jackdaw in forest


So I have a blogger account - http://merryjackdaw.blogspot.com.au/

I've been transferring posts from this LJ to the blogger - and I've also saved every post I've done on LJ into a doc file. I wont transfer all the posts - a lot are not relevant anymore, some posts are memorable or interesting. All that is left of this Live journal are the trips to the UK that I took in 2010 and 2011 - 2012.

Please go to the above link to visit my new blog.

A journey of the End....

I've been to England six times. Granted that, the first time I went, I was 3 and remember only a little bit of it. I went again at ages 18, 21, 28, 33 and 34. Of all those ages I've had four birthdays over there, as my birthday is in late May (late Autumn), I've also spent 4 whole summers, seen one Christmas, one New Year's Eve, two Easters, and absolutely no Samhain (Halloween). All up, I have spent 23 months over there - almost 2 years added up.

I've also, since I went at age 18, had a tiny obsession with travelling there, I love touring, travelling, seeing the old sites, places I've only read about or heard in stories from my mother - and my relatives hold a kind of madness that my prim and proper relatives here don't have - now I know where I get some of it from.

After turning 19 in England, I became pagan and have never looked back, but one thing that I did two years after the event was record down in a diary 'what I did two years ago today.' I kept a record in a TAFE diary of my adventures completed two years earlier - talk about obsessed with the memory of the trip.

Even after I went at age 28-29, I recall a year later saying - 'wow, I was on top of Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh a year ago today!' Reminising is a part of how I keep my memory of such significant moments of my life. These days and moments are what makes me ME. I knew who I was after these trips - I found myself - sometimes it took time, but eventually I knew who I was, what I loved, and what I respected - and geographically, I was English, but more importantly from Yorkshire - and believe me, that's a GREAT county to be a part of, to have blood from. It's in the veins.

As readers of this blog will know, I just spent under 11 months in the UK. After 6 weeks of being back in Australia, I would have been able to say 'hey, a year ago today, I arrived in London on a cool autumnul day.' But I have not really done that this time round. I've not really dwelled on my last trip like I have the others, wondering what I was doing a year ago - maybe that's because I feel I have got the place out of my system - I've seen a winter, an early spring, heard the cuckoos, danced folk dances on cobbled streets, stayed up all night in the woods celebrating the sabbats, and fire-twirled during a snow blizzard! Maybe because I got a lot of my dreams completed that I don't feel the need to expect England to give me what I want. She's given it to me. It's in my mind, in my heart, in my feet, and no one can take it from me. People in the past have been a little rude to me about my obsession with England, but it was obvious they were jealous. I'm not only a fan of traveling in England, but I love it's history, it's folklore, it's mystery, it's identity, it's customs - whether I'm obsessed with it or not, I still study it. Even from here. My books on folklore, mystery and faeries usually proves that.

Just for the record I'll think about what I was doing a year ago this week - Ostara had just happened, the crocuses and daffodils were already up, and on the Equinox I had danced at the local primary school in my morris dancing team, and then we went to the pub - all 5 of us. It had been a lovely sunny spring day, and a few days later, England had an unseasonable summery week of t-shirt weather. On one of those lovely warm summery days, I went to Halifax and walked around the Piece Hall and Borough Market, like I also did at age 3! I remember not seeing Halifax look so lovely on a sunny day before...

jackdaw on wall

Autumn Equinox in the Land of the Red Dragon

On my final weekend in the UK, I went to Wales for my friends 25th wedding anniversary - it was to be my final event away from the Thieving Magpies and all my Marsden friends - my last dance too!

I travelled down with the Dawsons, and most of us arrived on the Friday. We were some of the first ones there. It was a great little location. I thought about all the mysteries and wonders of Wales that I had read about - especially a certain fairy sighting that occurred in about the 1700s. Two men walking down a country road saw strange people going in and out of the top of a hill with hay bales or something - very bizarre!

I wondered how far away from Janet Bord I was - knowing the coincidence of it all, I would have been a mile away from her house.

On the Saturday, we walked around the northern slopes of Tal-y-Fan near Conwy and went to the stone circle there - there we danced in the circle for those camping in the circle - being Autumn Equinox and all - and here are the photos - we had no sticks or tatters, but we danced Diagonal Wychwood. It was a kind of unforgetable day!

Stag with crown

Guiseley again

I've been back in Guiseley for just over a week now. I've already got a lot done to prepare me for my return trip! I go back to Australia in a week!!!

When I got here on the 9th Sept, I brought most of the stuff with me that I am going to get rid of before I leave, like clothes and shoes I will get rid of.

The next day I did my trip to Abbots Bromley, which I will write about very soon. I spent all day out and got in after 11pm after some hassle with the trains home.

On Tuesday I spent all day on the computer downloading pics to catch up on, cropped them and posted them on facebook. On Wednesday I began to sew the robe - from where I left off at Dawn's. Got a lot done - the next day I finished it. There was a strange sense of relief but also I still was not 100% happy with it - I would not wear it myself, it was a strange fit. If I do anything similar for myself, it will involve an actual pattern this time. All I had to do after that was get Dave to send me his address. So to get his attention, I took photos of it and posted it on FB and asked him if he wanted it. He did, and so sent me his address.

Huzzah! I can't believe its off my hands! I sent it yesterday, and wrote a note to go with the parcel to Dave explaining the robe and how I never actually felt happy with my creation but that I hoped he would be happy with it, and I suggested people add to it by adding badges, patches, embroidery etc. I do hope it fits and that he can wear it at festivals. I am not sure he can play guitar while wearing it - that remains to be seen. It cost £8 to send it to West Sussex.

I went to Burnsall on Friday morning and spent two nights there having awesome fun with my cousins. We spent Saturday afternoon at Pateley Bridge and Ripon Cathedral and then I took them both to the Devil's Arrows because they had not seen them before. We ate a Pateley Bridge pork pie by the roadside stone. Sunday was wet so we did not do anything and they drove me to Guiseley instead. Lovely weekend and met their new kitten Midge.

Yesterday being Monday the 17th of Sept, I sent the robe parcel to Damh and the 3D jigsaw I won at the Weird Weekend, and then in the evening, I went with Julie to her Soroptimists dinner at Fewston Church in the Washburn Valley by the reservoirs near Blubberhouses. She had asked me the night before, and then at about 4pm, when I got back from the shops, she suggested that I do some fire twirling for a surprise. So we went to get some fuel from a shop, but we found white spirits in the shed and I tested it with that. It was fine, so there was no need to go out and buy some paraffin. The Fewston Church was a nice one - St Michael and St Lawrence is the village church. The majority of the building was constructed in 1697, although the tower dates from the 14th century, and they built a Heritage Centre there recently - a cafe, historical displays, dining area for events like this one and even a data projector and screen. Nicely set up area. An example of how some churches should be with their conservation.

When everyone arrived we had a bell ringing with the 6 bells in the tower. After a great meal, we had a speech about the place and thats when I began to get myself ready for the fire poi. It was a nice finale for the evening and everyone liked it - Julie was quite chuffed with herself for thinking of it and keeping it a surprise for her group.

I am going to meet Kai Roberts tomorrow in Huddersfield, which would be good because I am going to miss the talk he will do at Halloween about 'Haunted Huddersfield' that I helped organise. I wanted to meet him, since I never did at the Unconvention in Nov last year, but also talk about Robin Hood a bit - not that there might be much to talk about, but because he features in Eloise, then I wanted to discuss it - amoung other great pieces of forteana.

I have been thinking these past couple of days about Guiseley where I am now. I feel like I am winding down, relaxing, and using my relatives house to clear myself of the things I don't need and cannot take home. I will do a huge charity shop drop off, maybe on Monday?? And in Hudds tomorrow I will also cancel my bank account.

Also I feel relaxed because I am away from the Dawson's house. I certainly know now I don't want kids, nor that many they have, as I feel I don't have the patience or the desire to leave a child as my legacy. It will be something else I leave behind. I feel a lot less stressed since leaving the Dawson's. I hated eating their food when I could not afford my own. It's how I lost  bit more weight than usual, eating small. That and the family had some of their own personal issues to deal with that I felt like I was getting in the middle of. I wish SJ the best of luck.

Burnsall - third and final visit

I'm rather disappointed with myself for not visiting my cousins sooner - I saw them in early Dec, and for New Years Eve, but not since then - It took 9 months to see them! That's a ridiculous amount of time - thankfully FB made it seem like I saw them yesterday.

As I am coming from Guiseley, its easier to get there compared to Marsden - just get a train to Ilkley and then catch a bus to Burnsall - its such a basic trip I could now do it with my eyes shut.

I visited Mandy who I knew was working in the kiosk by the River Wharfe - she gave me two cups of tea and we had a chat in between serving people. It rained on and off so I hopped into the back of the kiosk, and helped out inside.

I headed to the cottage, and caught up with Lynn, and met the new kitten - Midget, who is a typical terror - and loves to play with everthing that moves.

That evening we dined in Appletreewick at the New Inn and visited the Cruck barn and then went back and watched 'The Pirates: In an Adventure with Scientists' a Nick Park production and a good one too. It had Charles Darwin in it. And Queen Victoria was the villain.

On the Saturday we went to Pateley Bridge and bought some pork pies, sweeties fro the oldest lolly shop in Britain, and some souvenirs. Then we drove onto Ripon to the Cathedral, which I had driven past only a week earlier.

Ripon is lovely - it kind of looks after itself - it gains as many donations it can, and had an art gallery inside along the walls. An orchestra was rehearsing for a concert that night.

The Saxon crypt downstairs was fascinating too. And then we went and sat in the choir and I took photos of misericords. I also saw the 'Ripon jewel' - a Saxon piece of jewellery that they found on a dig here. After Ripon, we went back to the Devil's Arrows and Mandy and Lynn visited them for the first time ever - they too did not know they existed. We ate fish and chips from Pateley Bridge on our way home and watched 'The Woman in Black', becuase parts of it was filmed around here and Daniel Radcliffe stayed in Grassington during the filming of it.








The next day we did not do anything - it rained all day, we were going to go to Brimham Rocks but it was too wet. They drive me back to Guiseley and we had a cuppa with Gareth, who was fresh back from the Scilly Isles.
Stag with crown

Abbots Bromley Horn Dance

So I did manage to go to the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance. When I emailed my friend Steve about it, he told me he could not go, and how much it was going to cost me to go via public transport, and I knew I would not make it, and especially if I had to travel there myself.  But then Steve  emailed me back, saying he changed his mind and could go and help me pay for my travel there – so then I knew I’d make it! I would not only know just Steve there. My friend Shamus plays the accordion for the dancers!!!

I met Steve at Wakefield station and we made our way south to Derby, then to Uttoxeter where a cab driver was waiting for us – Steve books him every year, so he knows him personally now. I paid for the cab, because I was by now able to pay my way. I paid for the cab back to the station later that day too.

In Abbots Bromley, you found yourself in a relatively untouched village – a typical Staffordshire village at that – with not much changed. Some of the buildings here still are certainly medieval. We were dropped off at the Buttercross – a hexagonal shaped building near the green that was used for market day over many centuries – I’ve seen one other like it in Bungay. This one is more medieval looking, the Bungay one looks Georgian. Someone there that day told me what a Buttercross was – at market, it was where people bought butter, milk and eggs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buttercross




We visited a pagan art stall – a longhaired, bearded attractive man selling his pagan art (mostly green men) in the market and I bought a few as gifts for people back home. After that we had our first pint at the Goat’s Head pub, and met some of Steve’s pagan friends there. Great chats with people I’d just met, who had good stories to tell. Even Steve had stories to tell about his annual jaunts to Abbots Bromley. He’s been coming since 1989, and I think, could write a book about the goings on that he had witnessed over the years – the pagan camps, the large and small crowds and how they’ve evolved. One story he told was about how he and his pagan friends were sitting in the pub or somewhere and a tradesman came along and asked them about runes – he had seen some around the village – while working on the old cottages, under the tiles of the old roofs and houses – dating back centuries. They had been scratched into the architecture of the old buildings – some of these probably not repaired for many centuries. Sketching the runes for the pagans, the tradesman was told it may have been symbols of protection upon the house. Kind of reminds me of the concealed shoes superstition. Now THAT would be good article.

After our pint, we went to the old Church House (picture above) – that is certainly medieval, but definitely one of the oldest houses in the village. They put on a great spread there – sandwiches and cakes and tea to eat – we had our lunch there – well, a small lunch, we also ate more later on.





Steve took me to the Church (above) to see where the horns are kept. I could tell by looking at it, it had been Saxon once, and like all Saxon churches, had been added to over the years. Quite a lovely church. The bars that hang the horns up are there, and even the old hobby horse from years ago – I’ve seen old images from the 70’s of that hobby horse being ridden about the place – it says that it is from the medieval times – could it actually be that old? I often hold doubt of things like this – what looks medieval, could have been made as recently as the nineteeth century. They use a new one in the dance now. There were also glass cabinets holding the regalia and costumes of horn dancers past.

There was also a story from Steve about the pagans who actually came to church services in previous Horn dance weekends, in their robes and pentacles, and sat in the front row, much to the annoyance of the vicar. The Christian locals prefered to sit up the back as far away from the pagans as possible. Would have loved to have seen that!

In the churchyard, the ground surrounding the church was raised, as if it was small pre-Christian mound. It makes us wonder, if indeed a Saxon church was here, maybe something before it existed. Steve also showed me a headstone, belonging to a man that was once a leader of the horn dancers – and it says that on his headstone. He belonged to the Fowell family, and they are the official horn dancers – their family and another one are a part of the dance, and have been for many, many generations.  Steve also told me about another friend of his and visitor to the Horn Dance day would spend the night in the graveyard because he had nowhere else to sleep. And people and locals did not mind –  to the villagers and locals, he was just the ‘guy who slept in the graveyard.’ Oh Boy! The characters you get at these events.




We walked up the street to the Bagot Arms, passing some of the places where Steve says the dancers stop for a pint, or food. In the Bagot Arms, Steve and I had another pint (two ciders in two hours! Oh my Gods! That’s so unlike me!) and we chatted about many other things – pagans in the UK and Australia, folk dancing, horse brasses, and many other things that crossed our minds. I kept seeing more and more people walking past the pub window, as I realised the tourists were arriving. It was probably about 3.00 - 3.30pm by now, and the dancers were due to arrive in the village. After a toilet run, I went outside to find Steve standing there, prompting me along. As I looked West down the road, I saw the dancers skipping along the road with their horns. I got really excited here – this was it! I was finally going to see this horn dance. I cannot express how excited I suddenly was. I think the whole thing hit me then about where I was!

As they came along, they circled around each other, and I saw Shamus playing his accordion. He acknowledged me and gave me a head bow. I began to take some short footage of the dance, and saw Ang was in the background. She saw me and came around to give me a hug. After this dance the dancers went under an arch and out into the backyard of one of their friends who had put on a bit of food. Steve suggested we walk back into the village, and before we walked off, Ang invited us out the back with the dancers to hang out with Shamus. The four of us got some group photos together and then went further out the back to the lawn to watch some of the dancers dance with some locals. They are a more open folk dance than I thought. You think about Padstow and how only locals can go to the May Day Festival there because the tourists ‘clogged the village’ but here in Abbots Bromley, they let locals dance and WOMEN too! What a nice bunch of people.


My friends Steve and Shamus






After that, we followed the dancers out to the street again and walked along as we watched them head to the Bagot Arms back towards the village. At this car park, Shamus shoved some of the horns into my hands. I was holding the lighter horns that were damaged in the mid 70’s and the broken bit dated to around 1060s. I got a picture of me with it. Then I got Steve to hold them as well.

We headed back towards the Buttercross, running into more pagan friends of Steve on the way and stopping for chats. At the Crown Pub, we went inside to see the new décor of the renovated pub – all modern and ugly, and saw the Horn Dance paintings done in the 1940s. Then we went round the back of the pub and visited the pagan camp site up the back – I saw Nick from the Black Pigs and went to say hello to him by his hearse. He’s not very approachable, but then, I barely know him. We got a hotdog outside the front of the Crown and then stood with more of Steve’s friends, Cathy and Robin. It was now when the horn dancers arrived outside the Goat’s Head and held up the traffic doing their road-hogging dance. Then they rested by the Goat’s Head and let friends dance with them. I chatted to Ang, Fran, and Shamus and Steve and his friends joined us. I visited the stalls again and bought some Horn Dancer pins and the DVD ‘Morris: a life with bells on’ mocumentary. Then the dancers went out the back of the Goat’s Head and posed for photos. We stayed back there in the large beer garden until about 6pm, then headed back to the Crown. It was time for Steve and I to get back to the station, so we looked for our cab. I could not find Angie or Shamus at all, so never got to say goodbye. It was the last time I saw Shamus too before I left England.







Our cab was waiting when it started to rain again. We got the train from Uttoxeter to Derby and on the Derby train, an announcement told us we were not stopping at Wakefield, so Steve had to get off at Sheffield. I went onto Leeds and got there after 9pm, missing my Ilkley train by a few minutes. The next one was in an hour, but even then it said ‘delayed’. So did a lot of departure trains. I got Subway to eat. At 10.06 when the Ilkley train should have left, the station had ordered some coaches to take us out to Shipley. Both the Ilkley and Skipton lines went on a coach and dropped us off at Shipley. I had no idea where to go from there but heard a girl calling a cab driver she knew to take her to Menston, so I asked her if I could get dropped off in Guiseley, and she said yes. She was very nice, and very relaxed, considering that she had been at the train station since 20 to 8! She did not want any money from me for the cab ride coz she was going to be reimbursed for it by the railway. So I got home at 11.20pm. The train was arriving at Shipley at 11.30, so I got home 10 minutes before I would have boarded the train. Yes!

I had an awesome and memorable day at Abbots Bromley and am very glad I got to go. It was magic! And brilliant to witness such an old dance and finally see how it was conducted, especially since I have been going to folk dances all year. A absolutely wonderful day!


Completion of things...

On Wednesday, two days ago, I went out at midday to Dawn's house to do some sewing on this infernal coat that I talked about back in October. It's changed - I've pulled it apart and re-cut it to a better fit - now I just need to finish it and get it off my hands. I wonder if Damh the Bard even wants it - If so I hope he likes it, because I've made it become a great hassle in my life (not that it's his fault).

Anyway, Wednesday. I talked to my best friend Jo on skype and she told me about a great job that is right up my alley back home in Australia, and funnily enough - at Kryal Castle, where I once worked, dated the castle jester, who eventually broke my heart, which I now don't mind that he did coz it was all for the best. So Jo helped me write an email to the woman in charge of recruitment, and I was a bit disappointed I will be back in Australia late for the job interviews - I might be a special case, because she seems very interested in talking to me even if I am back late. Who knows, but fingers crossed.

So I felt good about that in the morning - I went into the village and went to the post office in Marsden and attempted to send 3 parcels - two in large envelopes, and one large box. The post office man told me the box would cost £60 to send and thats just surface mail! So I took the box back, bought 5 envelopes to send them separately, thus save money. So I went to Milnsbridge to Dawn's house and she needed to go to the post office, so I divided the large parcel box up into the 5 envelopes and we went down. Instead of £60, it only cost £37 to send them all - I spent over £70 that day in sending parcels home.

But by then I was annoyed and I remember telling Dawn that I was pissed off about something, but I could not remember what that was. I had seen on Facebook that morning that my cousin Nathan, a dim, dull footy freak, who does not know much about the world, but will happily accuse something or someone before he knows the facts.

He had said something on his status about how the teachers should fucking stop protesting and go do some work for a change. Jo had been to the protest the day before, being held at Rod Laver Area - 15,000 teachers filled the seats there. It was this he was talking about. It annoyed me that the uneducated, and uncultured idiot knew nothing of the issues, so I ranted some piece about the gov't not helping or supporting schools, that teaching really is stressful and holidays are very worth it! Either that comment of his pissed me off, or I was annoyed I was going to be sending parcels home to the price of £70. 

That and I'm working out the last minute things that I will be doing before I go. Sew this coat - send it to Brighton. Go visit the Beckwith's. I remember talking to Dawn and pacing the room saying about how I felt a different person now because of this trip. I could not even describe how. It feels like I have completed something within my very soul, and now I can open up to other things.

Another awesome thing: I emailed Steve Jones, my old friend from the 2006 trip, and asked him about Abbots Bromley Horn Dance, and he said he was not going and told me how much it was. I opted to not go, as travel costs were close to £50+ expenses. Then I got an email a bit later, saying that he actually could go, but he did not have anyone to go with. So he offered to pay for me to go too. I accepted, and appreciated the gift very much. What a lovely thing to do for me before I go! I had not seen Steve at the Weird Weekend, so missed him and have not seen him much - this way we get to catch up before I go.

I found out I have got some money to bide me over until I leave, so I can actually afford to go to Abbots Bromley Horn Dance and pay for my own train. 

That night after being at Dawn's and then popping into my final Storytailors event, I watched a Hammer horror - the 'Appointment with Fear' films- this one called 'Fear in the night'. I almost fell asleep watching it, so was not sure what happened in the end, but then I had a bizarre dream - I don't remember the dream so much, but I do remember waking up and in my room here at SJ's I attacked a shape on the wall in between the clothes on the clothes rack - thinking at the time it was the ghost of a demon child, I cried out and attacked it, and then kind of came to. I realised I had left my dream state and fell back to sleep - the next morning, I found a coat hanger with my skirts and morris dancing pants and skirt lying on the floor where I threw it. Hahahahahaa!

I mention this dream now because I don't have any like it anymore - I never wake up and do something physical to something in my room still thinking I am dreaming. I think because I fell asleep watching that film that I actually did it. Weird.

I could not finish the coat at Dawn's house - her sewing machine kept messing up, and so I sent a txt to Auntie Julie, who I am going to stay with this weekend until I leave, and asked her if she had a sewing machine, knowing that Joan would have had one. And she rang me and told me she did, so I packed up my stuff at Dawn's and left her to it.

I am getting rid of the Fortean Times magazines that Caitlin gave me back in Nov and giving them to Fiona Weir. I just want to read some of the articles in some of them first. I have sent home the ones I want to keep already.

I move to Guiseley on Sunday night. I want to fly home on Tues 25th. That's just over two weeks away. I have money, and perhaps will see a bit of Leeds before I go, maybe go to York again one day!

That coat I've been sewing is a part of my past that I am sick of - a half-arsed attempt that is just not good enough. In future, I'd rather sew something a lot better quality - make a proper effort. It's like a metaphor for me now.

I have done a lot of things in life, I have repeated a lot of things too, so nothing quite often felt different, and new, and out of my comfort zone. But now I've done something I've never done before and I feel different. Time will tell if it shows to those around me, and even myself..

apple priestess

Rushcarts are 'too pagan'

At Saddleworth Rushbearing Festival, St Chad's church in Saddleworth last week, had rushes strewn all over the floor and the banners of the previous 40 years hung up around the interior of the church.

But in Littleborough, where we helped out with the rushcart this year, the church St Barnabas is dead against the rushbearing festival, and don't want anything to do with it. Next year they still don't want anything to do with it.

Rushbearing - from Wikipedia

Rushbearing is an old English ecclesiastical festival in which rushes are collected and carried to be strewn on the floor of the parish church. The tradition dates back to the time when most buildings had earthen floors and rushes were used as a form of renewable floor covering for cleanliness and insulation. The festival was widespread in Britain from the Middle Ages and well established by the time of Shakespeare, but had fallen into decline by the beginning of the 19th century, as church floors were flagged with stone.

The custom was revived later in the 19th century and is kept alive today as an annual event in a number of towns and villages in the north of England. During the Middle Ages the floors of most churches and dwellings consisted of compacted earth, and rushes (commonly "sweet flag" Acorus calamus) or other herbs and grasses were strewn over them to provide a sweet smelling, renewable covering for insulation. At Saddleworth (then in Yorkshire) the church floor was covered with rushes until 1826.

I am kind of on the committee (kind of a sub-member) of the Littleborough Rushbearing Festival, and so I get emails from Steve, SJ's dad, who is on the L.E.A.F committee (Littleborough Event Association Forum) and today I got this little gem....

I have today spoken with the vicaress at St Barnabas and she is very determined and adamant that SHE will not have anything to do with our event because of its "pagan" connotations. We had a brief but intense and interesting conversation. She did agree to discuss it with John, the parish priest at Holy Trinity, (also dead set against us) and said that their new lay reader might be persuaded to conduct some sort of service. (Apparently the guy who used to do the service allowed....(shudder and grimace) DANCING...in the church!!!
Don't wait too long to exhale!

Funny how all this rushcart business started because in the Middle Ages, because the rushes covered muddy floors of the churches. After flagstones were put down, the rushes were not needed and used for something else - chuck it on a cart and rever it. I suppose that is rather pagan - revering a plant. Now its just not good enough. May as well ban Palm Sunday because that's a plant too, and plants are revered by pagans. Oh No! Gods forbid the Christians rever something pagan...

Pagans - 1, Christians - 0     -  And without even trying!

Whitworth Rushbearing - and my final public dance-out....

Essentially this was my last public dance out with the Thieving Magpies. I knew that, but I was not sure anybody else there realised it until I brought it up. Some of the team don't think I am going to leave back to Australia, and will only believe it when I am actually gone. I will get to see them all in Wales at Terry and Helen's wedding anniversary, and that will my last dance out, but not as public - more of a private party. And I think we are dancing at a castle in Wales which is a first for me - we always dance out at pubs - not done it at a castle yet.

Today's rushbearing was tiring even though it was not as long as Sowerby Bridge. That one was an all day dance out, Whitworth was half a day. The sun shone for most of (funnily enough, it suddenly popped out from behind clouds the moment they finished dancing Stomp).

I had fun dancing Twiglet and Diagonal Wychwood on this day. I even got footage of it, well, Wychwood anyway. And over to Terry....

Whitworth – Sunday 2nd September 2012

Whitworth Rushcart!
As happens so regularly, we left the sunny skies of the West Riding and travelled west over the backbone of England into Lancashire. It was raining. As Helen was navigating, there was no problem this time. In previous years, we have ended up driving across ploughed fields in our endeavours to reach our destination, but I’m mentioning no n

We arrived slightly early, managed to park in the car park, and then received a message from the others that they were running late. As our face paints were in Mark’s car, this meant we had to go to the pub NOT BLACKED UP! This meant we could be recognised, which goes against the very roots of Border Morris. Nice welcome from the lads, who, as always had gone out of their way to provide vegan fare for the members who didn’t like eating dead animals. (They always say that don’t they – vegans and vegetarians – I don’t like eating dead animals. Well, I’ve tried eating them alive, but the gravy keeps falling off). As the others hadn’t arrived, Helen stood guard over what was essentially 90% water in various shapes and sizes, or, as it is known, vegan food, with a packet of corrugated cardboard, or, as it is known, Ry-Vita, fending off a side of belly dancers (what is the collective noun for belly dancers? A flob?). Eventually the others turned up and tucked into the cardboard and water. I went to look for some food.

We got our face paint and completed our disguise. Which meant the procession had started and I had to run through the crowd with the banner. The sun came out! Whitworth is different. The crowd doesn’t just line the pavement. They join the procession. The band was so loud that they drowned out any attempt at playing, and followed the brass band convention of not playing anything to which you could dance. The procession is a short one – the “rushcart” is heather, and soon we arrived at the community centre. There is no dance programme at Whitworth. We were told we could dance where we liked as long as we didn’t cause a nuisance. Pity, because that’s what we specialise in.

We had Paul back, which was good, and all Chrissessessess. Angie still hadn’t got anybody to remove the discus from her vest, so couldn’t dance. I should mention Beardy Chris, who had been ill for a week and still was, but had bravely turned up because he knew we needed him as a vital part of the proceedings. No – sorry – it was because he got pissed off with being at home. To say he looked like death would have been an insult – to death actually.

We went to the paved area adjacent the entrance where we usually ply our trade. (Strange phrase that – nowadays medium density fibre board is used more than ply, but “medium density fibre boarded our trade” just sounds silly, and, as you all know, the recording of these events is a serious matter). A man from Wrigley Head, I’m sorry – I’ve forgotten his name (see last blog; I have remembered where my arse is, however) asked if he could drum for us, and being nice chaps we told him to sod off. No, we didn’t actually – he’s there on the photos – the sore thumb.

We danced Effin, Sir John, the best spiral I can remember, Twiglet, Arse, and Stomp. We built up a crowd. Beardy Chris got up and danced! He looked better (not his dancing – his health). He alternated between looking ill and well all afternoon. It appeared that the dancing was the elixir which was curing him! So there you are! If you are ill, dance border for instant cure!

An ace rapper side of women from the north east danced with us for a while. They were all middle-aged, looked super fit, and were all about the same height. I didn’t catch their name, unless it was chicken pox, in which case I did catch it. They were excellent, and a good advert for traditional dancing, which often tends (and I am not pointing any fingers here – my belly is far bigger than it should be) to include a fair amount of dancers whose kit has wardrobe shrink, and there is a 360 degree hangover at midriff level. It did occur to me they might be clones, which would explain a lot, but they didn’t come from the Clone Valley (see what I did there?).

There proceeded a discussion on whether only traditional dancing should be included at the event – apparently a team of girly disco dancers had gatecrashed the event and outstayed their welcome. I should point out here that, if you make a slip of the tongue or other minor indiscretion, and I hear it, I will unmercifully take the piss for the rest of your life. This is not your fault, and there is no malice intended; it’s an affliction I have. Anyway, during the discussion, SJ, who was arguing for inclusion of all forms of dancing, listed a few, and although she stopped herself saying it all, and I don’t know what she intended to say, the radar picked up Taekwondo as a dance form. Fuppin’ hell! Imagine the clashing! No shortage of blood on the floor! And the kicks to the face! With clogs on! Should be included next year!

Called we were to the main area, where we danced Twiglet and Stomp to great applause! Posed for photos with the rushcart, then we were requested to dance in the fenced off area where we danced I can’t remember what, finishing with Tinner’s Rabbit, which had so many people wanting to do it we ran out of sticks!

We received many a compliment, including “you were the highlight of the week-end”. Looking back, I have to say, overall, we were probably not shite.

Back to the pub for sing around and food.

Whitworth is one of our favourite events. We are well looked after, it is friendly and we are always appreciated. May it long continue.















Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival memories

Here is Terry's post about the Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival - it was our third rushcart event visited, but 2nd event actually danced at as a side.

Well then! Sowerby Bridge. Or as my neighbour’s little lad called it, Soapy Bridge. They invited us verbally at the end of last year’s rushcart. I put it on the calendar. A week before this year’s rushcart we realised we hadn’t heard anything. We checked up. We hadn’t been invited. But we could come and they would fit us in. Just meant we weren’t in the programme. I reckon they’d heard of our shit...
eness and tried to get out of it. But we’d show them! We’d do it without Paul, who’d been invited to a wedding or some such.

A lovely, sunny day! Me, Helen, Joe and Thomas arrived at the car park and soon after Mark’s Skoda bowled up and disgorged. Mark, SJ, Tania, Angie, and Dawn whose hair is now RED. According to Wikipedia she was released in 1984 and starred Patrick Swayze. (Red Dawn – yes you do). Then down to the station with Mark, the cunning plan to have a car at each end of the route, and pick up Witchazel Green at the same time. After 10 minutes of driving up and down failing to find a space I felt I could fit the car in without shuffling backwards and forwards twenty times, I gave up and parked in the station car park, which was free anyway. I hate parking cars. Do you remember Reginald Molehusband? Well, he was better than me. If you want to see immaculate parking, watch Lynda Sweebs. She can fit a car into a space that is actually shorter than the car length, and if you don’t believe that, I must be lying. So I’ll get up and continue.

Back up to the church for a bacon butty and an accusation from Helen that I’d lost her biscuits that I didn’t even know she’d bought. Or if I did I’d forgotten. What is it with women and memory? Conversations at our house:

Helen: You remember when we went to Northumberland in 1984 and on the Tuesday of our holiday we went to that café and I had a buttered scone and jam and you had a full English breakfast and then we went to Seahouses and booked a boat for the Farne Islands and saw all those Fulmars and Kittiwakes, and when we got there we saw seals and Black Guillemots and Puffins and we talked to that ranger who was living in a cottage on the island?

Me: Northumberland? Have we been there?

Sad but true.

Dancers milled about. The dancing started, we weren’t asked to, and we bought commemorative badges. No, I don’t mean badges commemorating that we weren’t asked to dance; commemorating 25 years of revived rushcarting. And because it was 2 5 years they were £2 5ty each. Bit steep I thought. Especially as Helen bought four. Meanwhile Ange was persuading some proper musicians to help us out, including Nick from White Rose, who is a gentleman of the first water. The plan was for me, Mark, Jonathon and SJ to play, but we would accept any help we could get, especially as they could do Weasel’s Revenge, which meant we could dance Ladies’ White Arse. Ruthie was there too, but now she’s too good for us and was dancing with Mortimer’s, who do things with clogs on. I should mention Angie has a slipped disc and can’t dance. This has not however, diverted her from her mission of making us dance at every effing opportunity.

Then the rushcart was away to the first pub. The Sowerby Bridge Rushcart is not pulled by any old rubbish. You have to put your name down, and pay subscriptions, until somebody dies and there’s a vacancy. Despite this, it’s still very popular, and there must be, what 30 -40 straw hatted Sowerbians straining away, with a young lady perched on the top. I can’t remember the last time I strained away with etc. you know what I’m going to say. So to Warley village, and, as we weren’t asked to dance last time, we weren’t asked to dance this time either. I have made a note which says “flapjack”. I think Helen bought some so she could sneer at it.

Onward to the White Horse. The plan here was to do Effin, and I was to play it. Our helpers arrived, including Nick and Anita. I started playing, but was immediately swamped by multiple melodeons playing at roughly twice speed, and so loud I couldn’t hear myself. I had to hold the concertina up to my ear. They ignored my entreaties to slow down, and the side looked like one of those films from the 1900s where everybody dashes about. At the end of the dance they all came up to ME and said it was too fast! “ I effing well know”, I replied, “I couldn’t keep up with it either!” The dancing was not too shite, anyway.

Next – the Waiter’s Arms, where we didn’t dance again and I met up with John Browell, who plays for Kirkburton Rapists. I should say that all through the procession I played the concertina, and Mark played the drum. As the only tunes I know are Twiglet, Cuckoo’s Nest, Heyup Sailor, and a smattering of Trystal, this got boring and my hands ached.

After this – the cart went to the church, and we went downhill (again) to the Navigation, where a kind lady did us chips and sandwiches. Then we danced Sir John, with SJ and Jonathon playing and we were ok, followed by Arse with Nick playing (appropriate) and we were good!

Then the Village Restaurant, where we were treated to onion bharjees by the boxful, and we would have danced, but I managed to keep Angie talking till time ran out. (When I were a lad, a bharjee was somebody who led his horse up the towpath while it pulled his boat, but these never tasted very nice). We managed to shift everybody out of the way and get a photo with the rushcart.

On to Puzzle Hall, where, under a tarpaulined gazebo, expectant crowds waited. (Mr. and Mrs. Horseposture and their polecat, Arkwright). There wasn’t much room. We did spiral, with Mark playing, and I would say, for once, the dancing was good. And Mark was, to heap praise on him, not shite. We then did Twiglet , and with timber posts at 8 foot centres this was not easy. In fact, at the end of aardvark I ended up clashing with one of them.

Did you hear about the aardvark who was accused of murder? He was found innocent because, as everybody knows, aardvark never hurt anybody. (Sorry)

We then managed not to do another dance by delaying tactics yet again and the Bradshaw Mummers came on and did their performance. They were brilliant as always.

We did Diagonal Wychwood next, which was a struggle in a confined space, but Angie kindly shortened it by missing out the second rhombus, and amazingly we kept going even though doing the star at the wrong side. This did mean, however, that we had to dance off the wrong way and, instead of bowing to the crowd, ended up bowing to some Herbert with a big conk.

Dancing over, chatted to Nick, who is kindly giving lessons to Mark on how to make the skill match the volume.

So it was all over, and we wended our way back to the car pausing only to sell a badge to a Newcastle United supporter (Magpies, see), and to pose for photos with a mad bat. I understand they want us next year, but I’ll make sure this time.

The other sides involved were White Rose, Powder Kegs, Wayzgoose, Kirkburton Rapiers, Mortimers, and Persephone.

One day Chubbitoze awoke to find she couldn’t dance, because, in the night, somebody had slipped a discus down the back of her vest. “Oh Dear!”, said Chubbitoze, “I must find somebody to get it out for me!”. Just then, Jonathon Smartly came down the road. He was called Jonathon Smartly because, even if he fell up to his neck in liquid manure, all right - shit, moments later he would be as clean and smart as ever. But Jonathon Smartly couldn’t move the discus, and buggered off to play his mandolin.

Suddenly, appearing out of nowhere, was Paul Know-lots, who had just beamed down. Paul Know-lots was a very clever man, and tried logic, but he couldn’t move the discus. “What am I to do?” said Chubbitoze. But Paul Know-lots had already beamed up, because that’s what he does.

Then along came Little Sweebs, who, although she was small, could fit things into spaces which were smaller than the things were in the first place. But Little Sweebs couldn’t move the discus either.
“Alas”, said Chubbitoze, “Can no one help me?”. Who should come along but Spooky SJ, who could bring down a buffalo at 50 yards just by giving it a spooky stare. Spooky SJ stared at the discus, but to no avail.

Just then, around the corner, came Tinysmiley, who you did not eff with, otherwise she would bite the head off your Rottweiler. “Can you move my discus?”, said Chubbitoze. “Way – aye ya bugga!” said Tinysmiley, who came from a far away land where the men wear tee shirts when it snows. But the discus remained unmoved.

Chubbitoze sat down and wept, but then, out of the corner of her eye, she spotted The Grey Tezza, talking to Jonathon Smartly, Paul Know–lots, Little Sweebs, Spooky SJ and Tinysmiley. So she crept up and eavesdropped. “Who are you all, and what do you want?” asked the Grey Tezza, who had difficulty remembering where his arse was, never mind people’s names. “We’re the dancers” they replied. “Ah – yes!” said the Grey Tezza “I remember. And did you do as I said and leave the discus where it was?”. “Yes!” they chorused. “The bastards!” thought Chubbitoze. “Just for that, I’ll call Diagonal Wychwood wrong so they end up bowing to the Herbert with the big conk!” And that’s what she did!