Roy Dommett: morris dancing and missile science

Roy Dommett on the problems combining morris dancing with missile science.

One of the problems of working on a high pressure project is having some other aspect to your life to balance it out. And in my case I’d met Morris dancing back in the early ‘50s, and had joined the team at the RAE which formed in 1954. And I’d got myself quite interested in it as a research topic as well, and collected together notations of dances and information about old teams and things like that. And that led me to visiting active sides all over the country. And the one which caused us most amusement was I went to see a team called Barley Morris, who danced at Dudley in the Birmingham area. And they had been the – the couple we went to stay with had worked on the restoration of the Dudley Birmingham canal tunnel and so on. And we went out with them on the Saturday into the town centre to dance. I then saw the Dudley – saw the Barley Morris in their kit, which had a large CND badge on the front. So I thought, 'oh my God'. Then they started to dance in the main square in front of a large crowd. And the police inspector came up and said, ‘Not Morris dancers as well? Bugger off into the shopping mall!’ And I realised we were part of what was a CND demonstration going on. [Laughs] So we went into the shopping mall and had a very good show and brought in some young men to dance on the side, who had never danced in a team with women and were a bit surprised how strongly the women could hit them with sticks. [Laughs] But it wasn’t until afterwards, when the security officer came back to me at RAE and said, ‘You’re on this film of this demonstration, CND demonstration, what the hell were you doing there?’ And I said, ‘Well it came as a surprise to me as well.’ [Laughs]

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