Sorry I haven’t posted for a while – I was down with a nasty bout of the flu, and then I had a friend to stay (we visited the Witches and Wicked Bodies exhibition at the British Museum – see my earlier post – it runs to the 11th January so there’s still time to catch some wonderful, bizarre and striking artworks by artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Aubrey Beardsley, and Henry Fuseli, on subjects including St Anthony being seriously harassed, devils emitting smoke from their bottoms, and some very suggestive snakes; we also went along to the Terror and Wonder: the Gothic Imagination exhibition at the British Library, which I also highly recommend – it runs to the 20th January).
Hoping to post something about Christmas soon, if I have time amidst all the other preparations, but in the meantime, I thought you might be interested to know about this: it’s the new, open access International Fairy-Tale Filmography, set up by the University of Winnipeg. Users are invited to contribute – it’s a really great project.
For it’s your wassail
And it’s our, our wassail
And I’m jolly come to our jolly wassail…
These are the words to the chorus of the Drayton Wassail: a recording can be found on Topic Records’ Voice of the People Vol. 13 – They Ordered Their Pints of Beer and Bottles of Sherry. Drayton is a village on the Somerset Levels, not far from Hambridge, where Cecil Sharp was staying with his friend, the radical priest Charles Marson, in September 1903, and where he heard Marson’s gardener, John “Jack” England, sing “The Seeds of Love”, thus beginning the folk song revival, and his work as a collector.
When I was a kid I would often visit the area with my parents, and one of its most colourful characters was a Drayton resident named Charlie Showers, who would tell me ghost stories, and every January would sing the wassail around the village. The story was that, one year, he was the only person to turn up, and made his way from house to house, with no one else to share the liquid refreshment on offer!
Here is a recording, from the British Library sound archive, of Charlie and his wife in 1972, in which they talk about Charles Marson and Cecil Sharp: