Jim Stewart has won another title in an international town crier competition, without even saying a word.
Stewart heard about the competition organized by the town of Melksham, UK, a few weeks ago and, after finding out that it would be a virtual competition open to participants internationally, he decided to take part.
Stewart noted that so far this year a majority of the crier competitions such as a large one in Bermuda, championships in England and Ontario as well as a competition for the anniversary for the Mayflower were all canceled. The local crier felt like the virtual competition would be a good way to participate virtually in the community.
“Initially what I thought was you were going to have to put on your outfit and have someone film you,” he said. He was surprised to learn that the virtual competition was solely written and he would only have to write the cry and send it in rather than perform it or make a video.
“So I thought, you know I’ve got some time on my hands,” laughed Stewart who has been staying self-isolated at his home in Little Harbour. “It was how everyone was dealing with the self-isolation or with COVID-19,” he said about the given topic for the cry.
As participants for the competition were scattered all over the globe — with Stewart estimating that there would be about 400 criers internationally — each contestant would have a different take on how things are going in their corner of the world.
After facing some writer’s block and spending some time sitting in front of a blank page, Stewart said the idea just popped into his head.
“I don’t know, I got on a roll and the cry came to me and I probably wrote it in 10 minutes,” he chuckled. It seems that Stewart’s strike of inspiration was exactly what the Melksham judges were looking for, complete with humour and a bit of a twist.
The cry is not written in old English as they sometimes are and reads like a poem.
Stewart has since received word that he has won the competition and currently there is an award of some type on its way to him in the mail, he had been told.
“I feel pretty good about it,” said Stewart about the win. He was thrilled to receive accolades from a fellow crier, David Mitchell, who has written two books on the subject of crying. Mitchell reached out to compliment Stewart on how well written his cry was.
“I got a note from (Mitchell) saying congratulations on the win,” said Stewart. “I was pleasantly surprised, I knew it was good. It was designed to give a laugh,” he said. adding that with everything that has happened recently, especially in Nova Scotia, sometimes it can be hard to just have a laugh every now and then.
Jim Stewart’s winning cry:
Oyez, Oyez, Oyez
In Canada we have to hunker down
When old man winter rolls around
But to do this in the early spring
Isn’t quite the normal thing
This virus has us on the run
Which certainly isn’t any fun
In these trying times of self isolation
One looks for ways besides inebriation
To make each day healthy for my head
I now work on the art of making bread
The only time I’m out the door
Is for food and spirits at the store
Before I leave the final task
Is to quickly don a mask
I never thought I would see the day
I would walk into a bank that way
God Save the Queen