good at weathering the various storms that have headed its way.
If I had to sum up the Black Pig philosophy simply, it would be 'Respect'. That is respect for each other, for the dance, for different opinions, for different styles of dance, for different lifestyles - everything. Without respect it wouldn't work. Of course this isn't to say it has been a perfect ride all the way. As I said at the outset, my joining Black Pig coincided with a major disagreement and split. There have been occasional people over the years who have not had the best interests of the side at heart - or have lost sight of what that is. During my time we have had a stalker, a trouble stirrer/mischief maker and the occasional megalomaniac! During my life I have been in innumerable organisations of widely varying type and such occasional sources of problems have appeared in all these. What makes Black Pig so special is its ability to talk through problems face to face. It is only when disagreements are allowed to fester, or there is talking/emailing behind peoples backs, that any group is likely to struggle. Keeping everything out in the open is essential and a 'frank exchange of views' is undoubtedly the best way. We must always keep on top of this.
If you still want to see what Black Pig is all about try clicking on the logo at the top left of this page to go to the official site , or click the 'Dr Pig' logo at the top right to go to my Black Pig home page.
Current update: 31-9-21