Celebrity – Notoriety

I’ve been encountering a lot of Travellers (See also Gypsies and Romini people) on the road and encamped on every available (and unavailable) spot beside the roads! They are on their way to the Appleby Horse Fair which customarily starts on the first Thursday in June and ends on the second Wednesday in June. When I passed through on Monday morning Alston had ponies tied to lamp posts, their rear ends stuck out into the road. Two officers of the law were walking purposefully towards the clutch of caravans, trucks, lorries loaded with painted caravans and sundry other vehicles. They were all crammed onto a tiny spot of land beside the road on the edge of the town. I must say I delighted in the general mill of activity, and the basic anarchy that emanates from Travellers activity. I think the police are fairly tolerant of them unless there is out and out crime going on. Just outside of Alston more encampments, ponies turned out into farmers fields, permission or no as I understand the situation. Is it a crime to feed ponies that have been trotting for 20 miles, they need their grass? (Paraphrased from the local newspaper reporting on the Travellers excesses or more to the point the farmers indignation.) Then descending Hartside Pass in the brilliant summer sunshine two carts – one a ‘rag and bone’ painted beautifully the other a simple pony cart. The ponies swinging along at a brisk trot, full of the joy of the open road, wind under the tail and feathery legs flying. What a sight! There’s that welling up of emotion out of seeming nowhere again. I’ll have to get to the bottom of that.

And now to what I intended to write about. Celebrity and notoriety. Yes, celebrity and how a swift turn of events, combined with human frailty, can transform over night into notoriety. This is the stuff of entertainment. The rise and fall of celebrity. We love the rags to riches stories, the Cinders WILL go to the ball stories. Now we have the story of Susan Boyle. It will, no doubt, be an ongoing one. Where will we be in that story? What of our own story?

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3 thoughts on “Celebrity – Notoriety”

  1. Goodness! That takes me back. There are still quite a lot of ‘vans’ make it over to Appleby for the horse fair but nothing like there used to be. When I was a child you could see convoys of forty or fifty ‘Yorkshire Round-tops and ‘Reading Vans’ heading over Stainmore to cross the Pennines into Westmorland. Like some wagon train out of the history of the American ‘West’!

    In the 1950’s there wasn’t the same fear of strangers, at least in country areas in the North where ‘travellers’ would often stay at the same farms on their migrations and help out with farm work in return for grazing and water and sometimes as casual employees at busy times in the farming calendar.

    Why does the sight of a horse and van have such a powerful emotional edge to it? For me it is partly knowing that my own great-great-grandparents sometimes found themselves literally ‘on the road’ in search of a living too. Also I find some comfort in knowing that not everyone is the property of an omnipresent ‘State’, neatly tied to an address and a way of living approved of by society. Despite all the pressures to conform, people still manage to hitch horses to vans and move on. Good luck to them.

  2. I reacted to the story of Susan Boyle in the press and media by remembering
    many other acclaimed women performers – their names sound like a litany.
    Edith Piaf, Marylin Munroe, Billie Holliday, Amy Winehouse are a few that come to mind.

    It is for me literally terrifying to stand in front of a group, a crowd or an audience. The knowledge that the object I have become in the gaze of others will precede any of my actions, or the content of what I say or do,\induces a paralysis.

    I have tried to tackle this in various ways-the solution was to become a performer and a teacher-and meet the problem head on. This isn’t a solution – it is a tactic: the terror remains.

    I wonder whether these brave and talented artists experience/d a similar terror?

    My guess is that Susan Boyle found she had opened a Pandora’s Box after the initial stages of entering the talent competition. The reality of the experience was perhaps more complex and demanding than the idea she had about it.

    I wish her peace.

  3. It’s the confident ones that suffer the most terror. Perhaps? And if you are the Sue I think you are I admire you even more, given what you say here.

    I wish Susan Boyle peace too, however the box is open and it can never be as if it hadn’t opened. It’s the same for all of us. Your insight on voice production opened a box for me. Thanks.

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