Sunday 29 May 2011

Dulverton goes Wicker Man

It’s all gone a bit Wicker Man in town this weekend.  I was sitting quietly in The Bridge, minding my own business, when I glanced up and saw a man staring across the bar with glowing red eyes.  No, really – they were glowing, glowing and red.  ‘Oh my God,’ said the people sitting at the next table. ‘He’s seriously scary.  What the hell is he?’ 
‘I don’t know but he looks fabulous,’ I said and jumped up and went and said hello.
‘Great look. Love the eyes.’
‘Thanks. Can’t see a bloody thing though. Hope I’ve got the right beer.’

Nice chap.  See, appearances are often deceptive. So I popped into the Ladies and found two girls adjusting their bindis and rearranging their boobs in jangly bras. 
Children with shaved heads and dinky DMs were running in feral little gangs.  You couldn’t move for guitars and fiddles and drums and bits of ribbon and, for some inexplicable reason, a lot of boxers (my favourite dog). Oh, and a traction engine, belching smoke.
It’s the Dulverton Folk Festival and TheBridge is having a beer festival to coincide so, as you can imagine, Adrian is as happy as the proverbial pig in shit.  Not the folk so much (he was more into punk and rock before hardcore classical stole his ears) – but he had a good deal to do with the beer selection.  James wasn’t so keen.
‘I’m scared of Morris men,’ he said, shuddering. ‘I think I have a phobia.’
Well, I get there is something a little unsettling about blacked up faces with staring red eyes; about masks and long pointy noses.  It’s all very raw and primitive.

‘They’re rude, they are,’ said a chap outside the church. ‘Downright rude.’
I frowned.  ‘But the ones I spoke to were lovely, really friendly.’ 
‘Oh no,’ he replied.  ‘They’re nice enough. I mean rude as in, well…’ He lowered his voice… ‘….sexual.  Honestly, it’s the wrong time of year.’
Eh?  Sex has seasons, like pheasant or salmon?  Who knew?  ‘Oh, I dunno,’ I said with a grin.  ‘Any time of year works for me.’  He looked a bit startled but grinned back.  ‘I guess you’re right.’

So, we wandered from pub to pub, catching a bit of music here, a bit of dancing there.  Listening in on folk wars and stifling grins.  ‘Is that a banjo you’ve got there?’ asked one woman innocently in the cafe, pointing at a case.  Eyebrows raised, eyes bulged and two fingers flashed across one another in a warding gesture. ‘Banjo? BANJO? It’s a mandolin.’ 
The only sour note came from a severe case of I’m Very Importantitis.  Last night a party of four bustled to the table next to us. ‘We’re the committee,’ said a large florid  chap in a bright sweatshirt with COMMITTEE or CHAIRMAN or summat of that ilk written across it.  Well, there's a surprise.  And, frankly, why on earth does being on a committee mean you get to be unpleasant and unfriendly?    ‘It’s very tiring organising this, you know,' he blustered, when we didn't genuflect with suitable awe.  'We need our food. We need our table.’  And who precisely was stopping him from having his food and table?  Ah, *sigh*. Whatever.
graphic by Sarah Diggle - perfect image!
Then, this morning, I pitched up, a trifle late, for my kettlebell class by the river and saw our little group facing off – yup - Mr Bumptious again, this time with two henchmen.  Turned out he was objecting to us doing our class on “their” festival weekend.  Apparently we would ‘steal customers’ from the festival and we were ‘taking advantage’ of “their” weekend for publicity. WTF?  Six local women slinging kettlebells around off under the trees at 10.30am on a Sunday morning?  Ye gods, the festival goers were still sleeping off the excesses of the night before.  It was raining.  Nobody was even performing or dancing.  Who the hell did they think we were going to steal?   
He spluttered and pontificated and clearly wanted to intimidate Trish into cancelling the class.  Honestly, why is it that some people feel the need to throw their perceived weight around?  Is it that classic case of big fish, small pond – a very shaky ego that needs bolstering?  But really, it was bullying and it pissed me off so I threw my toys out the pram a bit and, given I couldn’t lob a kettlebell at the pillock, I unpinned my Folk Festival badge and thrust it into his hand, stifling a laugh at myself for such a totally pathetic gesture. 
Anyhow.  Forget him.  I love  anything really that brings people into Dulverton.  I just hate petty-mindedness and small thinking.  If you’re around the area tomorrow, there is still beer left at The Bridge and there will be music wherever you go (yes, we have four pubs in town - greedy eh?).  And there will be more dancing and mayhem and misrule. 
I reckon we’re just missing one thing…  A good burning to round off the festivities! 

(tell me you've seen The Wicker Man? One of my all-time favourite films).


Anonymous said...

I went once to the Whittlesea Straw Bear festval for Plough Monday(brrrrr) which turned into an ignoble pub crawl that got hopelessly exagerrated in the telling later (for the record, I sank 4.5 pints over the whole day, not 14 as got told later by others).
Oh and the veryimportantitis reminds me of landing at St Dogmael's accidentally in time for their flower festival and medieval fun day. There were a good number of such persons, to such an extent I felt we were on a set for Midsomer Murders and expected someone to die horribly before the hog roast was finished.I might have been tempted myself had I lived there, but we'd only gone because we'd always promised the dog we'd take her to St Dogmael's. She liked the hog roast....
These places are amazing and the events, priceless.
Thanks for sharing; made me smile and brought back some memories.

trisha said...

Great atmosphere in Dulverton the last few days, local peopke all very welcoming to all the visitors,place full of interesting sights, love seeing the laughter and joy on the kids faces as they watch the traction engine and morris dancers. Shame that the comittee members did not join in this morning as they would have been able to lift more pints this evening!!!

The bike shed said...

Yes I've seen the wicker man - and yes, it's a great film

Frances said...

Jane, I've not see the Wicker Man Film ...isn't there more than one. No matter, I am too cheap, ooops, frugal to pay to see either.

I know what it is like to have another macro event descend upon your familiar local neighborhood routine and feeling.

Let them get on with it...perhaps some local merchants might benefit, and then...the visitors will decamp. Peace (our at least normal temperature) will be restored..

Hey, I actually might have wanted to see what the show was in Dulverton, but reality has prevented my attendance.

What did AsboJack make of it all? Or even the youthful SP?


Rob-bear said...

Ah yes; The Wicker Man — a true classic. I've even seen it here on the west side of the Pond. Strange story, but intriguing.

Sorry to hear you got harassed at your kebblebell class. And, I would say, handing the "gent" you pass was not a pathetic gesture at all. Downright good stuff, m'lady. But was he sharp enough to understand your little bit of political Dulverton theatre? I suppose not.

Alison Cross said...

Ah The Wicker Man - where the local polisman gets bbq-ed. Lovely stuff!

I'm not keen on morris dancing either, but that's because I'm Scottish and the thought of a man skipping about whacking other dancers on the head with a pig's bladder on a stick just brings out the Glasgow Welder in me :-D

But I love festivals where people celebrate things that they are not too sure of - fertility; the sea; the middle of winter...pig's bladders on sticks.

The Committee chap sounds like an absolute pillock. Maybe next year the dancers could put HIS bladder on a stick?!