Saturday, August 07, 2010

Singing for their supper

I was recently in Norfolk and I spent some time ambling along the public footpaths, across fields, over rivers, and across more fields mainly, it being Norfolk, and also singing a lot to myself, and it occurred to me that it might be possible to take a backpack and amble across the country, singing to myself and I might enjoy it, if only I had enough money to get things to eat and places to sleep. It has long seemed to me that walking is the only way to travel, all other forms of travel being more about arriving than travelling. But whereas I managed to keep the idea going for all of a couple of hours, these guys go on ambles for months at a time, busking and working for cash, and often bedding down in woods under a tarpaulin, when they've not been taken in by the gentle good folk of old England. Ed and Will, and sometimes Ed's brother Ginger, are on a walk around Britain singing, learning and recording songs (some of which you can hear there), foraging, sleeping out, and meeting people and getting on with them, which is possibly their greatest achievement. They're frightfully well-spoken and earnest but basically on to a good thing, although perhaps I'll give their book a swerve, being a cold-hearted Londoner with writing standards.

Their appearances throughout the country are seemingly inspiring to England's cosetted comfortables and probably many more, although not particularly to sub-editors. They're definitely an advert for just getting on with something and not thinking about it until you don't do it. I can't help wishing I'd gone on a walk myself, but now wonder that if I turned up at some village they might not say: "Oh we had them lot in last week. They were much friendlier than you. And their songs were better." But even though they stole my idea - and actually went through with it - and even though all that fresh air seems to have made them a bit too perky for company, I wish them good luck.

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