20 December 2009

Festive feelings

Not so long ago, I used to dread Christmas. My feelings of holiday doom and gloom could be begin as early as October, or July. Thankfully, all of that has changed.

It would sound quite, quite trivial to say, "Ah, the difference a Darling English Boy can make." And, I certainly do mean more than that. Perhaps, the phrase I am looking for is: "Ah, the difference Love can make." (A hard-won love at that.)

To that, I could add the difference a change of location and lifestyle can make. Living in New York, I always felt and knew I was in the cultural capital of the universe -- at least as far as New Yorkers are concerned, at any rate.

There are always an endless array of activities and events in which to take part in the City. One could die of many things in the City, but, to be sure, boredom would never be one of them!

However, even with the prospect of being surrounded by such limitless choice, more often than not, I found myself tucked away in my little West Village apartment watching telly -- BBC America, not doubt.

It's a common ailment in the City, I'd call it: Familiarphobia.
Being so used to having so much around you, nothing really seems exceptional.

And maybe, added to that is the dilemma of being a single girl in the City. I don't know about the rest of the world, but I always found it a monumental task to coordinate dates, times and schedules with my overly busy New York friends: "Let's go on Saturday...Can't do Saturday, let's go Thursday..." and on and on, until we never went at all.

By contrast, in my new British life, I always seem on the go! There always seems to be some happening or event on the calendar, especially at Christmas. And I love it!

Here in Barford, entertainment is serious business. To be sure, with two art galleries in our tiny locale, we certainly have more than our fair share of artisans and craftsmen and women. But really, there is more talent in this village than you could shake a stick at!

Every year the Barford Drama Group produces a "Music Hall" -- a little variety show with singing, dancing, comedy sketches and lots and lots of laughs.

The humour skirts the edges of blue, and certainly merits a PG-13 stamp. And, I have never laughed so long and hard in my life!

One of my favorite numbers was a rendition of a tune about Anne Boleyn, called "With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm" -

In the Tower of London, large as life
the ghost of Anne Boleyn walks, they declare
For Anne Boleyn was once King Henry's wife
until he had the axe-man bob her hair
Ah yes, he done her wrong long years ago
And she comes back each night to tell him so


With her head tucked underneath her arm
she walks the bloody tower.
With her head tucked underneath her arm
at the midnight hour.

She's gonna find King Henry, she's giving him what for
Gadzooks she's gonna tell him off for having spilled her gore
And just in case the axe-man wants to give her an encore
She's got her head tucked underneath her arm


Along the drafty corridors, for miles and miles she goes
She sometimes catches cold, poor dear, it's chilly when it blows
And it's awfully awkward for the queen when she has to blow her nose
With her head tucked underneath her arm


Now sometimes old King Henry throws a spread
For all his pals and gals, the ghostly crew
The axe-man carves the joints and cuts the bread
When in walks Anne Boleyn to spoil the do
She holds her head up with a wild war whoop
And Henry cries, "Don't drop it in the soup!"


One day she found King Henry, and he was in the castle bar
And he said, "Are you Jane Seymour, Anne Boleyn, or Catherine Parr?
"Well how the heck am I supposed to figure who you are,
"When you've got your head tucked underneath your arm?"

"Music Hall" is a big event in Barford. Tickets are hard to come by, we were unable to get tickets for love nor money last year, as we were too slow on the jump.

The day tickets go on sale there is a mad rush, and punters form an early morning queue outside Jane and Rod's house -- as early as 7 a.m.! You would have thought it was tickets for the Rolling Stones, or the like.

The DEB and I are flirting with the idea of joining the Drama Group in 2010. I stress we are only flirting with the idea. It could be fun, though.

The week following the Music Hall was the Church Christmas Dinner, another fun-filled occasion with the requisite annual Christmas pantomime featuring more stage acts but a number of different performers than those in the Music Hall. Talent, upon talent in these parts.

The highlight of the Christmas Dinner is the the featured entertainment provided by the highly musical Williams family, Barford's answer to the Von Trapps. They are simply amazing.

I failed to mention earlier the annual Harvest Supper that happens in early autumn, another Barfordian excuse for wine, good food and merriment.

Wine, Food and Merriment seem to be common themes, and another wonderfully recurring element is our resident Magician and Man of Mystery: "The Great Barloni".

(Surely every English village has its own Magician?)

Speaking of magic, a couple of enchanting events that are now fixtures in the DEB household Christmas traditions: "The Nutcracker". This year, we saw the Vienna Festival Ballet perform The Nutcracker in Leamington Spa. Fabulous.

There is something about "The Nutcracker," that always takes me back to the golden days of my childhood.

I first saw "The Nutcracker" at the age of 7, at Ballet Arkansas. My sister performed in it as one of the Flower Maidens in "Waltz of the Flowers."

That was back when people knew how to dress for the theatre, and my memory of it is coloured with little girls with satin bows in their hair, wearing lush velvet dresses in dark, jewel tones; shepherded by lean, elegant women in furs, pearls, and diamonds, smelling of Chanel No. 5.

Whenever I see "The Nutcracker", I am there again, 7 years old; and I cannot help but cry.

Laughter is also part of our Christmas tradition, and the past two weeks have been utterly hilarious. We saw Marcus Brigstocke in Warwick, and got to meet him after the show. He is a very tall man.

This week it was a road trip with the DEN (Darling English Nephew) to Birmingham to see Russell Howard live at the NIA. Russell Howard defies description. I think he is a tremendous comedian, but also a brilliant social observer/commentator. And, he's just plain funny.

The weekend was capped off last night by a wonderful Christmas concert at the Warwick Arts Centre by Kate Rusby. She's a doll, and the show was a real treat. She performed a series of old English carols, and was accompanied by her band and members of the Coldstream Guards.

It was a magical evening, that really got us in the Christmas spirit. And as we came out of the Arts Centre, we discovered a smattering of snow!! Holly Jolly Joy!

Festivities continue today with an afternoon Carol Service at St. Peter's. (The DEB is doing a reading, I shall be there as the proud, beaming Wifey!)

Handel's Messiah, a few remaining Christmas cards, tree decorating, and baking still to done!!! Holly, jolly indeed!


Kneazle1 said...

Just wanted to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and let you know how much I enjoy your blog.

Just... Linda said...

Life there sounds absolutely ideal, you are one lucky lady! And I am crazy jealous, lol. Merry Christmas!