Stick your finger in your ear and sing “Wild Rover”!

17 Dec

Sometimes I write about stuff at the time it happens, forget or otherwise fail to finish it, and then think “Too late now” and abandon the work. This happened with the piece that follows but I’ve decided to resurrect it just in case any of my valued readership thinks I’ve died or, worse, have given up!

Chronologically speaking, it belongs right after the last of my “Italian Job” series but since the last piece of that wasn’t published until 3 weeks after the event you can see how things can “drift”.


So, having arrived back in the UK from my working fortnight in sunny Italy I got into the house at 00:45 on the morning of Saturday 28th July just as the Olympics Opening Ceremony was finishing.

This gave me time for a brief sleep before hitting the ground running for the next major event – Saturday at the Cambridge Folk Festival!

“What’s that?” you may ask if you’re particularly thick!

Well, the only thing not actually explained in the name “Cambridge Folk Festival” is that it is four days long and has been going for many, many years.

When I was working in the Tax Office in the early 1970s one of my (slightly older) colleagues used to take a Thursday and Friday off and disappear with his tent and a few like-minded friends to the grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall often to return the next week badly sunburned and with a stinking hangover! For some reason I have, ever since, wanted to do that too!

My dear wife, however, is not convinced so when a friend bought us day tickets (Thanks Sue!) to celebrate her retirement I thought we might both find out whether the four day thing was something we actually still wanted to attempt in our late 50s.

I don’t think that what we are experiencing as I write this – thousands of people, many of them our age or older, sitting in fold up camping chairs, swigging Pimms and eating expensive “Hog Roasts” or similar – is what we would have found if we had done this in the glory days of Fairport Convention, Richard & Linda Thompson, Steeleye Span et al and the music isn’t what it used to be either.

For a start, “Folk” now seems almost exclusively, to mean “Irish Folk” and while I have seen a number of Morris Men performing there appear to be no stage bands playing the kind of music those dancers should be doing their strange native rituals to – a great pity!

In fact, watching the last few acts on Stage 1 tonight we have one unashamedly Country & Western /Rockabilly singer (Nanci Griffith), one English Folk/Rock singer (Roy Harper – who lives in Ireland), an Irish Folk band (Clannad) and the top of the bill Scots folkies (The Proclaimers) – I suppose one English performer out of four isn’t bad!

Yes, I KNOW it’s a “Folk Festival” not an “English Folk Festival” but surely if ever there was a time for a resurrection of Steeleye Span’s “Hard Times of Old England” it is surely now. Watch it here

listen to the lyrics and see if you agree.

Oh, and as for spending four days there in a tent next summer, I’m going to have a good look at the proposed line up first – too many foreigners and I probably won’t bother!


1 Comment

Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Uncategorized


One response to “Stick your finger in your ear and sing “Wild Rover”!

  1. hollybourne

    December 17, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    How lovely to hear the SES song! Of course, we must remember that English Folk (not written down at first) still exists but it EVOLVED into all the written-down popular songs of everything from Music Hall to Brit Pop. I love that program on Showcase 1 (Sky 191) Hot Country with artists from Ireland, UK, and USA. Also the Phil Mack show is good. Well worth checking the EPG. But to enjoy it all does require one to regard any folk or country song SUNG IN English AS English!


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