A brief history

Once upon a time in the late 1970s I was a resident singer at The Pumphouse Folk Club in Watford. There I met Barny and Mary Wood who had recently 'retired' as resident singers but who still appeared there regularly. Barny and Mary were co-founders of the Herga Foksong Club in Harrow which had been founded in the glory days of the folksong revival, when names such as Martin Carthy, Donovan and one Paul Simon could be hired for a fiver.

Sometime during the mid-eighties my wife and I moved to a shed in the Waveney Valley and Mr and Mrs Wood to a mud hut in Old Buckenham. Fairly early on I joined Hoxon Hundred Morris and continued singing in pubs and at such jollies as HH cared to organise. In 1989 my daughter was born, I became Deputy Head at Stradbroke Primary and I decided it was time for a break. I did miss the singing though.

One day I fell to conversing with Clare Evans (also formerly of Hoxon Hundred) whose children were at Stradbroke. Clare is a fine pianist and we made great use of her services as an accompanist. I seem to remember raving on to her about Sacred Harp singing, and how great it would be to set up an 'unchoir' of people who made up their own harmonies. She seemed interested in the idea so I phoned Barny and Mary. They were surprised and keen as they had already been discussing the idea of joining a 'proper' choir. That gave us a bass, tenor, contralto and soprano, so even if no-one else was found we could do some harmony singing. We all asked friends and acquaintances and the poster on the right was displayed in shops and libraries in the area..
An inaugural meeting was held in a chilly Stradbroke Primary school hall, the idea explained and volunteers sought. Simon, my then next-door neighbour, and I gave ourselves the arduous task of finding a suitable pub and Tony the landlord at The Swan in Hoxne offered us his restaurant and a first singing evening was held. One of those early meetings had eighteen people present. It soon became clear that many of those present were expecting me to lead from the front - possibly even conduct - which was something I hadn't the skill, will or intention of doing. numbers fairly quickly fell to a more manageable dozen or baker's dozen. The question of a name arose early on. I seem to remember half-suggesting Folkchoir and Lark but it was Lisa Palfrey who said she had been attracted by the description Rough at the Edges on the poster so what was wrong with that ? 

We first sang out that summer at a street music festival in Harleston.

Over the years members have come and gone but the current lineup of eight people have been pretty constant for most of that time. The Swan's landlord changed and we were peripatetic around members houses and also did a stint in the back room of the Angel on Fair Green, Diss for a while. Probably our moment of greatest exposure (!) came when Pete Jennings invited us to sing on his Suffolk Folk programme. Whilst we all enjoy performing we have never tried especially hard to find gigs. Many of us are working full time and have families and it can be difficult sometimes to find dates when we are all available at weekends. At the heart of what we do is still our regular weekly session when we meet to: chat, sing, drink tea and chat.
They sometimes laughingly refer to me as the leader though I might just as well be termed cat-herder. Whenever I am felt to be getting above my station someone usually mutters ...Tim and the Roughettes huh...
Every year we hold an AGM where we all agree to start earlier and do more gigs and then we: chat, eat, drink tea and chat. Only one person has ever taken minutes and they didn't stay with us for long.
We have made some recordings and many of the better examples will appear on this site.
I still have a secret ambition to release an album. It will be called "Hungover Hedgehog" as this is is probably as rough at the edges as it is possible to be.  I even designed a logo for it once
So here we are now - more a family than a choir really. Amazingly, we will soon have been singing together for twenty years.
So I guess we must be doing something right...

Tim Brook