It's been a somewhat bitty day today which has found me re-writing lyrics to an ancient English folk song, and then turning my attention to a scene from Em. There's very little energy and motivation left in me. I've never ground to a halt like this at the end of a year before. I hope this general malaise is a product of a difficult year rather than my age. I genuinely believe I'm still suffering the knock-on effects of Beyond The Fence. Last Christmas found Nathan and me in a state of ludicrous high stress. I can't actually remember anything about it other than not being able to sleep, and sitting, in the middle of the night, on a sofa at Nathan's sister's house, literally shaking with nerves. Thank God this Christmas will bring a different energy to the table. I may sleep a lot!
Writing words in the style of an English folk song is quite an interesting exercise. By and large, folk songs tend to have rather crummy lyrics, filled with what I call "for to do" rhymes, where verbs and random nouns are inexplicably thrown to the end of lines for the sake of a lazy rhyme. It may be stylistically appropriate, but I can't bring myself to do it!
Folk songs are, furthermore, often crammed to the rafters with story. They can go on for verse after verse offering all manner of detail without so much as a variation of melody. The only trouble is that, whilst one, often irrelevant, aspect of a tale can be painted with rich colours, other, perhaps more crucial, or interesting aspects will be dealt with in the broadest strokes. Personally, I'm a big fan of the more tragic stories, but often a folk song which purports to be about the death of a central character, will spend a great deal of time discussing the weather or the sense of foreboding felt by the protagonist's mother, whilst the death itself is dealt with in a swift, single line. This is certainly the case in the North Yorkshire folk song, Stowbrow, where the central character finds her lover, a sailor, a-drowned on a beach: "she kissed him, she caressed him, a thousand times all o'er, and said 'these awful billows have washed my love ashore,' but soon this pretty damson did lay down by his side (for to do) and in a few moments, she kissed him and died." End. We assume she died of a broken heart. It might have been a freak wave, however, or, frankly, because the folk song comes from the Scarborough area, it's possible that a cliff top hotel might have fallen on her head!
I ended up in London Bridge today, horrified to leave the station and instantly find myself being marshalled on the street by a series of men wearing hi-viz jackets. I started heading down Tooley Street but my way was blocked by a jobsworth, who said, "this is a one way system, Sir: if you want to head down that way, you'll have to walk in the opposite direction, cross the road over there and walk on the other side of the street." I looked at him blankly, "or I can just carry on walking along the pavement in the direction that I'm walking..." "You're not allowed to do that..." Said the man. I looked at him blankly again, "I'm gonna take the risk that you're not going to arrest me..." And with that, I set off in the direction I wanted to go in. I know I'm a shirty bugger who tends to do the opposite of things he's told to do, but the pavement I ended up walking down was entirely empty and I've never been one for simply obeying orders if I can't see why I'm obeying them!
I was in London Bridge helping out on a quiz which was being attended by the employees of a company who make a famous energy drink. I'm sure you can all guess which one. In the offices of said company, the energy drink is free. The postman popped in whilst we were setting up, and helped himself to a can of the stuff before leaving. Perhaps unsurprisingly, all the employees of the company appear to be under the influence of the drink! I have seldom been in the company of so many pumped-up, alert, happy-looking people! It was like walking into a group of school children, with sweet-laden pockets, about to go on a trip to the local pantomime.
On the tube home, we were treated to a rendition of Jingle Bells by George the Busker who played the trumpet, accompanied by a backing track which played from a speaker in his back pack. It made everyone in the carriage smile and feel incredibly Christmassy. I reckon at least eight people popped a quid into his cup. Nice work if you can get it... or moreover, if you're brave enough to do it.
Ben of the Nene.