Posted by: annmucc | January 25, 2011

Wassailing in Willesden Green

Over the past few weeks posters have been popping up all around Willesden Green proclaiming:

I had never heard of wassails, so of course had no idea what the event was all about. I resorted to that all-knowing font of knowledge, Wikipedia. From that and a couple of other sites I gleaned that this would be some sort of tree/shop blessing along the Willesden Green High Street.

On arriving at the start point near Willesden Green tube station just after 14:15 at first the crowd wasn’t that big. However, by 14:30 the crowd was sizeable indeed. Song sheets were handed out and an introduction to wassailing was given by the organiser, Rachel Rose Reid: as Willesden Green doesn’t have that many trees the plan was to wassail the local shop owners.

So we went down Willesden Green, stopping in front of certain shops, getting a short description of the shop by the owner, and then we sung the wassailing song for good health there. At certain points there also were some acts, from singing to poetry, and story-telling. From these acts I particularly liked Poetic Pilgrimage and a girl and a guy singing a Russian song (anyone knows who they are!?).

I must admit that we left before the end. At one point there was a guy heckling the act going on (something about bombs and what not) and we couldn’t figure out what was going on. Also, it was getting to be a drag doing the same thing over and over again, especially as at points we couldn’t hear the acts as the crowd was too big. Otherwise however it was good fun. Wouldn’t say I’ll change major plans to be there next year, but if I’m in the area, then why not?


  1. Well helloo,

    Thanks for joining us! And thanks for the feedback.
    Cherry Franklin and Charlie Cattrall sang the beautiful Russian love song you liked.

    Ah yes, the loud man in question wasn’t heckling the act as much as ranting for the sake of it. Beady-eyed wassailers would have spotted the slightly suitably-themed can of cider in his hand, but he didn’t trouble anyone for long.

    By travelling through the High Street we get to meet our shopkeepers without making them leave their shops, and more people get to experience the fun that way than if we stood still in one spot. We had twice as many people as last year, so were not anticipating anyone to have trouble hearing them, but I shall certainly encourage more acts to make use of the megaphone in future.

    As the Wassail is celebration of the local area, noone is expected to come if they feel it’s too far out of their way. Thanks to last year’s exploits we have seen other Wassails pop up in urban places. Though none involving kebab shops as far as I know. Nevertheless, a great way to cheer up whichever High Street you call home in mid-Winter, and make connections across community. Well, that’s what we think anyway. Wassail! 🙂

  2. Drink hail! (right?)
    Thanks for commenting and for the details about the Russian song singers :). And of course thanks for organising! I think that is the first community-related thing I have known about and attended in the area, so it was nice to see so many people there.

    We were at the very back of the crowd at that point so could hear neither the heckler nor the act so were a bit confused. Acts using some kind of megaphone would definitely help!

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