I walked down into my village today to hit the post office and have a coffee at my local bakery, to find that not one but six different groups of morris dancers and clog dancers had come to visit, choosing a spot dead centre, next to the lower dam, where the ducks would get as good a view as the humans. If you haven't come across these before they are a leftover from medieval times, and often still mix dance with a story element.
So as well as coffee - yes and cake, this was the baker's - I got treated to a free dance concert across the way; a whole crowd of them, mainly men, in lots of different historic costumes; painted faces, knee breeches, sashes, ribbons, bells, sticks, kerchiefs, flowered hats, ostrich feathers, you name it. A great sight. And then there were their various musicians. I spotted drums, a guitar, and a collection of accordians from large to small. Small wonder a crowd gathered, and applause was the order of the day.
After that the groups were apparently heading on to a local stately home - that's what we Brits call our old, historic mansions etc - to perform there. Nice to know we're on a par with the best!
Why us? Good question. I live in a village almost in the middle of England called Lymm. It's just south of Manchester, but nowhere near as famous! Though we have a website if you're curious.
It has an ancient cross on cobblestones in the centre, and it being summer here there are hanging baskets along the main streets [all two of them]. A canal goes right through it, regularly stocked with ducks, swans and canal boats - you might call them barges - and other craft taking advantage of the 48 hour moorings to stop and walk off their decks straight into the village pubs, shops etc. And yes, I guess the place is friendly as well as picturesque. So I suppose it is a good place for the Morris Men to choose.
I don't suppose, and certainly don't suggest, that all English villages are like this, but a few lucky ones have managed to deal with modernity and stay essentially community-minded, and to a fair extent mine has done both.
Explains why I'm reluctant to move, huh?
[Luckily, maybe, not many people here know too much about my involvement in SF, or my upcoming novel. :-) ]
PS_ I'll try to remember to add more 'village life' from time to time as things occur here, for anyone who finds it interesting, or maybe a little different from their own localities, wherever you are.