Visit to The Fountain Inn, Mevagissey, July 2012
We got to the pub before the Male Voice Choir had finished rehearsing in the chapel down the road – we heard them singing as we walked past. We spoke to the landlady, Lynn who was very friendly and welcoming. She spoke warmly of the choir and how much the pub love having them there. She provides sandwiches and chips for them every Monday night and when she heard about our project gave us a free drink!
The men started to arrive and were very friendly too. Our contact was Bill who introduced us to to a few of them and one – Chris Bale comes down from Bude to sing every week! He told us about his singers The Bencoolen Wreckers and we made plans to visit them. I love the way one thing leads to another and this project seems to be all about these links.
A good friend of mine, Sheila Gill came along too – her husband, Andy, sings in the choir and so we sat with her and had a bit of a catch up. After eating the men pitched up with ‘Calm Is The Sea’. I realised what lovely acoustics there were in the back room which has a slate floor and the sound they made was wonderful. Their were certainly some fine singers there! Their repetoire overlapped somewhat with the Mousehole MVC but other songs intermingled. More people arrived and the room began to fill up with regulars and tourists. The elements of a shout were there – no written words, relaxed atmosphere, others joining in and the MD Graham Wilcox came and went very much taking a back seat.
I was delighted when Nick Nicholls pitched up ‘Lily of The Valley’ (one of my favourites –I first sang it with Tatty Muirhead from the Cadgwith Singers at a maritime festival in Dournanez in Brittany ;’Ere ye’are maid’ he said as he thrust a plastic beaker full of rum and shrub into my hands and then off they went singing the hymn whilst we gazed out at the lights twinkling from the boats in the harbour…) Anyway I was happy to discover that Nick had just recovered from a serious operation and was in fine voice! Then Robyn Hunkin led off a great version of Black Eyed Doll – serenading a woman in the pub! Another song they sang, which I’m interested in, was a medley sung in many places but it’s never quite the same – ‘I found a horse shoe’ is often how it begins but it then meanders off in many different directions; I have no idea how I’ll be able to put it in the book!
While we were talking to Sheila her husband came over and she noticed a wet mark on his t-shirt. ‘You’ve spilled your drink’ she remarked ‘No’ said he ‘thats just condensation from the glass – singing position see’and he was right, most singers stand with their pint of beer resting on their sternum (or beer belly in some cases!) So now it’s the official ‘singing position’!
Sally and I ended the night having some good chats firstly with Graham Wilcox about the choir and how hard he works them and that singing in the pub afterwards is a way for them to unwind – he personally doesn’t like it but understands their need to do it. And then the landlord Bill who had many a story which won’t be repeated here! He is the second longest serving landlord for St Austell brewery and the pub is ancient too! 15thcentury. Yet again we were last out and had furthest to go! Thanks to all for a lovely night.