The Time, the Place and the People

SITE p134

The drought-ridden Summer of 1976 was one of the most extraordinary of my life. Things happened to me which I am only now beginning to understand. There was Barsham Faire the last one, but my first, and the challenge it provided me as a performer, blended with other experiences of that strange Summer, threw me into the midst of what I should have been doing for years before, all my life maybe. That field, that place, that fair: the experience was colossal - a jolt into another reality, the one I was supposed to be in.

Albion manifested. There were so many people we already knew, and so many others who we met then. An Albion fair seemed the place to be, the people to be with and the thing we should be doing. During that first year of Albion fairs in 1978, I suppose my absolute memory of what it was all about was at Wildream Fair at Bramfield. Sitting around a fire one night, looking at the dome which squatted like a giant mushroom or a faerie mound; listening to the sound of a ceilidh coming from it; watching the sparks from a fire within fly through the open roof into the dark night like spores from the mushroom, faerie dust from the mound. There was magic in those moments.

All this made us want to come and live in East Anglia. We did so, and it was strangely disturbing, not as we expected. The strange inexplicable quality, the subtle magic that I had felt at the last Barsham and the Albion Fairs did not seem to be all over East Anglia. I did not find it at Wymondham, but I've found it since coming to the Waveney Valley. It's there on the air sometimes, in certain qualities of light, at different times of the day and the year, as you walk along a lane, by a river, a lone tree or a church. It goes through you like a strange shiver, oddly chilling at times. And it's also in certain people, who are a part of this quality, this energy and this place which all came together to make the fairs.

It goes on in the place as it always has and it is in those people still, even if some of them have left, or are involved in other things. Everything changes and yet nothing changes - the fairs are different now. There are new people and I think this subtle relating of people, place and fair has gone, but it is not something to be nostalgic about, to regret or strive to re achieve. That was then. Now is now. Perhaps something will emerge that isn't fairs, another moment with a new purpose, and maybe a new awareness. The reality is - we are sitting in the hot-seat here.

The fairs were a chance for me: an opportunity to develop things within myself - a mode of performing that quickly became more real and less performance as I became a part of the place. I re-found something in myself that I had lost during years in London. It has meant a lot of personal upheaval, but it had to be faced sometime. Everyone has their own fair - nobody has the same experiences of a fair. Fairs can be catalysts, focuses for other things, or just some fun - all things to all people. To me, they have been extremes of experience monumental, reaching incredible levels of communication with people, places and energies but that's just my feeling. Don't try to recapture something passed. Move on and explore new possibilities. If you want the old experience, you only have to watch the sun rise over a frosty field on a winter morning, watch the flight of a bird, or sit by a wood fire. It's all still here. Breathe it in and be it.

Jill Bruce. January 1983.