Saturday 6th May in West Kirby. Are you dancing? Am I asking?
…… and this is why. Pomona, the network of cider makers who use local surplus apples to make juice and cider, also promotes conviviality. Our dances and ceilis are good for that.
The Pomona network tries to draw cider enthusiasts out of their sheds into showing off their craft in public. Geoff, Tommy, Steve and Dave have fashioned a few presses, scratters and random wooden gear wheels to make the equipment to take to Farmers’ Markets, Apple Days, Orchard events, the Earth Fest and a few school fairs, allotment and community open days and the like. It’s not just that apples arrive from all corners of the Peninsula get cut, cored, scratted, mashed, minced, pressed, strained and bottled and so tasty cider is made. It’s that the other communities, activity-runners and visitors are outdoors with us and join in, talking of their own apple trees or ones within reach in parks, roadsides, neighbour’s gardens and the like, but chatting and scratting, ‘fessing and pressing, together.
Together – the core of all that we do, it’s that it’s sociable. I readily admit that I don’t like drinking, even cider, but I love the conviviality and the friends that it brings. It’s having an impact on our area’s waste apples, on awareness of the apples we grow at the Tree Wardens’ Demonstration Orchard at Brimstage, on the need for trees to be kept growing, even when they drop fruit on the road and parked cars. So it’s a small way to stop the current plagues that decimate our trees – one of which the chain saw in the wrong hands with a misguided risk assessment. Roger tells a story of someone moving to a nice house in a tree-rich conservation area asking for all the trees to be felled, in case they dropped on the children as they are sent outside, alone or with their new pet tigers, unsupervised, by the new unfenced open air pool in their newly sprayed and paved, plant-free, razor-wire surrounded, gated garden. We want a better life than that, with more trees, especially apple trees and a fuller community.
The height of our conviviality is in dancing: On Sunday last, with Geoff playing and Rosie calling, we had a Maypole event to have adults and children weaving their ribbons round a tall maypole, chattering, chuckling, tripping and tangling.
Next Saturday, 6th May we have a ceilidh- a barn dance. We have some cider on sale to go with it. The main event is from 7 to 10 pm, but you can join us also at any time for the free events earlier and get a taste of what we mean as conviviality. We start at 1:30 by joining a parade of inappropriate musicians along the alleyways and paths at the back of the Arts Centre in Brookfield Gardens, West Kirby, into a community performance in the Rose Garden at Ashton Park, where LIPA students’ final degree piece is in animating 6 different community groups to unfold a story or two they have devised together. The celebration starting at 3:30 pm will involve cake and a further hour or so of a ceilidh in the Rose Garden. Rosie will be calling encouragingly and skilfully so anyone can join in, unflustered and unembarrassed, to dance the steps and shapes that provide the smiling clockwork that drives the engine of conviviality and laughter. The music is provided by Gina Le Faux, a much respected player, maker and teacher of fiddles and violas, in styles from folk, rock, baroque to her own compositions. She is an authority on playing for dance and a brilliant performer, as are the friends who will be playing alongside.
Do you play any instruments yourself, or know anyone who does? Bring them along and the instruments, – just in case, because Melody Makers, who run courses in Irish and other music for adults and children, are having an extra free session, to which you are invited : at 5:30 Gina will run a workshop for fiddle players on how to create the drive, feel, rhythm and bowing that makes a good ceilidh. Places are free, but need to be pre-booked (PDELLWAND at HOTMAIL.COM) and musicians with other instruments are welcome. There is some music available in advance, by email or via the Melody Makers session at Melrose Hall on Wednesday (email as above with your phone number for details)
Please tell any local fiddle players especially to come along to the workshop. There will be some chance of everyone playing together in the BIG CIDER APPLE JAM SESSION, but it’s a secret which I won’t mention, so don’t tell anyone unless they’d enjoy coming along on the evening, too.
Pomona has its main ceilidh from 7:00 in the West Kirby Arts Centre, for which tickets are a minutely-priced £5: Gina and her friends will be playing some astonishingly good music, songs, dance tunes and a few stories, no doubt. Ceilidhes are a little bit different from Barn dances, in that they are a sort of conversation with feet, hands and voices, for everyone to join in.
We’ll finish the evening as the stars come out outside, with the lights dimmed and a few flowers and candles for the sort of romantic dance that your great grandmother never told you about, but you’ll know then why she would occasionally be seen smiling over it. She perhaps also used to drink cider like ours, too.