Sunday 25 May 2008

Down the Doily Mines

It is wonderful how, as we become more familiar with the People Called Beaker, we are continually enlightened as to the wonders of this Rule of Life. I was yesterday initiated into one of the Beaker mysteries.

As is fairly well known, our Beaker outlets (such as the World of Woad, Woburn, the London Luton Airport Beakorium, Madame Eileen's waxworks in the Marylebone Road and the newly-opened EuroBeaker in Paris) do a roaring trade in authentic Beaker doilies. Doilies are a quintessentially Beaker object, their roundness and whiteness an echo of the beauty of the full moon.

Yesterday morning, with a solemn and reverent air, Hnaef drew we three novitiates to one side, and explained that we had so far enjoyed the Beaker environment in a state of leisure. Now we had to learn the other side of the Beaker Coin (of which, of course, no such thing existed - the original Beaker Folk living in a state of Edenic, pre-currency bliss, each meeting the others' needs, and never having their Advance Corporation Tax stolen).

Hnaef then led us to the Pressing Shed. Never before had we been allowed over the red-and-white tape that separates the Pressing Shed from the Orchard - even though we had oftentimes seen the more experienced Beakers heading down the path towards it after the Pouring-out of Beakers ceremony, and heard the groans of spiritual enlightenment and whacks of endeavour from within. Inside the Pressing Shed, we were shown a large stack of square blank sheets of genuine wholemeal doily paper; a doily press; and the doily-whacking machine. And for the rest of the day we three new Beaker Folk enjoyed the spiritual enliftment that can only be attained through brain-numbing manual work.

First Orville would select the next stack of doily blanks. She would arrange them on the press-plate. Then Gruntrothrix would slam down the doily-press, cutting through the paper as easily as a knife through formica. He would then pass them to me, and I would bang the holes out of the doilies - whacking handfuls of them against the whacking-bar, while the vacuum device sucked the resulting lint out into the recycling bag. To be honest after a while your wrist starts to hurt, but Young Keith came round every hour with flagons of traditional Beaker Cider to dull the pain and increase the spiritual intensity.

A truly wonderful experience of traditional Beaker Life. Unfortunately I have been coughing up lint all night - but Hnaef assures me that after a month or two my lungs will be used to it.

Tuesday 20 May 2008

Liturgical Colours

Can all Beaker Folk please note - now we are past Pentecost the official liturgical colour for hi-viz vests during Howling at the Moon ceremonies is Green. You can put the Yellow away until Yule...

Also, I'm afraid Burton is going to be missing tonight's Full Moon Pouring-out of Beakers in celebration of the Calling of the Council of Nicea. He had an unfortunate collision with a lump of ash. We hope he'll be better soon.


I never knew there would be so much involved in my novitiate period with the Beaker People of Husborne Crawley. The assignment was a real shock. 3000 words on "the liturgical use of hi-viz clothing". Strictly speaking it was a theological reflection. And this was under examination conditions.
Different conditions to the exams I did when a young Burton, as well. Every couple of minutes the Archdruid would strike my desk with an ashen club and shout "concentrate"!! No wonder the long-term Beaker Folk seem to spend so much time going over the wall.

Sunday 18 May 2008

Burton's first Moot

Dear Readers, how could one describe one's joy at one's first Moot? This first evening of the full moon (which one of the Extreeme Primitive Fertility Folk described as the "Tupping Moon", whatever that may mean) I was invited to the Moot, or - as the Beaker People say - "drawn Moot" to receive my Beaker Name. Along with Arthur and Maud Beesley, I went and stood before Archdruid Eileen - resplendent in her fake vegetarian roe deer horns - to be named. Arthur was very keen on being called Cymbeline, but Eileen thought this a bit Shakespearian, and called him Gruntothrix. Likewise Maud wanted to be called Boadicea. However the Archdruid pointed out that this was a nasty Roman transliteration and, history being written by the victors, gave her the name "Orville". I'm not sure if this was a traditional Beaker name, but she put up with it.

For myself, Eileen seemed quite taken with my given name anyway - "it sounds like a small village with a very large bypass in Oxfordshire", she remarked - and so I retain the name of Burton. It's distinctly Angle, rather than Beaker, but - do you know what - I think I may grow to like it.

Thursday 15 May 2008

Lager galore

Much celebration at the Community. On his way back from an overnight stay after teaching a seminar on Phases of the Moon at the Corded Ware Folk of Coventry, Keith was astounded to find the M1 covered in cans of lager.

Now none of us would want to condone the act of looting on a public highway. It's illegal and it's dangerous. But he did manage to pick up quite a lot before being moved on.

Meanwhile on the anniversary of the approval of the use of torture by the Spanish Inquisition, we are looking forward to this afternoon's historical presentation by Hnaef. We don't quite know what's going to be involved, but it sounds like something to do with extreme sports. Presumably "waterboarding" is related to "surfboarding"?

Tuesday 13 May 2008

A Beaker Initiation

A strange and wonderful occasion, my initiation as a Beaker Person.

I and the other new Folk were dragged from our beds in the bed at 2am by members of the Community. From the smell of ale and home-made cider, I can only assume they had been frequenting the White Horse prior to having a drop after-hours in the community Bar - perhaps the consumption of such libations is part of the preparations for this great event.

Before the event, I was made to change into the traditional Beaker clothing. Frankly I'm not sure how authentic the Cameron tartan is for a pre-Celtic tradition, but maybe that's where the Camerons inherited the design from...

Blind-folded, we three new initiates were led out of the orchard and across a field to the sound of tabors, pipes and - strangely - a saxophone. We were made to kneel while the chanting proceeded around us. Initially it was simply a repeated "Om", although someone - I suspect it may have been young Keith - varied this at one point to "Burn the Witch!". That they subsequently segued into "Summer is i cumen in" would make anyone who has seen The Wicker Man rather nervous. However the ceremony was pronounced to be complete, save for a ceremonial cleansing ceremony. I can't help thinking this was rather clumsily carried out, as we ended up face-down in the mud at the bottom of the brook. We waited for a while in the brook but, since nothing else happened, we presumed our initiation to be complete. Taking our blindfolds off we walked back to the Great House to discover that it was locked and dark.

Cold and wet, we realised we had to find somewhere to stay the night, so we were relieved to find the potting shed. However we were much less cheerful when we discovered that the Hermit of Suspicion and Hermit of Imprecation were both already in residence. One spent the rest of the night watching us very closely, while the other swore under his breath and occasionally threw pots at us.

The funny thing is, when I mentioned the Initiation this morning to Archdruid Eileen, she pretended not to know what I was talking about. Perhaps the secrecy is part of the rite?

Monday 12 May 2008

Burton joins the Folk

Dear Reader, perhaps I should explain my presence here. I am aware that I have occasionally graced the chronicles of the Beaker Folk over the last couple of years, acting as I did in the role of Independent Examiner of the Accounts. However over a bottle of mead at the Husborne Beltane Ball, the Archdruid persuaded me that I should join the community as a resident.

In many ways this has already meant great sacrifices. The Archdruid's insistence that I should surrender my credit card as part of the joining ceremony means that I can no longer pursue a materialist and self-centered life, having to be content with the simpler things.

It was strange filling in the entry form for membership of the Folk. Some of the details they ask for are quite strange. I don't see why they are particularly interested in my mother's maiden name, for example - although I am sure my date of birth must have some relevance.

However for the time being I am enjoying the peace and quiet - broken only by the sounds of the emergency services racing down the M1 from time to time, and the beeping of the industrial machinery over at the Marston Gate estate.

The Archdruid herself seems to enjoy a particularly spartan life, as an example to us all. However I was surprised to see the delivery of the complete works of Genesis (the group, that is) that arrived from Amazon this morning. Not to mention the frequent deliveries of fine wine that constantly seem to arrive from Tesco's in Kingston. I am sure they are for the good of the community. Perhaps she is planning for us to enjoy them during the three-week holiday she has unexpectedly booked on a private island in the Caribbean?

Wednesday 7 May 2008

Beaker Beltane Ball

The Husborne Crawley Beltane Ball will be held on Thursday evening, in the field behind Crow Lane.

We've gone for a sit-down meal this year. Unfortunately since we're in a field this means we'll be sitting on the grass. Bilgord has made a rather lovely dandelion soup which she's been boiling since last Friday, but the good news is we can get pizzas in.

Drink will be provided by Halfbeard. This will be a choice of dangerously strong meads, flavoured with herbs, chilli or ivy leaves and washed down with Husborne Scrumpy.

Music will be provided as follows:

Halfwit and his Musical Druids play the songs of the Bards (lyre and harp ensemble)
Stewartby Earth Music (Hnaef and his mates banging pebbles and lumps of bamboo together for several hours).

After Halfwit, Hnaef etc have been chased from the stage we have arranged for Mr Flares and his 60s Disco to provide a selection of appropriately hippy tunes for the rest of the evening.

Dress code this year is "Come as a tea-light".