Oh the perils of being misunderstood on social media! It’s happened to all of us and usually it’s a minor matter and easily resolved.
But a couple of weeks back the harmless and well-meaning folk of the Wimborne Militia had their Facebook pages deleted after being inexplicably mistaken by an over-zealous algorithm for a bunch of alt-right thugs.
Nothing could be further from the truth of course. The Militia are a group of historic re-enactors who dress in 17th century military costume and are familiar sight at fetes, parades and festivals in the ancient Dorset market town.
It seems they became unwittingly caught up in Facebook’s creditable bid to root out far right extremists and conspiracy theorists operating militia groups mainly in America. Thankfully Facebook realised its error and the accounts were quickly reinstated.
Militia leader, gently eccentric Wimborne Town Crier Chris Brown told the BBC: “I wouldn’t want us to be associated with some of those violent people over there carrying round guns and talking about open rebellion – we talk about peace and community understanding.”
Indeed he always has. I remember Chris once telling me that back in the early 1970s he was far too much of a hippy to become a serious biker even though his Norton Dominator 650 SS was the envy of the local motorcycle gangs.
“They loved looking at my bike but I used to wear crushed velvet jackets and I don’t think they could really deal with that. Anyway, I could never have been a Hells Angel or whatever. I hate aggression and I’m vegetarian so biting the head off a live chicken would be out of the question.”
Peacenik Chris has also done his bit at a variety of very non aggressive music festivals appearing on stage with Texan psychedelic visionaries The Polyphonic Spree at Glastonbury, Leeds and Reading.
He also worked as a volunteer backstage marshal at Glastonbury for a number of years and has the dubious distinction of once trying to ban Bob Dylan from his own dressing room.
“I was told that no one but Dylan was allowed in so when this strange looking bloke turned up and knocked on the door I told him to go away. He fixed me with this really weird stare and just said: ‘Do you know who I am?’
“ I said; ‘I haven’t got a clue mate but no one but Bob Dylan comes in here.’ “Then he just stared at me and I realised that he had an eight foot security man with him. I thought ‘Oh yeah, I know who you are.’
Dylan, he says, was rather distant and aloof.
Closer to home Chris has had a number of other rock ’n’ roll encounters. Not least the day when Bob Geldof, in town for a gig at the Tivoli Theatre, was ‘volunteered’ to conduct a planting ceremony at the then brand new Wimborne physic garden. As he planted a rosemary bush, Chris and the Militia fired a celebratory round of musket fire.