Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Where the legend begins

Back home in the Enchanted Village and a queue snakes around the hall car park. Morris dancers with blacked-out faces wave their hankies and dance gaily around the tarmac. Inside, a sound check is carried out and the beautiful voice of a singing woman soars through the evening air.

My friend Tuppence opens the doors - a feat in itself because she's a slip of a thing - and the crowd rushes in, making for the bar and a barrel of Branscombe Brewery's best bitter. At the counter is Nobby Odd Job and Mr Loggins while Pelly, Mr Sheepwash and Mrs Bancroft and I dispense the drinks in the background.

Mr Grigg - still sunning himself in faraway lands - would be proud of us.

The music acts as a disembodied soundtrack to the pouring of wine and beer. It's like The World from My Window: The Movie. On stage is Ding Dong Daddy, tonight's promoter, with assorted members of his band The Imagined Village.

'He's famous,' my ethnomusicologist cousin said to me a few weeks ago. This coming from a man who has his own Phil Hull is an epic LEGEND page on Facebook, kindly set up by devoted students on his university course.

'There are two Ding Dong Daddies,' Ding Dong says, modestly, when I tell him tonight.

'No, I'm sure he meant you.' I say. Well, I hope he did.

To the ringing of Mr St John's till, John Jones from Oysterband takes to the stage, after walking 16 miles from Lyme Regis with a jolly but reluctant band of ramblers to get here. John usually has great weather for his walks to gigs. But, as usual, The Enchanted Village is shrouded in mist.

Through the serving hatch I can see the toes of Mamma Mia tapping, alongside Manual and Mrs Regal Bird. General Custer, who won the lottery a few years ago, asks loudly for another pint of beer, but no-one minds because Ding Dong has just described him as a legend for loaning his field for the night to happy campers.

I also get a public thank you, for helping with the PR, and I am unmasked as 'the village blogger'.

''We all have pseudonyms,' Ding Dong says to the audience. 'I'm known as Mr Charmer. If you get the chance, have a look at it. It's called The View from my Window.'*

In between the rush at the bar, we listen to the lovely singing of Jackie Oates - 'Pam Ayres with a bit of The Cranberries', according to Mr Sheepwash - as Nobby sits on the counter, a satisfied beam on his face for having spearheaded such a smoothly-run bar. Pelly is resting her back and sitting on a child's wooden chair in the corner of the kitchen while Mrs Bancroft is pleased with herself for mastering the thumb trick I taught her when pouring fizzy drinks.

My mind wanders. With the heritage of Cecil Sharp's collected folk songs all around me - geographically and also through the family ties of my folk singing uncle, the late George Withers, and hippy sister, who was on the official Glastobury line-up (albeit in the bicycle-powered Buddhist stage singing with her eyes shut and playing penny whistle and trombone) - and a professional musician, producer and now promoter Ding Dong Daddy well ensconced in The Enchanted Village, maybe next year we should hold our own mini-folk festival.

Well, even Michael Eavis's event at Pilton started small. And now look at it.

Big trees from little acorns grow.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

* Irish Eyes, if you get any more followers over the next few days, then you have Ding Dong Daddy to thank.


  1. it all seems to have been a resounding success and i think you should get free drinks in the local for the rest of your days for bringing such glory to your lovely village.

  2. You'll all be notorious - of course, only in the very best sense of the word.

  3. If you do have your own little folk festival, please invite me and my fledgling band! (Horn Ash) I'm not sure your little village could cope with more than a couple of thousand - so we'll have to keep it a local secret ok?

    (congrats on the blogger of note thing - I mean to say so before but I was gnashing my teeth with envy...)

    x x x

  4. Eeeek! I shall be on the look out, now...where's me binoculars! Great craic altogether!!


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