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Creating Canberra's new traditions

Date

Rachel Packham

ALAN Moyse's feathered tricorn hat, blue and gold coat, thigh-high boots and lace trimming certainly turn a few heads as he walks down a busy Canberra street, but the ACT's official town crier is experienced in regalia.

''I'm in a medieval society as well, so I'm quite used to getting dressed up,'' Moyse said.

Members of the global Society for Creative Anachronism adopt a persona when they join up.

''I'm Lord Alan of Jedburgh,'' Moyse explained in a Scottish accent.

''Jedburgh's a wee town in the border regions of Scotland, much fought over by the English and the Scots.

''I used to be what is known as a heavy fighter, I'm, too old for that now, I got tired of being walked all over. But that meant I got dressed up in armour and fought on a battlefield, I used to fight with a shield and a battle axe.''

When one of Moyse's public service colleagues heard about local radio station Mix 106.3's search for a town crier last year, she thought Moyse's wardrobe, along with his loud voice and good vocabulary, would make him a perfect fit.

''She pestered me and pestered me and pestered me until eventually I rang up … they auditioned me and said, that's it, we're not looking any further, you're it,'' Moyse said.

''They got me into the radio station one morning and they had the Chief Minister on the phone and she swore me in as the town crier.''

It's a voluntary position, but one that Moyse has thoroughly enjoyed during the past year making appearances at community events, school fetes and weddings.

''For me, the biggest highlight was representing the ACT in the Ancient and Honourable Guild of Australian Town Criers Championships which were held in Moree, in April this year,'' he said.

''It's the first time the ACT has had a representative, it was my first competition, there were 16 of us there competing and I felt I did quite well, I came eighth, it wasn't bad for the first contest.''

Moyse will appear at the Tuggeranong Community Festival on December 1 and the Christmas Carnival In the City every day from December 10 to 21.

As well as participating in centenary events next year, Moyse will keep himself busy, travelling to the UK to catch up with some British town criers.

As Canberra's first town crier, Moyse takes his role seriously.

''I figured if we were going to have a town crier we should have a proper town crier one who really did the job as it was supposed to be done, hence all the regalia which I provided myself in the traditional colours of Canberra; blue and gold and white,'' he said.

Though he's easily recognisable as the town crier to adults, younger generations have a different idea.

''A lot of children confuse me with a pirate, I think it's the hat with the feathers,'' he said.

''I have to tell them when I'm dressed as a pirate I wear red velvet, black turn backs, I wear me cutlass and pistols and talk like that, usually September 19, International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I've done quite a few of those in and around Canberra as well.''

■ For more information on the Christmas Carnival in the City, see The Canberra Times' In The City magazine, free with tomorrow's paper.

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