The mice and the mouse organ from Bagpuss. Photograph: Peter Firmin (via The Guardian)
On Saturday the 26th of April 2014 during the BBC Radio 3 breakfast showBBC Radio 3 breakfast show, Martin Handley revealed that the wonderful Sumer is icumen in had been added to the BBC Radio 3 Best of British playlist, the first entry attributed to “anonymous”. The whole playlist is available on Spotify and the recording Handley played is the last track on the Dufay Collective’s collection of anonymous secular English music of the middle ages titled Miri it is. It is such a joyful and fun recording of the song, recorded in St Bartholemews Church in Orford.
Roll on a few days and Kate and I were back fro the first of this terms choir sessions for the 69th of 4th 365: Jotting down a list of what we sang tonight at Cambourne Community Choir, a choir-cum-evening-class run in Cambourne Village College. Natania Goldrich, our director, had us trying Sumer is icumen in too. Great fun. I’ve been singing it on the cycle in to work ever since!
Not to belittle the Dufay Collective’s mastery or indeed our own tentative beginings but afterwards Kate remembered where she knew the tune from. Of course! It is not, after all, an anonymous thirteenth century song, but the creation of some cute (if a little mischievous) mice dreamt up by Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate in Bagpuss: