05 January, 2008

Woodford Folk Festival 2007-8:
One cool camper's, like, opinion, man.

......... The road less trammelled. Hey, you should've seen the boggy bits.

We did the Mudford Festival again, and survived to tell the tale. Oh, that feeling of cold ooze squidging up between your toes as you wander down to the toilet in the rain at 4am. My shoes owe me nothing, though, and my socks died quite early in the week. Please don't ask why I neglected to take more than one pair. And to help you get over your Fear of Mud, marvel at some mud dancing (YouTube, 1min47sec, opens in a new window).

....................... Teacups, monsters... expect anything.

...... A Woodford Seagull. Watch out for your $10 Tibetan spiced pancakes.

....... .. ... Tibetan monks doing what Tibetan monks do.

.... .... .... Just another pedestrian, pushing a knobbly ball.

Performance of a Mediaeval Mystery Play, the Dance Macabre, featuring superstar Mr Grim Reaper [standing, second from right]. Spot the musicians playing a lute, mediaeval fiddell, cornett and hurdy-gurdy.
........ Memorable performances of Indian ragas in the Folklorica tent.

View from the Grande pavillion over a lake, with mud in the foreground (where the YouTube video was filmed). The line of 12-volt lanterns along the hill in the distance leads up to the Hill Stage where the Tibetan monks greet the New Year early on the morning of January 1st. We slept in, lulled by the thrum of rain on the tent.
Why do people go to festivals like this? They'll tell you it's for the music, but what they really mean is the lyrics, the poetry of the folk, the Message. Music is only the medium in most cases, having been largely devalued and desensitized by overexposure in shopping malls and on TV. For most people, music must be about something if it is to be "understood", hence the performers' frequent inclination to explain the story or source of inspiration behind their next song. Having said that, there were certainly some brilliant performers; I enjoyed the Indian music in particular, as well as the sophistication of the quartet Mukti. I also note that Balkan is the new Irish.

But yes, the Message is important too. Vital. Woodford is a sort of giant group hug among like-minded people on politics, environment etc. I particularly appreciated the straight-to-the-jugular remarks made incisively by Prof Ian Lowe on various Green issues. On that score I did feel some distress and dissonance about the extensive use of disposable plastic and the waste of electricity in floodlights left lit well into the day. Woodford is a major player in the setting of environmental examples, so I felt a little betrayed. But we noted with admiration that some Woodfordizens took their own drinking mugs. They should be rewarded with a discount, yes?

Why couldn't cars be banned from the site, starting with day visitors? People are going to have to get used to public transport soon anyway, so why not lead the Social Learning Curve? As Prof Ian Lowe pointed out in Woodford's 'Great Green Debate', once upon a time it was even legal to smoke in aeroplanes... until reformers tackled the issue by suggesting to the airlines that they offer a few smoke-free seats. Then people-power took over. For folk's sake, if not you, WHO? If not now, WHEN?

On the way back home to Chiangmai after Woodford, a newly de-mudded Marie browses at Pink Pussy Accessories in the Platinum Shopping Mall, Bangkok. Five floors of stuff and yet more stuff. Er, mostly plastic. Buy 1 shoe, get 1 free.
Hey, you can't fool us: ♫ We've been to Woodford too

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