Secret Garden Parties
Here’s a lovely photo of the author dressed very much en trende. The autumn is going to be all about knitwear, in my view. These woollen lederhosen, or wollenhosen as I guess we should call them were knitted for me by the ladies and gentlemen of the Village Hall Knitting Circle, in the Village Hall at the Secret Garden Party, 2011.
SGP is a boutique festival, one of numerous heirs to the Albion Fairs held in East Anglia from 1972 up until the mid-eighties. The Village Hall is a large venue and space for performance in the centre of SGP. Like the Albion Fairs, we in the Village Hall look back to a older and imagined England for inspiration. As well as knitters, we have a local pub, a tea room, giant table skittles, a coconut shy, cricket, a dog show. By day, the hall itself is booked for dance and yoga classes; by night, it plays host to numerous excellent bands (personal favourites were The Lovely Eggs) and cabaret shows. All the performers and staff wear costumes which hark back to a period from, say, 1910 to 1950. It’s a great piece of mass performance, which performers and audience seem to buy into. I play a poorly behaved and theologically unsound Vicar; there is a Village Gossip, lollipop persons who doubled as very hard-working cleaners, a Chief Brownie, Terry the Secretary of the Village Hall Commitee, and, my personal favourites, the Village Historians.
The Village Historians collected stories from those who visited the Village about things that had happened in the Village, especially if they hadn’t. It was an archive of the oral history of an imaginary Village, an archive of dreams of idealised English villages. Between us all, for a few days, we created an accidental Utopia, which is probably the best kind there are.