[Bards] Performing in court

Jay Rudin rudin at ev1.net
Fri Feb 23 09:05:47 PST 2007

Baroness Muriel asked:

> Do any of you remember when you went from being, "I didn't know he was a
> bard" to "oh cool, he's going to perform!"?

Actually, as I remember it, there were several stages.

I started off occasionally singing dirty songs and writing (very poor) 
poetry.  Nobody (including me) thought of me as a bard.

But when Willow started the College of Bards in the early 1980s, it seemed 
like fun, so I joined. and got active.  I went from "I didn't know he was a 
bard" to , "Yeah, he's one of the lesser bards.  When he's finished, we'll 
get to hear Willow / Ivar / Branwen / whoever"

Then a little while later I started winning "best poem" fairly regularly, 
but never won a competition.  I was one of the average bards who had a 
niche, but was never the bard anyone most wanted to hear.  In 1984, I won 
the Bordermarch competition, and nobody was as surprised as I was.

Then I left kingdom for a year and a half, and when I came back, people 
really seemed to want to hear me.  I thought it was just because I'd been 
gone, and expected it to drop off fairly quickly.

Instead, people soon started telling me that I was their favorite bard.  It 
was a shock to me, but about a year later, I won Kingdom Eisteddfod for the 
first time, so something was working right.

That was the start of my most magical years.  It was really fun to be Robin 
of Gilwell.  From 1987 to 1990, I won several competitions in both fencing 
and bardcraft, received a Thistle and a Falcon, and became an Oak, Pelican, 
Lion, Iris, and Baron of the Steppes.  (No, awards and orders and tourney 
wins don't make it magical.  But having magical times can lead to awards and 
orders and tourney wins, so they often serve as benchmarks.  More 
importantly, being a good bard and a good fencer, and leading an active, 
thriving barony, and running an active, thriving College of Bards, *do* lead 
to magical times.)

What happened all of a sudden?  I'm not sure.  I didn't feel like I was 
doing anything differently, but being Baron of the Steppes, with a year as 
College Principal followed by a year as Premier Bard, certainly improved my 
visibility. Also, as baron, I was more active than usual, and always 
attended fighter practice.

And the magic has never gone away.  I'm not as active as I was then, and at 
events I'm in meetings or other problem-solving mode more often, so there's 
less playtime, but being Robin is still the most fun thing I do (in public).

But I think the important observation is that, in each stage, I was the last 
to know.  Gerald said that we are our own worst critics.  I think it's more 
precise to say that we aren't capable of being our own critics at all.  How 
could we be?  He's the only one in the hall who's never heard Gerald 
perform.  I'm the only one who's never heard Robin.  The best measure I can 
get of how well I'm doing comes from watching the audience's reaction.  So 
of course I'm the last one to know -- I'm learning it from them.

Robin of Gilwell / Jay Rudin 

More information about the Bards mailing list