Sunday, October 07, 2007

Return to Rougham



In which I meet a man with a horse and play with my husband

Previous posts describe some of my past gigs at Rougham airfield - that little patch of England that is fighting off the compulsory purchase orders from the Council through the relentless efforts of the land-owner.

By running public events on the airfield, which was one of the many small airfields used by US troops during World War II, the Council can not purchase the land and build houses all over it. It would be a shame to lose this small airfield, and the events that it plays host to are many and varied. I have stood on that field and watched WWII planes fly over the heads of medieval knights doing battle.

We have played to pirates and knights, strippers and goats ... so a return to Rougham would, of course, provide fodder for my blog.

The gig was, as per usual, to entertain the stall holders and entertainers from the day. This event was 'Ploughs to Propellers' so the day had included airplanes, model airplanes and - of course - the medieveal re-enactment group, Swords of Chivalry. This was also the first gig that Bryan and I had played together for months and months. Now we play in our own separate bands, we very rarely play together. So - were we well rehearsed? Goodness no! We didn't need it - Penni and Bryan play together often enough and Baz and I just do our thing behind them. Ah - musically that is!

Bryan and I drove onto the airfield in the dark and we could see the shadow of tanks (yes, tanks - which are niether ploughs nor propellors, but then again nor are medieval knights). We arrived at the tent and set up on the small stage, Baz on drums in the middle, me on Baz's left, Bryan far right and Penni sort of in the middle.

The bar in the tent had real ale and ... delight! ... real cider. Only the one and at 7% it was powerful stuff, but tasty (not too bitter like some high alcohol content ciders). Once we had set up we started to play - our usual mix of folk and Penni's own material. I played my wonderful stand up bass all evening and had a terrific time. Playing, singing backing vocals, sparking off Baz and Bryan we we picked different rhythms and accents - as naturally as if we had been well rehearsed. The audience (which were on side) had a ball too.

We played from 8 till about 11 but didn't have time to eat. Some kind soul brought us a plate with two sausage rolls, four jam tarts and about six fruit scones. Alys (Penni's daughter) took one sausage roll to Bryan, whilst I scoffed some scones (did Penni eat any? No idea). The second sausage roll was consumed by Baz - by playing the bass percussively with one hand I managed to feed him the sausage roll with the other - so neither of us stopped playing whilst we ate. Live on stage! Feed the drummer...

Tall Tom (I guess he's about six foot six) was wearing a long black 'Sherlock Holmes' type coat, black leather trousers and a black teeshirt with little silver wings printed on the back. He is a good looking fella (and knows it) but always a laugh. He's one of the knights, and alon with the others they are people I have got to know over the last couple of years. It's a bit different since Penni left her partner who is one of the group, but all friendly.

In one of our brief intervals Tall Tom and I switched coats - my long leather coat looked too good on him, and I looked like a waif in his (it weighed a ton too). In our first interval a good Suffolk chap came and said he liked our 'pop music' though it wasn't usually his thing. He told me he had brought his shire horse for the ploughing, with his home-made harrow that he'd fashioned from chains. His shire horse is black with three white legs. He'd bought him to ride originally. I tried to imagine this portly, flat-capped man on the horse. He was wearing an old coat, a dirty jumper and I notied his nails were short and his hands blackened through work (probably handling the acoutrements that go with ploughing I guess). He talked in a broad Suffolk accent and obviously loved his horse, describing the old boy's excitement (the horse is 25) at the event.

Old Tom (as opposed to Tall Tom) is another Suffolk lad and a regular at the events, marshalling. He's very shy, very quiet, but a lovely man. He greeted me with a kiss on the cheek which I took as a great compliment. The last time I saw him Penni told me that I was honoured that he talked to me - he's that shy and reticent.

The landowner and host of the event (John) was there too - it was good to see him again. I'd missed visiting the shows this summer (though every event up till then had been rained upon heavily) and consequently missed the medieval crew, John and the general madness that these events engender.

Not quite as crazy as some events we've played at - but I did wonder why those dressed as SS Officers and German Tank Crew had not changed out of their costumes, and why one woman was dressed as a cowgirl (including six shooter at her hip).

The best bit was the playing (though the cider was good - did I mention the cider?!) - the natural ease with which we play together is so enjoyable. I love playing with Baz, and such a nice change to play with Bryan (and Penni) too. I enjoyed my return to Rougham. Would be good to play there again next year.
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