Last night I was reminded once again why travelling for short periods of time to a new place to try to discover it is simply not enough. Why, in order to truly sink your wanderlust teeth into a new culture, one needs to sit patiently in the mundane and be rewarded from time to time with a spark of intercultural magic.
Patience in this case is truly the key.
I have been living in the UK for some years now and for the most part feel at ease here. I don’t pretend to have conquered the red and blue hues of the Union Jack, but I no longer stare blankly when someone asks me if I’d like a “bo-a O wo-a” (bottle of water in most parts of South London…), nor do I get surprised by the eccentric mood swings of the English skies… Sometimes, I even feel a little too familiar here, wondering how much longer my impatient little legs will withstand the lack of forward motion…
And then, last night happens.
Last night I was invited to an intimate concert given by The Copper Family at a local Cricket Club.
The Copper Family sing folk songs passed down through generations. It is history in harmonies, old tales and the woes and joys of a time long gone. The magic of this type of story-telling is that it not only highlights the beauty of continuity and family tradition, but also gives little glimpses into English life that no history book could adequately convey.
It was a family affair indeed. The room was filled with folks from an older generation, quietly nodding to each harmonious rhythm these strong voices sang out. The intimate session was held at a typically English private club, with red carpets demonstrably having imbibed years worth of old men’s dark ale, chairs with metal edges, a friendly staff pouring local brew and raffle tickets sold by vanilla-scented ladies with broad smiles and warm knitted sweaters.
I felt very privileged to be there, getting a hint of that history (and even the occasional whiff of ale-scented carpet!), being privy to this sharing of the past and reminded of all that is still to be discovered here.
Now I invite you to have a listen to one of the Copper Family’s classics. May I recommend an accompaniment of dark ale… “wo-a” simply won’t do the trick!
And here are a couple of pics: