||[Dec. 18th, 2015|12:08 pm]
Last Saturday we missed a birthday party because there was so much snow last night we went to a Christmas party amid reports that this is the warmest December on record. We are in London: it's another country.
I've been too busy struggling to keep up with Christmas preparations to post about it as well. There's little to report: lussekater were baked, only a day late; Christmas cake baked, although 'soak fruit overnight' turned out to take three days, and next year I really am going to review the quantities; some presents have been bought, and some of those wrapped and dispatched - thoough some remain to be found, and there are some people who will not receive their presents until, if all goes well, the days between Christmas and the New Year; cards are done except those for neighbours; and we are in London for our annual pre-Christmas visit, so what has not been done will await our return. Time to party!
As usual, we would have liked to set off earlier than we did, but there was last minute wrapping, and we were watching the clock all the way, but arrived in time for a bowl of chili before the Islington Folk Club Christmas party. The club is upstairs at the Horseshoe pub, in Clerkenwell; one day I will visit Clerkenwell by daylight, but on a December night it's a fine Dickensian London scene, dark alleys and glittering lights, sacks of rubbish awaiting collection and bright cocktail bars.
The Christmas party, as BoyBear says, is always the same and always different. There was the Angel Band, the house band, complete with what we think was a bass clarinet (reaches to the floor, and you can tuck small items into the bell for safe keeping), Christmas tunes and morris tunes sometimes sliding from one to the other; there was pass the parcel, with the traditional forfeits (the solo mummers' play); there were floor spots, tending towards the seasonal.
Dorten Yonder sang Shepherds, Awake!, and later, as advertised on BoyBear's T-shirt, Holly, Holly; Amanda MacLean, whose book I posted about a while ago, sang a very funny Twelve Days of Christmas enumerating the traditional features of the club, the seven Swedish polskas, a very melodious five "Don't slam the door!" the four Angel Bands, and a book of Bernard Puckett's pub poetry. And we dispersed with a certain amount of "See you at the Carol Evening on Sunday..." so the fun has only just begun.
One thing, though, one conspicuous absence. Tomorrow would have been Phil Ochs's 75th birthday. I only know this because I stumbled, almost by chance, across an event at the People's Bookshop last Sunday. That would be a post of its own if only I had more time, but the condensed version is, regular event rebranded to remember Phil Ochs, but attended mainly by people who, with all good will, don't remember, haven't heard of. It was described as one of a number of events on this theme, but the internet only shows US events, and my informants on the London folk scene know nothing, either. Sad that so many great songs are so little known: