Unlike me, John Clare was an accomplished fiddler. He traveled to neighboring villages to play dances. He also collected regional songs as Burns did. It’s something of his I’ve never seen. I’m curious because as he went mad, many of his poems take on a simple sing-song quality.
Here’s a song we heard today at the Straw Bear Festival, a traditional ploughing event on the West Fens:
“My friend Billy had a ten-foot willy!
He showed it to the girl next door,
she thought it a snake
so she hit it with a rake,
so now it is only four foot four.”
(you can hear the fellow sing it in the video below at 10:00)
If it weren’t for my stupidity in hotel booking, I’d have never even heard of this local event in the village of Whittlesey, where the locals parade around straw bears from pub to pub, dancing happens, and then they burn them in a big bonfire!
In that picture above, the straw bear. Notice he is on a leash and notice the cub in the background. As he walks past, you fall in behind and visit the next pub. So Victor, who came up for the weekend, and I were in a parade!
This is a video with many of the dance groups taking by YouTube user Trevor Windle. So fun to rewatch, esp. from the warmth of the house, because one thing this video does not capture is how freakishly cold the wind was coming across the fens!