Tag Archives: wassail

No blog today, but some toast hanging and the reality of a man talking to a wall

I have about five long and, I think, interesting blog-chats recorded and no time to transcribe them today.

You can normally tell when I do not have time to write a blog because I revert to some tale from a past electronic diary.

Last night, suffering from a small part of my eternally-un-named friend’s cold or mini-flu or whatever she has, I had trouble sleeping horizontally – the inside of my throat burned. So I had to try to sleep sitting up, propped amid four pillows. It was a fitful night. Little sleep. But at least my throat did not burn.

I woke late and have to leave early.

Wassail toast hangs from the trees

Wassail toast hangs from trees while cider is poured on roots

I think I vaguely remember some dream about people hanging pieces of toast from the branches of trees at night: some flashback to a wassailing night in nearby Shenley a couple of years ago. They poured cider at the bottom of trees to encourage them to grow.

When I woke up, I looked at my diaries. Nothing happened on this day in years past. Except that, in 2001, a friend of mine told me she was thinking of moving to Australia because she liked the Australian character which, she felt, was less cynical than the British “because the country isn’t so old and they haven’t learned it yet”.

She has not moved to Australia.

And, in 2003, I heard that someone I had worked with at Granada TV in Manchester was now living in Bath. He had gone to Yorkshire to stay with a friend for a week but had been asked to leave after two days because he was scaring the kids. Whereas others might take a few cups of tea during the course of a day, for him a bottle of wine stood in for each cup of tea. The children found it unsettling that he had a tendency to get up without warning and start talking to the wall.

He is dead now.

So it goes.

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Filed under Blogs, Dreams, Drink

Last night, I saw toast hanging from trees and children sparkling with light

After what happened last night, I really must go to a Wicker Man festival.

The climax of The Wicker Man (the 1973 version, obviously) was shot at Burrow Head in Wigtownshire. I think my uncle’s ashes were scattered into the sea off Burrow Head; he used to sit there as a teenager and look out to sea. Or maybe it was off some other Head. There are quite a few Heads in the area.

For sure, several Wicker Man scenes were shot in the Isle of Whithorn (which is not an island), where my father was brought up. And several other scenes were shot in Whithorn itself (a totally different place to the Isle of Whithorn) where both my parents went to school and met again during the Second World War (I blogged about their meeting last year).

Nothing in life is ever simple.

There is a speech in The Wicker Man about how paganism is the real religion of Britain and how Christianity is merely a Johnny-come-lately cult.

I paraphrase but, after last night, I am all for paganism.

I went wassailing at orchards in semi-rural Hertfordshire, quite close to where I live. About forty or so adults and children went and blessed the trees. Pieces of toast soaked in cider were hanging from the branches of the trees and cider was poured round the trees’ roots to encourage them to grow and bear fruit in the coming year.

Wassail toast hanging from trees

Much noise was made with bells and horns and spoons on pots and pans to scare away evil spirits; a wassailing song was sung; the children went and told the trees to grow, then waved sparklers around; fireworks soared high into the air from the orchards; there was much cheering and clapping; and then we went inside for soup and bread and cake and cups of mulled wine and cider.

I have been to a local church the last couple of Christmases (avoiding the services) and they provided mulled wine and biscuits. But no toast hanging from trees; no children waving sparklers; and no eccentricity on this scale.

No wonder paganism is on the increase.

This was not a genuine outbreak of paganism in semi-rural Hertfordshire, of course. It was a bit of admirable British jollity.

But Christianity has to pull its socks up.

I think annual human sacrifice (a concept at the very core of Christianity) in Winter or Spring could be the way forward, though the supply of willing virgins might prove something of a problem.

Still, The Wicker Man shows that, where there’s a will, there are ways and means…

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Filed under Eccentrics, Movies, Religion, Scotland, Strange phenomena