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Thursday, November 22, 2012

John Rand has died at Ickleford...

They found him in a field,
And said who is this ragged man,
Who has no home or friend?
...So runs the first part of the song which describes how John Rand's body was discovered by the villagers of Ickleford in North Hertfordshire (picture above). Not wanting to be stuck with the cost of burying him, they shoved the body through a hedge into the neigbouring village of Holwell, where he was given a proper burial. Later, it turned out that John Rand was actually very wealthy and had a clause in his will leaving a substantial sum of money to the person/people who buried him...Take that Ickleford!!!

What started out as a pretty mundane task (picking up a cast iron drainage grille for the new patio!!!) turned into a nice little drive around Hertfordshire today. I noticed that on the road to the factory in Bedfordshire, Ickleford and Holwell were a short distance away on either side of the route, so I decided to drop by to see the scenes of the song for myself.

When I was trying to find my own 'voice' as a composer, I studied Hertfordshire folksong to see if it could be part of my musical language. One of the things I found in the local library was a vinyl EP which was a couple singing The Hertfordhire Mayers' Song and John Rand. The former is a folksong and I think that John Rand is too, although I have never found any reference to it since. I found it very inspiring, partly because of the quaver-crotchet rhythm in 6/8 time which is normally a Scottish thing. It has an unusual structure in that it has a verse and chorus and also a short declamatory section. This is what's making me think that it might have been an original song by the performers on the record, rather than a folksong. Anyway, if anyone knows where I can find a copy, please let me know, as I'd love to hear it again. I'm writing an arrangement for string quartet of it which is an ongoing project.

Ickleford is a very pleasant village with lots of timber framed buildings and two pubs literally within staggering distance of each other.

I then drove over to Holwell where the sympathetic villagers gave John Rand a decent burial...

...he could have been put through that very hedge there!!! There there are lots of references to the man himself...
There are also lots of Rand-based road names to show the village's gratefulness to their benefactor.

Here's a .pdf giving the full story of John Rand and the Ickleford website is at www.icklefordpc.com (it's got FIVE pubs!!!)...Here is Holwell's site www.holwellvillage.co.uk

I then drove back through the very pleasant villages and towns of Baldock, Cottred and Puckeridge. It's amazing how wet everywhere is, with standing water in many fields...Hopefully we'll have dry weather for a bit.

TX dates...

Highland Emergency is on C5, 5HD and 5* most weekends at lunchtime and evenings.

Engineering Ancient Egypt is on Discovery and Discovery HD on Thursday 22nd Nov at 9pm and again on Discovery +1 at 10pm.

It's on again on Friday 23rd at 12am (1am on +1) and 3am (4am on +1), Sunday 25th at 6pm (7pm on +1) and Monday 24th at 1pm and 5pm (plus +1 on both).

Monday, November 12, 2012

Coal holes

Just back from a trip to Dublin and despite walking miles around the city, I've only just noticed the many coal hole covers in the pavements...That's a pic of one above. Jane and I have been interested in them since we decided to have one in the centre of our brick circle which is under the recalimed gazebo we got some time ago. Ours is from Borough which is near where parts of our families are from (City Of London, Hoxton, Bermondsey and Poplar).

Dublin was great, as usual. I wondered why there were a lot of South Africans in the city and then found out that they were playing Ireland at Rugby on Saturday. My Saturday was spent with my pal Russell at Zappa Plays Zappa at The Roundhouse in London. Fantastic musicians and a great tribute to the great man himself.

At home, earthworks have been completed in the garden so we're tidying up. Unfortunately, we've had a lot of rain which hasn't helped with clearing up mud on the lawn, so we'll have to wait until spring to get the grass oversown.

In music, I'm just putting finishing touches to a couple of albums for Artful and a brand new EP for Chillville.

TX dates...

Highland Emergency is on C5, 5HD and 5* most weekends at lunchtime and evenings.

A double bill of Airline USA is on weekdays at 1pm on Sky 2.