An Alternative May Day?
When I used to live in Scotland, I thought of 'May Day' as that time when Soviets used to wave at massed tank marches and old men would wave red flags and sing The International. However, in England, there is a different idea.
This May Day weekend (there is a Bank Holiday on the Monday, but it was introduced by the last Labour Government to celebrate the Worker) I was looking forwards to my local village fayre. They had promised dancing around the Maypole, and I could barely contain my excitment (comes from having been out with an anthropologist I suppose!).
I was somewhat surprised, however, when, while nipping in to visit 'Marks and Sparks' on Saturday, to be confronted by a 'Hobby Horse' in the High Street. I managed to contain my urge to run (I've read FAR too much Slaine) long enough to see that there were a load of Morris Dancers prancing about the High Street! Stopping to watch them, I enjoyed the accordian music and admired their footwork but I totally failed to fathom the hanky thing. Why do 'English Traditional Country Dancers' feel the need to wave handkerchiefs about? Admittedly they can make a viscous crack with their handkerchiefs, but I can't understand why they would want to.
I followed the dancers to the Castle Gardens, as they
promised an erection, ( ???... ed! ) where I witnessed more dancing,
and was offered some fertility cake by a very rotund man. Interestingly,
the cake was contained in a bowl, speared through the middle by a sword.
Thus he held the sword upright as he wandered around, assuring little,
grey-haired old ladies that
Eventually they set about erecting the Maypole, ( Ah! That is what you meant!... ed) which seemed to take a lot of effort, and somewhat resembled that American statue of 'Iwo Jima' ( am I thinking of the right thing? ). Then they secured the May Queen to the pole and began to flick hankies at her. Tell me this is not a pagan symbol, I dare you!
During all this, I had the opportunity to watch two Hobby Horses performing what I assume to be a mating dance; one of the Hobby Horses trying to eat the Bull Bars from the front of a surprised four wheel drive, and a bush with feet squeezed, ever so slowly, through a gate into the Castle Gardens. Then they all went down the pub and I went home to cut the grass. I do not believe it is possible to have a more English day.
Then, on Monday, I went to Jacobswell Village Fayre, full of anticipation.
Now, while there was a very nice 30s Vauxhall, there was not much to
recommend this Fayre over any other. White Elephant, Bottle and Coconut Shy
stalls abounded. There were some nice owls there, but only to sit and be
petted. Finally, however, they got to the Maypole dancing.
Anyway, having decided the fayre was going to supply me with very little raw material I went to the pub which, other than a brutal murder before Christmas, had some very nice benches by the river and a fine pint of T.E.A. to recommend it.