Avalon · Bells · Uncategorized

My bell’s a “Dead-Ringer”

My bell’s a “Dead-Ringer” – it really is!

Although this is another blog post, in which, of course, I hope to entertain you, as well as dazzle you with my unparalleled literary genius (my wife often says that I live in a “Dream World”) there is another motive for writing it. Allow me to explain.

As I’m sure you are aware (especially if you managed to read my blog “Getting their Attention”) I have this large bell. It is in fact, a very large, shapely and beautifully shiny bell.  I think my owl friend agrees.

39557834_2199327976745580_5130491361677541376_n

(Photo by Mark Adler)

It always looks impressive when I am carrying it, upturned, in my right, white-gloved hand, as it rests against my chest, at Civic and ceremonial functions.

pilgrimage3

As bells go, with its curvatious lines and ample diameter, it has to be the most handsome bell in Somerset. My wife bought it for me a year or so ago. Its noble-looking profile, as presented on an Amazon web page, clearly seduced my good lady into clicking on a mouse, thus instantly parting with her hard-earned cash to “aid and abet” her husband’s crazy hobby of dressing up in old-fashioned clothes and shouting at the public in the street.

 

cry

(Photo by Vicki Steward)

There’s only one snag about buying a bell on-line. Yes, you’ve guessed it. You can’t actually hear the sound it makes. And there we have it – the aural equivalent of …..“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Although the bell looks really splendid, it’s sound just doesn’t “cut the mustard”. OK, I’ll stop being polite…..it makes an absolutely dreadful, noisy din. It is more of an ear-splitting “clang” than a sonorous “dong”. Although the loud sound travels well and it does get me heard, the quality of the sound is just not there. I think there are a combination of reasons for this. I don’t think the metal is actually brass at all; the metal is quite thin and the actual bell is not all that wide for most of its profile.

My wife found a smaller bell in an antique shop in Marlborough. It has a beautifully rich sound with a delightfully higher pitched “tinkle”, but its sound does not carry so far. However, it is very well-suited for inside Town Crier jobs, such as announcing the arrival of the new Mayor at our “Mayor-Making” Council Meeting.

small bell

Right, I really must get to the point:

I NEED YOUR HELP IN FINDING ME A NEW BELL!

If you are passing an antique shop or the like, in the UK (and if you have the time) could you please venture in, look around or better still, ask if there are any large hand bells for sale. If there is one, if you have a chance, please ring it and take a video of it ringing and then send the video to me! Please send me details of the shop’s location and perhaps an idea of how much they are asking for the bell. I’m working on the principle that a few hundred pairs of eyes are better than one!  I do hope you can help Glastonbury’s Town Crier find a truly melodious bell to ring out throughout Avalon.

Happy hunting and my sincere thanks in advance!   Oh…….. and don’t forget to “give me a bell”.   (Sorry!)

David Greenway Glastonbury Town Crier

(Featured image photo by Kelly Malcolm)

 

 

Beltane

Beltane Bliss

4am. What kind of silly time is that? As the Mozart cheerily emanated from my clock radio, I started to regret my rash decision to inform all my friends on Instagroan and Farcebook that I was “going to climb the Tor, in full Town Crier regalia and perform a proclamation at sunrise”. Whilst enjoying the last few remaining minutes of warmth and comfort in my bed, before what was going to be a very busy day, I checked the rain radar images for the area on my iPad. There was no rain in the area; important when you’re wearing nearly £2000 worth of regalia. I hurriedly got up, visited the bathroom, put on my regalia, grabbed my scroll, bell and tricorn and made my way to the car. I didn’t allow any time for breakfast at all and even refrained from my early morning cuppa, so concerned was I that the rotation of the Earth would bring the sun to The Tor before me! How foolish was that!

I parked the car near the base of the Tor and started walking briskly Tor-ward. I soon began to regret forgetting the drink bottle I’d left in the boot of the car. Compounded with a zero breakfast intake, I was probably attempting this stiff climb in a state of mild dehydration – no wonder my legs felt so listless! However, during the ascent, one of the early morning revellers climbing nearby, kindly offered me a swig of Mead. Worryingly, it tasted so very good at 5:00am!

Leah Rudrani4

Glastonbury Tor before Sunrise – photo by Leah Rudrani

With broken cloud behind the Tor, I was hopeful of seeing a sunrise. This would be a “first” for me. I’d never been on the Tor at sunrise before. The ascent was the usual breathless event that it always is with me.

Jim Jolliffe2

A solitary hooded Beltane participant looks down from the Tor – photo by Jim Jolliffe

Anja

Participants gathering on the Tor before sunrise – photo by Anja van Dijk

As I reached St Michael’s Tower, there were about 60 or 70 people ready assembled. It was good to meet some of my overseas friends made through Farcebook and some for the very first time!

Anja1

We meet at last!   – Photo by Anja van Dijk

Karin Luna Mare

Lovely to meet my dear Dutch friends, visiting Glastonbury for Beltane 2019 – photo by Anja van Dijk

A lone piper struck up a lament, which massively added to the atmosphere on that rather cool and slightly misty morning.

Jim Jolliffe3

Photo by Jim Jolliffe

As the time of sunrise approached and the Morris Dancers started assembling for their first dance, I unrolled my scroll, stepped forward, and faced the East. The sun was still hiding uncooperatively, behind a cloud. At precisely 05:45, the time of sunrise, with well over a hundred eager souls now assembled, I stepped forward, took a few deep breaths and gave them a long blast on my horn. I launched into my sunrise proclamation, thus beginning Glastonbury’s Beltane Festivities for 2019.

 

Kelly Malcolm1

Beltane Cry – photo by Kelly Malcolm

“OYEZ, OYEZ, OYEZ!

Citizens of Glastonbury and visitors to this fine Town from near and afar.

It is now sunrise; ‘tis 05:45 and “All’s Well”.

As Town Crier of this fair Town, I would like to wish all the goode people, here gathered, a Happy Beltane in Avalon.

You are cordially invited to the Town’s Beltane Celebrations commencing at 10:30 at the Market Cross, followed by the Maypole Procession to Bushy Coombe at 12:45.

May you all have a joyous day, filled with merriment, feasting and celebration.

Long May Glastonbury Flourish!

God Save The Queen!”

Jason1

“God Save The Queen!” – photo by Jason Bryant

It was well-received and warmly applauded. Reward indeed for climbing the Tor, part of which was filmed by one of my friends from the top, earlier. It still baffles me to this day why well-over three thousand people have actually bothered to watch a video of me, in my robes, staggering up the Tor, through the medium of Farcebook.

Although we didn’t see the sun at the instant of sunrise, we did catch a few glimpses of the sun from the Tor a few minutes later. We all enjoyed an impressive and comical display of Morris Dancing.

Nick Owen1

Morris Dancers on the Tor at sunrise – photo by Nick Owen

Unfortunately, I had to leave them to it, for I had the 7:00am Beltane Ceremony to attend in the Chalice Well Gardens.  The descent from the Tor was somewhat swifter; you really do use a completely different set of muscles on the way down!

Nick Owen

Chalice Well Garden’s upper field Beltane Ceremony – photo by Nick Owen

I’d only intended to drop by and watch – my attendance at this event was a “first” as well. However, it wasn’t long before I was asked by the charming young lady organising the event, to perform a “Cry” to begin the ceremony. I’d forgotten – you just can’t stand there and be inconspicuous, whilst wearing a Town Crier’s Livery! But how could their Town Crier possibly refuse? I’m getting quite good at scribbling out impromptu cries these days! I found the Beltane Ceremony, that took place in the upper field, particularly moving in a quite magical setting.

Linda5

Chalice Well Beltane Ceremony – photo by Linda Griffiths

About two hundred people were assembled, all surrounding a central, level, grass ring. Many had climbed onto the slopes surrounding it to gain a better view. At 7:00am I was called into the ring to do my second Beltane Cry of the morning. All went well. I was again cordially thanked and applauded. I hope I’m asked back there next year – it was such a lovely event. After walking out to the edge to mingle with the crowd, I also tried to climb the bank to gain a better view of the proceedings. Big mistake! My shoes slipped from under me on the damp grass and down I went, planting two grassy, muddy patches in the knee areas of my brand-new white tights! A fire was lit at the culmination of the ceremony, which, after burning down, was used as a focal point for some “fire-jumping” – a traditional part of Beltane.

Linda8

Chalice Well Beltane Bonfire – photo by Linda Griffiths

 

Anja3

“Fire Jumping” at the Chalice Well Beltane Celebrations – photo by Anja van Dijk

I decided not to participate. After all, if I couldn’t be trusted to walk a few paces up a slope, then  jumping over glowing embers, I felt, would not be a sound move. After alI, I didn’t wish to give the local newspapers the headline: “Local Town Crier throws himself onto Beltane Fire!”. Anyway, after meeting up with Linda Griffiths from Bridgend, for whom I was planning to give a cry of welcome later, I slipped away to do breakfast, before the next stage of my day.  However, a marvellous opportunity for a photobomb presented itself that I could not miss!

Linda2

A quick photobomb before breakfast!    –  photo by Linda Griffiths

Trying to find a cafe open in Glastonbury at 8am is not easy surprisingly, even during Beltane. However, the Winking Turtle Cafe came to a hungry Town Crier’s gastronomic rescue. I ordered “Eggs Royale” – a great favourite of mine. After a long wait, a waitress tentatively approached and apologetically announced that my breakfast order had been served to someone else by mistake! I thought to myself, I’m starving hungry, I’ve got muddy tights, one buckle had fallen off my shoe and now my breakfast had been given away! Oh great! Not a good start.

But things looked up a little on the breakfast front. For the same price, the waitress offered me a full English Breakfast, with toast thrown in……and, more tea. I was so hungry, that sounded an even better option! I chatted with all the locals and visitors there, including one pretty young lady who had come over from California especially! There are times when we feel very humble in Glastonbury.

As soon as breakfast was over, it was time to hit the streets again with cries about the further events of the day.

Sheila Freeman2

The walking, talking Beltane Newspaper – photo by Sheila Freeman

Besides giving updates on the day, in my best “Town Crier-speak”,  it was lovely to receive a big hug from Sheila (see above photo) – an incredibly talented photographer, who I had not seen down this way for quite a while. So good to catch up.

A most pleasant diversion was the opportunity to perform a “Cry of Welcome” to Glastonbury for the lovely Linda Griffiths from South Wales  and also to meet her charming partner, Mark. (They’d set out at 4am!) The Lady Archdruid of Avalon joined us for this, whilst Mark took on the role of cameraman.

 

Linda4

“Bell’s up!” A Cry of Welcome – Photo by Linda Griffiths

It was lovely to be able to hand over a replica Cry of Welcome, tied up with green ribbon, at the end of the cry. (This Town Crier is a great believer in random acts of kindness!)

Linda1

Linda, feeling well-and-truly welcomed with a replica scroll – photo by Linda Griffiths

(Kindly note, both brass buckles had fallen off my shoes by this stage!)

I was quite centrally involved in the main ceremony, in welcoming the huge crowds that had now assembled at the Market Cross, introducing the various entertainers, thanking them for their contributions and generally keeping folks fully updated on proceedings .

Tatomir1

Enjoying my role as Master of Ceremonies at the Market Cross – photo by Tatomir

Glastonbury always impresses me at such times with its seemingly limitless capacity for putting on spectacular shows. Glastonbury always does it with style!

Elita3

Songs from the Avalonian Free State Choir – photo by Elita Purcille

Andrew Carrington-Chappell

The Glastonbury Border Morris dancers entertain.

Photo by Andrew Carrington-Chappell

 

Monica Bradley1

My good friend Angela Rogers, entering into the spirit of things! Photo by Monica Bradley

Elita2

Ash, putting in a spectacular performance, as always – photo by Elita Purcille

If the very fact of being in such a renowned place was not enough, the artists, costumiers, poets, drummers, singers, musicians and dancers enthralled both locals and visitors alike. It seemed like half of the town had arrived wearing exquisite costumes, inventively painted faces and all sporting eye-catching adornments of one sort or another.

Rosie Foy2

Photo by Rosie Foy

Mandy Stone-Outten3

Some locals really do Glastonbury proud with their colourful costumes

Photo by Mandy Stone-Outten

 

Geoff5

Aelph’s Beltane costume is always spectacular – photo by Geoff Corris

As a show-stealing diversion, body-painted Ceilidh Ap-Farendar on stilts, who went by the name of “Cernunnos”, covered by long hairy legs, staggered through the crowd blowing her hunting horn.

Geoff Corris1

Cernunnos dominates the Beltane procession – photo by Geoff Corris

 

Rosie Foy4

Cernunnos!- photo by Rosie Foy

Then, after making her grand entrance, she slowly lurched up the High Street in search of Greenmen and a carved May Pole.

After the various entertainments, the important crowning of the May King and Queen took place.

The Greenmen were a little delayed in bringing the May pole down to the Market Cross. Probably, Mead had something to do with it! As part of the theatre, the May Queen had to find her May King, who had been hidden earlier under a tarpaulin, covered with ivy.

Elita7

The May Queen uncovers her May King – photo by Elita Purcille

Poor chap – he was sat there for ages due to all the delays…..I hope they brought food and drink in for him!

Leah Rudrani1

“Hail the May King and Queen!”, duly crowned.  Photo by Leah Rudrani

With the coronation out of the way, the procession, complete with the long red and white dragons, made its way up Glastonbury High Street and on to Bushy Coombe.

Traffic always has to stop when Glastonbury gets “Ceremonial”! The bus drivers, trying to keep to some semblance of a timetable, must curse us. There was a stop at the White Spring for further Mead refreshment and for a blessing of the Maypole.

Rosie Foy1

On arrival at Bushy Coombe, we had to walk through what is known as “smudging tunnel” made from bent over branches in the form of archways. A line of costumed ladies, burning various substances, were busy energetically wafting smoke around. I’m not quite sure what the purpose of it was – somebody did tell me – but the smell I can only describe as something akin to burning socks; it made my nose itch.

Mandie Stone-Outten1

Morgy and Sandie, two ladies always centrally involved in Avalon ritual!

Photo by Mandie Stone-Outten

There was further ceremony, before, eventually, the Maypole was placed in a hole previously dug, with yes, you’ve guessed it, even more ceremony, by a group of ladies a few days earlier.  It’s all terribly symbolic, you know.

 

Elita6

Pole in the hole!  Photo by Elita Purcille

 

Mandie Stone-Outten2

The May King and Queen enjoy a well-earned mead on Bushy Coombe, posing infront of the “smudging tunnel”

Photo by Mandie Stone-Outten

Elita5

Let there be frolicking in Avalon!  Photo by Elita Purcille

 

Elita4

“They came, they saw, they danced.”   Photo by Elita Purcille

Because of the multitudinous ceremonies this year, I didn’t get the chance to enjoy the Maypole dancing since I was due at the Glastonbury FM radio station for my little radio presentation, later on that afternoon. My throat was crying out for a cuppa too!

TC broadcast

Town Crier “on air”. No time to get changed.  At least I didn’t have to shout!

Photo by Steve Lee

All in all, a blissful and busy day. I loved every minute of it. I was glad to be involved in a little of the magic that is Glastonbury. I was also relieved to get my feet up and enjoy a Tequila when I finally got home.

Engagement · Glastonbury · Glastonbury Abbey · Town Crier · Uncategorized

Appearances at the Abbey

Since moving to Glastonbury in 1980, I’ve always enjoyed my visits to the Glastonbury Abbey and long before I became Town Crier of this lovely town. Actually, there isn’t a complete Abbey there now, only ruins. After the carnage and mayhem seen here in 1539, presided over by King Henry VIII, clinically referred to in the history books as “The Dissolution”, Glastonbury Abbey was targeted for state robbery and destruction, its last Abbot, Abbot Richard Whiting meeting a most miserable end. He and two others, after sham “trials”, were dragged up the Glastonbury Tor and executed on the top of it. He was later “hung, drawn and quartered”. In November every year, we remember him, usually with a short service on the Tor with the laying of flowers. The last one I attended, as Town Crier, was quite moving.
But the ruins nevertheless have a great appeal to tourists the world over.

The massive grounds are home to quite a lot of wildlife too.

DSC_0382
DSC_0059

DSC_0027
DSC_0029 (3)
My wife and I have bought yearly membership to the Abbey. We often drop in, sometimes with our grandson, and enjoy the peace and space of this historic location.  Guides, in costume, are available to show visitors around.

guides

As happens every year, the Mayor, Town Clerk, Macebearers, Town Councillors and myself are invited to attend two big Pilgrimages.

pilgrimage1

One is a Roman Catholic Pilgrimage the other, an Anglican one. Sometimes they occur in the same weekend. My parade associates refer to these as “Back-to-back” Pilgrimages! They are significant events in the Glastonbury Calendar and attract thousands of worshippers and spectators. Slow processions through the streets of Glastonbury also take place.

pilgrims proc
pilgrimage3

The macebearers and I often share our little joke at these times. At Pilgrimages, we either find ourselves sitting in puddles of rain (usually) or very occasionally, in puddles of sweat (as happened this time, during our exceptionally hot summer!)

But this year, I had two other Town Crier jobs in the Abbey. Firstly, I was contacted by a gentleman called Nico, who wanted me to “cry” at his engagement. His plan was to “pop the question” to his good lady in the grounds of Glastonbury Abbey and then to have the local Town Crier, standing by, to shout out the glad tidings, if she said “Yes”. What an inspired decision, I might add, to utilize the Town Crier!
After the initial contact and explanation had been made, a flurry of secret text messages followed concerning the date, timing, exact location and my “choreography” before crying.

When the big day came, I parked in my usual spot that’s reserved for me when on “Civic Duties”, just behind the Town Hall, which is conveniently next door to the abbey. As I was climbing into my regalia, a lady passed by and said, “You’re hear for the engagement then?” I nodded. Clearly, Nico’s plans were not entirely top secret.
Once robed up, I flashed my yearly entrance card at the girl in the foyer, before making my way towards the outdoor café in the Abbey grounds to try and be as inconspicuous as possible – well as much as a man wearing frilly lace, white tights, buckles on shoes, triangular feathered hat, an eighteenth century great coat, yards of gold braid and shining brass buttons can be! It was a good spot with a clear view of the planned “Engagement Zone”. I stood and watched. My good friend Ali passed by -she happened to be visiting the Abbey at the same time – and she kindly agreed to take a few photos of the events as they unfolded. We took the obligatory selfie.
Ali

We watched carefully. After about ten minutes I was beginning to feel that the Vicky had decided to shun married life with Nico by replying negatively to his question.
Then suddenly, in the distance, there was a flurry of activity.

I could hear and later see a solo violin playing near some steps, joined shortly after by a lone guitarist. The melodious music wafted across the lush green grounds. Then I saw the couple. He was reaching for the ring!!
engagement 7
I said to myself: “This guy will go far! He’s chosen Glastonbury Abbey, arranged some live background music and even booked a Town Crier….this chap has got it well and truly sorted!” Ali felt much the same. The big question was this. When do I advance prior to a Town Crier announcement being made? We waited and watched. Then I saw the smiles, hugs and long passionate embraces – all the clues I needed to step forward and introduce myself to the blissfully happy couple.
engagement 1

It was a delight to be the first to congratulate the newly-engaged couple and to kiss the lucky bride-to-be. I spun round, took a few paces forward, unrolled my scroll, took a deep breath and announced their good news to passing visitors and a professional photographer who had also clearly been hired, to photographically capture the event!
engagement 4

As I said, this chap did it with style!

A rather similar secretive stream of messages and texts between myself and my very good friend, Heidi, preceded my appearance at the Abbey to “Cry” at a 25th Wedding Anniversary party a few months later. Again, I lurked in the grounds of the Abbey until being summoned to spring a surprise on the couple and their guests with a “Proclamation”!
25th

That’s one of the terrific things about being a Town Crier – I’m often able to share in the happiness and joy of others. It’s the best job in the world!

Glastonbury · Town Crier · Uncategorized

Competitions

 

comp33

Town Criers, by definition, tend to be rather solitary figures. Wearing brightly-coloured regalia, white tights, yards of gold braid, frilly lace, white gloves, buckles on shoes, ringing bells and shouting their collective heads off – it has to be said, they do stand out in a crowd. Our dress is designed to do exactly that. Even though we may be surrounded by an admiring public, clicking away on their cameras, iPhones, iPads, iPods and the like, in some respects, we stand there very much alone, as pieces of bellowing, animated living history – or at least, until people come up to us and have a chat.

So, it is therefore, quite heartening, every once in a while, to meet up with other Town Criers and their escorts. Town Crier Competitions provide a means of doing just that.

comp44

Yeovil Town Criers’ Competition, April 2016

comp20

Observing how other town criers manage the whole business of “crying” can be quite illuminating and at times instructive.

comp22  comp19

comp27  comp15

 

For a start, the way they ring their bells is fascinating. Some ring their bells “hell-for-leather” in what you might call “fire alarm mode”, (I probably come under that category!)

comp32

Others simply perform gentle, deliberate, measured and quite frankly, economical bell rings.
Some do all the bell-ringing first before shouting the “OYEZs” three times. Others intersperse bell ringing with the obligatory, introductory shouting.
One crier from South Gloucestershire, a most informed and jovial gentleman, showed me his bell over dinner. He owned a bell that came with a fascinating and positively romantic history, of which he was keen to impart. The bell was once used on a horse-drawn fire engine!

comp12

How’s that for a piece of history!  His pre-cry bell-ringing action was pretty engaging too.

comp26

Before his cry, he would hold the bell up and ring it from below, as you can see in the photograph. (I managed to restrain myself from shouting out: “Where’s the fire?”)

Then there’s the shouting of “OYEZ, OYEZ, OYEZ!” which is French for “Hear Ye!” One delightful lady Town Crier engages in a ritual of flinging her arms out, at full stretch and  follows on by actually the singing the words with full operatic abandon!

comp18

It wouldn’t have sounded out of place in a Wagnerian opera! This was quite a novelty, I thought, although perhaps an afternoon of it, on the High Street, could become a tad tedious for shopkeepers? Each crier seemed to have an idiosyncratic way of shouting out the words. That alone made the contest interesting – even before we got on to the contents of their cries!
As I mentioned before, some criers are female and very pretty they look too, but inevitably, they do not generally have the lung capacity and strength of projection possessed by their male counterparts.

comp3

The most successful of them are those who do not try to match the men, but develop their own individual style, within the limitations that evolution has bestowed upon them. If they over-shout they tend to screech.
Personally, I shout “OYEZ, OYEZ, OYEZ!” long and loud but without the frills or silly antics.

comp35 (3)

I look for some spectators in the distance and imagine that I am trying to shout to the people beyond them!
I couldn’t help but notice that the “message” of a few Town Criers became very fragmented and a little hard to follow at times. This is simply because they took numerous pauses for breath and only managed a few words at a time in between huge gulps of air. I have realised that convincing and effective “crying” has to strike the correct balance between breathing to stay alive, trying to say a full sentence without breaking it up and maintaining a creditable volume throughout. Crying almost continuously for several hours (not in competitions, I hasten to add) is quite physically exhausting. I often return home from a Town Crying session, totally drained and with a deep husky voice reminiscent of Barry White!
For most competitions two cries are performed. Firstly, a “Home Cry” is made, extolling the virtues of our respective towns.

Here is my “Home Cry”, written for me by Lisa Goodwin, Glastonbury’s celebrated wordsmith:

OYEZ, OYEZ, OYEZ!
I bring sincere salutations
from the town of Glastonbury.
A magical, mythical place
a celebrated sanctuary.

Everyone knows the famous Tor;
it won Olympic recognition,
yet there is so much more
to our history, myths and tradition.

Waters of chalk and chalice well,
rich in myth and story.
Saints and Kings, the Holy Grail,
tales of heartbreak and glory.

Our Abbey on the Isle of Glass;
still considered the holiest earth,
though many years have passed
since the mother church was birthed.

Men who walked these hills of green
rooted a tree, most auspicious,
the Holy Thorn, a bough to the queen,
presented every Christmas.

In Glastonbury we recognise
so many faiths in unity,
and from the heart we harmonise
unity through diversity.

LONG MAY GLASTONBURY FLOURISH!

GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!

 

After an interval, our “Own” cries are done. Sometimes we have a free choice and on other occasions, we’re given a theme. “Birds”, “Grandad”, “The Queen’s 90th Birthday” have been some recent topics!

The Town Crier competitions are run according to the rules of the Ancient and Honourable Guild of Criers.

comp17

Anxious Town Criers and Escorts wait their turn

The rules are quite strict too. Here are a few of the more interesting ones to give you an idea of the limitations that exist:
• The length of the cry must be between 100-125 words.
• Props, including the use of animals, must NOT be used by Criers whilst a competition is in progress.
• A crier may only take one means of calling attention onto the crying platform and carry a scroll for their cry.
• The order of the cry will be decided by a draw.
• The draw will take place in the presence of a majority of the participating Criers.
• All competitors must be available within 1 minute of their name being called.
• Criers must not wear badges, awards or medals relating to previous championship wins, or any such decoration that could influence the judges.
• Any Crier encouraging crowd participation may, at the discretion of the Competition Co-ordinator, be penalised or disqualified.
• All cries must be non-political, non-religious, and in good taste.
• If, during a cry, there is an exceptional noise or distraction (for example Low Flying Jet, Helicopter, Motorcycle, Explosion, Peal of Bells etc.) the Crier may stop their cry and restart, either from the position in their cry that they had reached, or from the beginning of their cry, without loss of points.
• Town Criers will be judged on:
– Diction (The pronouncement of the words)
– Inflection (The pitch of the voice and it’s variation)
– Volume (The output of sound)
– Clarity (The ability to be understood despite the volume)

comp1

The Judges

 

comp21 comp6

The all-important “Draw”

My escort or “consort” for Town Crier competitions is Councillor Denise Michell, a member of the Glastonbury Town Council.

comp5

Councillor Denise Michell (ex Mayor of Glastonbury) – a worthy prizewinner!

I’m often asked why I don’t bring my wife along to these events. I should explain that my dear wife, June, is quite a private person and prefers not to get involved in Town Crier Competitions and I totally respect her wishes. However, June is perfectly happy to see me attend these events with our very good friend Denny. Denny enjoys dressing up in historic costumes very much.

comp31

She is very successful at it too, winning the “Best Dressed Escort” prize at the recent competition in Yeovil. (We also won the “Best Dressed Town Crier and Escort” prize at the 2018 Ilminster competition, by the way).

comp10comp25

Our recent successes have been keeping the trophy engraver busy!

comp29              comp28

Denny and I have attended four competitions to date……we’ve been in the prize winners every time. Long may it continue!

comp37comp36

After the competition is over, a three-course meal, alcoholic drinks, chats with fellow town criers or escorts and of course, the presentation of prizes, is a lovely way to round off  the day.

comp13comp11  comp9

comp8

During the course of a year, I receive numerous invitations to attend town crier competitions. Town Councils and the like tend to put them on to boost tourism. Seeing and hearing 25 town criers walking down a main street is quite a spectacle and cameras are usually out! Unfortunately, they generally occur on Saturdays in the summer months, when town criers are inevitably at their busiest, opening fetes and so forth. If I’m at a town crier competition then I cannot be available to serve Glastonbury, when called upon to do so. Clearly, there has to be a limit and so I usually support our two nearest ones every year

At the end of recent contests we were enthralled by the performance of an eight year old boy (grandson of one of the contestants!) – believed to be the youngest Town Crier in the UK. Since some of us are not in the “first flush of youth” shall we say, it was good to take a glimpse into the future!

 

comp14

A young crier