Dawn Chorus…almost

7 May

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Okay so I won’t bore you with the details of how long it took me to find Lawn Woods. I worked for a year once in Swindon’s Old Town – and had no idea this expanse of parkland was hiding round the back. It’s well worth a visit and looks especially picturesque in bright May dawn-light.

So, half an hour late, the five-and-three-quarters-old (FTQO) and I arrived at the Dawn Chorus – the official launch to the 2012 Swindon Festival of Literature – snapped a few photos, chucked a tasty Vowley Farm hot dog down the FTQO’s neck, savoured a Coffee Gang Americano (black) and enjoyed the rest of the entertainment.

I had to keep reminding myself it was just 6am on a bank holiday – there were lots of hat, scarf and glove-clad people both old and young having fun listening to stories, music, poetry and jokes of varying corniness. The FTQO had that wide-eyed look, probably the first time EVER I had to wake him up in the morning and he didn’t know quite what to make of it.

After some giant storytelling by Rachel Rose Reid and piping by Fairie May the sun was bright. Yes, really. Check out the photos if you don’t believe me. (By 7.30am the rain had swept over once more and it was business as usual. I wondered what deal Lit Fest Matt had brokered with the heavens.)

Then came hula-hooping by Casey-Jane, followed by Bruce Airhead. Bruce promised to juggle children, but only if they were aged under one. Unfortunately no parents wanted to sign a consent form so another young lad helped Bruce blow up his huge balloon – which burst. I had to admire Bruce his fortitude – it was just above freezing and there he was, stripping off his pin-stripes, striding around in a man-tarde and applying a lot of moisturiser. But – and this is live entertainment boys and girls – something happened to Bruce’s backup balloon while he was diving into it, and off he went, act over prematurely, muttering ‘Matt’s going to kill me’.

So Domestic Cherry’s Mabel and I looked at each other in confusion, wondering if Bruce hadn’t lubed up enough and got stuck on the latex, when Director Matt Holland hurried onto the stage to explain about the prop malfunction. And then – in true trooper style – rustled up a finale where some strong minded audience members hoisted a rope on their shoulders and acrobat Jake performed impromptu tight rope walking.

After making a wish with Fairie May and watching the maypole volunteers dancing themselves into giggly knots, I couldn’t ignore the FTQO’s sleeve tugging anymore. I think his tired eyes were starting to cross so off we stumbled homeward, clutching a copy of the new, launched-today Domestic Cherry II annual magazine of words and matching beermat.

All photos at www.flickr.com/groups/festivalchronicle – if you were there, add your own.

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