Advent calendar 1: The Year of the St. Dunstan’s Flood

On the first day of Christmas,
The Bakery gave to me:
An improvised folk song commemorating a fateful day

That’s right, it’s once again time for The Bakery’s advent calendar! Every day in the run-up to Christmas you’ll have a different online gift to unwrap. But here at The Bakery we know you well – so there will be no socks, over-sized knitted goods, or disappointing Blue Peter annuals when you clearly wanted a Beano.

First up it’s my turn – Chef Richard – and I’m going to take you back in time.

I’m sure everyone remembers 2007 and the devastating events of the St. Dunstan’s flood. Whitstable road was transformed into a raging river, frothing down into the Stour valley, as Canterbury was sunk like the fabled city of Ys. Some survivors managed to cling to the top of the West Gate, but many were swept out to sea. Soon, the whole city resembled a lake, with only the very peak of Canterbury Cathedral visible, encircled mournfully by thousands of ducks, the submerged bell mysteriously tolling.

But life goes on. The water receded, the clean-up began, and hordes of Estate Agents moved in to fight over the vacant houses.

Every year, to commemorate that terrible day, children gather and sing a rousing folk song that tells the story. Academics have argued over the origins of this ode, with many putting it down to good old “Anon” or “Traditional.” But I know the truth…

This home video footage reveals the song’s conception, improvised during the thick of the flood itself.

“The Year of the St. Dunstan’s Flood” features on Tom German’s perpetually forthcoming solo album.

2 Comments

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  1. I dear god, this is a beautiful piece of work! And what a suitably sentimental ending! Where is the painting i saw there? I request this gets put into the blog article! Fuck it, i think we should set up a Christmas stall on Canterbury high st, selling a DVD of this video, with posters and t-shirts of the painting. Proceeds can go to the flood victims.

    • Richard Dadd

      Glad you liked it Al. Although I must ask: what painting are you talking about?

      Do you mean the newspaper clipping from the Adscene which includes a photograph? It is seen here at 06:10 pasted into a black scrapbook. The original was sadly confined to the dustbin because I was in Birmingham the week Adscene printed it, so it remained one of the few issues of that fine publication that I was never able to go over with a fine tooth comb. In my absence, one of the housemates absent mindedly disposed of our printed fame.

      Jan Grimshaw does however have a poor scan of it (as seen here in the scrapbook) courtesy of our then-landlord, the legendary Keith, who himself spotted it in the newspaper and delightedly came round to show us.

      Ah, Canterbury Adscene, how I miss thee.

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