Sunday, 10 July 2011

Sites and Sounds

Last Monday saw the launch of the Sites and Sounds project in Norfolk. This will see musical practitioners including singers, instrumentalists and beat-boxers going onto traveller sites in order to share their skills with the young people who live there. The launch took place at County Hall, the seat of regional government, a 1960's Brutalist edifice, outside which had been placed a vardo, or traditional gypsy wagon. I wish, now, I had taken a long shot to show the incongruity.

The keyboard club of a local primary school bashed out 'Wagon Wheel' with the assistance of some of the team of tutors, yours truly contributing an alto sax solo towards the end. We must have played this three times for various visitors and dignitaries. The band included a handful of traveller kids but most travellers are away at this time of year. Travelling of course.

Other tunes, with the children accompanying on various percussion, included 'Dark Eyes' the theme to the movie 'Chocolat' in which Johnny Depp plays a gypsy. You can probably tell by now that neither diaries nor the budget had allowed the members of our impromptu band the luxury of a rehearsal and we fell back on common repertoire.

Being the parent of daughters, dolls houses are not unfamiliar to me. I even had the misfortune to assemble the Barbie caravan as a kit (nothing fitted and I spent Christmas Day cursing under my breath while my friend built his son the immaculately engineered Lego castle). But I had never before seen a proper doll's caravan. These are used in schools with a traveller intake in order to make the environment feel less alien to very young children.

The project proper kicks off in the autumn and I shall post my impressions then.


  1. That sounds like a fun project, and the vardo is amazing.

    I wonder if there is a conclusion to be drawn about innate gender differences, from the Barbie caravan kit being impossible to assemble, whilst the Lego castle is immaculate?

  2. I think it certainly reveals attitudes to gender within the culture of a certain toy manufacturer. Mattel seem to think that girls don't care about build quality as long as the goods are made in plastic of the correct shade of pink. Had it not been Christmas Day and had I not been 300 miles from home I would have marched into the toy shop and demanded a refund. I subsequently found better built, European (or at least European designed and specified) toys for girls.

    I still have a large box of Lego bought in Holland in about 1960. It had a girl and her younger brother on the front. Lately I think the company has aimed its product rather more at boys.