ladyofastolat: (In comes I)
We've spent the weekend in unexpectedly bright sunshine in Arundel, on the sort of "dancing weekend" that our mixed team favours: i.e. one in which we occasionally fit in a dance or two in between the meals. I've go no time to say much about it, since I've been writing like mad these last few weeks, trying to finish an epic fanfic before going away on Friday. This hasn't been helped by being away for the last 3 weekends. But have some pictures, anyway, and a few bullet points of Stuff Seen.

Pictures of Arundel )
ladyofastolat: (bellowhead)
We've just got back from a weekend on the mainland, first in Southampton, and then in its great enemy, Portsmouth.

More )
ladyofastolat: (Default)
We returned from the festival at 12.30 last night, having decided to demolish the tent before our bar shift, in order to avoid another night sleeping an entire Field of Squelch away from the toilets. Although the tent was dry, the weather was very windy, which was... interesting. The tent decided that its aim in life was to be a sail or maybe a balloon, rather than anything small enough to fit into a bag or even a car.

Pellinor hurled himself on the enormous billowing sphere, arms and legs splayed, and tried to beat it into submission by wallowing on it. Unfortunately, for all the parts of tent that decided to play good beneath his arms and torso, there was even more of it that rose up in great mushrooming growths between his legs, cackling in a billowy sort of fashion at his failure to notice it. Another camper wandered over to help, and proceeded to pummel all the billowing balloons that were emerging in Pellinor's wake, much to Pellinor's consternation. I suggested that we round up all the children on the site and charge them £1 for this exciting billowing bouncy castle experience, but Pellinor (while protecting sensitive parts from pounding fists and occasionally disappearing from sight completely beneath acres of bulging tent) claimed that he could wrestle it into submission alone.

Totally unrelated, I read this morning in the English Heritage magazine that Victoria and Albert liked to enjoy seaside trips when they were living at Osborne House, though without the "traditional kiss-me-quick accoutrements" that accompany British seaside holidays, such as ice cream stalls and warming cups of tea. I never realised that a warming cup of tea was a "kiss-me-quick" sort of thing. I feel quite faily now, having clearly spent my entire tea-drinking life entire missing the point.
ladyofastolat: (fathom the bowl)
When singing to myself casually around the house, I seem to be incapable of singing Deck the halls without suddenly finding myself singing words from Men of Harlech. "Hurl the reeling horsemen over! Falalalala lalalala! Let the earth dead foemen cover! Falalalala lalala!" I am not entirely sure if this is an improvement, or not. But it is at least more jolly than Pellinor's habit of singing While Shepherds Watched not to the tune of Ilkley Moor, like normal people do, but to the tune of The House of the Rising Sun.
ladyofastolat: (In comes I)
I didn't really expect most of the traditional ones to be guessed by anyone but Pellinor, but here are the answers, anyway, sometimes with comments.

Answers )
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I've never done a music first lines quiz before, partly because I still haven't got around to putting most of my CDs onto my computer, and partly because most of the songs are traditional ones that I didn't think many people would know. But I've given it a go this time, though I had to do a lot of skipping, to get past instrumentals, songs where the title was right there in the first line (absolutely loads of them) and things that seemed particularly obscure. Over half of these are indeed traditional folk songs, but there's also some other stuff, too.

As ever with these things, you need to identify the song, though with most of the traditional songs, the artist is immaterial, unless it's an artist who did a particularly unique version of the trad. song. I'm screening comments to stop Pellinor leaping in and revealing the answers to all of them right at the start.

Songs for guessing )
ladyofastolat: (Night gathers)
Yesterday, we did repair unto Porchfield, a tiny village devoid of street lights. The hall where we did entertain ourselves was the last building in the village, and beyond it stretched a wooded country road, well shrouded in overhanging trees, and gloomy even in the middle of the day. When I arrived at this place, many travelling players and rustic dancers had parked their wagons and caravans along this road, so I was forced to leave my carriage several hundred yards from the hall, near a bend. Later, when most of the trouple of players had departed, I moved my carriage nearer the hall, fearing that barbarian horse lords rounding the corner would crash into my now-solitary vehicle.

The end of the evening came, and only the organisers and Pellinor and I remained, since Pellinor had been running the tavern all day, trading rumours and handing out quests to passing adventurers. Many of the tavern supplies were Pellinor's, so I went to move the carriage even nearer to the hall. Three steps from the door did I take... only to find that darkness inescapable shrouded me all around, as if the Dread Lord himself had grasped the entire world in his mighty fist. Since the road curved, I found myself with no idea what direction the road lay in, and I stood there as if cragfast, trembling on the edge of a void whose darkness was truly Stygian, afraid of the nettles that lined the road, and the sharp overhanging branches I had observed earlier, and lashed with rain to boot.

Pellinor scoffed. "You've lost the carriage?" he laughed, as he poured unsold ale into bottles of some strange material that was like unto glass, but more flexible and yet more durable, labelled with strange sigils and the mystic, unutterable word, "Lemonade." One organiser offered me a torch, but the magic that powered it was drained. "I truly cannot find the carriage!" I declared, but "Fear not!" said the second organiser. "I shall go to my camper van dragon and bid it light its luminous eyes to show you the way.

Guided by the dragon, I was able to find my carriage, but even then, I had to grope the final steps in darkness. Had I not moved the carriage earlier, I would never have found it at all, but would have wandered lost and confused in the shadow lands until dawn. I brought my carriage even nearer the hall, and parked it just beyond the organisers' camper van dragon, barely ten steps from the door. Even so, when Pellinor and I went out into the darkness to load the first lot of supplies into the carriage, we could not find the carriage at all, and were forced to inch our way along the road with our arms held out like zombies. "Ow," said Pellinor. "I think I've found the carriage. It's low and wet and smooth." Ow!" said I. "I think I've found the carriage. It's sticky out and shiny." (This turned out to be the thing they call a "wing mirror," a name derived from earlier days, when dragons and flying horses provided the only means of long-distance travel.)

When bards and storytellers tell the tales of heroes, oft they show them sneaking across the blasted lands of the enemy in total darkness, where they stumble a little, but are yet able to see the angst-filled faces of their tour companions, and they do not fall down invisible cesspits nor walk at sixty-eight yards an hour, their hands held out like zombies, and neither do they find that they have gone round in a circle and that they have arrived back at the tavern from whence they came.

They should. This I have learnt.

Circus!

Jan. 4th, 2011 07:07 pm
ladyofastolat: (Default)
A few weeks ago, I asked for ideas on what to wear for circus-themed fancy dress. I didn't go in fancy dress in the end, but about a quarter of the audience did. I can therefore report that the key component of a circus-themed fancy dress outfit is a top hat. The top hat is ideally worn with a corset and a tutu, but can go with just about anything, and is in itself enough to brand you as a circus person. Failing a top hat, one needs to wear a large floppy ruff. The truly adventurous don a golden mane.
ladyofastolat: (bellowhead)
I seem to be Facebooking rather more than LJ-ing at the moment, probably as a result of getting my new phone. It lends itself to a quick "I am doing X" Facebook style update, rather than the lengthier LJ stuff. So what have I been doing since the last LJ update? )

Circus?

Dec. 12th, 2010 05:24 pm
ladyofastolat: (bellowhead)
Anyone got any ideas for what I could wear for this year's Bellowhead New Year event, which is circus themed? They encourage - but certainly don't compel - people to come in appropriate costume. I don't want to buy or hire costume, since that rather goes against the grain, given the amount of costume we possess between us. Has anyone got any ideas for something that loosely fits a circusy theme, but isn't a clown costume? It would ideally be something that could be put together using a costume repertoire that is largely medievalish and Morrisy.
ladyofastolat: (In comes I)
Just got back from a short trip away - two days staying with my parents in the north of the Cotswolds, then hopping a mere 11 miles or so into Worcestershire for the Evesham Morris weekend. Although it was so close to where I was brought up, Evesham didn't feel at all like home. Home means rolling hills and Cotswold stone, not flat plains full of asparagus, and red brick houses.

Still, it was all very enjoyable. With my parents, the theme of the trip was apparently historic houses that remain largely as they were in the 16th century, due to having impoverished Catholic owners. We did Chastleton House on Thursday, and Coughton Court on Friday, both of which were pretty and interesting. However, Coughton Court lied to us, since it promised us free strawberries and cream, and then merely gave us a free strawberry mousse.

My parents had been going to give me the old VIC-20, complete with the dazzling array of intricate games that its massive 3K of memory allow it to run, but there wasn't room for it in the car, because of all the camping stuff. We did play a few games while there, though, and will get it one day.

Friday night involved more drink than it ought to have done, so I spent most of yesterday feeling very weary - not ill, just tired. We had a boat trip on the Avon, then a coach tour around various pubs. I perked up a bit in the evening, and enjoyed a ceilidh that was enlivened by some very enthusiastic 10 year old boys, who danced together with more energy than accuracy, and caused havoc wherever they went. Today started with a duck race, but sadly my duck failed to do my proud, even though I was up all night tenderly feeding it oats and grooming its feather. Then there were various processions, dance performances and the like, then home.

Things that amused me:
- The advertising banners for "supernatural ice cream."
- The house that every tour group of Morris dancers had to walk past. Its name? Mock Morris. If it did, though, it was not in a language I could understand.
- The field of sheep with a notice proclaiming "BAA access to river."

A few pics )

May Morning

May. 1st, 2010 03:49 am
ladyofastolat: (unbowed)
Perhaps the traditional songs require a little tweaking today:

Hal-an-tog! Jolly rumble-og!
In comes cat! What a soggy moggy!
I guess this means it's raining
And we will get quite soggy!
Hail the British summer -
Chill and damp and foggy.


Happy May Morning, anyway. Happy summer! Now to clad myself in that traditional garb for welcoming in the May: hat, gloves, scarf and waterproof coat.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Everyone knows that Tim Berners-Lee invented the internet, right? Wrong! I have uncovered amazing evidence that the internet is far older than the anyone has hitherto suspected. Last night, I was listening to a CD of American folk songs from the Civil War era, and on came the song Goober Peas. The last two lines were very clearly thus:

"I wish the war was over, so free from rags and fleas
We'd kiss our wives and sweethearts, and Google goober peas."

So amazed was I at this revelation that I listened to the song again, and there was no doubt at all about it: he was singing about Googling goober peas. The internet was clearly alive and well in the 1860s. Of course, in the chaos of war and its aftermath, this knowledge was clearly lost. In this war, not even the bard escaped the tell the story and pass on the technical specs, and it would be over a century before we rediscovered this particular art.

It also adds a new dimension to Civil War studies. On another occasion, listening to the CD, I remarked, tongue in cheek, "Perhaps the South would have won the war had they not spent the time writing quite so many songs." Maybe what I should have said was, "Perhaps the South would have won had their soldiers spent less time online."

Trains

Jan. 27th, 2010 05:55 pm
ladyofastolat: (In comes I)
We have a double CD that contains over 60 original recordings from the 50s British skiffle explosion. "Why are they all about trains?" I asked when I first listened to it. Many months later, Pellinor came in when I had one of the CDs in. "What are you listen-- Oh, it's about a train: it must be skiffle." Closer listening reveals that are not all about trains, but a surprisingly large number are. If they're not about real trains, they're about metaphorical ones, and if they're not about metaphorical ones, they're about bandits who rob trains. Even some songs that I'd originally assumed were about miners (e.g. John Henry; Drill, ye tarriers, drill) turn out to be about people building railroads.

Why this obsession with trains? Since most of the skiffle repertoire consists of American folk or blues songs, why do trains crop up so much in these? Is it because America is so much bigger than Britain, so the coming of the railroads had a much bigger impact, worthy of being immortalised in song? Is it because a new and expanding country wanted folk songs that reflected their own daily life, rather than old imported songs centred in rural British life? (British folk songs definitely found their way to America. Loads of traditional British ballads were collected by folklorists in the Appalachians, for example.)

And why so few trains in the British folk song repertoire? I've been idly thinking all day, and I can't come up with a single one. I've come up with one about road building and one about canal building. I've come up with various songs about highway robbery, but none about train robbery. There are loads of songs about sea travel, and a goodly amount about shipwrecks, but where are the songs about railway travel or awful Victorian rail disasters?

Or are there hundreds of British train-related folk songs that will cause me to go, "Of course! How could I have forgotten that?" when people point them out?
ladyofastolat: (fathom the bowl)
It seems that while everyone who sings The Twelve Days of Christmas agrees on what arrived on the first 8 days, everything goes horribly wrong after that. Lots of people seem to be passionately convinced that their version is "the right one", even as printed books give a variety of different answers. So, once again, when faced with a contraversial issue, I appeal to my friends list on LJ to conclusively prove what it right.

(Just imagine how much easier things would have been in the past if people had been able to recourse to the LJ poll to answer such issues. Can't work out when Easter will be celebrated in your kingdom? Post the LJ Poll of Whitby to find out. Simples!)

But, anyway...

The Twelve days of Christmas )

Carols

Dec. 15th, 2009 09:56 am
ladyofastolat: (fathom the bowl)
According to BBC radio news, some professor has "just discovered" a rather amazing fact: many well-known carols and Christmas hymns used to be sung to different tunes. "While Shepherds Watched," he says, used to be sung to a wide variety of folk tunes, of which the most popular was the tune of Ilkley Moor. Wow! What an amazing and radical new discovery this is!

I possess several CDs in which various folk groups sing well-known Christmas words to their old traditional folk tunes. My mixed Morris side does the same. We sing "While Shepherds Watched" to a wide variety of folk tunes, of which the most popular is the tune of Ilkley Moor.

If only any of us had realised that any of this was actually news, we could all be rich and famous by now.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Last night, while I was driving home from dancing, a very exuberant large band was performing American folk classics. I turned the volume up. My toe started tapping. "It's like an American version of Bellowhead!" I thought in delight. I had enormous fun for the whole drive home, and as soon as I got in, I rushed to find out who was playing. I'd never expected it to be Bruce Springsteen. We Shall Overcome: the Seeger sessions has gone straight onto my Amazon wishlist. Even the videos on Youtube look like Bellowhead, complete with the packed stage of instrumentalists having fun, and the massed ranks of brass instruments.

re. Bellowhead: after much dithering, we've decided to go to their New Year event. We almost booked it in October, after they mentioned it at their Frome concert, but tickets were expensive, and hotels were even more so, so we decided not to. However, I realised that I was reluctant to make any other New Year plans because, deep down, I felt that Bellowhead was the only way to go. It's an evening in the South Bank Centre in London, with a ceilidh, shanties and several Bellowhead performances, and then a front row view of the New Year fireworks on Central London. I'm really looking forward to it. :-)

And where does swearing come in? Well, not at all, except that I was amused today to see in a book review that it had "mild strong language." Yes, I know what it meant, but I just like the idea of something being simultaneously mild and strong. I do like the way that people often use circumlocutions or euphemisms even just to talk about swearing. "Strong language": is that related to strong verbs? "This story contains some language," I've seen on many a fanfic introduction; presumably all the other fanfics were done in interpretative dance. "This contains offensive language", but offensive to whom? (Some people would be far more offended by a misplaced apostrophe than by a "bloody.") "Four letter words": so that's why my work internet filter once blocked a page because it contained the word "toad."* And then there's the word "swearing" itself...

* Entirely true. Apparently.
ladyofastolat: (In comes I)
I might as well put these in the same post, since I suppose they're both broadly about "native" traditions vs. cosmopolitan ones.

1. Journeys along the A31/A35 always used to be enlivened by the "Great Wall of Dorset," which always caused me to say "what on earth is behind it? I must look it up one day." Several journeys later, I actually remembered to do so, so then the cry became, "Agh, I looked that up. What was its name, again?" (Answer: Charborough Estate, bounded by "one of the longest brick walls in England", and home of the wonderfully-named Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax family.)

Anyway... in recent years, the great wall has been gradually supplanted by the excitements of the western end of the Dorchester by-pass, where every journey seems to bring a new wonder. There's an Italianate campanile, a Romanesque or Byzantine basilica and a Greek temple, just for starters, and new things have appeared every visit. "Is it a theme park?" we wondered. "What next in this tour of world archicture? A ziggurat? The hanging gardens of Babylon?" After several years of failing to remember to look it up when we got home, this time we remembered, and apparently it's Poundbury - a large new town built on principles set forward by Prince Charles.

Now, it does seem to me a little bit odd to see an Italian campanile rising above the fields of Dorset. Should it seem odd? The landscape is littered with eighteenth-century great houses inspired by Classical designs, after all, so such things are hardly new. But Prince Charles condemns modern buildings and modern archicture for being blots on the landscape, so should he perhaps be advocating the building of houses that fit in with the landscape, being built with local stone and in local styles? (This isn't a rhetical question; I really don't know how I feel about it.) Should the buildings at least have a unified feel, rather than being a random mish-mash of European styles from all over the place? And if, as the Wikipedia article says, they're building houses with bricked-in windows, so they look like old houses that had their windows bricked in to avoid window tax several hundred years ago, can this be seen as taking things a little too far? I bet the Victorians didn't build their neo-Gothic churches pre-dirtied, with chipped-off bits of statues, to make them look centuries old.


2. Secondly, I was interested in this article about songs by folk musicians being used by the BNP. The thing is, I saw the song Roots as being very contrary to the view that the BNP presents. To me (and, it seems, to the writer) it's all about wanting to rediscover and celebrate English traditions, in the same way that pretty much every other country in the world happily celebrates their own... but without it having any hint of xenophobia, racism or jingoism. The key lines to me are the ones that I've always heard as "We've lost St George and the Union Jack / It's my flag, too, and I want it back," which I see as a protest against the fact that these things have become appropriated by racists. I see the song not just as a wish that the English wouldn't scorn their traditions, but as an attack on those who use those traditions for racist and xenophobic purposes. Not, of course, that one would expect the BNP to see things in the same way, but, still...


EDIT: It was, perhaps, rather foolish to make a post on a contraversial issue when feeling ill. My cold's gone solidly to my chest and head, and I'm getting emotional about silly things. Don't feel you have to hold back in comments on my account, but my ability to make coherent replies might be hampered.
ladyofastolat: (In comes I)
Dartmoor Folk Festival is a very nice festival indeed. Unfortunately, a cold, even a fairly mild one, made it hard for me to properly enjoy it. I went to bed at 9 yesterday, and missed over four hours of singing, chatting and drinking around the camp-fire. Today was boily hot, too, which was the last straw in terms of my ability to get through day without wanting to fall over and whimper.

Festival )
ladyofastolat: (unbowed)
It's quite unusual for the sun to rise on May Morning. Well, actually, I suspect that it's actually fairly common for the sun to rise on May Morning, and that May Mornings when the sun doesn't rise at all have probably been few and far between over the years, but it is, however, fairly unusual for us to see the sun rising. It seemed very slow coming this year, and I began to suspect that it was deliberately lurking just below the horizon, sniggering into its hand as it listened to us launch into yet another song while waiting. (Or maybe it just doesn't like Morris dancing.) However, come it did... for all of 3 minutes, until it was eaten by a low cloud and the encroaching sea fog.

Photographic evidence )
ladyofastolat: (Library lady)
Bookstart wants me to vote for my favourite nursery rhyme, but I don't know what it is. I'm supposed to have one. Clearly everyone is supposed to have one, but I really don't think I do. I'm well inclined towards nursery rhymes in general, as examples of living tradition, as shared cultural heritage, and for all the ways they apparently benefit children's development, but a favourite one...? I'm staring at the voting form and not a single title leaps out and fills my heart with intense joy, above and beyond its fellows.

Would you all be able to answer this question instantly and unerringly?

Wassail!

Jan. 12th, 2009 01:42 pm
ladyofastolat: (In comes I)
We went Wassailing on Saturday. As dusk fell on a frosty orchard, a full moon slowly took shape through hazy clouds, and a flock of rook circled overhead, heading for the trees. The grass was thick with frost, and the air was biting, with all the branches thick with white.

The keyword was cold. All the men immediately started prodding fires, trying to get them to burn well, and then prodding some more, because they were men and man bring fire. A miscommunication about time meant that we arrived an hour before we were needed, so the women slowly froze, feet turning into blocks of ice within the inadequate insulation of wooden clogs.

The Wassail itself involved some song and some chanting, before the apple trees were decked with cider-soaked toast, and cider was sprinkled around its roots. Quite why apple trees will be encouraged by being smeared in the crushed, fermented corpses of their relatives, I do not know, but it's Tradition, so who are we to question the psychology of apple trees? Much noise was made with pots and pans and sticks, and perhaps the evil spirits were driven away, or perhaps they weren't; I was too cold to stick around and watch, and retreated to the fireside for beef and ale stew.

Bits

Jun. 5th, 2008 07:29 pm
ladyofastolat: (Default)
- The new Spiers and Boden CD arrived yesterday (not quite Bellowhead, but half way there), and the new Diana Wynne Jones book came today. The latter is particularly exciting since I didn't think it was coming out until July.

- My new passport also arrived today - recorded delivery coming at 7 in the evening, which is odd. I'm disappointed to find out that, despite being "biometric", it doesn't do anything particularly science fictiony. I was expecting it to demand a retina scan, at least. The main difference from my last one is that it's full of birds, including a sinister pigeon and a constipated hawk. Presumably such things defeat forgers, whereas pictures of, say, farmyard animals are a gift to them. There is even a stylised bird next to my signature. It is quite odd. I wonder if I need to say something like, "the tall avocet flies at noon," in order to be allowed back into the country. *suddenly wonders if merely by blogging about the birds, I am breaching vital security.* *also wonders if everyone else gets birds, too, or if this is a coded way of telling passport control that I am a Morris dancer / fan / librarian / To Be Watched.*

- I can think of few simple pleasures more pleasurable than squidging packets of Uncle Ben's microwavable rice.

- There are several writing projects I wanted to work on tonight, but I couldn't decide which to focus on. So, needless to say, I am currently doing none of them.

- Off to take over the world / Europe / civilisation / Britain / alien planets / wherever tomorrow. Perhaps this weekend we will actually finish a game we start! (The cats eventually strode through the wreckage of abandoned Civilisation last weekend, before we ate our dinner in its ruins, then swept it away.)
ladyofastolat: (In comes I)
We spent the long weekend at Hastings Jack in the Green Festival, which involved:
- much cider, much ice cream and some slightly fatal carafes of wine
- sneaky spaghetti which had conned me into ordering it by masquerading as mere "pasta", then proceeded to sit there cackling as I failed utterly to persuade it onto a fork
- accidentally walking in on a man in the toilet. Oops.
- spectacularly inept application of sun cream
- Pellinor (there as an other half / pack animal, not as a dancer) running away with some wraggle taggle pink Morris people for hours and hours and HOURS, and probably doing more dancing than I did
- some people who clearly thought that green body paint is an acceptable alternative to clothing
- green, green, GREEN, everywhere green
- witnessing an arrest. Really, Being Bad when there are 12 police men within 20 yards, all ready to marshal the start of a long procession, is not clever
- the buying of lots of second hand books and a swirly skirt
- an underground car park with the best echo in the world. Chicken on a Raft works particularly well in it. I'm not sure what the humans and bikers thought, though.
- a sea gull with a very accurate aim. Also, fortunately, a sun hat that was heroically willing to take the bullet meant for me
- Pellinor being mistaken for a pirate, Dick Turpin, a fop, Lord Nelson, Amadeus, a Venetian assassin etc etc., and being stopped for more photographs than us bona fide dancers. Show off!
- Pellinor having a Late Night Adventure which he's promised to blog about

Some pictures )
ladyofastolat: (In comes I)
Observations on Oxford after many years away )

As for the festival, I am tired, sore, stiff and hobbling. Who says that folk music is quiet and boring and sedate? Two hours in the Bellowhead mosh pit is enough to kill anyone. I'm not sure how the band survives, since they put just as much energy into their performance as us fans do in front of the stage. I particularly liked the "power banjo" posturings. Banjo Hero, anyone?

I was pleased to see that the average age of the audience at festivals I've been to lately is a lot younger than it was ten years ago - and I don't think this is just because I'm getting older. There were even a good few young Morris dancers around.

Anyway... I'm very tired now, due to having a hotel on George Street. I knew it would be noisy, but reasoned we'd not be coming home till 11 or later, so it wouldn't matter. What an innocent I am! Music and carousing went on until at least 2, and police presence and all sorts. The city centre all seems much wilder than it did, but perhaps my late night wanderings were confined to tamer parts of the city.
ladyofastolat: (In comes I)
Yes, yes, I know I'm predictable. I've said it all before, but... but...! I went to a dance practice tonight in the room above a pub, and the pub was heaving. Packed with people, full of green and shamrocks and special offers on Guinness. Now, leaving aside the fact that it isn't actually St Patrick's Day today, due to the whole "cancelled it if clashes with Holy Week" thing, here we have an English pub, in England, in which I bet well nigh a hundred percent of the people inside were English, absolutely packed for St Patrick's Day. Fair enough. I have no objection to them doing this. I have no objection to them celebrating St Andrew's Day and St David's Day, and any special day from any other world culture that they want to celebrate. I'm all for multiculturalism and diversity... but I just wish that there could be at least some attempt to celebrate the English special day and reclaim it from the racists and the xenophobes and the aggressive patriots.

I bet this pub won't be doing special offers on local real ales on St George's Day, or putting roses on the wall. It bet they won't be playing English folk music in the background. I bet they won't invite Morris dancers to perform. It's quite incredible how the English have managed to neglect, or even laugh at, their own traditions and folk culture. That leaves a gap that the racists can step in and fill, and make it so that standing up and saying, "hey, my country has some rather nice traditions, actually, and I'd rather like to celebrate them" gets heard as "my country right or wrong, and down with the rest." A couple of years ago, BBC radio's special St George's day programming was a concert with music from Wales, Scotland and Ireland... because to play English music would be jingoistic, I presume, so not allowed.

Anyway... Yes, I've said it all before. I just need to quote Roots again, though:

Roots lyrics )
ladyofastolat: (In comes I)
We're almost at the end of term, which means that all the project boxes are coming back from schools. When unpacking and shelving, I constantly have songs in my head, prompted by the book titles. Some are pretty easy to guess. No prizes for working out what song I have in my head after shelving "Heads, shoulders, knees and toes", or "Dem bones." But what about these? More books and songs, and then some carols )

Festivals

Sep. 9th, 2007 04:53 pm
ladyofastolat: (In comes I)
Just got back from a day dancing at the Bestival, the smaller of the two local pop festivals. It bills itself as being quirky and different (hence inviting Morris dancers), so I have no idea how representative it is of its kind, but that didn't stop me making some nice, sweeping generalisations on the differences between folk festivals and pop festivals.

Festivals - a spotter's guide )
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Displacement activity involving euphemisms, guns, strippers, cross-dressing, adultery and murder )

Spanfest

Jul. 29th, 2007 04:27 pm
ladyofastolat: (In comes I)
Back from Spankfest Spanfest, which was very very good.

Much dancing, much dancing... Too much cider, too little sleep. )
ladyofastolat: (In comes I)
Today I was telling someone at work about my plans for the weekend after next. "I'm going to Spankfest."

Stunned silence.

"It's a festival. Bellowhead - remember I was telling you about them the other week? - are going to be there."

Stunned silence.

"It's held at Kentwell Hall in Suffolk. It holds an annual month-long Tudor reenactment. I took part for two years when I was a student, and have many happy memories."

Him, finally, slightly strangled: "Spankfest?"

The thing is, when I first saw that Bellowhead were appearing at a thing called Spanfest, I Googled it. It didn't yet have much web presence. "Do you mean Spankfest?" Google asked me. Amused, I have been calling it "Spankfest" ever since without really noticing it. As I discovered today, this was a Bad Idea.
ladyofastolat: (Bagpuss yawning)
A slightly amended version of a popular folk song:

It was pleasant and delightful on a midsummer morn,
All things were quite silent - and then came the dawn.
Then blackbirds and thrushes sang on every green spray,
And the larks they sang cacophonous: how I wish they'd go away.
And the larks they sang cacophonous
And the larks they sang cacophonous
And the larks they sang cacophonous -
How I wish they'd go away!


(Although, actually, the problem wasn't so much the birds, as the cats. They seem to have decided that the dawn chorus is a challenge to feline kind, and they sit there in the hall singing as loudly as they can, in a, "Hey! We can do that, too!" sort of fashion. Maybe the world of nature is holding their own version of Pop Idol, and we don't know it. I hope the final happens while we're in Scotland, and we return to silent cats.)
ladyofastolat: (In comes I)
Back from a weekend in Weymouth. Although I have talking about the weekend as "The Weymouth Folk Festival", apparently it was called "The Wessex Folk Festival." This is important. It almost resulted in us turning up in Weymouth at the start of the weekend, with no idea where we were going, when we were dancing, or anything at all. At some point in the past, I had been rather foolishly over-zealous when I was setting up email rejection rules...

Weymouth bullet points, with pics. )
ladyofastolat: (Misty Glastonbury)
I missed out an apt line from folk song yesterday:
My hat it is frozen to my head,
My feet they are like a lump of lead
.

At present, I am sitting here at work, in a building that is assailed on all sides by wind, and cowering under a black and menacing sky. (The poor red squirrels are having a very challenging time trying to leap from branch to branch. It's become an extreme sport.) In an hour, I need to head into the direction of the worst of the blackness to go walking with dinosaurs. This walk will take place on the beach, near a very windy headland. If you never hear from me again...

And it gets worse. Tomorrow is Walk the Wight - a 28 mile sponsored walk across the whole length of the island, in which 6000 happy souls (5% of the population of the island!) wander in the sunshine through glorious scenery. Well, have you seen the forecast? Our mixed Morris team is going one better once again, and Dancing the Wight - i.e. doing it in relay, and dancing at every checkpoint. (I wanted to Mum the Wight - i.e. do it in our Mummers' Play costume, and perform the play in installments at each checkpoint, with proper cliffhangers. Strangely, no-one else agreed. I think it was the idea of having to carry the Turkish Knight's "corpse" for 6 miles that put them off.) Pellinor intends to do the whole 28 miles again, ideally avoiding falling into rivers this time. Last year, the local paper was rude about us. This year, I think we'll be upstaged by the chicken. Chicken interlude )

To make matters worse, my water-proof isn't. I think the dinosaur walk needs to take a diversion past Millets. I'm sure I can come up with some way to con the children into thinking it's a proper dinosaury place.

I've heard it said that, in America, they actually cancel things if it rains, or reschedule them to another day. How odd (if true.) (Alternatively, how completely sensible.) It must be strange to live in a culture that doesn't doggedly struggle on with summer fairs and walks despite torrential downpours, floods, gails and sub-zero temperatures.

EDIT: I was driving home over the Downs behind an open-top double-decker bus, that was very nicely decorated. "Island breezes", it read. I do like this very English mode of looking on the bright side, and making a virtue out of the discomfort. I think it should be extended to other things, like boats and horse-drawn carriages and the like. "The English Rain Drop experience!" Tourists will be queuing up in droves.
ladyofastolat: (In comes I)
I've posted before about why I love folk music. I think the summary was something like:

1. Because I love singing songs / playing tunes that have been sung for centuries
2. I like how they so often break "the rules". They're often modal, defy standard modern ideas of standard time signatures, and if the words demand a few extra syllables stuck in the middle of a line, then that's what we get.
3. Because I love the folk tradition, by which everyone is free to interpret the song or tune in their own way, and there is no right version, no author, and no copyright. (Though try telling that to the PRS)
4. Because I love democratic nature of the folk scene, in which even the superstars (usually) mingle with the audience in the bar, before strolling onto stage to do their bit, a pint of beer in one hand.

However, I missed reason number 5: Folk songs have some lovely turns of phrase, often rather unintentionally amusing. Here are some favourites that come to mind. Quotations from folk songs. )

And, while I'm here: This site is wonderful for all the different versions of the Child ballads, though it's sadly music-less. Grr! These things are songs, not poems.
ladyofastolat: (unbowed)
Happy summer!

The plan was to post a happy May Day song at 4 a.m. ("We were up long before the day-o!"), then post pictures of the sun a-rising when I got back at 7. However, since I'm ill, I tossed and turned sleeplessly until 2, got up and pottered on the computer for a bit, then went back to bed. I'd just begun to feel dozy, when a suspicious noise led me to an Adventure with a Mouse (that had an as-yet-unresolved cliffhanger ending.) Still awake at 4, when Pellinor went out. Still awake at 5. Still awake at 5.45. But 6.45 came quickly, and I clearly remember being at Kentwell and then at a folk festival on a canal, so I must have finally slept. Can't skive off work; got to give a lecture to a group of childcare students. Wish I could. Skive, that is.

It's particularly vexing because the sun really did rise today, after years of rain, mist, fog or haze. And there was more singing than normal. Pellinor skipped the group breakfast since he has to get to work early, so at least he couldn't do bacon-related gloating. The sun-related gloating would be bad enough, except that he's also adding in moon-related gloating, too.

I'm too tired to do a proper folklore post. Suffice it to say that there's a lot of it around. Folklore, that is.

Pellinor's scant two pictures taken on the last dying breath of the camera battery )

Happy summer, all! (Although, this year, we feel that some imposters have been plying their wares round these here parts. As everyone knows, the summer only happens because the noble Morris men get up at dawn and heroically dance to bring in the sunshine. If they didn't dance, then where would be be? However, since it's been summer for around six weeks, we can only conclude that some pretend Morris dancers came along and conned the sunshine into thinking that March 21st was the traditional start of summer, did a dance, and fled.)

Music

Mar. 18th, 2007 10:25 am
ladyofastolat: (In comes I)
Well, I've finally done it. Years, probably, after everyone else has done it, I have just downloaded an MP3 player. Now to see about getting some music...

EDIT: Gosh, this is easy. I've done a dozen CDs already. Expect rather more "current music" entries from now on. I don't normally have any music playing while on the computer, because I'm too lazy to go down and grab a CD, and the radio never plays much that I like. The classifications are interesting, though. A very fairly trad. folk CD came up as "folk rock", while Steeleye Span at their most folk rocky came up merely as "folk - general." It's given up completely when I try it with some the CDs I've bought at festivals from obscure artists, and just whimpers "unknown artist."
ladyofastolat: (In comes I)
It's really great having a folklore calendar in the kitchen. There I am, busy with cooking, when I happen to notice a phrase like "pea eating customs in the north-east of England" (March 25th, by the way), and then I have to rush off to find more in the folklore books, and then I have to read up on the rest of the months, and before I know it, Pellinor has finished making dinner.

So here are the results of this month's distraction: Folklore in March )

I now need to get ready for the annual Morris Men's feast. I declined the offer of a lift, on the grounds that I might enjoy the feast a bit more if I drink, but I will enjoy tomorrow a whole lot more if I don't. Pellinor is not under the same restriction. I am anticipating much singing later.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Just back from a weekend in London. It's strange to be sitting at my computer before midday, when I was in London this morning, and will be at work this afternoon. We had various adventures with murderous museums, baby's first chopsticks, disappearing armour, folk-music mosh pits, and a confused train. More... )

Straw Bear

Jan. 15th, 2007 09:09 am
ladyofastolat: (In comes I)
This weekend, we went to the Straw Bear in Whittlesey (or Whittlesea), near Peterborough. Straw Bear - long account, with digressions on folklore and fens )

All in all, it was a good weekend. I knew I'd enjoy it in the end, even though, beforehand, all I wanted was a quiet weekend in. I'm back at work this afternoon, but have the morning off.

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