Artha Ahmad investigates the tradition of 'blacking up' at folk events in Cornwall. And naturalist Nick Baker goes on a whale watch.
Browse content similar to 23/01/2017. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
It's had a rebrand, but is it racist?
Tonight, the townspeople who black up For Mummer's Day,
the Cornish tradition that some celebrate, and others condemn.
I'd never dream of being racist, we're all equal.
we join Nick Baker for a water wildlife watch.
We have a pod of common dolphins, right underneath the bow.
And as the weather bites, I go in search of snow,
but are we seeing less and less of the white stuff?
We dig into the archives, and even mine our memories to discover
Hello, I'm Jemma Woodman, and welcome to Inside Out South West.
Different places have different traditions -
Bog-snorkling, nettle eating - but blacking up?
Can it ever really be acceptable today's society?
The winter festival Mummer's Day, was once called Darkie Day,
but some locals in Padstow argue that isn't offensive,
We sent Artha Ahmad to investigate one of Britain's
It's Mummers Day in this Cornish seaside town. My day job's reporting
for the BBC's Asian Network. This is the first time I've worked in
Cornwall, and it's turning out to be quite an experience.
Hello, can I ask you a few questions?
No, you can't, at all. On Boxing Day and New Year's Day,
some locals here paint their faces black and parade through the
for more than 100 years. Some say for more than 100 years. Some say
goes back to pagan times. I'm hoping to find out all about Padstow and
its tradition blacking up - is it just a harmless old custom or
is it too offensive to survive without major changes being made?
Blacking up doesn't just happen in Cornwall, there's a handful of folk
groups across the country who like to slap on the paint.
Good chance to dress up in crazy clothes and go out, happy dance, and
a couple of beers afterwards your friends.
What you think? I think it also generates
mysterious, pagan energies that infuse the atmosphere. If you test
that scientifically, you may have trouble finding evidence.
Not everybody appreciates it. The man on the left is having a go at a
group of Morris dancers in Birmingham.
Blacktop reformers have some high-profile fans, including a then
Prime Minister, and the community -- Communities Secretary Sajid Javid,
who said he was proud of the Morris dancers involved in the Birmingham
confrontation. Back in Padstow, the party's in full swing. For eight
outsider like me, it feels a bit surreal. This is not something
usually see in London, in I am surprised to see yet actually, in
2017. I was exciting people to be blacktop, but didn't expect them to
be blacked up in entirety. That's quite surprising to see. Some of the
songs are also pretty surprising. The original lyrics of this one
includes the N-word. Thankfully, there's been a bit of a rewrite.
So, they're singing a song in there, but they've changed the lyrics and
replaced a racist term it, so now it says, where do the good Mummers go?
I really want to talk to the people here, but feels like they've been
gagged. Can I ask you a few questions?
I'm not glad to say nothing, sorry. A few people ask us not a film,
which is a bit strange seeing how anyone can come and watch. One man,
not one of the Mummers themselves, told me if I didn't like it, I
should go back to my own country. I'm not the only one who has
questions. We asked them, and asked them what
it was for, and they said it was my great secrets and wouldn't tell us.
They said it wasn't racist. But other than that...
What were your first thoughts when you've saw it?
That it was. You thought it was racist? You're
seen you're from Watford? Do think something like this could ever
happen of there? No! You wouldn't get away with that.
Maybe this man can tell us? What is it about?
Gordon, due to tell us what it's about?
No. This is what we get as a response.
Everyone we took two sees it differently.
I don't want to make of it, it makes me feel a little uncomfortable. I'm
sure that anybody that came here visiting with probably find it quite
offensive. I wasn't sure if it was a racial
thing or what the intent of it was. Certainly, in the United States, it
wouldn't be acceptable. I don't find it offensive, I'm part
of it. I've lived in Cornwall 12 years...
And we love you! I've been doing it for many years. I
don't find it offensive. Just let it be.
One idea that keeps coming up is that it all goes back to be slaving
days. Darkie Day and the ship came into
the harbour and they let the slaves off the ship and they ran around
town, are currently left a few black babies behind.
You can see it's not racist. There were coloured people, they came off
the boats, there are also autumn colours around. They landed the
boats here, went out on the streets, they celebrated the fact they were
on land and getting fresh air and have a party.
The story goes that people in Padstow partied with slaves who
arrived on these shores were stopped and even helped them to escape. But
is any of that drew? Defined, we've come to meet Merv Davey, the grand
Bard of Cornwall, a title direct lasers were preserving Cornish
culture. He thinks the slave boat story is a bit of harmless for
Clara. When people are asked why they
dressed like this, are you mocking people, no. The story that was
went past oriented Padstow, and they went past oriented Padstow, and they
dressed up to rescue the slaves. It made sense to them, it made sense of
the story, and no way it's quite nice thing, because we can
demonstrate as far as the history books go, no slavers went anywhere
near Padstow, but the story's not nice, and it makes sense to the
people. And what about the parade's all
blame, Darkie Day? Merv reckons that has an innocent explanation too.
Document get on just meant disguising yourself in Cornish. I
was privileged to take part of it, went down, blacking my face
at no part in the proceedings did I at no part in the proceedings did I
find it from ugly racist or demeaning of anybody.
There are more close to the parade's history and copies of the local
paper. It turns out the tradition almost died out and was revised in
the 1960s as a children's event. There's her letter for one of the
people credited with reviving the event. She wrote a letter thanking
the darkies. This editor was quite a job to back-up all the faces, but
job done. job done.
Cilla Black face paint was brought Cilla Black face paint was brought
back for the kids, and since then the event has evolved into some kind
of musical pub crawl. But is a time for some other change two Merv
thinks yes, but may be the Mummers could bring a dash of white into the
black and celebrate the Cornish flag.
The problem is for everyone you find who is offended another person finds
it enormous fun. If I was from Padstow, I would put a white cross
across the black faces, but it's not for me to say that. In most places
so easy to paint your face. I've so easy to paint your face. I've
been somewhere with the paint is read, it is so easy to change that.
It's about the skies, not just blackface.
Back in Padstow, we've had a breakthrough, some of the Mummers
broken ranks and are up for a chat. It's everything to us. It's
tradition. Christmas means nothing to me, the
only thing I look forward to is Boxing Day and New Year's Day. It's
the only thing I look forward to. I think because so many people take
it as read says, the older people are Padstow do it. I think, why
should we talk about it if we're went to become racist.
I wouldn't dream of being racist, I'm a carer, skin colour's nothing
to me. , can I talk to you?
We've change the words... Suddenly, it's all over. The Mummers
are keeping mum again. I couldn't help but notice that some of the
younger people were less blacktop than the older ones. Maybe that's
just this year's style, what we can say is that some see this as a
tradition that should die out, others would take to see at last. I
certainly won't be forgetting about it sooner.
Coming up, Nick Baker will be all let's see having a whale
When you see dolphins you know there is still hope in the world.
These animals need a reasonably healthy ecosystem in order
Is anywhere more beautiful than Dartmoor in the snow? And a light
dusting at least is pretty much guaranteed up here come winter. But
if you think you remember a time when he only had to walk out your
front door to the knee-deep interests, then you're probably not
alone. The older you are, the more likely you are to say, we don't get
snow likely used it. But is that drew? Or just faded memories,
wrapped up in nostalgia. -- is that true? Time to dip into the archives
to find out. In 1963, the South West bore the brunt of a series of mighty
blizzards. ARCHIVE: Dartmoor was like Siberia,
a large-scale rescue operation. The one good train on Dartmoor got
completely buried. Two other engines were rescued were snowploughs, they
got buried too. This Devon farmer and his mother
remember it's like yesterday. Within is go to school for three
weeks! That was short lived. On the farms
were rapidly pressed into service as extra farm labourers. Nobody could
get their milk out to the factory. It was all churns. We had to take
the churns to our neighbours, they couldn't get there. We hadn't seen
anything like it before. And we haven't had it as bad sense, really.
But in 2010, the same thing happened again. This time, it was McTaggart
getting stuck on the roads in what proved to be the coldest winter in
30 years. -- milk tankers getting stuck in roads. To not get caught
out again, there was a salt spreading scheme.
This is this year's delivery, we're hopefully well-prepared should we
need it. need it.
But your salt spread hasn't seen much action since 2010?
No, it hasn't. One or two goes, but nowhere near the amount of snow that
we had in 2010 and 2011. And he has the mountains of salt
stocks to prove it. Actually, the footage shows that
cold or snow. But there is one went cold or snow. But there is one went
to McDonald's, and it happened 70 years ago. -- winter that does, and
it happened. We had to go way back it happened. We had to go way back
into the archives, before many of you were born, and regional TV
didn't exist. Mike at the film and television archive has had a good
look. I've to good look, there's very
little of 1947, but think I've find you a little gem.
Hope Cove, looking more like Antarctica and the usually clement
south coast. This, lifeboat brings food supplies to the ruined
villagers. In 1947, January the villagers. In 1947, January the
22nd, the snow started to fall, and fell every day, somewhere in the UK,
for over 70 days. That's even more than 1963. The bitter cold was
compounded by fuel and food shortages in post-war Britain. But
the spirit of the blades sought some keep smiling through. Surely yet
more proof that we don't get snow like we used to. -- the spirit of
the Blitz. So, will today's owners of the Cottage Hotel, seen in that
footage, have any memory of the big snow of 1947? Is this the right
place? This is deathly the right place,
that is the hotel. Come to the right place, let's see
if anyone remember is 1947? But it's not the winter of 47 that
this former hotelier remembers. Does this look familiar to you?
It does look familiar, but wasn't here at this time.
Have you seen a winter like it? It was pretty bad in 78-79, not much
difference, I would think. It's true, something I did see
buckets of snow. We were worried, we do know how long
the snow would go on for. We had 75 people, plus the staff to feed and
look after. That was a worry. There were 15-foot deep drifts everywhere.
Parts of the South West were left without electricity or running water
for three days. Supplies of food and what a retro look at it in, and once
again, many didn't have milk for breakfast. -- helicoptered in. I
remembered as the very worst winter we ever had, but then I was only
five. Time to head to the Met office and find out whether they can tell
us if we don't get snow like we used to.
When we look back through records of snow, meteorological records, you do
see these big spikes. They result from a particular weather pattern
that crops up every so often. It's not regular. It doesn't follow every
so many years that we will get this. But this particular pattern dries
excess of in the UK. Adam's data shows that in the last exteriors,
the worst winter for snow was in fact 1963, then 2010, then 1979. And
these spikes are down to free weather patterns. But is climate
change impacting on our snowfall? Before we answer that, time to one
up with Doris, Joan and John from Salcombe, who remember the snow of
1947, radiating official Met Office records. Was it like that?
Yes, it was! The snow was that the?
It was absolutely unbelievable. I looked at the window, and father
said, yes, there is no. I couldn't believe it! We'd never seen snow in
Salcombe before, not to that extent. I'd actually just left school, I was
just 14. I started work. But John was the lucky one, he was still at
nearly three weeks. He'll Terry nearly three weeks. He'll Terry
about that! He had three weeks of school!
Three whole weeks off. My father was a labourer for the
Council, and all I remember is that he was out dead as the tiny digging
roads. Alongside the council workers,
POW camp in Salcombe. It was all POW camp in Salcombe. It was all
hands on deck during the big White out of 47.
I recall this large snowman it being built outside the shop it.
Did you feel sorry for them in the show?
I did, yes. I did, yes.
That was quite incredible, people were on skis.
Skiing? A must have been like being in the
It was, yeah. We don't get snow like It was, yeah. We don't get snow like
that any more, but don't critically want it!
Is that the case? Back to the Met Office to find out.
An interesting thing to think about is, if the winds and weather
patterns are exactly the same today as they were 19 623, which we have
as much snow. The answer is, we wouldn't. -- as they were in 1963,
so with milder wins in this area, we're not likely to see the same
crippling snow conditions. Still, as long as you can do this!
Good shot! You might think that this
is the worst time of Surely all the animals
hunker down and hibernate? But as Nick Baker discovers,
head out onto the water It's a bright and crisp autumnal
morning, and we're in Falmouth, we're going whale watching.
When it catching a ride with Falmouth-based skipper Keith, and
joining me is marine biologist, Dr Simon Ingram. You might think it's a
crazy idea to be going out to look for whales at this time of year, but
given the right weather conditions and sea conditions, as can be a much
more fruitful time to see whales, dolphins and porpoises.
My interest in taking this trip out to sea was sparked by the dead fin
whale which washed up on the beach in dollars this autumn. The
conclusion was that this whale most likely died at sea of natural
causes. Think people's response when they
hear about a dead animal washing up on the beach is, this is awful. But
actually, there is a more positive side to the story, because it could
be an indication that the reason be an indication that the reason
these and other turning up on the beaches is because there's more of
them alive at their in the waters. Which is good news.
How easy is it to actually see these elusive creatures in the wild?
About is tracking out from the shoreline, all these icons, all
these marks on the screen are at this year's sightings. This year has
been absolutely remarkable. We have, been absolutely remarkable. We have,
to date, recorded some 5250 individual animals.
For Keith, that's an all-time record, 40% up on his annual
average. This is being fed back to build a national sightings database.
These animals face lots of different threats and our waters. Fishery
interactions, noise, disturbance, ship strikes. We have to think about
all these things together and manage them properly together in order to
create a sustainable population size.
Fin whales are regular visitors to the waters of Ireland. Simon
believes that this may be why they're being seen in increasing
numbers off the coast of Devon and Cornwall.
Gannets, out to the west of us. There is excitement on the boat at
the moment is, because Captain Keith has spotted, about a mile away, a
large group of feeding gannets. Where there's gannets, there's face,
where there's face, hopefully, there's dolphins, whales breathe and
paupers. 2016 saw an abundance of herring and mackerel. This created a
feeding frenzy for gannets like these. These streamlined dive
bombers make short work of the fish below. Like many birds, -- unlike
many birds, they can see down grooves in their bill, and judge the
distance to their fish prey with deadly accuracy. Definitely got some
paupers milling around underneath where the birds are. -- poor boys.
Try and see we can get a shot at them, but they are only one metre
long, and in this chop it's bit of a challenge. I wasn't wrong. It's like
watching lightning, you can point lightning out, but by macro the time
you turn, it's gone. We got one more you turn, it's gone. We got one more
fleeting glints of the board poses, but then they were gone. -- of the
porpoises. Just when we think our luck might be running out and we are
going to head back down the coast, the crew sports more activity.
Suddenly, there's a mad scramble in the boat. Dolphins!
This is what it's all about! We have a port of common dolphin, right
underneath the bowel. Wildlife watching doesn't get any better than
this. I could talk for hours about the
ecology and what they symbolise for the health of the ocean, but at this
of going, yes, dolphins! You can of going, yes, dolphins! You can
shout and weep and holler for joy, because it doesn't scare them off,
they don't mind. For boys is spent a lot of their
time feeding, so they really are on a bit of a knife edge, always try to
find enough food, whereas dolphins are that much more efficient, top
predators, able to spend some time socialising rather than just
feeding. When you see dolphins, you know
there's still hope in the world. These are top and predators. These
animals need a reasonably healthy ecosystem in order to support all
that energy. Then go, they're still here! Oh, so beautiful. I know it's
not cool to be that enthusiastic about wildlife, but I couldn't help
myself. I'm feeling a little embarrassed, but wow, wasn't that
great? Dolphins are those creatures that we ship quite a lot with.
right on the surface, they come up right on the surface, they come up
and meet us. They fell us with jolly, that's what the dolphins
symbolises to many people. -- fill us with joy.
Well it's good these albums are returning, we are starting with a
depleted state. Let's hope we have things back on track for a recovery
in arena systems. When you see dolphins and whales it
fills you with hope, hope that there's and off left here to
protect. So while the Wales may have eluded us today, seeing dolphins
isn't half bad. And that's all for now,
but next week we drop in on the school but thinks it's
cracked the formula for success. Meet the maths geniuses
hoping to take the UK When you actually get it
and get the answer right, So brush up on your algebra
for next Monday at 7:30pm. Hello, I'm Riz Lateef
with your 90 second update. The Government says national
security means it won't confirm
Artha Ahmad investigates the tradition of 'blacking up' at folk events in Cornwall. And naturalist Nick Baker goes on a whale watch.