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January 1997 - Newsletter 54

So this is 1997. Not too bad, so far from my point of view, but then I did manage to nip off for a few days while England was suffering the worst of the cold spell. Lucky dog.

This year is the 30th anniversary of our turning, what we laughingly call, professional. There we were (just out of school??) with offers to sing in folk clubs in such wonderful exotic places like Wolverhampton. Well, what other option did we have but to chuck in our 'proper' jobs and start hurtling up and down the country in search of fame and fortune. It's questionable whether we have achieved either of these goals but we have met and worked with some remarkable people and been to places even travel agents have neyer heard of. Nepal (natural home for us), Sarawak, Hong Kong, The Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore, Ethiopia, Sudan, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Greece, Germany, Norway, Denmark and Spain. Not bad for lads from the village for whom a trip to Yeovil or Sherborne was a real event when we were nippers.

This seems to have hit the spot. I have had orders from Dorset ex-pats from all over the place aided somewhat by a couple of mentions in the Weekend Telegraph by our good friend Willie Poole. At one time Phil and Jenny at Classic Video couldn't keep up with sales and their machinery was running white hot. Phil was telling me lust yesterday that one of his machines cooked itself. Sorry mate.

Quite a few people have also purchased the 'Eastleigh 828' steam video as we have travelled round with the supermarket. If you are into steam then Classic have quite a good catalogue of videos you might like to purchase. Give Jenny a ring on 01963 363203 and I'm sure she will be very happy to send you a list.

The two concerts and the New Year Ceilidh all went with a swing. There is no doubt that singing in your own back yard is more nerve racking than anywhere else. The day after you can meet your audience shopping in Sherborne and they will quickly let you know if something was amiss. Happily, so far, I have only met with compliments and smiling faces.

Many thanks to those who make things run smoothly. John & Jean on the door; Ray, who not only looks after the hall but cooks delicious pasties etc. for the New Year; the staff at The Abbey Pharmacy who sell tickets and Phil and Val of The Sweeterie who act as our Yeovil Agents.

A very special mention too for those people who sneak in extra raffle prizes. Don't think we haven't noticed. We start off with about a dozen prizes and finish up with about 20. Very little is said most of them lust appear by magic. It's very generous of you and much appreciated. It all helps the evening along.

We have two lined up for this year. The first is for Grasmere Music in April and this will be all traditional songs and Morris Dance music. Release day is not known but I should imagine sometime in the autumn. The second is for the Dorset County Archives. They are trying to raise money to keep the many documents which are in need of restoration in readable condition so we are creating an appropriate mix of traditional Dorset songs, readings and poems to help boost their finances. This will be launched on 4th October in Dorchester at The Corn Exchange where we shall be performing much of the material in concert.

Sherborne Arts Association is organising a day of music and dance workshops topped off with a Family Ceilidh in the evening at The Digby Hall. Guests include Tim Van Eyken (a young man who we have watched develop into a wizard musician, particularly on melodeon); Colin Thompson (fiddle) who has played with various bands and has helped us in the past with our 'Cider & Song' radio series; Knobs & Knockers dance team and a Bhangra Dance Team who perform traditional dances from Asia.

The workshops run from 10 am until 5pm and the Ceilidh starts at 7.30 pm. For more details ring the Arts centre on 01935 813433.

Even if you do not play an instrument the evening should be well worth the effort. The variety of talent lined up is tremendous. Make a day of it, you can always wander round our lovely town. It does take some beating.

Oh, and by the way, we will be involved as well.