With Rob feeling unwell on the morning of our long-awaited return to Hadleigh Folk and Acoustic Nights, it was clear that there would not be time for the club to make any alternative arrangements. As such, I would need to do this 45 minute set solo. So, I called organiser Simon Haines, explained the situation and began busying myself rearranging the planned set list. With no tune sets possible and fewer instrumental breaks within songs, I amended the set accordingly.
It was a scorching hot day and, with Friday traffic always a risk, I decided to leave home just after lunch and get close to Hadleigh on the Suffolk-Essex border, with plenty of time to spare. Rather than travel M25 - A12, I decided to drive south of Cambridge, round Bury St Edmunds and park up in the little town of Lavenham. This turned out to be an excellent choice, not so much for the traffic (which had its moments) but for the outstanding beauty of Lavenham. I’d never been to the town before, but it is packed with attractive half-timbered public buildings, houses and some very inviting inns. I look forward to returning there one of these days to sample the pubs.
I had a good 90 minutes walking around Lavenham before eating my sarnies and setting off to Hadleigh. I arrived at the Ansell Centre in the town just as organisers Simon and Val were setting up. Soon afterwards, the other listed act for the evening - the very talented Tony Winn - arrived and we had a very pleasant chat about the music scene in and around the Hadleigh area.
Given I had a lot farther to travel to get home, Simon, Tony and I agreed that I would perform first as this would allow me to leave for home a little earlier. Tony was very understanding of this arrangement.
The evening concert began with a very talented and amusing local duo who performed music hall songs and songs from Lancashire covering topics as broad as how woodpeckers changed the carving of Sweet Fanny Adams on a tree trunk, to the perils of doing number twos in gents loos in pubs.
It felt strange getting up and performing without Rob beside me, but the audience were very engaged throughout. They supported me well on the choruses and seemed to enjoy the stories behind the songs.
After the evening break, I stayed to enjoy some of Tony Winn’s excellent set before whispering my goodbyes to Simon and Val and tiptoeing out the back of the room to set off home. The A12 is my least favourite road in all Christendom but, despite at least half a dozen sets of roadworks, I was only slowed rather than diverted, making it home for a pre-bed beer before midnight.
Many thanks to Simon and Val for the initial invitation and being so supportive on the evening. All best wishes to Tony Winn.