Sunday, 7 October 2012


As we used to sing at my old school, St Frideswide's Co-educational for the Daughters of Country Gentlefolk, "We Torch the Fields and Scarper, the Farmer's got a Gun." They were happy days, shining in those long-ago summers, ringing with the sound of broken glass.  When rioting just got you a clip on the ear from the local bobby, and racists were not discriminated against the way they are today.

At home, we would celebrate the old country rituals - witch-ducking, droit de seigneur, tar-and-feathering. And Harvest, of course. I remember my maiden aunts - Drusilla, Drosophila, Deidre and Dolores - how every first Sunday in October they would cycle through the early-morning mists to church, each with a pumpkin on their handlebars. Made them terribly unstable, of course. Pumpkin soup and a trip to the Luton and Dunstable was pretty well guaranteed most first Sundays in October. Indeed, we attributed their being maiden aunts mostly to the way they smelt of pumpkin pretty well all year round.

Here at the Beaker Folk, we like to think we are very close to Mother Earth. Let's face it, we walk around on her enough. But we keep up all the traditional pursuits at Harvest. The Produce Table is piled high with windfall apples, manky onions and giant Pumpkins. The King of the Corn was declared last night, with the usual whimpering from Burton. In Beaker Times, the King of the Corn was put in the Wicker Man to give thanks for the current year's harvest, and as a sacrifice for next. In a similarly sacrificial way, we send him down to the Gary Cooper in Dunstable, there to spread the Good News and offer flowers to anyone with tattoos.

So all is safely gathered in. Tesco's bags are full of the produce of Indonesia, New Zealand and the myco-laboratories where they grow Quorn.  We view the fields and wonder, whether that really was a genetically-modified Barley crop there this year. And, considering it went down to the pub and demanded they release all the beer because "that's my cousins you're drinking there, you barbarians", we reckon maybe it was.

Happy Harvest!


  1. I was looking around the church this morning, and although the decorators did a lovely job as usual, I started wondering what it would look like if we used things we really gather. None of us are farmers, and not that many of use are gardeners, and we couldn't create piles of produce ourselves if we tried.

    Maybe we should have things like pay stubs, documents, various ores and paper products, well, maybe not those because I think the paper plants are mostly closed down. But the iron mines are doing great. Some things wouldn't fit, like roads with all the holes filled in, but we don't have many of those anyway. Nicely cooked meals. Children who know a little for for having attended our classes - or for having been raised by us.

  2. It was interesting this Harvest that in the five churches of our Rural benefice, no one had brought any apples. All had not had a crop worth displaying or sharing.

    I coming from an urban jungle, with a single hybrid apple tree in our garden had however a tremendous crop, which I delightedly distributed for use during the harvest services and for onward transmission to a particular shelter that we support.

    Why we should have such a full crop, God only knows. Because we have done little to encourage the tree. Ignored, it just got on with the nature stuff and did what it was destined. Ignoring frost, cats attacking and scratching it. High winds and gales. There must be a moral to this, but I can't for the life of me think what it is.

    So on with we plow and sow etc, etc.


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