Blow me down with a firework-powered feather attached to a brick, it’s May 1st. Yup, May Day, that day of traditional maypole dancing and Morris dancers to prove yet again that the British have no natural sense of rhythm.
Actually it’s not British at all, or not just British. It’s only them bloody pagans, innit. Celtic traditions, Gaelic, Germanic, Roman – in pre-Christian times everyone had a springtime party, ya dig?
Now you just get slightly overkeen types with sad eyes and wispy beards begging someone from the next generation to look up from their iPads for just one damn minute please I think my wife’s sleeping with my brother and my boss is 15 years younger than me and oh my I wake up some days and I just think, Reginald, what are you still doing here wasting precious resources and I know that all I need is one person, just one to recognise our common humanity and get me through the day – it’s so lonely feeling invisible…
Might have gone a bit dark there.
And what you might not know is that all the May Day ritualising and symbolism is basically about sex. As my old A-level English literature teachers used to say, if in doubt: sex and religion. And that’s just disgusting in this day and age.
Now for a dash of negativity – not being a massive traditionalist I don’t much care for the maypole, I don’t much care for morris dancing or real ale or the Wikipedia entry on May Day or the ribbons or the fact that that Oliver Cromwell chap’s puritanical government banned it during what my royalist chums like to call the unpleasantness.
In certain circumstances I’m a big fan of the May Queen.
Still, the first Monday in May is a bank holiday, so that’s all good. We just need to replace the more tired/irritating traditions and preferably put off the crazier-eyed folk numbering amongst those who refer to themselves as ‘druids’. So here are my new May Day traditions:
BBQ – pipe down at the back there – Americans might do BBQ, there might be grand traditions involving slow-cooking and pulled pork, tantalising smoky aromas and so on, but the British have a jolly sort of tolerance to crap weather that I’ve always considered one of our more endearing traits. Where everyone else thinks it’s a good idea to wear a jacket and maybe sit inside, there we are with gritted teeth and shivering in our unflattering shorts saying ‘what do you mean? It’s lovely out, look I even caught a hint of sunshine from behind that cloud.’ Then we get sunburn.
Faced with proper weather we go to pieces, but if it’s just mildly too cold to be out in shorts the Brits are in their element. THEREFORE the answer is clear – the Americans must teach us the secrets of proper BBQ so that we can stand out in the chillier-than-it-looks May 1st weather fucking up lovingly crafted recipes for bourbon-based BBQ sauce.
Mayday – a competition in which people dress up as planes and feign a technical malfunction by running through the town while the local children chase him or her – the kids are given secret labels to hold – ¾ of them represent ‘the ground’ and ¼ ‘miraculous recovery’. If the person is caught by one of the latter kids every raises a big cheer and has a party to celebrate. If he’s caught by one of the kids representing ‘the ground’, then everyone has a ceremonial wake AKA ‘a party’. And because it’s May and because we’re British, the party should obviously involve BBQ.
It’s also nanny state-approved because it gets the kids off their bums, away from them thar videogames and outdoors doing exercise.
That’s what I’ve got – like I said I’m not really one for traditions. But I do like BBQ.