May 20, 2014

Anne Boleyn at Blickling Hall: EDP Feature 19 May

Ghostly Legacy of a Queen

I stole to the door of Blickling Hall
On the nineteenth night of a moonlit May
And saw the ghost of Anne Boleyn
Shining bright as day…

When I asked Norwich composer Tom Conway to set these lines from my Ballad of Anne Boleyn and the Burglar it seemed to strike a chord with our audiences. Actress Joanna Swan – Tom’s musical partner in the Familiars folk duo– made it one of the highlights of our ‘spooky folk’ tour of Norfolk.

Blickling Hall is certainly a good place to set a ghost story. It was voted the most haunted house in Britain in a National Trust survey in October 2007.

Tonight is the 478th anniversary of Anne Boleyn’s execution and her spirit has good cause to be restless. Her failure to provide a male heir for the Tudor dynasty convinced Henry VIII his marriage was cursed by God.

Her miscarriages, defective births, alleged extra finger and a prominent neck mole didn’t help, encouraging the myth that she was a 'she-devil'. The famous sexual magnetism of her then-unfashionable dark looks and small frame contributed further to her occult mystique. Less famously, but more significantly, her advanced and well-read Protestantism fanned the flames of anathema.

She could not be placed at any of the scenes of the ‘crime’ with any of the six ‘adulterers’ accused, including her brother Lord Rochford and the famous poet Sir Thomas Wyatt (the only one released.) But the witch-hunter’s accusations that she could materialise anywhere, anytime, rather hampered her defence!

At her trial for treason, presided over by her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, she was accused of acting the 'libertine' before her marriage to Henry, and of being a disciple of Satan who had 'bewitched' (seduced) Henry with sorcery.

During her imprisonment at the Tower in May 1536 - in the very state rooms she had spent her happy coronation – this ‘witch’ enquired anxiously about her father, also her 'sweet broder' and lamented that her mother would die of 'sorrow' for her.

The Boleyn family was living a nightmare, their fairy castle of achieved ambition swept away in one spring-tide of trauma.
It had taken Anne’s father Sir Thomas Boleyn a lifetime to build.

Well established as a diplomat and linguist at the Royal Court before Henry became King in 1509, his calculated marriage to the well-connected royally-descended Howards, Catholic dukes of Norfolk, aided his upward drive.

Thomas’s three children, George, Mary and Anne, were all well-educated and part of his grand plan to attain ever greater power and status.

The girls spent their teenage years in France as ladies-in-waiting to Henry's sister the French Queen, then consecutively joined Queen Katherine of Aragon’s household, as maids of honour. Both caught the King’s eye.

Anne played harder to get and her family benefited from her perceived ‘consort in waiting’ status. Thomas was created Earl of Wiltshire and her brother Lord George Rochford appointed to the Royal Privy Chamber.

Henry secretly wed Anne on 25th of January, 1533, and secured the Boleyns' status as one of England’s pivotal families, in an England that under Henry VIII was really going places. It was said she was the only woman who ever dared answer Henry back – his later wives were expressly required to be 'untroublesome'.

There was probably more head than heart in Anne’s requiting Henry’s troth. Her initial betrothal to Lord Henry Percy had been callously terminated by Cardinal Wolsey (on the King’s orders) and she had inspired Sir Thomas Wyatt’s aching love long before Henry’s.

On Monday 15 May, 1536, her uncle the Duke of Norfolk proclaimed the death sentence on Anne with 'tears in his eyes'.
On Friday 19 May, 1536 at 8.00am, aged 29, she took her place on a scaffold - her brother and the other ‘adulterers’ had already died on theirs, horribly - dressed in a robe of black damask covered by an ermine mantle of white.

Instead of denying her guilt as an adulteress and disciple of witchcraft, she delivered a generous speech praising her former lord and lover Henry VIII. After being blindfolded, a French swordsman severed her head from her delicate neck.

The story goes that on May 19 every year, a carriage pulled by six headless horses with a headless coachman carries a headless Anne to the door of Blickling Hall and the former Queen gets out brandishing her severed head! She then roams the hall’s corridors until daybreak when she disappears.

Perhaps she meets her father’s ghost. Sir Thomas had – inexplicably - continued to work closely with Henry, his children's treacherous killer and true source of his family’s new infamy. After his wife died in 1537, a year after Anne's death, he passed away himself (in 1539.) Elizabeth, Anne's mother, had reportedly died from a broken heart.

Mary – distanced from Anne by the latter’s replacing her in Henry’s affections - died in 1542 but was survived by a young daughter and the rumoured illegitimate son of Henry.

Legend has it that, as penance for the untimely deaths of two of his children, Sir Thomas’s ghost must cross 12 bridges before cockcrow every 19th May. With his own coach of headless horses, he starts at Blickling and crosses bridges at Aylsham, Belaugh, Burg, Buxton, Coltishall, Hautbois, Meyton, Oxnead and Wroxham.

It’s not all legend. The original manor house in Blickling (the surviving red-bricked Hall is Jacobean) was the Boleyn family home and it is reasonable to assume that in 1507 Anne was born there.

The family was deeply rooted locally. The earliest evidence that the Rev. Canon W. L. E. Parsons, Rector of Salle (“Some Notes on the Boleyn Family” published in the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society’s journal in 1935) could find was a John Boleyn mentioned in 1283 in the Register of Walsingham Abbey. There is a record of the Prior of Walsingham suing William Boleyn of Thurning, and Prior’s Bailiff in Salle, for an account and a John Boleyn acting as a surety.

The family status was not all Thomas-won and Tudor-riche. “The descendants of Nicholas Boleyn,” notes Parsons, “weren’t just holders of land under the Lord, they owned the manor of Calthorpe as of fee and right.”

A Geoffrey Boleyn was laid to rest in Salle Church in 1440. His children included Cecily, buried at Blickling; Thomas, a priest and Master of Gonville Hall, Cambridge, from 1454-72 and Geoffrey, a Lord Mayor of London.

It was this second Geoffrey who brought the family to financial and social prominence in the reign of Henry VI. As the protégé of his Norfolk neighbour, the famous Sir John Falstaff (grossly caricatured by Shakespeare) he travelled to London, achieving fame, fortune and royal favour, married into the nobility, and served as Sheriff of London.

Falstaff sold Blickling manor to Geoffrey before dying at Caister Castle in 1459. Geoffrey’s son William served as Sheriff of Norfolk from 1500 to 1501. He was buried in Norwich Cathedral on his death in 1505.

Thus, Thomas Boleyn, Anne’s father, inherited from William the manors of Blickling, Calthorpe, Wikmere, Mekylberton, Fylby, West Lexham, Possewick, Stiffkey and Hever Castle. But he didn’t stop there.

Honours were heaped upon him in the 1520s: first Treasurer of the Household, then Knight of the Garter, Viscount Rochford, and finally, in 1529, the Earldom of Wiltshire. In 1533, when his daughter Anne Boleyn became Queen, the Boleyns had reached the top.

Their fall was as spectacular - and much more swift. Within eight years, not one member of the immediate Boleyn household survived. The remaining relatives, stigmatised by tragedy and shame, disappeared, reportedly to Ireland.

Their curse continued. Even the Howards were infected – Anne’s cousin Catherine Howard later mirroring her own fate. After Sir Thomas’s death in 1539, Blickling passed through his brother’s hand to his relatives, the impressively wealthy Cleres. Yet Sir Edward Clere died a bankrupt in 1605 and eleven years later his widow sold the whole Estate.

Blickling Hall today is one of Norfolk's top visitor attractions, boasting nearly 5000 acres, that impressive Jacobean build, gardens and parkland walking. The landscape, with its hedges, tree-lined lanes, woodlands and red brick manor reaches back to a Tudor-founded England, despite the top secret work carried out by the RAF during the Second World War. A great place to root yourself.

Watch out for the ghosts though!

Gareth’s play Tom and Harry, about the men in Anne Boleyn’s life, and set at Blickling Hall, toured as a Room at the Gin production last year. Hear excerpts here

May 19, 2014

Chelsea Tractor On Sea (review of Henry Sutton's Bank Holiday Monday)

Henry Sutton’s 1996 novel Bank Holiday Monday is set in ‘Chelsea sur la mer.’

You could sum it up in a sentence, but it would be a very long sentence. Six well-heeled London holidaymakers, two couples, a child and an Australia-based relative, rent a windmill at Burnham Overy Mill; explore the staithe; maroon themselves across the marshes to Holkham; harvest and cook some of the best-described samphire in literature; break into the Queen’s bathing hut; see some unappealing nudists (‘They’ve got no clothes on, Daddy’) and the maggoty corpse of a seal; indulge in some naughty naturism of their own; patronise The Lifeboat; drink local ale with variable enthusiasm; drive home along a coast road defamiliarised by outside-viewpoint, darkness, drink and the demons of Norfolk holidays past; enrage local twitchers to the point of one pushing the ‘townies’ child into a dyke; name-check the Jolly Sailors at Brancaster, The Hero, The Nelson; get thrown out of the ’Victory’ in Burnham Thorpe by an insane barman pretending to be the great man himself (offended by their expectations that he is running a gastro pub instead of a beer and crisps hall); explore a drowned prehistoric forest; are bewildered by the sheer number of Burnhams in their search for Nelson’s birthplace (the book says there are five; but in truth there are seven: Sutton (ironically) Market, Thorpe, Norton, Deepdale, Overy Town and Overy Staithe) and generally inhabit the North Norfolk holiday we who live here generally only see from outside.

It is an intriguing read. Sutton knows Norfolk – he was born in Hopton and another of his well-received novels, Gorleston, also has a Norfolk location. But the point of view, like the protagonists, is an outsider’s, and the author has denied being a Norfolk writer. ‘It’s the relationships between people and the fine details that interest me, not the place itself.’ Indeed, the mental atmosphere is metrosexual throughout and while the unique, compelling, uncertain, inundated, haunted, beautiful landscape of North Norfolk is lovingly evoked more often than any character, it is used an allegory for the inner life and passions of those rootless London-based characters.

In a mediaeval tale, this landscape would embody their journey to self-knowledge. The modern touch is that not only is the ‘home’ windmill they set out from an exile in itself and continually identified as a ship that can’t sail – in the child’s words, that ‘doesn’t work’ – but that, unlike Pilgrims’ Progress, they don’t even know what they’ve set out for. Or even if there is anything to find. And that the touching redemption from isolation, where it is achieved, is about laying the ghosts of the past (brutally evoked by a caravan behind the Lifeboat Inn) by suddenly appreciating, in that recognisable holiday detachment, what you have in the present.

It is no accident that these characters repeatedly get lost. Nor that expedition leaders lose the confidence of those following. Alice, the only officially ‘single’ character though no more isolated than the married ones, is both obsessed with maps and emotionally lost in the outback of her own life. With an Aussie contempt for British panic and British terrain, she leads them ‘home’ to the mill on one occasion using a splendid heritage map she’s found in her room. But her role as leader - or even as a definite member of the group - is temporary, part of the ever-shifting relationships both inside the windmill and of the landscape outside. Sutton uses the disorientating arrangement of corner-less rooms within the mill – no fixed upstairs and downstairs, even some uncertainty about which room (and which sexual partner) the married men are sleeping in or what is nightmare and what is waking – to the same effect.

Part of the thrill for a Norfolk reader is to see our everyday places used as minutely recognisable settings. ‘Hey, listen, it’s the Lifeboat..!’ or Hey, this is exactly what happened when we tried to get a meal at that pub...!’

Sutton’s descriptions achieve a remarkable synthesis: a solid local realism shot through with poetry and the inner lives of London characters. At the same time, you look at his author’s photograph on the dust jacket and it’s a face you see everywhere in Burnham Upmarket: the Londoner carrying a case of Chablis back to the windmill for the seafood supper, worried that he might run out of hummus before the end of the holiday. While locals may be more worried about ghost villages with the holiday homes standing empty for ten months of the year.

May 18, 2014

Hanse Festival in King's Lynn 17 May EDP Weekend Feature and Lynn News link

A glorious sun-drenched day in Lynn, on the Hanseatic waterfront, previewed in my EDP Weekend feature (not available online so copied below.) The concerts ended with these two acts: Eplemoya, who sang with Nordic fire and ice, and the Mediaveal Baebes, from England, whom I reviewed in Monday's EDP (also not available online so copied below) and in The Lynn News 23 May. View review here Above - rock pics by the fabulous Al Pufford.
Link to Lynn News online at end of post.

Feature in EDP Weekend 17 May

King’s Lynn celebrates its Hanseatic heritage this weekend in sumptuous style. Attractions include mediaeval markets; guided Hanseatic walks; arts and crafts stalls; street entertainment including fire breathers and minstrels; children’s activities; fireworks; music from the Paabel and Hermitage ensemble and, from 8 pm Saturday, the bewitching choral music ensemble Mediaeval Baebes.

Hanse Day has been celebrated annually in King’s Lynn since 2009 when the Borough Council organised the town’s first ever Hanse Festival. Amid mediaeval merriment and quayside sea shanties, the majestic Lisa von Lubeck, a 15th Century caravel reconstruction, cruised up the River Great Ouse from its port in Lubeck, Germany, to greet the crowds.
The original mediaeval Hanseatic League, of a group of towns around the Baltic and the North Sea, was an extremely influential trading association and an integral part of King's Lynn's development and past.
Let’s take a walk through ‘Hanseatic’ Lynn.
In the Custom House on Purfleet Quay, one of the most gracious buildings of any era, are housed models of North East Europe’s first ‘container ships.’ These 14th century ships – whose ability to carry bulk cargoes made them so successful - linked Lynn with Hamburg, Bremen, Lubeck and Rostock. Later ships like the Lisa von Lubeck, a 15th Century caravel, were built bigger and with castles fore and aft for soldiers to defend against pirates.
Stockfish Row (laid out by the Norwich bishops who ruled ‘Bishop’s Lynn’ in the 1140s; renamed King St in a fit of patriotism in the Napoleonic Wars) was where Lynn’s top 15C merchants built new houses and alehouses running down to the river. The Great Ouse was deeper in this part of town enabling bigger ships to moor at private quays. The main public quay - ‘the Common Staith’ - was off Tuesday Market Place.
St George’s Guildhall is the only part of King St that survives from the mediaeval period. Hanse merchant John Brandon was a leading patron.
An archaeological excavation of The Purfleet between Baker Lane and the river revealed a timber-supported 14C quay three times its current width, a safe and impressively broad harbour for English and foreign ships. Pilgrims disembarked here from all over Christendom, including Britain (Lynn was more water-bound then) en route to Our Lady at Walsingham. German pilgrims arrived on Hanse vessels and merchant vessels commonly took passengers across North Sea and Baltic.
Clifton House was probably the first house built on the west side of Queen St after the Great Ouse was diverted from Wisbech to Lynn in the 1260s. It retains an early 14C tiled floor of the Westminster type and an impressive mid 14C brick undercroft. Germans were the only foreign merchants allowed to rent or own their own dwellings in Lynn and the late mediaeval mansion which stood here doubtless housed Hanseatic traders as house guests.
In Thoresby College a slate plaque marks the line of the late 13C quayside and a timber wharf excavated in 1964 shows by how much the river has moved west. Ships from Europe loaded and unloaded here. There is a fine wooden door dating from the reign which put the ‘king’ into King’s Lynn, Henry VIII’s in 1510.
Lynn Fair in Saturday Market Place was one of the most important in the Eastern counties and a major attraction for German and European traders seeking wool and cloth. The busy weekly market and annual summer fair shared the limited space with a charnel chapel and cemetery so must have spilled along High St.
Period brasses and chests in King’s Lynn Minster have counterparts in Lubeck. The Greyfriars tower was erected about 1400 to enhance the Church and provided an important seamark for ships sailing into the Wash until the 19C. St Margaret’s spire served the same function, before falling in a great storm in 1741.
St Margaret’s was the local church of Lynn’s mystic in residence Margery Kempe (c1373-1440), daughter of five times Mayor John Brunham. Margery’s son lived and worked in Danzig but died during a visit home. Margery’s famous Book, the first surviving autobiography in English, compellingly recounts how she took her son’s widow back to Danzig on perilous seas into war zones - against accepted female practice; the express instructions of her confessor and her own terror – in obedience to her divination of God’s will.
The Holy Trinity Guildhall was the home of Lynn’s great Guild of Merchants, including natives of Lubeck, the pioneer port of the Baltic and of the Hanseatic League until the 1350s – and then Danzig, the chief trading partner of the Wash port thereafter. This was where Lynn’s merchant rulers heard the treaty conditions following the Anglo-Hanseatic War (1468-1473) securing German traders a resident post in the town.
Hanse House, the only remaining Hanseatic trading post in England, came into German possession as a condition of the peace when in 1475 the Hanseatic ports resumed trading with Lynn after years of sea-warfare. Merchants from Lubeck, Hamburg, Bremen and Danzig had their lodgings, warehouses, offices, stalls and shops here. The original mediaeval timber frontage was doubtless adorned with the imperious double-headed Hanse Eagle. German merchants occupied it until the 1560s. Today, its handsome Georgian frontage welcomes visitors to an indoor market, Rathskeller bar and the festival’s unique Hanse heritage.
Further information:;
‘Margery Kempe of Lynn’ (a new Marriott’s Warehouse Trust production) plays the Hanse House courtyard on August 2 and 3.

Review of The Mediaeval Baebes
Lynn Hanse Festival Waterfront

This perfect May festival day on the Ouse needed a climax and it got one. As its name suggests, the Baebes’ chorale ensemble, currently topping the classical pops, flirts enticingly with the popular but with an Early Music pedigree. The singing is joyous but stylish, the tunes compelling, the rhythms infectiously contrapuntal, the cadences gorgeously modal, and a mediaeval world away from pop. The arms lifted into the warm summer sky above long scarlet dresses and flower-decked hair, hands clapping energetic accompaniment while the drum thunders and the strings pluck, hint at dancing girls, especially when the singing takes on an Arabian tinge, but ultimately it is the ear that is ravished and excited.
There are nods to witch coven, Bacchae and sirens in their relentless hour-long attack, particularly when ‘Adam lay y bounden’ gets female delight in his plight. The Baebes’ two devotional chants – normally performed in Cathedrals in white dresses– are at odds with their glee in an immaculate birth achieved ‘without the seed of a man’ and in ‘I Sing of a Maiden’ their exquisite hymning in feisty scarlet of Mary’s virgin motherhood, but the disconcerting of audience sensibilities is all part of the fun.

Gareth Calway

See also Lynn News story, which made it a record 4 day sequence for me troubling the regional dailies here:

And just to prove Al isn't the one who can shoot a camera, this photo-gallery of the day by Maz and me.

May 15, 2014

Howling at the Wolf 15 May 2014

Roger Young (the Wolf man) writes... "a superb evening of music from our members and from our double bill of guests - you missed an absolute treat. The evening was dedicated to the memory of Chris Adams and supported by a substantial donation towards costs from Chris' sister Pauline who was there to help us celebrate the memory of Chris."

Jeff Warner

Adam Hurt & Beth Williams Hartness performed professionally the night before at the Dragon Hall in Norwich and surprised Roger by not repeating their banjo-centric set. Adam explained he didn't want to inflict this on a 'mixed audience' ....
Roger continues... both currently live in Kernersville North Carolina. Adam originally from Minnesota His father was an orchestral violinist. Adam started on bluegrass mandolin at age 11 and went on to play banjo making his first solo banjo album at the age of 16. He has won the banjo competition at the famous Clifftop Festival three times and also the Mt. Airy Festival three times. He currently makes his living dividing his time between performing and teaching. He gives individual lessons online via Skype and is in great demand to teach at many banjo camps around the USA and has taught at the "Sorefingers" week here in the UK.
He is extremely interested in architecture, especially Victorian Gothic and visiting places of historical significance.
Beth grew up on a tobacco farm in rural North Carolina. She started on guitar aged 11, is self taught and developed her own unique fingerpicking style. she has played guitar in several prize winning bands and twice won prizes for backup guitar.
Beth and Adam have played together professionally for about eight years. They have played the Kennedy Centre Millenium Stage, the Birchmere centre in Washington DC and many other venues including several in the UK. Their most recent CD is called "Fine Times at Our House" which is also the name of a splendid fiddle tune from the Hammons Family. Adam has made several solo CDs including one devoted to the sound of the gourd banjo as originally made and played by the slaves on the plantations around the time of the early 1800s.

I agree with Roger. An exceptional night at the always fabulous Wolf Folk Club in Wolferton. More info (on Jeff Warner) to follow and pics too of a film Roger made of my performance of Howl, to howling and growling accompaniment by the audience and regulars, which he has adopted as the club anthem.
John McLennan's nifty pics show Maz and I watching Adam and Beth and then Beth and Adam (and Jeff and Maz) watching (and phone videoing) me. Consider this a release to show the video in Hollywood, Beth.I was pleased as a wolf with two tails with my performance, recorded under a full moon (as it happens) and delivered by heart and from the animal belly except for the cerebral encyclopaedia bit and I won the raffle too - twice!

More - on Jeff Warner - in due course.

May 03, 2014

I Am The Green Man!

Would a "Prof. Winter" please contact this office with regards to a cloak; long, black and found after the riotous festivities of The Elsing Free The Green Man May Festival. It seems to be in a slightly disheveled state and appears to have been trampled underfoot and stained with green footprints. This office is not held liable for any cleaning / repairs costs henceforward incurred by the owner of said cloak.

Elsing Lost Property Office (aka TC)

More personas than David Bowie..

Professor Winter (2 pm)

The Green Man (2.05 pm)

The May King (7pm)

The Green Man with a head of the May and Winter King

The May Thunderer (Beating the Drum for Tim's Green Man)

Well done for Tim Chipping for organising this all day Free The Green Man Festival celebration of 'England, oh England, this green and pleasant land' (as Morra puts it) in all its folky facets. The running order (I copy Tim's descriptions below) gives an idea of the riches on offer. About half way between my two spots, the glow of bringing the May to a warm and gradually building audience at 2 pm beginning to morph into pre-performance jitters of the second spot at 7 pm, I went for a walk down Church Lane out of the village, still dressed as a leaf, to make sure I had my poem sequence' The Green Man' by heart. The sun was shining its hardest of the day and the general floralia was that brilliant apple green that England borrows from Eden or faery - if it can get through the clouds - at this time of year. A field of lambs was enjoying the magical summer-strength warmth and brightness. Later when I mentioned fairyland in my intro, a baby joined in joyously and when we left, with Long Shore Drift Tim's distinctive folk-voice ringing in our ears, there was a new moon like an angel's smile in the twilight. Not the first time, I feel (to quote Leonard Cohen) 'God is alive, magic is afoot' in Elsing. In this case, manifesting as Beltane, the god of May and The Green Man freed.

Free The Green Man Festival ~ Saturday 3rd May 2014
Elsing Village Hall.

2.00 – 2.15pm Bringing In The May – Gareth Calway – Norfolk’s unique
poet performer heralds in May time.

Bringing in the May sequence (all except the Tennyson and prose intro from memory)

Professor Winter

I'm kissing the faceless dead ground
On the breast of a Norfolk rise,
Embracing the chill winter grass
With all my body, with all my heart,
And into my mind steps a beautiful maiden
The spirit of some lost Celtic summer
Touching my skin.
Imagine a rowan, her May leaves wet,
Kissing your shoulder with late spring rain,
Imagine your mind like a moistened bud
Drinking her sweetness. Imagine her leaves
Turned light side up with the weight of her berries
August-heavy in the full milk moon.
Imagine her berries
Spilling their juices like healing oils
Over your November loneliness.
Imagine the mother you never had.
That's how the Queen of the May loves you…

Celebrating the coming of May is an ancient tradition, the threads of which can be traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Beltane, onwards through the Roman festival of Floralia, was marked by the Anglo Saxon Tri-Milchi, three milkings, as the time of year when winter relinquished its grip and the first days of summer promised more productive months ahead…In more modern times, we have lost our connection with the seasons and the rhythms of the year; lost sight of May Day as an important annual festival marking the end of the dark days of winter. No more! (throw off the cloak)

We reclaim May Day for the people, when the spirit of summer, rebirth and growth, embodied in the symbol of the Green Man, is set free and the advent of summer is celebrated with music, dancing and merriment. Free the Green Man!

England awake!
The time is past for slumber.
An ancient memory is calling once again.
Year upon year, back to the dawning
When bright flame was kindled – Beltane.

Summer is a-coming
And Jack i’ the greenwood is stirring.
Seeds burst forth at his very tread, from the leaf loam of his passing
Insistent blades of unstoppable green force
Dew drenched in the bright morning.

Ugly as a newborn face;
Scared to let myself go:
And where do I go
Except towards death?
And what if I grow
In the wrong directions,
Abnormal or twisted,
And how do you do it anyway?
Thoughts crumpled,
Feelings crushed.
Perhaps I’m not even a leaf?
Just scared to stand out
From the crowded branches?
So what am I? – yellow?
Or just painfully shy
Soft virgin green
Closed against the urging sun?
Do I have to do anything?
Will I just become – me?
Or do I have to force myself out?
Safer to sit tight;
But then I get scared
The rest of the branch
Which had seemed
So wooden
Is unfolding faster;
Best to let go then;
But what if my flower
Hardly out of bud
Gets pollinated?

The May blossom light
Of the still warm evening;
The birdsong high
Above distant traffic:
God become mild
And expansive, beaming:
The breathless wind:
All give their answer:
She who saves her dances
Will never be a dancer.


The vigour of vegetation
The wiliness of the worm, out of its depth,
The flowing finesse of a fish
Out of water, beating its scales
Into hard-won wings,
The balance of bird, at height of career,
Still finding its feet;
The power and the glory of the she-tiger
In the cat upon the lap,
Thrust from its napping:
But the growing consciousness that each
Is a drop in the ocean
Compared with the love
That drowns life and death.
Of these
Muse beloved
For you, I sing...

(sing)'Well I dreamed I saw the knights in armour coming
Saying something about a queen.
There were peasants singing and drummers drumming
And the archer split the tree.
There was a fanfare blowing to the sun
That was floating on the breeze...'

Twilight in the greenwood, is Robin Hood awake?
Grey and ghostly shadows are gliding through the brake,
Shadows of the dappled deer, dreaming of the morn,
Dreaming of a hooded man that winds a shadowy horn.

In somer when the shawes be shayne
And leves be large and long,
Hit is ful merry in feyre foreste
To here the foulys song.

Sweet bird, as long as there is Spring,
Once more upon the meadow’s throne you shall sing!
Winter shall pass and you will find your tune.
The roses shall nod and cense you with their bloom.….(Hafiz)

Anyone for Tennys –son?
The Marriage of the King and Queen of May

Far shone the fields of May through open door,
The sacred altar blossomed white with May,
The Sun of May descended on their King,
They gazed on all earth's beauty in their Queen.
They sware at the shrine of May a deathless love:
And Arthur said, "Behold, thy doom is mine.
Let chance what will, I love thee to the death!"
To whom the Queen replied with sparkling eyes,
"King and my lord, I love thee to the death!"
… but when they left the shrine (turn head)
Bleak Winter’s lords before the portal stood,
And cast their frozen scorn upon a city all on fire
With sun and cloth of gold, as trumpets blew,
And Arthur's knighthood sang before the King:--

"Blow trumpet, for the world is white with May;
Blow trumpet, the long night hath rolled away!
Blow through the living world-'Let the King reign.'

"Shall Politicians rule in Arthur's realm?
Let warmth and love and light and living joy
Blow through the living world-'Let the King reign.'

"Blow trumpet! a living flame from death and dust.
Blow trumpet! die the doubt and live the trust!
Blow through the living world-'Let the King reign.'

"Blow, for our Sun is mighty in his May!
Blow, for our Sun burns brighter day by day!
Blow through the living world-'Let the King reign.'

"The King will follow Light, and we the King
Against the Lord of dark and dying things
Blow through the living world-'Let the King reign.'

2.15 – 2.50pm Tim Chipping – New Anglo-Acoustic Folk
(10 mins. change over)
3.00 – 3.20pm Piers Wallace – Blues Slide Guitar from the Wensum Delta
(10 mins. change over)

Melanie, Emma, Bob Bones and Tony Rafferty parade The Green Man in the street of Elsing

3.30 – 4.00pm Frankie & Ewan – Fiddle + Guitar played with youthful exuberance
+ imagination.
(15 mins. change over)
4.15 – 4.45pm Anto Morra - Songs mixing “folk tradition” with a hint of
London Irish.
(15 mins. change over)
5.00 – 5.30pm Cousin Jack – Pete Sewell on fiddle and Darren Bidle on
guitar play tunes to get those toes tapping.
(15 mins. change over)

Jo and Rock photographer Al enjoying the festivities

Melanie and Emma Calway enjoying the festivities.

5.45 – 6.30pm Badly Worn Boys – Your favourite punk anthems on
acoustic guitar.
6.30 – 7.00pm Interval
7.00 - 7.20 pm Gareth Calway

You can read the text of The May King and The Green Man yourself here: It was followed by Dear God Elp Us To Feel Ashamed Of Our Bodies, Life Is A Bitch (But The Songs Are Great); My Daughter Loves Thierry Henry; Gran and Look I Have Come Through (Gressenhall at Lambing Time 1993)

7.30 – 8.00pm Chris Holderness + Richard Blake – Traditional Norfolk
Tunes on fiddle and hammer dulcimer
( 20 mins. change over)
8.20 – 9.10pm LongShoreDrift – Elsing’s own folk roots band; back
together again.
( 20 mins. change over)
9.30 – 10.30pm Kiss The Mistress – Ecclectic world folk featuring Ginny Davis on cello
and John Ramirez on button accordion. Do not miss the Mistress!