From: SEFAN [admin_at_sefan_dot_org_dot_uk]
Sent: 31 May 2007 12:26
Subject: SEFAN:2007-05-31:01 Dwyle flunking: musicians wanted. 08.07.07 Lewes

Begin forwarded message:

From: ValmaiGoodyear_at_aol_dot_com
Date: 31 May 2007 11:20:29 BDT
Subject: Dwyle flunking: musicians wanted

Dear Everyone,


Now that Harveys Bitter and the range of Harveys seasonal beers has been restored to the Lewes Arms, the original eco-system is re-establishing itself. (Moves are afoot to have the pub declared a Site of Special Scientific Importance or at least a protected habitat and there has been a call for a Chair of Lewes Arms Studies to be created at Sussex University, jointly funded by the Departments of Anthropology, Chemistry, Economics, Sociology and Psychology.)
The annual dwyle-flunking fixture between the Lewes Operatic Society and the hop-based life-forms of the front bar will be held at 3.00 p.m. on Sunday 8th  July on the time-hallowed and somewhat scarred tarmac in front of the Lewes Arms. (Pictures of a match held on Sunday 27th. May between members of Cliffe Bonfire Society and the Lewes Arms Wanderers can be seen on
Musicians who play for the game get free drinks and immunity from being hit with a cloth full of stale beer or anything else. We play English session tunes and have to be prepared to stop at any moment: it's rather like playing for musical chairs, but messier. Let me know if you'd like to take part.
Here are the rules of this ancient and almost mystical sport.
There are two teams of twelve. They dress themselves in bucolic gear and their kit is inspected by the umpire before play begins. Points are deducted for poor turn-out, such as the absence of twirlers (string tied round trouser legs to keep rats out) and excessively flarksy weskits.
The first member of the batting side takes a position next to a bucket of carefully-matured beer in which is a swadger (broom handle) with a dwyle (bar towel) wrapped round the end. At a blast on the umpire's duck whistle, music strikes up and out desperately and the members of the fielding team join hands and dance round the ‘Batsman’ (or woman) in a girter (circle). When the umpire blows again the dancing team must immediately stop, but must not break the girter. The Batsman must then flunk the dwyle at any member of the opposing team. Scoring is one point for a hit on the arms or legs, two for a hit on the body and three for a hit on the head. If they miss, they have to drink a pint straight down in less time than it takes the fielders to pass the swadger from hand to hand round the circle or lose a point. Musicians are protected by heavy fines from being splashed with stale beer and eligible for bribes in the form of free drinks.
The Batsman may be fined for hesitation; the fielders may be fined for breaking the circle or moving after the whistle. Anyone may be fined for intimidation. A Batsman who splashes the band or onlookers is fined. A side whose score is weak can improve it by bribing the umpire, scorer or the band with drink, gifts or sexual favours. One year every member of a team gave the umpire a scented candle, so this is not necessarily as attractive as it might sound. Bribes are declared to the scorer and registered in the score book. At the end of the match the losing side may empty the bucket over the umpire.
 This is obviously a pagan survival which has evaded religious persecution by adopting a faintly Christian disguise. Students of folklore will recognise elements from the Grail legends: the Holy Spear, the vinegar-soaked rag and the vessel of bitter drink. The dancers in their circle echo the twelve apostles, but also the members of a coven. The Batsman is a sacrificial victim who spreads blessing in the form of a stylised asperging before being dispatched for the good of the community. The umpire's fate would have originally been ritual drowning, but appears to have been converted to stylised baptism in accordance with the practices of the more modern religion.
Valmai Goodyear
20, St. John's Terrace, Lewes, BN7 2DL

01273 476757

Lewes Arms Folk Club, Mount Place, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 1YH
Residents: Bryan Creer, Dave Earl, Sandra Goddard, Valmai Goodyear, Suzanne Higgins, Steve & Diane Nevill, George Oakley, Robert O'Mahony, Derek Seed

Workshops last a full Saturday and the tutor performs at the club in the evening. Booking forms are available from the club and can be printed from the website about three months before the event.

17th Feb - Cockersdale - Vocal harmony
10th March - Judy Cook - Ballad forum
17th March - Ed Rennie - English dance music for any melody instrument
24th March - Tom McConville - Fiddle
24th March - Aaron Jones - Bouzouki/Guitar
24th March - Claire Mann - Flute & whistle
2nd June - Jon Boden - Vocal harmony (sold out)
2nd June - John Spiers - Melodeon (now booking)
9th June - Tommy Peoples - Fiddle (sold out)
30th June - Matt Seattle - Arrangement & harmony for any instrument
Sun 1st July - Matt Seattle - Pipe tunes for pipes & other instruments
21st July - Bonnie Shaljean - O'Carolan's music for any instrument (postponed until 2008 for health reasons)
10th Nov - Craig Morgan Robson - Vocal harmony
Sun 11th Nov - Craig Morgan Robson - Ballad forum
24th Nov - Robert Harbron - English concertina
24th Nov - Emma Reid - Fiddle

Penny Allen  -    General Manager
Anthony John Allen - Chair of the board

Charity registered in England and Wales No: 1111883
Company Limited by Guarantee No: 5114495 registered in Cardiff


89 Hollingbury Park Avenue, Brighton,  BN1 7JQ
Tel.  +44 (0)1273 541453
Fax. +44 (0)1273 554189