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Events run by the Order

Unconventions are planned for Yeovil in 2016.

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Past information

Unconvention 2015

This was hosted by Ripley Morris Men at Cromford from 23rd to 25th October 2015.

The Unconvention was based at Cromford Community Centre,
7/9 Market Place, Cromford, Derbyshire DE4 3RE

It involved workshops, a Saturday bus tour to Carsington Water and various other delightful beauty spots!

Sadly the weather was not kind to us, so audiences were small, but who cares when you are having fun!

The excellent feast was at the Greyhound Inn in Cromford.

On Sunday morning the AGM was held.

 

Unconvention 2014

This was hosted by Trigg Morris with Tywardreath Morris and Plymouth Morris at St. Mabyn, Cornwall, 17th-19th October 2014

For the programme of the weekend click here

Unconventions are open to all budding or experienced Fools, Beasts and Morris Characters from any team from the Ring, Open or Federation.

The role of the fool or beast is to supplement,  and not detract, from the main purpose of the show – the dancing!
Attending the Unconvention and taking part in the workshops gives delegates the chance to learn or revise techniques in which standards of fooling and beasting can be enhanced.
This has always been the aim of the Illustrious Order of Fools and Beasts from its inception.

So, whether you are a budding, novice or experienced Fool or Beast, please come along to next year’s Unconvention! details here in due course.

The 2013 Unconvention was held at

Fulwood, Sheffield. 25-27th October

Trigger finally managed to pull out the hat, a plan for this Unconvention!
Sadly there was no guest side, but FAB Morris provided their own unique displays!

The Unconvention was based at 142nd Fulwood Scout Hut, 551 Fulwood Road, Sheffield, SOUTH YORKSHIRE S10 3QH.

It involved workshops, a Saturday City Centre walking tour and more. The Feast was at the "Shiny Sheff Restaurant".

The AGM was on Sunday morning givng fools and beasts the chance to have their say!

Accommodation was indoor camping as usual, Parking was limited, in dedicated parking on the road outside of the hut.

There are toilets and a shower available. Sadly for Rodney, no dogs were permitted on site.

Unconvention update:

We can arrive anytime after 4pm on Friday 25th.
Address, in case you can't find details, is 142nd Fulwood Scout Hut, 551, Fulwood Road, Sheffield, S10 3QH
Parking is limited, and unfortunately on the road.
there is enough space for all for indoor camping.

The Feast is not as advertised because the Fulwood Inn is closed for refurbishing; we are booked in at the Shiny Sheff which is walking distance, but if anyone wants to drive there they can.

Ale is from Kelham Island Brewery. We are not really supposed to have alcohol for sale in the Scout Hut, so there will be a "contribution Box" that won't even mention a suggested price - but  £2 a pint sounds reasonable.

We can't take beer to the Feast, but the menu is cheap, so I think we can run to 1 free drink per person to make up for it.

Plymouth crew - you do realise Julian has dobbed you lot in it and you are cooking breakfast ... Ju and I will get the provisions on the Friday. If anyone from Plymouth has a couple of large pans/frying pans it might be helpful, so too a microwave. And a big toaster, anyone?? Perhaps someone has a 4 slicer we can borrow, please.

Despite contacting over a dozen sides, I have not been able to find a Morris team to dance for us; BUT there are plenty of us who are fit enough to dance, and if you combine Plymouth and Dartington we do have a side!! Plus YOUR opportunity to show us your Jig!!

I do have possibly one trick up my sleeve with respect to late sat afternoon or Sunday morning post AGM - so the schedule might change a little.

Cost: approx. £60 per person. (Costings have yet to be finalised; some arrangements are still provisional and maybe subject to change – but hopefully not!)

click here for the application form

Unconvention 2013

This year's Unconvention will be based at 142nd Fulwood Scout Hut, 551 Fulwood Road, Sheffield, SOUTH YORKSHIRE S10 3QH, and will involve workshops, Saturday City Centre walking tour and more tba! The Feast is planned to be at the Fulwood Inn Hotel. Plus the AGM of course - your chance to have your say!

Accommodation is indoor camping as usual, but there is no space for outdoor camping – anyone wishing to bring a tent will have to camp at a nearby Camp site – please ask me for further details. Parking is limited, and is in dedicated parking on the road outside of the hut. Camper vans are welcome, but there is no hook-up. There are toilets and a shower available. Sorry, but no dogs are permitted on site.

Robert needs to know at the time of application which sort of accommodation you prefer.

Cost: approx. £60 per person. (Costings have yet to be finalised; some arrangements are still provisional and maybe subject to change – but hopefully not!)

Closing date for Applications 12th October 2013.

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Illustrious Order of Fools and Beasts Unconvention, Southampton, 2012

The 2012 Unconvention was held in Shedfield, Southampton, 2nd- 4th November 2012 

It was hosted by King Johns Morris Men with Winchester Morris Men and Red Stags Morris

click here for the application form and more details.

 

Illustrious Order of Fools and Beasts Unconvention, Berkshire, 2011

Click here for pictures

REPORT

Fools and Beasts Unconvention 2011 – Bracknell 28th- 30th October

This event, hosted by Kennet Morris Men in Bracknell, Berkshire, was a well run and thoroughly enjoyable occasion. The base was at the headquarters of the 9th Bracknell Scout Group. While lacking some of the facilities of a five star hotel, this venue was adequate for our needs and the friendly and helpful support of the Scout leaders made up for the shortcomings. Unfortunately, the planned extension to the building which was scheduled for completion before this event had not materialised, although the builders had kindly left a skip which made access to the outside accommodation rather difficult, especially for the Ashley’s Rise pantechnicon.

Without the extension, most of the activity, (as well as night-time inactivity), was in the main hall, with small rooms for the ladies and the children. These were not large, but hardly warranted Jenny’s description as a “spider filled cupboard”. Why do spiders get such a bad press? Much manipulation of chairs and tables for meals, dancing, singing and playing made best use of the available space.

The food was good and various dietary foibles were well catered for. The scout leaders did well to produce Friday supper, two cooked breakfasts and an excellent feast in the small kitchen. They managed to server the meals hot and on time, something we do not always see at such venues. They even managed to keep the supper hot for those members, who needed to see Leicester Tigers play on Friday evening! On both days the lunches were at outside venues.

On arrival, we were welcomed by Peter and Clive, the two people mainly responsible for organising this Unconvention, provided with updated programmes and shown to our accommodation. The weather was kind to the outside sleepers, as indeed it was for the whole of the weekend, the rain just starting as we departed for our returns home. Perhaps two spots dancing outside churches paid off!

On Friday the customary opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones was well exploited and the usual suspects, having participated in the song and music session, took the opportunity to exchange anecdotes until about 3 a.m. despite the 8 a.m. breakfast scheduled for later in the morning. Julian clearly takes his responsibility to heart by ensuring that everyone else is asleep before he begins his nocturnal symphony concert. He always travels to our gatherings with a pocket full of ear plugs, but few requested them this year.

Remarkably, this Unconvention had the unique spectacle of fools and beasts being early for the published activities. Even the return to GMT for the Sunday did not change this although the extra hour’s drinking / sleeping was very welcome. This feature has been a traditional aspect of Unconventions for many years. Clearly, folk at Westminster and elsewhere talking about permanent or double summer time know nothing about the importance of clock shifting to Fools and Beasts.

We dutifully gathered at 9.15 for the bus tour and the hobby horses were impressed with the attention to detail of Peter de Courcy in booking Horseman Coaches for this task. Richard, our driver quickly got to grips with the strange cargo that needed to be unloaded at each stop. He even dealt with the beasts, instruments and sticks as well!

The first stop was the ‘Frog and Wicket’, as displayed prominently below the pub sign, “The home of Yateley Morris”. For fear of seeing his carefully planned programme go up in smoke, Peter had urged us not to get off the bus while Yateley got on. As a result of Eliot Brady having trouble catching up with his masked horse there was a short delay, so a few disobeyed Peter’s request and were rewarded with jugs of free beer. A fact that did not come to light until well after it was too late for the ‘goodies’ to complain.

With Yateley now in the party we travelled to our first spot in Reading. This was outside the old town hall where we met up with a fine contingent of Kennet Morris Men. Fortunately, both sides were very tolerant to an inordinate number of fools and beasts interfering with their dances. For those involved in “communicating the dance to the audience” an excellent leaflet entitled “What on earth am I watching” had been produced. This was welcomed by many of the ‘watchers’, who did seem a little perplexed as to what Reading had done to deserve this invasion of weird and wonderful characters.

The next spot in Reading, Broad Street, had an even bigger audience, with many nationalities included, needing further explanations. It was a privilege to be able to meet so many people supportive of our folk traditions from home and abroad. What a pity the organisers of the Olympic opening ceremony are not amongst them, as many people felt that traditional activities, such as ours, are just what should be portraying British culture. Apparently, permission could not be obtained to dance in the large Oracle shopping centre nearby, but Knotty took his rider shopping there and caused a bit of a stir. Does Reading not see hobby-horses on escalators every day?

After a quick pub stop at the Allied Arms, the dancing continued next door in front of the Minster of St Mary. Again, an appreciative crowd gave John, Clive and others the opportunity to encourage them to defray our expenses, which was very successful over the weekend which will help to keep the Illustrious Order solvent for another year. At this spot, never to be upstaged by anybody; Henning saw fit to commandeer a bicycle and go through his fooling routine on two wheels, rather than two legs. A feat that later gained him the special award for the weekend’s most innovative manoeuvre. Next time we expect him to carry his Maypole on the bike as well!

A bit of a trek to the Nags Head for a pie and beans lunch outside in the yard gave a bit more time for a natter, which is more than could be done inside as the clientele were glued to a number of TV screens showing the Chelsea v Arsenal match. We were treated to the company of one of the country’s most respected fools, Geoff Hebditch, (late of King John's Morris), who is now sadly confined to wheelchair. This restriction seems to have had precious little effect on his ability to participate in the Morris, or his sense of humour. Julian, who introduced him, later said that it was Geoff who had inspired him to take up fooling, leaving the assembled company to muse on whether that had been a good thing.

Suitably fed and watered the Unconventioners boarded the bus to the ‘Frog and Wicket’ for another dancing spot. There the relatively small, but appreciative audience were rather surprised to witness such an influx of strange characters. Following the dancing, the pub’s skittle alley was pressed into service for a match between Fools, Beasts, Maidens and Musicians. The match was very close with the Fools and Maidens being declared equal first, as the coach had to leave for Bracknell before a decider could be played. Perhaps Yateley should prevail upon the landlord to widen the pub entrance pending further coach-loads of fools and beasts.

After a short period of rest and recuperation fortified by tea or coffee and chocolate biscuits the company got spruced up for the feast, for which the tables had again been rearranged, this time with a ‘top table’. The occupants of that table were the Squire and the Convener of the Illustrious Order, the Squires of the supporting teams and our guest of honour Roy Dommett and his good lady. The excellent meal accompanied by copious beer and cider, was followed by the traditional toasts and some great singing by people nominated from each table. At the end of the feast certificates were awarded to new full and associate members. This year was notable as the Unconvention where we admitted our first sentient canine associate member, Rodney, who had done a great job entertaining the crowds during the day.

The tables were then cleared for dancing, which gave a number of folk who had been encumbered by their beastly friends, to join in the session. When exhaustion of bodies and ideas terminated that activity, the musicians took the stage. This Unconvention was remarkable for the high proportion of participants who could play instruments, many and varied. Beginners and experts were welcome to participate in this fun aspect of the Morris. Most of us heard some new songs, but whether we will remember them all is very doubtful, possibly due to the rate the barrels were being emptied and various hip flasks sampled. By 2 a.m. the bulk of the crew had retired for the night, but a few felt that they should witness the official return to GMT. However, an attempt by one of the Kennet men to override the radio controlled clock in the hall failed completely, but the clock got its own back by cleverly being right in the morning.

Sunday breakfast at 8 a.m. seemed a more reasonable time than on the previous day and once again everyone was ready for their bacon, scrambled eggs, mushrooms and toast. A short while was allowed for packing up ready for departure at 11.15.

Yet another rearrangement of the furniture set the scene for the AGM. This was attended by some 35 members, possibly our biggest turn out for some years. The details of the meeting are recorded elsewhere, but matters were discussed in an efficient and businesslike manner to ensure that we were ready for the next session at 10 a.m.

We were honoured that Peter had persuaded Roy Dommett, to come out of semi- retirement for our benefit. Roy has made an amazing contribution to the preservation and development of the Morris in this country in parallel with his work as a rocket scientist at Farnborough for which he was made a CBE. Roy regaled us with words of wisdom about the philosophy and practicalities of being ‘Morris Characters’ based on his many years of experience. The talk was inspirational for both long standing and new members of our organisation and made us think about how we could make our individual contribution to the tradition. He has provided us with some documents setting out some of his thoughts and advice on the subject, which will appear on the “foolsandbeasts” web site.

After thanking our scouting hosts for helping to make this weekend so enjoyable, numerous cars and vans departed for Henley on Thames for the next tour. After some trauma in parking, we arrived at the first spot on the river towpath at Mill Meadow, where Winsor Morris the local ladies team were already entertaining a substantial crowd. The arrival of lots of fools and beasts added much colour to the occasion and generated many more questions from the onlookers. These were expertly answered by the members of the order, although some of the mute hooden horses had a bit of difficulty in explaining the finer points of Morris history.

Another session outside the church of St Mary by Henley Bridge, again with an interested, but moving audience completed the dancing programme for 2011. We than repaired to the Catherine wheel, a Wetherspoons establishment, to enjoy our pre-ordered lunches. We counted the last of the collections, which resulted in the weekend breaking even on costs, which was an added bonus.

After spending another hour or so over our meal, putting the world to rights, we departed to our homes having experienced a well organised and fun-filled weekend. We were all grateful for the hard work done by our hosts to make this such a successful Fools and Beasts Unconvention.

Knotty 2.11.2011

A cutting from the Reading Post November 2nd 2011

Other pictures on the F&B Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/FoolsAndBeasts

More to come!

 The 2011 Unconvention was held in Bracknell from  Friday 28th October to Sunday 30th October.

 Courtesy of Kennet, Yateley and Windsor Morris Clubs .

For a report and links to pictures, click here

To read a transcript of Roy Dommett's talk, click here

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Cost: approx. £60 per person. (Costings have yet to be finalised; some arrangements are still provisional and maybe subject to change — but hopefully not!)
Closing date for Applications 10th October 2011.
Robert Chisman, Scrivener and Convener

Click here for the application form

(FOR YOU TO PRINT, COMPLETE, AND SEND WITH PAYMENT)

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INFORMATION ISSUED FOR EARLIER EVENTS

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Unconvention 2010, Banbury, Oxfordshire

Hosted by Bloxham Morris and Adderbury Morris Men 22-24 October 2010

Open to all Fools, Beasts and Morris Characters from any team from the Ring, Open or Federation.

This year's Unconvention will be based in the Village Hall at Cropredy, near Banbury, and will involve workshops, dancing tour with Bloxham and Ducklington to Stow on the Wold, a visit to Hook Norton Brewery, and a presentation on William Cutler (Old Mettle), Fool for Adderbury and other sides in the first half of the 19th Century.

Plus the AGM of course - your chance to have your say.

Costings are still being worked out, but we are aiming for approx. £60 per person.

Click here for printable Application Form

or here for .pdf version

Closing date for Applications 4th October 2010. (First come first served)

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Unconvention 2009: Utrecht, Netherlands

Hosted by Utrecht Morris Men 23-25 October 2009.

It was hosted by the Utrecht Morris Team, who gave us a great time and lots of old friends renewed their acquaintances and lots of new friendships were made. A full report will be posted here in due course, but suffice it to say that a good time was had by all and that grateful thanks are due to our hosts. Any pictures can be sent to the Scrivener, the U.M.T, or forwarded to this site via Knotty by clicking here.

This is the link for the majority of the photographs - http://picasaweb.google.com/utrechtmorris

Some 500 pictures just to be getting on with! Maybe more to come.

And here are some You-Tube videos of the event -

http://www.youtube.com/user/utrechtmorris#p/a/u/0/T4x3kWUPKCE

http://www.youtube.com/user/utrechtmorris#p/a/u/0/23YHG-IQ3VY

Similar videos are on
at http://www.youtube.com/utrechtmorris  (appropriate acknowledgements are on the UMT sites)

Our grateful thanks to Floris Jan van Hall, (Bag & Web, Het Utrechts Morris Team), for putting this all together.

On the website for the 2009 Unconvention, a booklet with some essential information for the guests has been made available for download.

Most of the information in it (itinerary, travel directions for public transport) is also to be read on the website itself,
but as extra's there are some maps in it and some cell-phone numbers of the organising committee (might come in handy for those planning to get lost on their way to Utrecht).

The booklet (4 pages) can be downloaded from every page on http://www.utrechtmorris.nl/unconvention2009/english.php
the link is directly beneath the red&blue band with the menu-items.

A direct link is
http://www.utrechtmorris.nl/unconvention2009/doc/Booklet%202009%20Unconvention.pdf

It is a 400kB pdf-file, which should pose no problems for the majority of the internet users.
Those wishing to do so, might print it and take it with them whilst travelling into foreign countries.

Details here       Open to all Fools and Beasts.

Tour Itinerary

Friday 23rd of October

17:00 onwards Fort aan de Klop will be open to receive visitors

A light supper will be served.

(Visitors arriving early can drop off luggage, but accommodation will not be available yet)

Saturday 24th of October

8:00 Breakfast

9:00 Workshops

10:30 Depart from Fort de Klop by bus to the city centre

11:00 Arrival city centre

 

Helmond Morris Men

Maids of the Mill

Utrecht Morris Team

11:30

Perform at Stadhuisbrug

Perform at
Janskerkhof

Perform at
Vismarkt

12:30

Meet up for Lunch

14:00

Perform at
De Zaak

Perform at
De Kolonie

Perform at
Stadhuisbrug

15:00

Meet up for mass show on De Neude

16:00 Return to Fort by boat

17:00 Arrive at Fort

19:00 Feast

 Sunday 25th of October

9:00 Breakfast

10:00 Annual General Meeting

 Click Here for Minutes and Agenda

12:00 Final performance at Fort de Klop

13:00 Lunch and Farewells

This and more information can be found at: www.utrechtmorris.nl/unconvention2009
including how to reach the accommodation.

For all questions contact us at: unconvention2009@utrechtmorris.nl

Application form downloadable from here
 
http://www.utrechtmorris.nl/unconvention2009/doc/FoolsandBeasts-2009-applicationform.rtf

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The 2008 Unconvention

Click here for pictures (as they come in).

2008 Unconvention: Colton, Rugeley, Staffordshire.

Hosted by the Stafford Morris Men 17th to 19th October


(click here for a map)        (click here for the Village Web Site)     (click here for the Stafford web-site)

For more details click here Colton Village Hall

Accommodation was Indoor Camping, as usual.
The tour on Saturday included Rugeley, Abbots Bromley, Lichfield, and the National Arboretum.
The tours were followed by an excellent evening Feast, and local osteleries were patronised throughout the weekend.

Various Workshops took place over the weekend, including instruction in the recently discovered Manx Scallop Dance by the two fools responsible for much of the research, Dr Sercombe and Professor Comley.

The cost is £50 per person.

A report will be published here shortly, or you can contact Knotty via john@foolsandbeasts.org.uk or O1785 823O67 for more information..

The Annual General Meeting also took place during the weekend. For more details please contact The Convener: Robert Chisman,

The Flat, Robert's Pharmacy, The Coombes, Polperro, Cornwall, PL13 2RG.  Tel: 01503 272250 (day) 01503 272437 (eve)

E-mail: triggertrotter1(a)aol.com

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The 2007 Unconvention: Seavington, Yeovil, Somerset

Hosted by Wyvern Jubilee Morris 19th to 21st October 2007

Unconvention pictures for the 2007 meeting

Notes from Wyvern

We are looking to get a "music" tent which will allow for those late-nighters to play without upsetting the cocoa and early night brigade.
There is one pub within walking distance and another which we can drive to if people prefer.

Jed is organising the Saturday tour which will be centred around Glastonbury and Street. these venues have lots of shops/pubs/etc and give us a captive audiance !!

Guests will be coached to the venues for ease and speed and there is enough bodies around to cater for the beasts that need individual care !

Support from our own Wyvern Morris will be assisted by a couple of other local teams (we hope!)

We have considered the issue of Saturday lunch and have decided that we will NOT have an organised sit down.
This will allow for individuals to select their own eating house. (Burger and chips or full English roast)

We felt this allowed for those who either wished to wander around the local sights or wished to have a break from the rest of us for an hour or so !!
It will also mean we can reduce the price of the w/e for guests. (Currently looking at £40 approx)

The rest of the programme will run as previous w/e's.:

Friday night    Arrival 6 p.m. onwards. Light supper available. Ale & music at hall or pubs.

Saturday    Tour during day. Feast in the evening.

Sunday     Morning Workshops. Discussions, etc. Finish approx 2.00p.m.

Please get this provisional programme to all members...Many thanks and keep Trotting !

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The 2006 Unconvention Old Warden, Herts.

was held from 27th to 29th October 2006

under the direction of Roger, The Squire's Fool, and hosted by

Letchworth Morris Men at Old Warden Village Hall, near Biggleswade, Bedfordshire.

It is expected that a few ladies and/or junior fools can be invited for the weekend, but the venue has limited capacity to comply with new regulations.
Those who cannot be accommodated will, however be welcome to join the tour during the day. Priority will be given to current members of the order.

Programme

Friday 27th October

 Arrive at Village Hall from 6pm onwards. Ploughman’s supper.
Beer at hall, or in Hare and Hounds across the road.
 

Saturday 28th October

   8.00 am   Breakfast
9.15 am   Workshop -and Briefing
10.30 am   Assemble for tour - in private vehicles.
11 am Show in Biggleswade Town Centre.
12 noon Show in Biggleswade at other end of Market, by card shop.
12.30 pm Travel back for lunch at Old Warden - soup roll etc, beer.
2.00 pm Leave Old Warden for Ashwell
2.30 pm Show outside Ashwell Museum
3.00 pm Show outside Bushell & Strike
3.30 pm Leave Ashwell for Broom
3.45 pm Show at The Cock, Broom
4.45 pm Leave Broom for Old Warden
5.00 pm Tea and Cakes in the Hall
7.30 pm Free time before Feast
7.30 pm Feast, followed by singing, drinking, dancing, whatever.

Sunday 29th October

   8.00 am Breakfast
9.15 am Workshops
11.15 am Coffee
11.30 am Official Business and Discussion Forum
12.30pm Lunch and depart by 4pm

The plan to go to Plymouth's twin town of Brest has not been possible this year

The 2005 Unconvention, Cromford Derbyshire

The 2005 Unconvention was held at an old mill in Cromford, near Matlock in Derbyshire. The event was masterminded by two members of the Ripley Morris Men, John, (The Ripley Fool) and Roger, (The Ripley Beast). They did a fantastic job and gave all the participants a memorable weekend. The Mill has been converted to a community centre, with many rooms set up as bedrooms, workrooms, a dining room and kitchen. In fact everything that the unconvention needed.

Once the building had been found, which for many was rather a challenge, and parking which would have done credit to a car ferry, the atmosphere within was, (as always), friendly and welcoming.

The old hands met familiar faces and the newcomers were introduced to some of the more eccentric members of the Fools and Beasts fraternity. However, that word may have been rendered obsolete at this event, as ladies were present for the first time.

Last year it was decided to invite "Non-Ring" sides to send representatives, and several gentlemen from the Morris Federation came to the Plymouth gathering.

This time there were female fools and beasts at the unconvention as well as another first: the participation of a Junior Morris Club. Three young ladies and their musician/instructor from Ashley's Rise Morris of Bristol brought their hobby horse Ashley and his rather bigger friend, Dennis to entertain the crowds at Cromford and Matlock.

For the full unexpurgated version of the Unconvention report click here

 

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