Since I visited Edinburgh yesterday, it’s only fitting that today’s story is from Scotland.
There was once a young lad who worked as a page-boy at a grand castle which stood on a cliff overlooking the sea. He was a pleasant boy and a hard worker, so all who knew him were fond of him; from the Earl he served every day to the fat old butler for whom he ran errands.
As I said, the castle itself stood on a cliff by the sea; its walls were impenetrable and there was no way to enter the castle from that direction, save a little door cut into the thick walls and a well-hidden stairway among the rocks. The people who lived in the castle used this passage whenever they wanted to bathe on the pleasant sea shore.
On the inland side of the castle were many beautiful gardens and pleasure grounds, which lay on land which gently sloped upwards to meet an expanse of heather-covered moorland, framed by distant hills. It was here that the page-boy loved to roam after his day’s work was done. He ran about the moor chasing bumble-bees and catching butterflies; and when nesting time came, he would search for the hidden bird’s nests to peep at the tiny speckled eggs.
This year’s Folk Awards were on last night and I, like a total idiot, missed them – what can I say, thank God for iplayer! Though I guess Julie Fowlis’s tweet from Sunday should’ve given me a clue (oops).
I’m a relatively new lover of folk music; the draw for me is the depth of musical skill that every artist on the scene seems to possess (approximately 50x the average Brit award winner?). I have a tendency too to find and stick to the artists I like the sound of (Bob Fox, anyone?) and so the Folk Awards are a great way to find new artists to listen to.
But first of all – first of all – I just want to say YESSS!!!!! Nancy Kerr and James Fagan took the award for best duo! I’m more than a little biased, admittedly, since Nancy is a fellow north-easterner and the cover for their latest album Twice Reflected Sun was designed by my awesomely talented friend Lizzy.
I just gave in to temptation; I bought an album which I have had my eyes upon ever since first I heard it a year ago, courtesy of a rather excellent post from The Basement Rug in March 2010. It was the so-good-it’s-euphoric Hadestown, written by American folk artist Anaïs Mitchell. It cost me £7.49 and was worth. Every. Single. Penny.
And then some.
Why We Build the Wall (featuring Greg Brown)
Hadestown is a folk opera; a 2010 collaboration between Mitchell and several other obscenely talented musicians, such as the renowned Ani DiFranco. As the title might suggest, the story is a reworking of the classical Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, whom he brings back from the underworld only to lose her again, tragically, at the gates of hell.
I wanted to share this podcast from the Folklore Society which I discovered today.
It is a discussion on folklore between Sir Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld series (among others) and Dr. Jacqueline Simpson, one of the UK’s leading experts on folklore. The two have worked together for many years and even collaborated on The Folklore of the Discworld, which explores the use of myth and legend in Pratchett’s books.