"How amiable are thy tabernacles!"
No, I have no idea why they've adopted this biblical quotation, which one of them "found" displayed locally, but for this particular event it's quite appropriate. New Year's Eve and New Years' Day run seamlessly together into a fine celebration interrupted by minimal sleep on the village hall floor. Food on New Year's Eve was originally leftovers but has become gradually more elaborate over the years and Babylon are always gracious hosts.
Many of the village joined us for the dance in the evening, which was followed by a seriously alcoholic gossip session. On very little sleep and an equally little stove, our hosts produced a full breakfast with seconds for anyone who still had room: we "paid" by helping with the washing up and cleaning. Then it was time to venture out into a flooded Somerset countryside, strangely unchanged by the dawn of new century.
The first stop was The Talbot, their new after-practice pub. The Talbot was aiming to take advantage of the extended licensing period by staying open for the whole 36 hours. Halfway through the period, they were doing surprisingly well, although their y2k candle appeared to be set to Los Angeles time. The play was well-received, especially King George's tights, which were displayed in Superman style. Reluctantly we departed this oasis of local scrumpy and warmth for Beaminster.
Although it's always fun and the people are great, Beaminster has in the past been one of the coldest spots of the year. This year the overcast and threatening weather at least provided a modicum of warmth. This was just as well, since the warm dog-blanket on which the protagonists traditionally die had this year been replaced by a cold-looking tarpaulin – it was even coloured blue to reinforce the image. A large crowd awaited the performance. Babylon danced and were well received.
Pickwicks was open. The long-suffering Simon had apparently closed up less than six hours ago, the staff were still cleaning up and the tills weren't stocked. As ever, Simon's attitude matched the welcome on the board outside - "take the drinks now and come back and pay me when I've cashed out". The play began: the audience cheered the bad guys loudly, heckled King George quite inventively and laughed at the antics of the doctor. Watching with an as-yet unpaid-for large whisky in hand, I expected the London Coach to round the corner at any moment and disgorge a famous author to record the moment for posterity in story for "The Strand".
The last spot was at Weytown, The pub here is very easy to find if you turn in he right direction: overshooting is not recommended since it's miles of single-track road to the next turning place. Eventually finding a parking space that was not causing an obstruction, we jogged through the incipient drizzle to the pub. The worsening conditions didn't bode well for the dancing but in fact it stayed almost dry until the end. The mummers' play is performed indoors at this spot. This may be for the challenge: the bar is the smallest of any of the pubs I can recall Babylon visiting on this tour.