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Cleckie Folkie 2012

Cleckheaton is a strange enough place to have a folk festival - some of my friends call it Chav town, and indeed there were not many places to dine out, a lot of low income people and thieving was going on at midday in the middle of the town (a Wayzgoose campervan got broken into in a 25 minute time span). Often we saw several Morris Sides wandering the town in search of food in the after hours as the crowds dispersed and the town almost went to sleep, apart from the masses that inhabit the local Wetherspoons (and by the masses, I mean normal folk who love football, beer and don't know what a morris dancer looks like). There was a lot of dancing. Half an hour break in between locations and then dancing with another team or two. Often, our side escaped and hid in the Town Hall to watch the folk singers. I went home early with Helen and her youngest, Penny and Paddy, on the Sat night, and almost did not get as much sleep as the late people - ie everyone else...

There was also sposed to be a severe weather warning, but it never happened in Cleckheaton. Were the Gods smiling on Cleckheaton this weekend???

Cleckheaton Folk Festival 2012-07-11

The 25th anniversary!
It all began on Friday evening when I had just gone to bed for a power doze when I was disturbed by beating on the front door. From the fact that the figure outside blotted out all the light coming through the glazing I deduced it was Mark. I further deduced that I couldn’t unlock the door because Helen and gone out and taken her key wit...h her. Anyway, after some minutes I found my key and ignoring jibes of “has she locked you in and taken your trousers?” (I was in my dressing gown) in trooped Mark, Angie, Tania and Dawn, not necessarily in that order. We had so much rain during the week they didn’t fancy camping, and I don’t blame them. After cups of tea and flapjack hied we all to Cleckheaton Town Hall, where we marvelled at the photos of Magpie from past years, and also how I hadn’t changed at all since first performing with Berkana 6 years ago. To be fair, I don’t think the others did marvel at the last bit. To be even more fair I hadn’t changed because I looked just as shagged out 6 years ago.

Anyway, having located Helen and the boys upstairs, I collected the wristbands wot get you in free and distributed them among my fellows. In we went and watched The Grey Snotes, I think they were, followed by the Tees-side Troubadour Vin Garbutt. Always worth a watch and listen. Being in the balcony, we were above the Mayor, and next to him, the Poison Dwarf, Councillor Cath Pinnock, who dare not go to Birkenshaw for fear of being lynched. But that’s another story. Resisting the temptation to gob on her, we left and ended up in an Indian take-away. It turned out they had no spare Indians we could take away, so we settled for food instead, and piling into Mark’s car –back to Birkenshaw, where troughing occurred.

Then to bed, with the girls crammed into Joe’s room and Mark downstairs, snoring away before I got into bed.

Saturday: tea, toast, face paint, tatters etc. then off to the fire station for the Parade! As it was the 25th anniversary, we had been given a bag of silver tinsel, so all looking like Christmas trees, we formed into the parade order. To denote our special relationship with the festival we were put nearly at the end, so the crowds had something to look forward to after all the boring buggers had gone past. (I think that was the reason). So, taking the banner at the front, away I went wondering if the bastards would try and lose me like they did at Holmfirth. The bastards tried to lose me like they did at Holmfirth.(see photo). The weather was good, we had a bloody great crow with us (Paddy) and the crowd went wild. Well, semi-domesticated to be fair.

First dance venue – Savoy Square, with Slubbing Billy’s and Spen Valley Longsword. It was here that tragedy struck. In the first chorus of Lady’s White Arse (Sorry, we shortened it to Bum, didn’t we) some great clodhopping pillock, allright – Mark – trod on my heel and suddenly I was crippled. Hobbling to the side, I found that the complete sole of me boot had ripped off. What a rip off! I’d only had ‘em a few months. Nothing for it but to dance in me socks, so wrenching me other boot off I sportingly pushed Chris (who had taken my place) out of the way, and taking my cue from Mark that it was Enoch’s Hammer next, danced laterally to prepare for the strike. Unfortunately everybody else dance longitudinally, because it wasn’t Enoch’ Hammer. (Thinks – is he getting his own back for all the piss-taking? Hmmm). So after the dance, off I went to Wynsors Crappy Shoe Emporium in me socks to get a pair of crappy boots. Having explained to the assistant what had happened, I got a pair of crappy boots, and he started putting them in a bag. I pointed out that I would look a bit of a twat walking round in stockinged feet with me boots in a bag, and both his brain cells must have collided at that moment, because a look of understanding drifted across his face. Putting me crappy boots on – the lace broke doing them up – back I went to Savoy Square and on approaching noticed how totally shite the lines were. Even shiter than the shitest shite practice we’ve ever had. That’s how shite they were. And that’s pretty shite I can tell you. So salvaging me laces from me old defunct boots (they were completely funct) I spent a happy half hour lacing them up while they all posed for photographs. Cries of “No – we can’t have a group photo without Terry” were completely absent. Not only were their lines shite, they didn’t give one either.

Off to the Rubber Tunnel. It’s real name is the Central Arcade, but it used to have rubber flooring, so the name stuck, even though the rubber floor has long gone. Bit like somebody called Curly going bald. (What?). We danced with Kitchen Taps, the side, not the water valves. They were pretty good. We may have been slightly less shite, but I can’t remember. That’s the trouble with leaving it too long before doing the blog. I forget the order. Then some people will point out your mistakes. Some of these people, well, one of these people is Australian, but I wouldn’t embarrass her by naming her. My hard disk is OK but the operating system is suspect. I remember Chris saying something extremely incriminating, and me saying “That’s going in the blog”. Doesn’t work without the actual words does it? I’ll leave you to make up what he might have said, then I’ll wait for you to stop laughing………………………………………………….OK? Right.

Down to the craft fair for the next dance. With Glorishears and Slibbing Bully’s. Again. Beardy Chris bought a Skean Dhu kilt pin to stop his kilt blowing up and revealing his accoutrements, which are quite substantial (He says). I just bought a cheeseburger. I remember dancing Spiral with Joe and Thomas, their first time. Oh, and I remember a hundred yard Sir John. The trouble is, if you get a big space, Ange tries to make you fill it. If we ever did Hey-up Sailor at Wembley, we’d start off in the corner quadrants. She doesn’t seem to realise you’d need a stick 6 feet long to reach the clash, 8 feet if you’re clashing with her and her stupid stunted tichy little effort. “Spread out” she says. “I am spread out” we say. But we love her really.

To the Wickham for the competition! We won it on our first season. There were, however, 2 American sides, so we thought, politically, it would go to one of them. We danced a great Bum, and got a lot of applause. One of the judges had us winning, but as expected, it went to an American side. To be fair, they were not bad. Noted Spen Valley Longsword still can’t do Eskimo Clubbing a Seal.

Gone a bit vague on the next bit. After leaving the school venue I seem to remember walking about looking for somewhere to eat, deciding against Aakash (A’m not paying £13 for a buffet) and ending up at the Commercial. This is where my second great injustice of the day occurred. I ordered a beef baguette only to be told there were none left. Bugger. Another cheeseburger. Round the back we went to the fenced off decked area and sat at a table. Then Thelma, who had ordered after me, got a bloody beef baguette! Bastards! They obviously didn’t want me to have one. It was while reflecting on the injustice of the world that things took an upward turn. In more ways than one.

Without warning, round the corner of the building came two short baldheaded men followed, seconds later by a woman dressed like Mrs. Fox from Dad’s Army. Then we realised they were not baldheaded men but enormous pink water balloons belonging to the aforesaid Mrs. Fox. If we had set a stop watch to time the interval between their appearance and hers, I suppose Professor Brian Cox could have worked out their size, but I expect he would have needed the average speed too. The male members(!) were transfixed by the sight of these wobbling enormities struggling for release from the tight bodice. It appeared she was doing something for charity, and had a set of stocks of the type you put your head and hands in. For a moment it seemed as if she was trying to get her knockers through the holes, but no! She then filled up water containers which involved a lot of bending down, and showing two feet of cleavage. You could have slid a 12 inch vinyl record in there and never seen it again. We were all wondering if they would have an argument i.e. fall out, but they never quite managed it, although on a couple of occasions, when she moved quickly, they acted totally independently as though trying to escape. (Just a minute. I need to sit down). Anyway, landlord in the stocks – staff throwing water sponges at him. We met Kerry who used to dance with us,and her Dad, who sportingly had a go in the stocks. There seemed no shortage of blokes willing to have a go. Perhaps they’d been promised a go on Mrs.Fox as a reward.

To the Mead House, where I watched Bruce Baillie, a great singer songwriter, musician and friend do a great set, then downstairs to see Marjory and Dave of Fyrish fame, also friends. It was here that Tania demonstrated the old Australian custom of lying under a table and going to sleep. Strangely, it had a glass top, so you could see her through it. It was like being at a museum looking at a mummy display, except Tania doesn’t look like a mummy. Narmean?

Then to the Town Hall, where we caught part of John Prentice and Jill Drury (luckily we had the antidote with us) and after the interval the brilliant Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, and Coope, Boyes and Simpson.

Midnight. Angie hadn’t finished. (Please don’t suggest a dance). Went to the Wickham where the singaround had reached the shit stage. You know, where they’ve run out of songs and people are doing middle of the road crap and pissed up twats are doing pop songs. We slid in through the French windows, still blacked and kitted up, and received a request to sing. Sing we did – Shula Gra and Barratt’s Privateer’s to rapturous applause! What we should have done was to say “That’s the standard your looking for!” and slid back out through the window leaving them saying “Who were those masked men?”. But we didn’t. We went to the bar. When we got back Ruthie had been “recognised” as a She Shanty er and was performing solo. We did a few more, then it started to go shite again, so we went. Getting to the taxi office, the sign on the door said “Ring bell and wait”. Did so. A voice came from above, “Where do you want to go?” He’d got his head out of the upstairs window. Might have actually been in bed. A strange way to do business. Within seconds a taxi rolled up, and off home, where we had been joined by Penny and Paddy, both fast asleep. To bed.

Sunday. Similar to yesterday. Up and off.
To the Craft Fair dance area where we were told to go to the Wickham as we needed to lend Paul to Slubbing Billy’s. So we turned up there and they didn’t, but we danced with Hornbeam Molly from Knaresborough, and got some nice compliments from one of their number.

To Albion Street where there was a market, with Slubbing Billy’s and Wayzgoose. Our dancing was a lot better today, for some unknown reason. Preparing to do Stomp for the last dance, when Smiley Chris threatened to desert to see the Young ‘Uns. Swapped spots with Wayzgoose and off we went, catching most of their set. Lovely harmonies.

Back to the Wickham – Bum – everybody did a dance – we did several. Group hug – here’s……to the Magpies…….who will DANCE (Chris!) …….in your face….. To the Town Hall to see Martin Simpson – bugger – missed him.

Back home. Dawn managed to bleed. Again.