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From flower clubs to faeries and folk singing in a Suffolk village

PUBLISHED: 13:05 24 March 2011 | UPDATED: 19:04 20 February 2013

From flower clubs to faeries and folk singing in a Suffolk village

From flower clubs to faeries and folk singing in a Suffolk village

Want to find out what makes the local residents tick? Just check out the village newsletter, says Peter Sampson

Want to find out what makes the local residents tick? Just check out the village newsletter, says Peter Sampson





Just like lots of other Suffolk towns and villages, the one close to where I live publishes a monthly newsletter of some 20-25 pages.


In it, you find lists of forthcoming events in the area, like meetings of the Flower Club and the Trefoil Guild, notice of a Soup & Pud Lunch in the United Free Church Hall, details of the next talk to the Historical Society and advance information about a two-mile Rights Of Way walk round the towns footpaths and byways ("Stout footwear recommended").


The Womens Institute continues to remind us that its not just jams-and-Jerusalem and theres a report of a sponsored leg wax held by the Co-op staff to raise money for Children in Need.


The Nature Notes speak of a visit to Suffolk Wildlife Trusts reserve at Henham ("Some good views of a marsh harrier and snow showers over Southwold"), theres a request for cat lovers willing to foster cats and kittens, the Town Council tells us that it has set aside 3,500 for looking after the War Memorial and there are advertisements.


On one page, there are advertisements for local organisations that range from a tree surgeon to a chimney sweep, a folk club to a taxi firm and from a talk on renovating a historic house to a philosophy discussion group that meets in a local schoolroom ("Donations welcomed").


On the same page, theres an advertisement which stands out as one that might appear at first glance just a little odd, though the people who put it there would no doubt insist, quite understandably, that theres nothing in the least odd about it.


It advertises the meetings of a local discussion group which gathers every month to discuss the "Ancient Wisdoms, East Anglian magical practices, Folklore, Earth Mysteries etc" of what they refer to as the Iceni Clan.


They have their own website which tells us that in March, their subject will be Herbs and Herbalism, in April Beltain and in May Faerie, Fairies and Elementals. At meetings later in the year the group is going to look into Ancient Trackways, The Old Gods, Harvest Folklore and Atlantis.


They also reveal on their website the intricacies of the Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charm, which involves doing complicated things with mugwort, nettles and wood bettany, among others. Its all in the ninth century Leechbook of Bald, apparently.


Everybodys welcome, they say, at their meetings, or moots, which is nice.


It only seems a bit of an odd advertisement because it sits awkwardly, perhaps, with the advertisements on the next page of the same community newsletter. There, a firm proudly announces its expertise in Sky/Video signal loop throughs, LCD and Plasma TVs and Aerial and Dish Installations. Right next to it, another advertisement talks of peripherals and anti-virus protection and malware removal.


These two utterly different worlds are announcing their co-existence within the same Suffolk town.


On second thoughts, though, I wonder just how different they actually are.


After all, each of the two worlds is inhabited by a small group of enthusiasts and initiates who have their own private language and their own familiarity with the arcane mysteries of their passion. They have that much in common. To outsiders like me (and, perhaps, like you) they can seem very strange, even bizarre. These two worlds, apparently so different, have that much in common, as well.


I suspect that the language of video signal loop throughs and malware and plasma TVs is as esoteric and impenetrable to many of us as would be the Old English of the Leechbook of Bald.


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