Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Bunch of Thyme

A bit of a strange experience yesterday, at the Beverley Folk Festival. We went to the first screening of a DVD recording of a concert by The Watersons last year at Hull Truck Theatre. Now, of course, we were actually at that concert - I wrote about it here - so we were watching something we'd already attended.

There was a real sense of fin de siecle about watching it. Since the concert, Norma Waterson has been seriously ill. Indeed, she spent eleven weeks in intensive care. Her husband, Martin Carthy, was meant to introduce the film yesterday (and appear in concert later), but he, too, was ill and couldn't attend.

And Mike Waterson, I understand, is ill again. He was frail at the concert and his health has since deteriorated. The last time I talked to him, a couple of years ago, was about ten yards away from the room we were in for the screening, in the corridors at the back of the main stage where the Watersons had just been performing.

Overall, watching the film, it just felt like the ghosts of the past were circling. The Watersons' final two songs, too, were devoted to time and its passing. Firstly, a beautifulfuneral song from Staithes, written to be sung as a body is lowered into the ground, with the haunting refrain, "goodnight, goodnight, goodnight". And secondly, which I wrote about in my original blog on the concert, Norma's astounding interpretation of A Bunch of Thyme.

As the song says, Time brings all things to an end.

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