Yesterday the Signpost Team invaded Carlisle for a benefit concert. It was pretty much the coolest thing that’s happened yet. The concert featured a violinist and pianist playing Bach, Braums, Faure, Bartok and an encore performance of a Rachmaninoff. It was absolutely beautiful.
Carlisle is beautiful town, with pretty, straight red-brick houses and a lovely cathedral in the city centre. However, the old city walls remain a monument to its turbulent past. Hadrian’s wall goes right through Carlisle, protecting the romanized Britons of ancient Luguvalium from the rebellious Picts.
Much later, Carlisle sat near the much-contested border between Scotland and England, where neither nation could keep the land long enough from the other to keep the peace. In the midst of this lack of law and order and group of border families took to raiding homesteads for their living. They were called the Border Rievers. Border unrest was such that these clans or graynes, kept their identity as Rievers for more than three hundred years. In 1525 the Rievers became such a plague that Archbishop Dunbar of Glasgow pronounced a curse upon them so comprehensive as to hardly leave a part of their body or anything they owned un-cursed. This piece of border history was enshrined in a museum in Carlisle in 2001. Afterwards an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, a flood, a factory closing, a murder, and worst of all, the bad fortunes of Carlisle United Football Club were blamed on the curse.
None of this misfortune stopped the Signpost benefit concert from being absolutely brilliant, however. It raised more than three thousand pounds, and a wonderful time was had by all. Monika, Mike, Dave the accountant, Kelly and I all went down crammed in Monika’s SUV. I wish I could convey to you how entertaining that group of people can be.
The most fun person we met there was Robin, a composer who was there to rehearse a piece he’d written with Emma, the violinist. He had a voice like a sleepy old owl and an air of constant astonishment at the world. That is not a bad manner to have, I think. We talked about the sacred/secular divide in art and how Americans don’t think about history as much as Europeans. I’m pretty sure he fancied Kelly, in his awkward, hesitant way. He really was a lovely person.
We got back at 3 a.m. this morning. Tomorrow there’s a St. Peter’s picnic. That’ll be fun. Monday I leave for Cymru, that is, Wales. Darn psyched about that.