The Rashleigh Arms, Polkerris Oct 6th 2013
This was just one of the evenings that we’d been to at the Rashleigh Arms in Polkerris, where my brother Will Coleman and a gaggle of singers meet sporadically. We have got to know these singers over the years when the Treggys have met up with them for Picrous eve – an old Tinners feast on ‘the first Thursday, before the last Thursday before Christmas’ a great Cornish carol night in Luxulyan. Will gathered them together initially from the Fowey area and then Lanlivery in order to sing the Cornish songs and keep them alive and kicking.
The pub calls itself ‘The Inn on the Beach’ and it’s easy to see why! It’s at the end of a long winding lane dropping down to the tiny village of Polkerris and is perched on the harbour side looking across St Austell Bay towards Black Head.
On a cold winters night a whole gang of us squeezed into the tiny pub – roasting by the fire! The hospitality flowed as jugs of beer and later sandwiches were brought out. As soon as enough singers had gathered Will pitched up and off they went full tilt! He is a loud and generous host inviting people to jump in and join in with great good humour. We rolled from one song to the next and pints were clinked and clunked down with calls for more. It’s always an uproarious occasion – not necessarily subtle but filled with enthusiasm and a great atmosphere is created. There are some lovely singers who turn up to these evenings regularly. One is the inimitable Gideon from East Cornwall who offers some great songs and throughout the evening he and Will become an almost comedy duo! Other singers also have party pieces such as Richard singing ‘Lets Hear It for Trelawney’ and Nick on the ‘Lily of the Valley’ which is treated with irreverence – a shoe ‘flown’ through the air on the line ‘what kind of shoes are those you wear?’ with the answering cry of ‘crocs’!
Other people in the pub seemed to be enjoying it too and one commented:
‘It’s good to see this great Cornish tradition alive. The number of younger people here tonight gives me hope for the future.
Some came from Nottingham and were wowed by the evening saying they’d never seen anything like it.
I was heartened by the amount of women there singing too. Pub singing may have once been a bastion of maleness (just being in a pub was anyway!) but now in the same way that some of the best pubs in Cornwall are surviving by becoming more a part of their community so the singing has become more inclusive.