Friday, 23 April 2010

A thought for St George's Day

One of our village luminaries, Ding Dong Daddy, has just been interviewed by Channel 4 News. It was a pretty terrifying experience, he says, but sometimes passionate people just have to do these things.

Bizarrely, he was sitting in front of a cake shop, the sun's rays bouncing off his head, and a scarf wrapped tightly around his neck. He was talking about Folk Against Fascism, a very visible and vocal campaign to kick into touch that political party of hate, the BNP.

Because, even more bizarrely, the BNP is claiming folk music as its own. BNP leader Nick Griffin claims to be a Kate Rusby fan and last year the party used a song called Roots as a soundtrack to a video on their website. It was written by Steve Knightley, who used to be a school teacher in Beaminster and is now one half of the folk duo Show of Hands. He was not amused.

Neither is another West Dorset-based musician, Billy Bragg, whose home town of Barking is being hijacked by the BNP.

So now, with the General Election coming up on May 6, the folkies have organised a village fete on London's South Bank on May Day bank holiday Sunday to show the world what we think about fascists. We no like.

My folk-singing uncle, the late George Withers, who I wrote about when he died last year, was an Englishman to the core. His renditions of old Somerset songs have been recorded for posterity. He would have firmly turned his back on the BNP, although he wouldn't have made a fuss, banged a loud bodhran or marched in a parade.

He was a tolerant, kind and understanding man. And he also very much believed in a diverse folk music scene.

Eddie Upton, from Folk South West, says: "George was a great upholder and advocate of traditional song, but he never felt that traditional songs were to be preserved in aspic."

A bit like the old image of England, one that never really existed. For centuries, this country has evolved, with settlers from various lands coming into this green and pleasant land. None of us can really claim to be 'pure' English. We are all a mish-mash, and all the better for it.

I know my uncle George would have heartily approved of Ding Dong Daddy's band, The Imagined Village. They recorded their album here right here in The Shire, in Ding Dong Daddy's garage, As their website states: "The sleepy village soon got used to seeing a turbaned Sikh percussionist, a female sitar player and folk dignitaries wandering about the place."

Here on this blog, so far the political shenanigans in The Enchanted Village have been lighthearted. I am hemmed in by Tory posters and the UKIP van drives by more often than Mr Whippy, but we should think ourselves lucky to have decent people, on the whole, standing to represent our very special corner of this sceptred isle.

So happy St George's Day, whatever your race, colour, creed or country of origin.

Incidentally, I think the dragon in this illustration was probably a fascist.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x


  1. Oooh I love a village fete! Hope there's a bottle stall. Will you be going?

  2. Happy St. George's Day to you alao.
    A garden fete ! How exciting.
    I'll have a 'go' on the Tombolo ;)

  3. We get lots of news of the campaign over your way - the debates, the spouses etc etc
    Have fun at the fete!


Lanny by Max Porter, an extraordinary novel best read in splendid isolation

I’m on the Isles of Scilly with friends, the weather’s been glorious and there’s been lots of walking, paddling in the clear wat...