Frequently Asked Questions

What does OBJ stand for?

It could be "Old Black Joke", "Oh Be Joyful", "Oh, B*gger Jack" - whatever you want it to stand for. It doesn't have any meaning - some would say the same of morris dancing.

Why do you dress like that?

Because we read somewhere that its traditional. Well, historically, the dancers used to sew ribbons or tatters onto an old jacket that had been turned inside-out, so make them look really outlandish. Science-fiction programmes use the same technique to portray aliens.

Why do you do it (Morris Dancing)?

It's hard to find anything else that provides good music, nice people, fun, exercise and beer. Some people do it to keep a tradition alive - in fact its a tradition that had died out - but I suspect that this alone is not enough to make it so popular.

Why do you blacken your faces?

Because it makes people stop on seeing us to ask this question. It also helps to frighten small children.

The standard reason given for Welsh Border Morris and Molly dancers blackening their faces is that morris was a form of begging, with healthy dose of misrule and drunkenness, which was illegal and/or unpopular with the powers-that-were. The disguise helped avoid arrest or any other sanctions which the establishment might impose - like not finding a job in the spring. Face-blacking was a traditional form of disguise used by people who wouldn't want to be recognised - see here.

We do it because - as in other forms of guising - we can adopt a different personality when blacked up.

What do you get it off with?

Yes, this is a frequently asked question - we usually reply that "it comes off with Brillo pads, turps and a lot of scrubbing". It's actually stage paint and comes off with baby-wipes and a bit of water.

How many rags are there in a rag jacket?

Yes, there are sad people that ask this question. Why would anyone ever want to know? Even sadder - I counted them once when I really had nothing better to do, and there are 303 in mine!

What are Arsenal's chances in the league?

Are you sure you're on the right page?

Why Anne Robinson, Chris Tarrant and John Humphries?

I wish I knew. Maybe it was something you did in a past life?

Are we nearly there yet?


What does FAQ stand for?

Flipping Annoying Questions.