23 April 2016 - Maidstone

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Race you to the top of the hill!
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In 2014, we took part in Maidstone's St. George's Day celebrations and were pleased to be invited back again this year.

There was quite a chilly breeze when we gathered for our first stand at midday at the top of Earl Street and, although there was an occasional pleasant sunny interval, the cold wind stayed with us for the afternoon. After warming up as best we could, Kettle Bridge danced Prescot, Saint Helens Gala and a static Churchtown. The dancing area was well paved but had a significant slope. However the dancers worked extra hard and coped with the incline really well.

The version of Churchtown they performed was called "static" because the dancers were all wearing new tights and, as they danced, they generated enough electricity to power Maidstone for a week. The alternative explanation for the term "static" is that Churchtown is often used when Kettle Bridge take part in processions but in this case they stayed within the confines of the dancing area. Take your pick I know which one I think is right.

We then made our way to the next venue, just outside House of Fraser in Fremlin Walk. We had time before our dancing slot to drop into Costas for a much needed warming drink. Suitably refreshed, we performed three dances, namely Annie's, Cossington and Aughton.

In keeping with the theme of the day, for Cossington the dancers used flags with Saint George's crosses on rather than the usual slings. Coupled with the very patriotic music that accompanies the dance, it was great way to celebrate the occasion.

The final stand was in Jubilee Square. Here a small stage was in place and seating arranged for the public. As a result, there was a larger crowd and they really appreciated our performance. We started with Milnrow and Marston 6 but finished with an audience-participation version of Churchtown. This went down very well and it was great to see so many youngsters having a go. They certainly all seemed to enjoy themselves.

The last thing to note is that it was a double celebration day for Pom, the squire. It was her first dance-out in charge and also her birthday. In time honoured fashion, a cake was produced and "Happy Birthday" sung. A great way to round off the day.

Finally, thanks must go to the organiser Zoe for sorting out the arrangements for the event and also to the band who, despite the cold conditions, kept up their usual excellent standard and also provided tunes between each dance to keep the audience engaged.


Footnote:

Saint George is the patron saint of England so I think that it is worth mentioning a few things about him and his saint's day.

  • He never set foot in England. Trust us to have an off-shore saint.
  • We celebrate the anniversary of his death which occurred on 23rd April 303 AD. A bit morbid, perhaps.
  • King Edward III made him the Patron Saint of England when he formed the Order of the Garter in St. George's name in 1350.
  • It is believed that William Shakespeare was born on St. George's Day 1564 and died on St. George's Day 1616 although the cynic in me thinks that this may just be good English PR.
  • St. George's Day is 23rd April or is it? According to the church, if the date falls too close to Easter, St. George's Day moves to the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter.
  • St. George slew a dragon. Well at least that's true, anyway.