Tuesday, December 02, 2014

"for such the scenes the annual play brings on"

Walt Whitman was referring to 'the delicate miracles of earth' in his poem Soon shall the winter's foil be here but 'annual play' fits well for Frome's winter Extravaganza, when the town centre turns into a vast community party with dazzling entertainment all evening.
This year the theme was Edwardian Christmas, so a choice of socialite or suffragette for the ladies and big hats all round. Frome Street Bandits, sounding fantastic as always, were dressed to impress with VOTES FOR WOMEN sashes as well as toppers and bonnets. Traditional games and strolling performers like juggler Marky Jay proliferated along the cobbled streets and up the main road (those closed-to-traffic signs certainly get well used in our town.)  One highlight was Tall Will the big-bubble man, who could enfold a child in a glittering air-balloon the size of... well, a child, with one hand while squirting mini bubbles at squealing onlookers with the other.
Amazing too was slack-rope walker Kwabana Lyndsay, who stripped to his Edwardian sock-suspenders to juggle a firebrand and a machete and an apple, which he ate while the other items were still in motion. There was sizzling drama too from Flame Oz in a spectacular finale involving blazing hoops and firework-like torrents of silver rain.
Ironically, though no performers or audience were harmed in the making of this marvellous entertainment, there was a genuine fire scare when Boots started smoking ~ really funny to watch two ten-foot comedy policemen shooing people off the road so the fire-engine could arrive.  (Here's me and Mr Mayor looking unaccountably guilty, although we didn't know then about the simmering chemist shop behind us.)
And after the grand tree-light switch-on and the street entertainments, Silk Mill's glowing pop-up music bar was open till late, serving prosecco under the stars.  Mega congratulations to everyone who contributed, including shops offering nibbles and snowballs, and to Frome Town Council who well-deserved their resounding cheer from the crowds for devising such a brilliant event.

Frome Town Council must be dizzy with accolades this week: they have just won the cumbersomely-titled but prestigious 'Most Proactive Public Sector Body' award, for sustainable activities and projects including electric car share. Our Mr Mayor wore solar-powered flashing bling on that occasion. Praise from a different angle for Frome as "Village England" offers an Insider's Guide with focus on the gorgeous scenery, interesting shops, independent cafes, friendly people, and for 'best' experiences picks out the wiggle-dress couture of Deadly is the Female (not just for Nigella you know) and the local brew and Wurzel-talking customers at the Griffin ~ which also regularly runs excellent music sessions. The Garden CafĂ© comes in for honourable mention too, which reminds me: if you're in the vicinity on Monday 15th, our Midwinter Poetry Cafe there has a great guest line-up: Rick Rycroft, Karen Woollard with the Warminster Poetry People, and luminous-and-rather-lewd Muriel Lavender.  Open mic too, and festive nibbles.

As usual there's too much going on to cover everything, and this high-level adulation begins to feel like an inflight magazine, but I really should include The Lords of Thyme  folksy music event at Rook Lane with Sara Vian and marvellous local duo Feral Beryl as support.
And as there hasn't been much about writing in this posting I'll end with Walt Whitman again  ~ thanks Fiona Willis, for quoting on facebook this beautiful summary of the purpose of life. It's from the preface to Leaves of Grass, written 1855.
"This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men - go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers of families - re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body."

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