'Hev yer gotta loight boy', North Essex Ballads 11th October 2016
"Hev yer gotta loight boy" was not a phrase uttered by Keith Lovell in his entertaining exploration of Local History through North Essex ballads at the meeting of the District Society on 11th October- but it illustrates the expert way in which he recited a selection of these folk legends.
A retired priest, Keith is well-known locally for his series of books on village signs and these were on display. As a proud Essex man - and keen Colchester united supporter - Keith spoke about his long-held fascination with the ballads which date from around the end of the 19th century and which were collected mainly by Charles Edward Benham of the established family of printers and newspaper proprietors in Colchester. Charles Benham was a versatile character; a writer, artist and inventor of a toy known as Benham's top which when spinning gives different effects in colour perception. This is now used as a diagnostic tool in eye conditions.
In an authentic accent - and pausing occasionally to elucidate a bit of obscure dialect - Keith read a number of ballads dealing with a variety of human emotions. There was a ballad of astonishment at the sale of a farm - and what was going to happen to the workers, one about the hopeless love a country lad had for Julia, the parson's daughter and - in a ballad of wrath- the speaker rages about the weather, which is never right, and which " fair do make me hollyriled"! Another tells of the mournfulness of an old man facing death and the sad theme was continued in the tale of Jimmy Kingdom who fell off a haystack onto some iron and was never quite right in the head subsequently. A warning to someone proposing to spend the first night in a haunted house was very graphic and there was the colourful story of Old Bill, a chancer and artful character, who got up to all sorts of tricks. Paternal pride was evident as a father recounted his son's transition from country bumpkin to well travelled and well turned-out gent. Finally frustration with "New fangled ways" was depicted in a tirade against the Board schools; "put 'em in the fields and let 'em larn to sow"!
This was a lovely talk giving great amusement to the 14 members present and Keith was warmly thanked by Secretary Clare Mathieson.
Clare reminded members of the need to book their places for the Annual Dinner at The George, Cavendish on 13th December and to make their menu selections.
Next Meeting: Tuesday 8th November 7.30pm in Foxearth Village Hall when Lynda Rumbold will present some archive film