Those of you who have heard the fearsome ululations of the folk singers when they manage to hunt and capture a feral banjo, wild guitar or bestial accordion will know the dread that creeps down the spine whenever in range of that unearthly cry. Not only that, the folk singers will then arrange amongst themselves certain secret rites they call ‘gigs’ – to which few outsiders have ever gained access and lived to tell the tale.
At these ‘gigs’ – fuelled by copious quantities of a magical concoction called cider – the folk singers will stage a re-enactment of their successful hunts. Strapping the now-tamed banjo, guitar or bestial accordion to themselves they will perform stylised rituals of battle with it. This is where a male (or – sometimes – female*) folksinger wrestles with the now-cowed instrument, matching it howl for howl, wail for wail, until the final climactic moment when the instrument is defeated by the superior fighting abilities of the folk singer.
Being fortunate enough to be trusted by the folk singers, I have been allowed access to these secret rituals. In fact, they seemed quietly (or as quiet as folk singers ever can be) impressed by my ability to consume their – usually deadly to outsiders – cider in quantities almost as copious as they themselves mange. For this, I have to thank those invaluable imbibing lessons learnt at a young age at the knee, and elbow, of Grand Old Uncle Stagnant.
In fact, I have even – once – managed to witness a folk singer mating ritual where a male and female – after consuming enough cider to float a battleship – perform what the folksingers (often with a suggestive wink and leer) call a duet, where male and female wail in turn at the captured and cowed instrument until – finally – it admits defeat.
*The female folk singer is not, as some suggest, unbearded – such a mutant would not survive long in the fearsome folk singer tribes. No, the female folk singer is bearded, but only with a small goatee-type beard worn much further down the body.
A tale from the From the LFITW archive
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