The Village: The Pub Singer

Posted January 29, 2010

The Village: The Pub Singer

Who says London nightlife is where it’s at? For unique entertainment I never have to look any further than my local, The Swan, which attracts the most eclectic bunch of people I’ve ever come across in a pub. I wandered in, for what was meant to be a quick night cap, a few Fridays before Christmas, but sat transfixed until closing time.

The pub had booked some live music and was buzzing even more than usual. To my left, I spotted a group of men kitted out in plus fours and identical checked shirts. A minor piece of detective work with the barmaid revealed that they were from the Young Farmers Association. I scanned the group again and couldn’t help thinking that perhaps the collective ‘young’ tag was pushing it a bit as far as some of them were concerned. Well done for trying lads!

Perched on a bar stool in front of me was a man wearing trousers emblazoned with a bold diamond print, the sort that you see on the tights of court jesters from the middle ages. He had an infectious hearty laugh that seemed perfectly in keeping with his joker attire. An old age pensioner sat by himself on a chair next to the stage slowly sipping his glass of wine and nodding along to the beat. A bunch of young lads, dressed in jeans and hooded sweatshirts, chatted animatedly at the far side of the bar. They looked as if they’d wandered in from a Happy Mondays concert.

Suddenly one of them took to the floor in an impromptu display of street dance moves. This was brave because nobody else was dancing at the time. The biggest surprise was that he was brilliant and his moment in the spotlight was met with thunderous applause! He then quietly rejoined his friends and continued his conversation with them as if nothing had happened. It was quite surreal.

Throughout all this the singer for the evening managed, through some form of sixth sense, to align her act perfectly with the crowd. Her ability to belt out a tune, coupled with a skilful audience rapport and teasing banter, perfectly suited the relaxed pub atmosphere.  She covered everything from reggae to Motown classics, rock anthems and Shania Twain – something to suit all tastes, clever girl.

At each table people were mouthing the lyrics to the songs, occasionally punching the air when they recognised a personal favourite. They were clearly out to have a good time. Not surprising really.  It was Christmas after all but what was so endearing was that this smorgasbord of ages, types, tastes and sexual orientation all seemed to blend effortlessly. Maybe the mark of a strong village community is its ability to create entertainment that genuinely brings everyone together. I certainly sensed it that night and it’s this desire to squeeze every drop of enjoyment out of life that I love most about Thaxted.

Just one small word of warning. This celebration of life usually involves dancing as well as singing. If the Morris Men don’t rope you in then the pub customers definitely will.  So for those of you who suffer from a rhythm bypass, perhaps now is the time to get practicing.

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