It has to be said, this is one of thestrangest books you will ever read aboutthe
. The title refers to the onlything the ancient Celts were supposed to beafraid of. It will by turn infuriate, educate,then have you in stitches.Rob Penn achieves what many of uswould love to do – that is, spend thegreater part of the year visiting and fully participating in Pan – Celtic music and fes-tivals.His method of achieving this rather expensive feat is by using journalisticexperience to make the whole undertaking
for the book he would write.Make no mistake though; our Rob is noordinary journalist. He was no more spec-tator, but took his task so seriously that herisked liver damage and collisions withwalls, kerbs and flying fists by over indulging in the alcoholic beverages asmuch as the most enthusiastic festivalgoers.It is all the more remarkable when heinforms us that his year of festival goingmeant long absences from his pregnant partner! I must try that
researching a book
line sometime.Rob’s journey is a search for his identityand leads him and us to question the wholenotion of being Celts and what exactly areour similarities and differences. His obser-vations at times makes uncomfortable ashe reveals aspects of our six nations char-acteristics that many would prefer to keephidden.Examples of this would be drinking toexcess, punch-ups and boorish, insulting behaviour to people with English accents.He is fair though and mentions the many positive aspects of Celtic society such asthe friendliness, helpfulness of people, thegreat music and poetry etc.Rob’s method of being accepted into theCeltic festival scene is by using his alter ego – Ned Clague.After a vision when climbing Cadair Idris in mid Cymru he decided he would become a poet under his assumed Manksname. Rob’s search for his Celtic roots wasdue to him being half enlish, half Manks, but being unaware of his Celtic side havinglived mainly in England. Ned’s many adventures at several festi-vals in all six Celtic countries see himgaining confidence to stand up beforeaudiences to deliver his self penned Manks/ English poems. To his own surprise, andthe reader, this proves fairly successful, but there are some hilarious situations
The Sky is Falling on our Heads –
A Journey to the Bottom of the Celtic Fringe By Rob Penn Published by Sceptre / Hodder & Stoughton.
2004, £14.99. ISBN 0-340827521.
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