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Oswin and Edward Lear

 Oswin has recently been enjoying Richard reading Dr Seuss books like 'One Fish Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish' to her.  While the illustrations are amusing, it's probably the rhyme and rhythm of the words that are a big part of the appeal.

So, today, I tried 'The Jumblies' on her.  (the last time I tried, she was still too young and wasn't interested, but now she's nearly 2 1/2)

Big success.

Read it half a dozen times throughout the day and followed that up with a couple of readings of 'The Owl and the Pussycat'.

Only a few pictures for each poem.  Definitely the words that she loved. Big smile at the end each time and requests for another reading.

Edward Lear's poems appear to be working for yet another generation of children.  Oswin has no idea what all the made-up words mean, but it doesn't seem to bother her any more than it did my generation.  Personally, I think a runcible spoon is a spoon with holes in it (the kind you use for draining things).  It fits Lear's cheerful illogic.

 Far and few, far and few,
            Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
            And they went to sea in a Sieve.

I think the time may have come to get Kipling off my bookshelf.  Oh yes, my best beloved.  I'm itching to read her the 'The Elephant's Child' and the other Just So stories. My father read them to me, and I read them to my children.  They were written to be read aloud, the words roll along.  "What does the crocodile have for dinner?"
"Go to the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees, and find out."

Go and read it again, you know you want to!  And if you've never read it, find a child and read it to them immediately.
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 This is Oswin directing a digger near her house.  (having parents who regularly do convention tech means that she already has the high vis jacket)

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Keeping fit

 Southern Star were practicing this evening when we found a group of local teenagers having a fag break from the rain under the porch of the library.

So, as one does, we invited them in to watch us practice our dance.

When they were impressed by that, I gave three of them swords (the 4th one decided just to watch) and proceeded (as one does) to teach them the dance. They picked up really quickly and greatly enjoyed it.  I think there's a fighting chance we might see one of two of them again. I hope so. They were a nice group of kids and have real potential as dancers.

I was amused near the end when one of them commented how much energy I had. I'm three times her age and this was a dance done at a brisk walk.   It really is nothing on the energy front.

Last week, I was on the canals, running between locks in a flight, winding stiff paddle gear and pushing open heavy lock gates. Now, that requires energy!  (and I'm aware that I can't run long distances without slowing down for a break now and then.)

Take up morris dancing and  retain the illusion of staying young and fit...

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Longsword

 I'm having general fun with longsword related stuff.

I did four informal longsword workshops at Discworld and people really enjoyed them.

I'm getting a lot better at teaching the dances now. Once upon a time, I would probably have gone into great detail, telling people where they had to move, and the steps they should take, and which way they should turn at the end of the move. In a typical longsword dance, there are 6 people and each of them will be taking different actions.
 
Now, my typical approach is to give everybody a sword, get them to stand in a straight line behind me, say: "Follow me and do what I do."
 
This usually gets everyone through the first four moves of the dance without any difficulty at all. The more complicated moves, such as a double under, can often be tackled by saying: "You two make an arch; Julie and I will go under it. When you get to the other side, turn round and come back again. Steve follow Julie, Jennifer follow me."
 
This works 9 times out of 10. People instinctively turn in the correct direction, even when they've never done a sword dance in their lives. Sometimes, giving too much detail can actually confuse people.
 
The detailed instructions for double under come to several paragraphs and can be surprisingly difficult to understand.
 
Longsword, possibly more than any other kind of dance, is easiest to learn by actually doing it. And it's more fun that way.
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calling Bill Hay

 Bill, send me your email address.  I can't contact you via Dreamwidth as you haven't confirmed your address with them.

we're doing another Games Weekend.

Contact Judith dot Proctor at Gmail.com

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Puffer and family

 Here's Oswin sitting in front of her great-grandad behind the engine her great-great-grandad made. (With granny - me in purple trousers, and grandad - Richard sitting on the bench, in the background)




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Southern Star Longsword

 The local paper did a short article about my Sword dance group

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Too many people have died

 I'm starting to realise that the greatest hazard of getting old isn't dying yourself, but that all the people you've grown up with start dying.

This has been a bad year.  Gareth Thomas, Terry Pratchett (and several other actors I enjoyed), my mother in law and now, this weekend, a concertina friend of mine.

Gary and I met regularly to play concertina - and now we won't any more.  He was an odd bloke.  Rude and a bit annoying in group settings, but much easier to get on with on a one to one basis.  (Some of that may have come from social awkwardness)  I'd known him for a very long time, but we only became friends this last year.  He was my kind of musician. Neither of us were great concertina players, but both good enough to play for morris. It's always more fun to play with people at your own ability level.

He died a  couple of days ago, but I didn't want to sour my parent's diamond wedding party by talking about him then.  They're getting very old and frail (though still with full mental capacity) and besides, no one else there really  knew him.

The Diamond Wedding was a good party. Brought together members of the family I rarely get to see.  Really good to meet with them again.

We went to the Stockport and District Model Engineers railway track on the Sunday and my father steamed up the model engine (Puffer) that my grandad built (and the model engineers have adopted and cared for and repaired and rebuilt as necessary over the years).  Oswin got to ride on the carriage pulled by her great great grandad's engine.

I nearly cried there.  It's many years now since my grandad died, but the smell of the engine in steam brought him right back to me -he had a track that ran the length of his back garden and used to give us rides. He made around a dozen engines, but I only know where two of them are now.  (He sold most of them.  No point in keeping too many in the family as they need to be looked after by people who know how to use/maintain them and have the skills to keep a valid boiler certificate, etc.)

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Four man sword lock

 Here's the first picture of Southern Star longsword.

Photo:


I know we'll often have different numbers of dancers, so I'm working on sword locks for different numbers of dancers.  This is a sword lock for four (in fact the only possible lock for four - anything else would fall apart).

You can see two more photos (including a six man lock) on the Southern Star Longsword website along with pictures of longsword dancers in Lingdale, Yorkshire in the 1960s.


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Southern Star Longsword

 One of the things I've wanted to do for the last few years is to start a longsword dance group.

A couple of weeks ago, I realised that if I didn't do it soon, I'd get too old to be able to do it at all.

So, I've taken the plunge. Southern Star Longsword will meet at our local library on Monday evenings.

I'd write more, but I'm knee deep in sorting out insurance, publicity, bank account, etc.

Even if the team doesn't get enough members to be viable, all these things still need to be done.

And, I also know from experience (getting Anonymous Morris started) that if you have the faith to do all these things and publicise and dance at every possible opportunity, then the odds are greatly increased that you will get your team off the ground.

I'm also on the committee for next year's Wimborne Minster Folk Festival, so getting seriously busy with that as well.

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Judith
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Judith Proctor

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