Tag Archives: Gloucester

Mayhem and Misrule!

At the weekend, I was involved with some alternative festive revels as part of Gloucester Steampunks event at The Folk of Gloucester. It was brilliant, we had mummers and morris, The Whitby Krampus team came down, there were carols, and assorted Father Christmas figures, a Lord of Misrule and a parade. Alongside this, more regular steampunk shenanigans included tea duelling and teapot racing and of course music in the evening which I also contributed to.

The parade was a remarkable thing. There’s a lot of drama when you have a few people in krampus outfits. There’s a lot of noise when you have several morris sides. We had a glorious array of festive figures, and more regular steampunks. As we progressed through the streets, people fell back to watch, photograph and film our progress.

It was good, bringing colour and mayhem to the streets of Gloucester. It felt like re-enchantment. A lot of things do at the moment, for me. It was good to be out there bringing surprise, mayhem and mischief into the streets. It’s also a powerful way of reminding people that change is possible, and when a bunch of people get together with intent, amazing things can and do happen.

(Photo thanks to Susie Roberts, shows James and I at the tail end of the parade.)

Drops of Inspiration

Recently I had the opportunity in Gloucester to do something I greatly enjoy – getting people singing. The venue was a church – no longer in use as a church. I had support from Tom and James.

There’s only so much planning I can do for this sort of event because there’s no knowing how it will play out, how much input people will need or how fast they will move as a group. This was an amazing, responsive group who dug in enthusiastically, so we got to do a lot of different things. Including a really full and rich rendition of my Three Drops of Inspiration. Hearing a lot of people all singing something I’ve written is an emotionally intense sort of experience, heart lifting and rewarding.

We also did some playing with vowels and sounds. This is something I learned to do in a workshop many years ago and it is my understanding that it comes from a Tibetan chanting tradition. It’s very simple, you move between notes and vowels, and you just let it happen. The sounds that emerge are always striking. It tends to have a spiritual feeling to it regardless of context, but to do it in a church turned out to be especially effective.

There’s a video clip on facebook – https://fb.watch/flw9Kqh5xq/

It felt like a meaningful offering to the building itself. This wordless, soulful sound coming from a group of people and being sung to the church itself – it was mostly participants, not audience. The church has no doubt heard many hymns in its time, although not recently. It felt like a good thing to have done.

A funeral for Mary

We’ll have a funeral for Mary
Who was buried in the jail
Procession now and fine tombstone
With mourners come to wail.

Who spoke for you, dear Mary,
When you languished in the cell?
The world bar one accused you
Promised you the fires of hell.

Only Henry, ever trusting
Only Henry, your sweetheart
Did not doubt in your virtue
Stalwart, steady, took your part.

Plain Miss Jones declared against you
Thinking she would claim your man
If they punished you for murder
Jealousy would see you hang.

Old Miss Blunt, forever sleeping
Cannot say who struck the blow
If a thief came through her window
Or her servant from below.

Storm and strife struck you that evening
Plans and dreams all stripped away
As you old mistress was slaughtered
For your blood the neighbours bray.

Only Henry, ever faithful
Would not think the worst of you,
Fought to keep you from the gallows
Never doubted, ever true.

They took you to the scaffold
You sought mercy at each turn
Blamed for a brutal murder
But your truth they did not learn.

Now they’ve found the men who slew her
Eagerly did they confess,
And Miss Jones is chased to exile
Your poor bones do others bless.

Now your Henry, always loyal
Leads your funeral parade
Your wronged corpse resurrected
Only finds another grave.

This is a true story, Mary from Littledean was hanged in Gloucester jail for a crime she was adamant she did not commit. Some years later the real murderers were found, but of course by then it was too late for her. When I read the story in Lyn Cinderey’s ‘Paranormal Gloucester’ I thought it sounded like it should be a folk song. Perhaps one day I’ll put a tune to it. In the meantime, my thanks to Lyn for the inspiration. I’m anti capital punishment, for all the reasons this poem flags up.

Stranger than fiction

One of the projects I’m working on at the moment, is an audio fiction thing for a friend to record. It’s set in Gloucester, with a wobbly reality. I was in Gloucester today, and thought I’d look at some of my locations, to refresh my memory and seek inspiration.

The old bookshop is in a really interesting old building, it’s been closed for years. I was there back in the summer and you could walk down a tiny alleyway to look at what was once the front of the house. My fiction reality has wibbles in it. Apparently so does my actual reality, with the manifestation of a big metal door, with a letterbox in it, where the entrance to the alleyway was. The door does not look as recent as it should.

In the story, a tree appears where a tree has never been. As we walked up the street, we found a new, wooden planter, in the right spot, with a tree in it. Bemused, we then headed towards the central crossroads, where the stand for the local newspaper can be found. In my story, there is an issue of spontaneous human combustion. On the newspaper stand was the headline ‘man sets himself on fire’.

It’s been a day of much strangeness.