Actually I never intended to complete that sentence straight away. I will tell you what it is that tells me, though, because it was a disproportionately proud moment for me.
On the Saturday night ceilidh I was standing in the middle of a set of three couples, the caller was half way through walking us through the dance, we’d already lost our fourth couple because they’d missed some instructions, as we all had, so our set was stood like lemons whilst the rest of the room walked through what had so far been said, and everyone (bar us) was halfway through stripping the willow (oh, Youtube it, can’t you?), having already done some steps previous to that, and I suddenly realised, based on what the caller said next and some half-forgotten half memory (yeah, thanks IVFDF for providing such useful quantities of decent real ale…) what we were meant to have done before stripping the willow. Which meant I was miles ahead of my group because they none of them knew even how to strip the willow and therefore left me in a fairly typical role for your average folkie: marching up to the gentleman of the top couple, giving him some fairly determined instructions, and then manoevring him and his partner into position, pushing everyone around the set, shouting lefts and rights and things all over the place, and basically teaching a whole group of people the whole dance from scratch. And it worked! All the way through. I also taught a group of people to ‘basket’, and attempted to teach James to polka but not very successfully because it’s really hard to explain and far easier to just lead, but doesn’t make a lot of sense in a room full of people who are careering all over the place in a sort of ale-fueled Brownian Motion, so we spent more time crashing into people who were going the ‘wrong’ way than we did polkaing. Anyway, that was a great moment in my life.
Some other folk-based great moments from this weekend were, for starters, long nights and mornings chatting to E, talking about everything under the sun, especially memories of folk festivals from long before my time, fifty years of tradition new and old, dancing, and the joys of being a teenager before it all got sodding complicated and it was OK to get off with just about everyone, but mainly in the context of festivals. It was really nice to get to know her better – last time we met we didnt get the chance to talk so much or get so close and I am so glad from that point of view to have had this weekend to do so.
On a different tack entirely the concert was beautiful. In the Methodist church, as slowly the sun set behind the stained glass windows (no need to explain how beautiful that was), and we sat in the encroaching gloom, we listened to Fidola and their haunting mix of Scandinavian and English folk traditions, their beautiful voices, and that instrument, played a bit like a guitar but surely with more and lower strings and shaped more like, well, a lute or something? I dont know. Beautiful, anyway.
The Young ‘Uns – a group of three young northern men singing in very tight, neat and beautiful harmony, with wit and obvious joy, a whole assortment of northern English folk songs, Irish songs, and so on, with a good dose of banter and a surprising lack of nerves for a group who had never done a ‘proper concert where people have to actually listen to us’ before. And finally, Eliza Carthy and Aidan Curran (E and I speculate, given the knowledge we have and the cues we picked up on, that they’re together, but we could be wrong). Firstly Eliza Carthy sang some solo stuff, accompanying herself on her viola. Her voice is beautiful, warm, rich, husky, lyrical, cracked and real. Yes, it really needs seven adjectives. Shut up. Then he came onstage and joined her with his guitar and his Canadian tenor, bizarrely complementary despite being a weaker voice, or so it seemed. They ranged through styles and moods and eras and places and I was entirely caught up. It was amazing to see the way they worked so completely together, musically. Brilliant musicianship and a lot of mutual respect. Oh lord I’m blathering.
Anyway, I was impressed. And then there were chips and there was that ceilidh I’ve already told you about, new friends and old, lots of ale I’d not come across before from small northern breweries that don’t appear to have yet reached the radar of Sheffield let alone the South (though the sooner the better in my opinion). Thankfully I danced most of it off and went home on Saturday night considerably less drunk than I had been on the Friday night, when I’d started before dinner on the G&Ts (sorry to drink all your gin, Martin, when I know you’ve given up alcohol for Lent *genuinely guilty look*, but it was nice) and we’d spent a lot less time at the ceilidh compared to the number of pints I got through. Friday’s ceilidh was a disco ceilidh – ceilidh dancing to disco music – great fun but not something I’d necessarily choose to do again, it was a bit surreal. But a great ice-breaker, if you will. The dances were a lot easier than the ones the following day though, by and large. And it did mean that you could throw shapes whilst standing on the sidelines, depending on how much you wanted to embarrass yourself/attract due-and-possibly-undue attention…! No comment.
I missed most of the workshops except one which I attended with Lucy and J, and no, I never did have the guts to take my violin to any of the workshops. But I listened, and learnt, and next year, well. First I have to actually go to a session here in Uni Town. Sadly they clash with my Bible group so I’ll have to… alternate? To make up for it I spent a long time in PJ Music being taught all kinds of things and sold exactly what I went in to buy. And anyway, Martin got my violin out and had a go (“where can I get one?”) and so it wasn’t entirely wasted. Everyone needs a violin. And I also got an IVFDF 2010 t-shirt, of course. It was one of those weekends where no-one ever remembers to actually get their cameras out, because there’s too much going on, too much to do, everyone knows what Durham looks like anyway and we’re all having too much fun to take pictures. It’s a funny rule that – by no means hard and fast, but the better a night I’m having, oftentimes, the less likely I am to record it on camera. I do wish I had now, as I knew I would, but, well, I didn’t. So I got the t-shirt just to somehow prove that yes, I was there. And yes, bring on Bristol 2010, I hope!
Of course I never did manage to wear all of my dresses. I did, however, wear all of my shoes. Most of which now need mending more than ever. Sigh. Anyway. I’m scheduling this to go up at a reasonable hour; this definitely doesn’t count as a reasonable hour and I should be in bed, Lark Rise finished a while ago.