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Morris dancers refuse to stop blacking up their faces as it’s a ‘Lancashire tradition’

The group insist their use of black face isn’t racist

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The Britannia Coconut Dancers / Facebook

A group of Morris dancers from Lancashire have continued to perform after being kicked out of the national body for refusing to stop blacking up their faces.

Members of the Britannia Coconut Dancers, based in Bacup, have insisted that blacking up their faces is simply a part of a clog-dancing tradition that dates back more than 100 years, and is not an act of racism.

Most Morris dancers claim that the origin of blacking the face goes back to farm labourers who wanted a disguise from their bosses while begging and busking during the winter. However, it is also believed that the blacking up of their faces was an attempt to mimic North African dance routines. 

And, amid the Black Lives Matter protests last year, the scrutiny surrounding the traditional black facing of Morris dancers only intensified, with some groups even swapping the black face paint for blue face paint to avoid any racial misconceptions. 

The Britannia Coconut Dancers / Facebook

Despite the tensions, however, the Lancashire-based Britannia Coconut Dancers danced while wearing full black face last weekend on October 3rd with the full support of the Lancashire BME Network. 

Jonathon Prasad, an anthropologist from the Lancashire BME Network, told Lancashire Live that he had ‘spent a number of years working on cultural traditions and identities’, and said on the dance group: “From our point of view, as an organisation, we don’t object to blackface in this context as we recognise its a rich cultural tradition linked to Lancashire.”

He added that he had worked around Morris dancers and the Morris dancing tradition a few years ago and looked into the ‘cultural background’ of their decision to paint their faces black.

He said: “The cultural background of it is that the mill workers who were quite poor had to earn extra income, so one of the things they did was they painted their face black so their employers wouldn’t know that they are dancing for extra money.

“It’s also linked to a whole pagan ritual as well about not wanting to be attached to evil spirits.

The Britannia Coconut Dancers / Facebook

“From our point of view, as an organisation, we represent this rich diversity of Lancashire’s cultural traditions and we actually support it.

“We want to break down barriers between communities rather than erecting them, we’re trying to bring minorities up to the same standards, it’s levelling up.”

Jonathon continued by saying that the Lancashire BME Network are ‘supportive’ of the Britannia Coconut Dancers, so long as people don’t seek to ‘divide communities’ by saying their performances are racist, stressing that ‘we’ve never seen it as a racial thing.’

He said: “It celebrates a Lancashire that we are all part of and that we should be engaging with. In the same way when we talk about the Pendle Witches, some people are frightened by it, some people aren’t, but it’s an integral part of Lancashire and we celebrate that and all its cultural traditions.”

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Mysterious abandoned tea-for-two found in Lake District woodland

‘The ultimate romantic gesture, trash a national park and world heritage sight, to show your partner how much you love them’

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Ashley Cooper / Facebook

A photographer has slammed the litterers who left behind the remains of a full tea-for-two set up – complete with table, chairs and glassware – in a Lake District woodland.

Ashley Cooper, a climate change photographer from Ambleside, was walking in the woods to the north of the tarn when he came across a table and two chairs with the remains of what looked like a boozy afternoon tea party. 

As seen in the photographs taken by Ashley, half-eaten food remained on the plates and the dregs of champagne lingered in the glassware. 

Ashley shared his discovery onto Facebook, writing that after a ‘year of invasion by numpties’ in the Lake District, he truly thought he’d seen it all.

He wrote: “In the woodland above Blea Tarn, I came across the remains of a romantic meal for two. Still champagne in the glasses and chocolate cake on the plates.

“The ultimate romantic gesture, trash a national park and world heritage sight, to show your partner how much you love them. Is this the new normal!!!”

Ashley later spoke to the BBC about the incident, noting how the culprits must have gone through ‘a lot of trouble’ to get the table and chairs into the woodland. 

He said: “They’ve gone to a lot of trouble to carry the gear down there as it’s about half a mile from the nearest road – but it just looks like they finished their meal and got up and just left it all.”

Ashley Cooper / Facebook

Staff at the nearest hotels – all several miles away – have since said the set-up was nothing to do with them.

However, this isn’t the first time Ashley has come across litter being left behind in the Lake District – he said that since the pandemic, locals have been dealing with a rise in visitors leaving behind their rubbish in outdoor spaces, saying he himself has seen a number of tents, along with sleeping bags and cooking equipment, abandoned during the past eighteen months.

He said: “We’re seeing a very different type of visitor to the Lake District who has no respect for the place whatsoever. These people aren’t short of money but they are short of a conscience and social responsibility.”

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Manchester has been named the most photogenic city in the UK

Are we really surprised though?

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@thetideraiseseveryship & @casmedia / Instagram

Instagrammers, rejoice: Manchester has officially been crowned the most photogenic city in the whole of the U.K.

Made-to-order diamond jewellers Austen & Blake recently launched a campaign to find where in the U.K is the best spot to get married. So, as a part of their extensive research, the jewellers looked at seven individual criteria to determine the result, including the visual appeal of each location.

And, low and behold, Manchester came out on top for its visual appeal, making it officially the most photogenic city in the country.

@manc_wanderer / Instagram

Manchester is the most geo-tagged city on Instagram, with approximately 7.1 million tags, far more than other cities such as London and Birmingham, each of which has just 3.7 million tags and 4.2 million tags.

And that wasn’t Manchester’s only succession in the survey; our city was also crowned as the second best city in the U.K. to get married in, falling just behind the capital, London.

Austen & Blakes spokesperson Anthony French said on the findings: “Choosing the location of your wedding can often be one of the most difficult decisions as there are so many other factors that come into play. That is why we worked with a set of seven criteria that we deemed some of the most important factors when choosing a wedding location.

“For many, capturing beautiful images that can be looked back on for years to come is one of the most important aspects of the big day, so it was interesting to find that Manchester was considered the most photogenic city in the U.K, especially above London!”

@workingclassphotographer ⁠/ Instagram

This comes just one month on from Manchester being crowned as the third best city in the whole world – back in March, Time Out launched its post-pandemic ‘Time Out Index’ survey, which quizzed 27,000 city-dwellers on the details surrounding their lives.

The magazine wanted to find out which cities had ‘really stepped up and pulled together’ during a year of worldwide pandemic – so it wasn’t just questions about food and culture, but also community projects, green space and sustainability.

So of course our city ranked in the third place – the magazine praised Mancunians for our ‘resilience’ and for having thrived throughout the pandemic, with communities coming together through the toughest of times.

You can see Austen & Blake’s full campaign here.

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Aunt Bessies created a mammoth 25-tier Yorkshire Pudding cake because why not

Look at all those puddings…

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Aunt Bessies

The legends over at Aunt Bessies made all our dreams come true with their mammoth twenty-five tier Yorkshire Pudding cake.

The company, famed for its delicious Yorkie pud recipe, turned twenty-five last year and, to celebrate the occasion in true Aunt Bessies style, decided to created a twenty-five tier-tall Yorkshire Pudding cake.

It doesn’t get much more Northern than that, does it?

Aunt Bessies

The epic cake was made up of 965 of Aunt Bessie’s delicious Golden Yorkshire Puddings (reckon I could polish that off in one sitting), stood at a whopping 8ft 11in top to bottom, the same height as the world’s tallest man, and took two whole hours to carefully construct by hand.

David Barr, Yorkshire Pudding Guru at Aunt Bessie’s, said at the time: “Having worked at the factory for three decades, I’ve tasted thousands of Yorkshire puddings and seen lots of changes – but I’m proud to say that this is our best recipe yet.

“We only use the finest quality ingredients to ensure the best-tasting puds end up on the nation’s dinner plates. So what better way to mark this magnificent milestone than with a gigantic Yorkshire Pudding cake?”

Aunt Bessies

In other Aunt Bessies news, the company partnered up Guide Dogs last month to launched a line of adorable Yorkshire Pudding dog beds

Sam Dolan, Head of Marketing at Aunt Bessie’s, told TeamDogs: “As a company of dog lovers, we wanted to create something special to celebrate the birth of Bessie and pay tribute to our new partnership with Guide Dogs.

“We’re sure Aunt Bessie’s fans are going to love the Yorkshire Pudding dog bed and we hope they join us in celebrating and supporting the fantastic work of Guide Dogs.”

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