As part of my
naïve stupid enthusiastic commitment to saying ‘yes’ to new experiences, last month I spent the longest two hours of my life at a traditional Italian folk music concert. Words cannot truly convey the torment I was put through but it was more painful than childbirth.
The performers were a variety of singers, children’s choirs, dancers and storytellers. If you can imagine a show featuring The Wurzels, a troop of Morris Dancers and Pinky & Perky, you’d be close.
There was chanting, there were strange bagpipe instruments and a folk dance called the Tarentella – which was originally performed to cure the bite of the tarantula, with female victims dancing until exhaustion set in. The rhythm of the dance depended on which variety of spider had given the bite; in that case, the woman I saw dancing may well have been bitten by a spider crab since she danced sideways back and forth across the stage, wildly waving her arms in a demented Kate Bush ‘Wuthering Heights’ impression.
Some of the songs were fairly jolly in a sea shanty sort of way and I clapped along with the rest of the packed auditorium, but it was the stories in-between that made me want to slap myself in the face with a wet haddock. There was a man who shrieked, cried and rolled around on the ground. For fifteen minutes. I found out afterwards that he was shouting in Sicilian and my Italian friend didn’t understand it either.
Even worse, I persuaded my daughter to come with me. I’m not sure she’ll ever forgive me…