Sunday, September 09, 2012

People's Popular Front of Purbeck

or possibly the popular people's front of Purbeck. Being of a certain age there are times when life serves to remind you of Monty Python in one way or another. Such a reminder occurred recently with posters and adverts appearing in the local newspapers and on lamp posts for the Purbeck Folk Festival that took place in Worth Matravers between the 24th and 26th of August. Except it doesn't take place in Worth Matravers it takes place in Langton Matravers a mile or so down the road which must add to the general air of confusion for non-locals.

Worth Matravers has three things going for it, two car parks and the Square and Compass pub. One of the car parks has a feature which must be unthinkable to anybody who lives or works in a town or city, it operates on an honesty box principle, the only stipulation being that your honesty must be worth at least £1 which is a donation to the car park's upkeep. The other car park, about a mile away from what passes for the village centre (the duck pond and former post office) is used mainly as a starting point for part of the South West Coastal Path. It is close to Chapman's Pool, quite possibly the most beautiful place on a coastline that is abundant with visual gems.  Anyway the folk festival lasted for three days and the headlines acts on those days were: Shooglenifty, KT Tunstall and The Destroyers, I did note that further down the bill on the Saturday was Owl In The Sun which sounds more like animal cruelty to me than a good time.

Now four miles south east (ish) of Worth Matravers (and by default Langton Matravers) is the seaside town of Swanage. Swanage isn't a place you can go to by accident, in fact you're only excuse for passing through it is that you are on the way to the Studland-Sandbanks ferry which connects the Isle of Purbeck with millionaires row. Swanage also hosts a folk festival, this year it took place on 7th-9th September, Lucy Ward was one of the acts playing on Friday but unfortunately I couldn't keep our date as I had other commitments. Anyway in the spirit of Python the Swanage Folk Festival website proudly proclaims in blue type ' Swanage Folk Festival has no connection with the Purbeck Folk Festival'.

Is this an indication of bad blood between the two festivals? Were the Molly Dancers booked for Swanage one year but pitched up at Worth/Langton because of an offer of more cheddar in their ploughmans and pints of strong real ale that came with twigs to stir them? I  honestly don't know. You do get the impression however that, to use a Jazz analogy here, Swanage sees itself as the Kenny G of music festivals whilst Purbeck is more of your John Coltrane. Swanage is a family holiday destination, not quite as loud and brash as Weymouth but a bit more in your face than Bournemouth across the bay, it has shops selling kiss me quick hats, sticks of rock, candy floss, jellybeans, fish and chips etc, it has old fashioned pubs, you know the sort where the idea of hot food is mustard on your pork pie, crabbing off the pier, Punch and Judy on the beach.  Swanage on a warm Friday night in the summer is possibly as good as the British seaside gets.

Anyway up the hill in Langton the promotional material for the Purbeck Folk Festival included the following "Purbeck Folk Festival is focussed on quality music have (sic) a diverse audience from all different backgrounds brought together through their love of good music and everyone shares a respect for the performers which has made Purbeck the festival loved by artists and festival goers alike."

So there Swanage! Yah boo sucks! We've got the beards and the Fair Isle sweaters and by the ghost of Ewan MacColl we're going to wear them proudly whilst you parade your jugglers, street dancers, children with painted faces and fire eaters. Folk Festival pah!


Span Ows said...

Oh no, folk-fest wars! The beards and carries will be out on the streets!

I haven't been to Swanage for ages but your post brought back many childhood memories, not least of which was a morbid fear of the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, saw it when about 5 years old on a wet summer day when the cinema was among the few refuges for a holiday family. Staying in a dark rural cottage and have older siblings meant I was teased (and had nightmares) for weeks!

Paul said...

The Child Catcher has stuck in the minds of many children, Nathalie was scared of it as well.

Kids can be cruel can't they - especially siblings. It wasn't Five Go Mad In Dorset then!

My Mum was taken to see Wizard of Oz during the second world war - I think she would have been about four or five and had to be taken out because the wicked witch and the flying monkeys scared her so much.

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