Friday, 20 March 2015

man of march

The man of March he sees the Spring and wonders what the year will bring
And hopes for better weather

Assuming the world hasn't ended, much to the chagrin of many religious folk, it's the first day of spring. As I sit here typing, the sun is out in full force and bathing our tiny garden in a golden glow that makes a mockery of a few hours ago when it was so cloudy that we had to resort to watching the eclipse on the internet. It saved our eyes, I guess.

I'm temporarily housebound today as I'm waiting for some builders to turn up to do a few urgent jobs that I'm not willing able to do. Consequently I'm looking out the French doors wishing I was walking somewhere. Anywhere. Preferably around some woods or by the sea.  Ah well, hopefully soon I'll be walking some longish distances as I'll be spending my weekends walking the Suffolk Coastal Path and the Stour & Orwell Walk. In the meantime, I've just re-read the March entry from Bob Copper's A Song For Every Season. He starts the entry with:

Although nothing in the countryside ever stands still, the change that takes place, usually during the month of March, is the most remarkable. For this is when the first decisive step forward is taken to leave winter behind. The transformation, not so much physical as of the senses, can come about quite suddenly and if you are lucky enough to be afield when it happens you will be aware that something really significant is a foot.

And whilst I read it I thought about the wonderful Dave Goulder song The January Man which anthropomorphises each month. I'm the February Man who "still wipes the snow from off his hair and blows his hands" but it is the coming of March man I was thinking of. Another reason I was thinking of this song is because one of my students told me she really likes Bert Jansch, Pentangle et al and I was pleasantly surprised that such a young person should have discovered such pleasures in this day and age. Evidently it was some Music coursework a year or so back that brought her to this type of music so it proves that school isn't wasted on the young. Hopefully contact with music of such quality will influence her own music as she develops her musical talents.

So while we shuffle off winter's icy grip and start looking at seed catalogues, despite the washout of the eclipse here in the east, the man of March should be quite hopeful about the coming season. When spring turns up many people's minds are already looking forward to warmth and the later hazier days of summer. Endless days that turn into balmy evenings. Escape from work and a few glasses of your favourite tipple.

In Copper's memoirs he tells a great story about his father Jim's hard life early last century. Whilst reading such material may give us a false idyllic impression of bucolic splendour, it seems that life was harsh but not without its rewards.  Jim was carting sacks of grain around the village but had worked out a way to earn a little extra:

. . . On the journey back, instead of going across the green and up past Rudyard Kipling’s house he took the longer road past the Plough and popped in there for a pint of beer. That first trip set the pattern he followed for the rest of the day’s work – pubs were open all day then. By the time he hitched off at the end of the day he had made eleven trips, carried eleven tons of oats and drunk eleven pints of beer, and that would be a good day’s work by anyone’s standards.

When Jim got home that evening Grand-dad said, “Well, mairt, you you’ve ‘ad a pretty stiff day up an’ down them granary stairs. You’d better ‘ave a glass of beer.” Jim did not dare say that he was not particularly thirsty, for the old man would wonder where he had got his beer money. No wonder Jim could sing with such enthusiasm and conviction:

It is of good ale to you I’ll sing
And to good ale I’ll always cling
I like my glass filled to the brim
And I’ll drink all that you can bring.

O, good ale, you are my darling
You are my joy both night and morning.

A man after my own heart definitely.

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