Friday, 13 December 2013

St Agnes Fountain

Christmas draws closer and then the New Year and once more it appears that the whole world is commercially bewitched by it all. Sales assistants dressed in a variety of odd looking and shabby Santa Claus outfits, with the doubtful help of ancient Noddy Holder pop songs, entice the people inside their garishly lighted and decorated temples in an endeavour to persuade them to spend all, if possible, their hard earned cash. Children too at a very early age are sucked into the maelstrom, which late December brings and many a noisy tantrum occurs that otherwise might have been avoided …. The children’s too!

To some degree thankfully, people who live on a canal boat are shielded from all this hysteria; often they do not live near shopping areas and not owning a car makes it easier to avoid them. The expedition would normally involve a long walk and the need to carry home heavy loads. The boatman is happy, as he is all the year round, so long as he’s not too far from a pub and a little shop that can provide his other basic necessities. He’s had his fill of frantic Christmas’ past and is quite happy that the seasons come around in their usual sequence.



Christmas lights at Banbury



However I was down at Tesco (currently my nearest ‘little shop’ ugh!) this afternoon and having completed buying my necessities, I was sitting in the café enjoying a pot of tea to enliven me for the walk home when a group of little children from an infant school dressed in their tinselly Santa outfits were herded together opposite the café by their conscientious teacher and began to sing carols.

They sang confidently, with great concentration and most diligently pronounced the words that their teacher mouthed so carefully at them. They did very well and after they had finished I felt the need to join the applause because of their effort alone.

The Christmas songs were not momentous particularly in their religious content but a man, about my own age, sat at the next table felt the need to expound his unsolicited philosophy at me. “It’s terrible the way kids are filled with religious fervour at such a young age.” he said and with that he huffed and puffed and left the shop, waddling out next to his fat lady.

I’m boat sitting again as Janis on Thursday morning caught the train to Newark via Birmingham and Leicester. She remains there till after the New Year visiting her old friends. It means that we can both follow our own plans during the holiday period which is no bad thing.

But on Wednesday evening, prior to the parting we journeyed to Banbury on the train to see at The Mill Theatre ‘Christmas music’ performed by the folk group ‘St Agnes Fountain’.

I had never heard of them before let alone experienced one of their gigs but I was encouraged to go as my good friend Chris Leslie, more recently of Fairport Convention fame, was performing with his multi stringed virtuosity. David Hughes on guitars was the other male member of the group and the men were joined by two ladies Chris While and Julie Matthews, who won the Best Duo at the BBC Folk Awards in 2009. They were all brilliant and the whole show was amazing. It was one of those occasions when I didn’t want it to end.

Janis and I managed to catch the late train to Warwick and arrived back aboard towards midnight. Though the weather was warm and clear here in Warwick, Banbury was clothed in a cold fog which lingered for the whole time we were there.

As I write now I hear the friendly staccato of rain on the roof, not often heard these days. But generally the weather remains so mild. My fire is out and I shall have a surfeit of coal when it is time to leave if the temperature remains so balmy.

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