What’s the background to this one, ceol? Is it a flower of the Cumbrian tradition?
Alston is one of the most remote and peculiar places in the North of England, which is saying quite a lot. It’s a very nice place to break a journey through the North Pennines; but what it’s like to live there can be divined from the fact that a group of men there clubbed to advertise for women on the Net, claiming there weren’t any in Alston. There were, of course, and they came out fighting, claiming that the men concerned had stayed on the shelf because they were knuckle-draggers devoid of social skills, prospects and appeal. This accusation was hurled back at the ladies with equal vigour. Alston enjoyed about ten minutes of actual national fame for all this. I wouldn’t know how it all panned out.
“The Flowers of Alston Mazurka” ~ emerged from here:
"The Alston Hornpipe" / "The Lancaster and Manchester Hornpipe"
Key signature: F Major
Submitted on January 20th 2008 by ceolachan.
The ‘flowers’ are courtesy of nicholas. Sweet isn’t he?
I left this, the ‘Comments’, blank for a day on purpose ~ phising! 😎
“The Flowers of Alston Mazurka” ~ minus > & (3
T: Flowers Of Alston, The
K: D Major
|: AG |\
FA d2 ed | ce g2 ef | ge fd ec | df A2 AG |
FA d2 ed | ce G2 BG | Fd Ge dc | d2 D2 :|
|: AG |\
FA d2 AF | BG D2 BA | ^GB e2 Bd | cA E2 AG |
FA dA fd | ce G2 BG | Fd Ge dc | d2 D2 :|
The Flowers Of Alston
There aren’t any flowers in Alston. Alston lies in a cockpit where stupendous and malign natural forces conspire mightily against the vegetable kingdom from year’s end to year’s end. Any tender shootlet that dares show itself gets frozen solid, struck by lightning, eaten by sheep, blasted into the skies by tempests and hammered back underground by hail, all at the same time, under permanent huge clouds that forbid the production of chlorophyll; and that is just in the summer. Centuries of lead mining toxins complete the armoury of providence. On old spoil heaps round about, optimistically planted trees have died early, after assuming unheard-of devilish shapes.
I am aware there is a tune called Alston Flower Show - but this expression is an example of the laconic, hermetic humour of the lead miners. To make ends meet, they would borrow advances from the younger, less experienced mine agents with the promise they would pay it back "before Alston Flower Show". Of course Alston Flower Show was one of those things like the Pope’s wedding or Newcastle’s winning anything, that was never, ever going to happen.
Actually I made all this last bit up, but it sounds as if it ought to be true.
But don’t get me wrong about Alston. It’s a nice place, it really is…
Not all flowers are of the plant kingdom! 😎
Flowers are not just things on the end of stems… It can refer to the story you first told, ‘flowers’ in the way of referring to ‘girls’ and ‘women’, and then there’s the mining industry and lead…
But yes, there is the Spring Sandwort…
This cute little wort (Minuartia verna) bucks all the above trends; having an unusually high resistance to lead-poisoning, it is to be found growing round old lead-mine workings all over the area in spots where the toxicity of the soil makes it difficult for larger plants to establish themselves and overgrow it, as they might do elsewhere.
It is a beautiful little thing with very low cushiony green growth and many white flowers a quarter-inch or more across with pink or purple anthers, held an inch or two above the ground; flowering time, mainly May - June. It is well worth looking for.
Because of its habit of growing round lead mines, it has apparently been given the sobriquet of "The Lead Miner’s Friend", cheering him up as he went back to work on a morning.
All together, now:
I didn’t read that as "ahhhhhhhhhh!" ~ but ~ *AAAAAAAA!!!"
Someone who knows the particulars of the Spring Sandword, gee, you’re nicer than you let on, a regular softy. You probably hug trees too, eh, and drink shandies? 😀
nicholas is not being fair, there is an entire suite of lead-tollerant flora and fauna found inthis part of the world which is both beautiful and jolly interesting but perhaps this is not the place to discuss it.
More to the point, I know this tune, or rather i have vague recollections of parts and its structure. Where does it come from? I keep thinking Mozart but can’t pin it down.
Incidently, I have a copy of the manuscript collection of the family who lived in Physic Hall, Alston. At least three hands and covering the early to mid 19th century. Nothing startling in it but its still interesting to see what was being played in this part of the world a couple of hundred years ago.
“The Alston Flower Show”
Key signature: G Major
Submitted on April 4th 2004 by Dow.
Nice one Noel, in Cymru there are the spoils of lead mining and there too are flowers. What is curious is that where the water is the clearest, in streams and rivers, it’s because of the lead. Almost nothing lives in the water next to the spoils…
Actually not ‘curious’, but noteworthy…
Cymru am Death
I suspect that the hyper-clear and lifeless waters in Wales are a product of acidification more than anything else - Scandinavian lakes killed by our power station emissions are apparently similarly clear, micro-life having died. Acid rain tilts the balance against some forms of biology more easily where the rocks lack lime etc., as in Snowdonia.
Despite lead mining the streams of the North Pennines are generally full of small trout, though not up to their acidic sources. I caught and ate enough of these in the past to guarantee me a nose I could draw with and two heads for life, if these fish were really lead-saturated. And biting lead shot won’t have done me any good on this score. But there’s no point in my worrying: my tap water comes, as far as I know, from a reservoir whose catchment area was grovelled, exploded, flushed, bashed and generally skelped for lead with particularly obsessive intensity. So my fellow-citizens and I will all go mad together, one of these days.
Yes nicholas, the ‘acidification’ actually releases the lead from the old spills. The clearest waters are near those spills. Adding to that acidification is the run off from artificial commercial forests of evergreens. It’s a vicious cycle, in that those are the trees best suited to places where there’s a problem with acid rain, blowing over from the big cities to the East of Cymru/Wales…
You aren’t already mad? 😏
Nicholas, have you started getting tremors yet, the shakes? 😀
Put on your anorak, fill your flask and get on up to Alston for a ride on the restored lead-miners railway. Its a very nice market town, but miles from anywhere.
We’ll have to plan a picnic… 😉
Picnic at Hanging Rock - I mean Alston…
…Which at Alston is best done by securing seats in the deepest recesses of a hostelry, nearest to the radiator, dressed in one’s finest winter blubber suit lined with hot chili; and if you go out for a smoke, expect your body to be found when the glaciers melt in 2020.
Mind, getting into some of these North Pennine refreshment joints takes a huge amount of luck and lateral thinking in the first place. To enter one that is actually serving food you need the right astrological conjunctions and the cunning required to get past a chastity belt devised by Leonardo da Vinci, or some being out of the Ring Cycle. Well, er - yes, some are open at one o’clock sharp for lunch, but see if you can find a bite to eat between five and seven on an evening when you’re peckish after a walk, and you’ll be very hard pushed: it’ll most likely have to be roadkill again.
And back home, over your buzzard goulash, you’ll realise why tourists are astonishingly thin on the ground in this area; the operative word being thin.
Was your first true love from Alston nicholas? ~ all that pent up bitterness (brrrr!) for the place… 😀
Yes, I thought she was a yak but she wasn’t, and I’ve been paying protection money to her cousins ever since.
N.B. - This is not true.
"the new road to alston" immediately jumped to my mind
but i like this tune too!
X:3 The Flowers Of Alston Mazurka
A hop, skip, and a jump… 😉