An off the cuff remark made by Sebastian Coe set in motion an amazing chain of events, culminating in a weekend the like of which will never be seen in London again. And I was there.
Now, Seb Coe can be a twat at the best of times.
When asked what entertainment he would like to see at the 2012 Olympics, Mr Coe jokingly replied "5000 Morris Dancers". Ha, bloody Ha.
"5000 Morris Dancers" became a celebration of folk music and traditional regional Morris Dance held over the weekend at the Southbank Centre. Outside on the Queen's Walk, the public were treated to 100 of the best Morris Dancers from across the country, both male and female teams demonstrated a diversity of styles. Hammersmith Morris Men, pictured above, are not your typical Morris Men, oh no. They are the best at what they do, and they didn't come to mess around. The Blue Boggarts turned out in full force with their painted faces. Entertaining, and I found one of them strangely attractive. There are pictures, but Studley does not want to upload them. Feeling a little jealous, I shouldn't wonder.
Inside, more delights.
Live traditional music in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, then the premiere of the documentary "The Way Of The Morris" by Tim Plester and Rob Curry, which charted Plester's relationship with his family and his village, and his own roots in folk music and dance. A beautiful film, a love letter to his village, its history and traditions, with a P.S. that said "I'm coming home". Here's hoping this film gets a wide release, I wish everybody could see it.
A few canapes, much wine and a dalliance with a Morrissed-up Star Wars Stormtrooper later, and we were back in the Queen Elizabeth Hall for a one-off concert celebrating "Morris On", the 1972 album to which all other folk/rock albums before and since have long been compared. This time the album was performed from start to finish by some of the best of the British young folk artists - Jim Moray, Saul Rose (who happens to also be on the right side of gorgeous) Sam Sweeney, Sam Carter, Jon Fuller, Dave Burbage and Jackie Oates, with a Conversation With Ashley Hutchings, one of the musicians on the original album.
Add to that the superb artwork of visual artist David Owen lining the walls:
it was a weekend like no other.
Now don't get me wrong. Folk music is not my favourite genre. Morris Dancing may or may not be the closest thing Britain has to Capoeira, but it is not a joke, to be treated with derision, to be ridiculed or maligned. To mess with the Morris, or to be blunt, fuck with the Folk, is to dismiss a large chunk of this nation's people, who are keeping traditions alive. Folk music is Soul Music and it speaks of all the things that we should never dismiss: love, longing, politics, fantasy, sex, storytelling, history and dreams. I respect and salute those who continue to sing it and who breathe new life into it.
That sounded a bit like a rant, didn't it? Good.
Huge thanks to Terry O'Brien of Playpen Management for producing, and inviting us, to this fantastic event.
Pictures will follow, once I soothe the savage Studley.
P.S. Seb Coe is still a twat.