Hello, Lately I’ve been struck by a very folky kind of nostalgia. Maybe it’s my age, or maybe so much is changing that I have to cling to something, but myriad absences are suddenly apparent. What happened to Bonfire Night? Does no-one dance around a maypole anymore? I’m sure I used to watch St George slay the dragon on Gravesend Prom each April. When was the last time a carol singer came to the door?
I recently reread I Capture The Castle (on audio, delightfully read by Jenny Agutter) and the bits about seasonal ritual really struck me. Even in the 30s (and written by Smith from the US in the 40s already nostalgically), Cassandra knows the rituals around midsummer are somewhat anachronistic and feels self consciously almost too old for them.
I have found myself yearning for British folklore in recent years and wondering what happened to our oral histories and storytelling traditions that has rendered them so absent from our culture today. It feels like you have to hunt for it - although there does seem to be a pleasing influx of writers and artists rediscovering and sharing these stories recently.
It feels like there’s a wealth of lore and tradition waiting to be acknowledged- like we need to reconnect to roots we’ve forgotten about or dismissed as unimportant/irrelevant to 21st century life. I can’t help but feel that those roots might be just the grounding force we need to course correct against so much that has become damaging to our society. As you say, this isn’t for a moment to idealise the ‘good old days’, more to acknowledge that a better familiarity with our ancestral history might help us create a better version of our present and future.
I love Amy Jeff’s work so look forward to listening to this episode.❤️
I read this article because the title reminded me of Anthony Trollop's "The Way We Live Now." I worked for MCI when WorldCom swooped in and bought it and bankrupted it. I read the Thornburgh report, then saw where they gave Bernie Ebbers the Trollop Award. So I read the book. It's a classic story of a con. That's when I realized that all cons are similar, sort of like finding the patterns in stories like Georges Polti. Stories resonate.
I was lucky enough to interview Amy for the magazine I edit, Spelt - (a print magazine of creative non fiction and poetry that is celebrating and validating the real rural experience), recently. I find her work fascinating, especially the way she is allowing the reader to see the medieval perspective on their own world. She's also just a lovely person to chat to. I have returned to Wild over again, reading snippets to myself and even based some workshop writing exercises on it. It's a wonderful book. Thank you for this interview.