Thursday 30 April 2009

May Madness

I'm glad to say that all preparations for Beltane are complete.  The bonfire, made of a whole mountain of pallets, is ready to go at 10pm sharp tonight.  And thanks to a loophole, burning them for religious purposes is defined as "recycling or re-use" and entitles us to an Eu grant.

Beltane is an important and ancient festival.  Naturally, since the ancient Beaker Folk didn't leave anything in writing, we don't know much about it.  But we reckon it was probably something to do with fertility.  These things mostly were.  In ancient times (eg Hardy novels) the young people of the village would head into the woods on May Eve and not come back until the morning.  Which explains why the Beaker Fertility Folk have been looking forward to this evening for months.  The Jack in the Green, burnt after the Samhain festivals the previous autumn, would be recreated in the fresh leaves of the coming season and readied for another summer of dancing.  The 'obby Oss would race around the settlement, harrassing maidens (or men - the ancient Beaker Folk were an equal opportunities religion).  We reckon.

A few bits of advice before the Great Day Tomorrow.

The pebbles piled up in the Orchard are for throwing at the Morris Dancers.  Please don't mis-use them for religious purposes.

The Maypole is an ancient fertility symbol and to be treated with respect.  Shouting "ooh-er missus - what a whopper" is unacceptable.

When we are singing "Summer is i-cumen in", chasing after Burton Dassett with armfuls of willow, matches and a wild look is also wrong.

For this year's Mead Tasting, competitors will strictly limited to one small glass per sample.  The shameful events of last year, when Selwy ended up laying on the ground shouting that she was channeling the spirit of a bee, are not to be repeated.

Tuesday 28 April 2009

That Petition

When I created the Beaker Free Speech Petition page I was expecting to see some sensible petitions being created.  Perhaps people asking for a new shade of Hi Viz, or suggesting that what I really needed was for the Community to pay for me to have a fourth home, or buy a nice table lamp and put it on the expenses.
But now what do I find but somebody has started a petition suggesting that I stand down as Archdruid of Husborne Crawley. 
Now clearly I'm as in favour of democracy as the next unelected and unpopular leader.  And public opinion is very important. 
That is why, having done some checking of IP addresses, three members of my newly formed Beaker Police went round to Drayton's room earlier and turned the place over.  Sadly he was out, and all we found was some love-letters from Drizella containing some particularly saucy details.
Since the Beaker Petition page has unaccountably crashed due to something that Young Keith described as "bandwidth issues", we have photocopied Drizella's letters and are passing them round the place.  I hope that will all keep you amused while we get the new anti-privacy software installed. 

Thursday 23 April 2009

New Moon a-comin'

I'm not sure what's got into the Gibbon Moon people this last week.  Obviously they always get a bit nervous as the moon wanes, but they're spending quite a lot of time outside howling at what's left of it this month.  For whatever reason they seem to think it's not coming back this time.   We tried to get the reason and a few of them are suggesting that it's Alistair Darling's fault.  A few of them even claiming that, with those eyebrows, he may actually be the Moon Gibbon.  Unlikely we reckon.  How would Darling have time to muck up the country that badly if he were the Moon Gibbon?
In an attempt to calm them down we're piping lemon balm-scented steam into the Gibbon Hut during the hours of daylight, when they tend to sleep off all the early mornings.  But so far there's no sign of anyone relaxing just yet, so we're going to have to try the hard stuff.  Lavendar.

Wednesday 22 April 2009

The Beaker Alternative Budget

There are one or two Beaker People going around the place looking forward to this afternoon's Budget, and convinced it will be full of good news.  I'm not sure what planet they're living on, but continue to be grateful they exist.  It's optimistic, idealistic people with money that make this Community what it is.
For the rest of you I've copied the proposals for a Beaker Alternative Budget, which I have emailed to the Chancellor.  Well to be honest, I emailed it to a random recipient.  But I'm sure the Government has read it anyway.  These proposals will form the core of the Beaker Party's manifesto at the next General Election or Husborne Crawley by-election.

Our proposals:

  • Swingeing increases in airport taxes and aviation fuel.  When you're on the Luton Airport fligh path it's murder on your quiet times.
  • Removal of the VAT on repairs to Moot Houses.
  • A special tea light tax, where 4p for every tea light bought in this country goes towards recycling all the aluminium that is used.
  • Halve the duty on beer sold in pubs, so people go out and meet friends again instead of sitting at home getting out of it on supermarket booze.  To replace the lost duty, and discourage teenage drinking, a doubling of duty on alcohol sold in the off-trade.
  • An extra road-widening tax on 4x4s, so the rest of us can get past them in narrow country lanes.
  • A car-park building tax on 4x4s, to pay for all the extra spaces we need because the average 4x4 takes up a space and a half.
  • The right for everyone in the country to go round to an MP's designated second home, and take one thing we like the look of.
  • All MPs with second homes to be forced to take in one homeless person as a lodger.
  • A 1p per tweet tax on Twitter.  That'll either shut Stephen Fry up or bankrupt him.
  • 10p per flag to be levied on people flying their national flags when they happen to be in a football tournament.  Since this would bear unfairly heavily on the English, we would also bring in taxes on being Welsh.
  • An "Iona tax" on the singing of "Celtic" songs with worthy sentiments but rotten poetry.
I hope you can see that the Beaker Party will have the interests of this country at its heart. 
And probably get more votes than New Labour.

Monday 20 April 2009

Pre-budget Contrition

In view of the forthcoming Budget we have decided that we will hold Three Days of Contrition.

Each day at 10am, the members of the Community, dressed in sackcloth, ashes and gray hi-viz, will proceed clockwise around the grounds thrashing themselves with willow sticks.  They will then walk anti-clockwise around the grounds, thrashing an effigy of the Chancellor with willow sticks.
In fact, it's not strictly an effigy of the Chancellor.  It's actually a doll of Bert from Sesame St, with some whitewash on his hair.  Nobody seems to notice much difference and there are rumours that Bert may understand monetary policy better than the real thing... 
We will then draw pictures of something we all bought in the good times, thinking we really needed it, but now realise that we will never pay off that loan, mortgage or credit card bill - as it may be a cappucino machine, a Segway, BMW Z4 M Roadster, Summer House, Wii Fit, Patio Heater, Xmas House Bling, magnetic tadpole collator or a collection of scented tea lights.  Then we will burn the pictures, thus ceremonially returning them whence they came.  But we'll keep the originals.  We may need to sell them on e-bay if things get any worse.  We don't need to come over all fundamentalist on this one.

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Pets Atone

Even worse news on the Community Pets front.  After Rubbles' passing, we laid his little body out to lay in state while the Beaker People passed in front.  Unfortunately Boudicca the cat saw an opportunity which it is true to say she seized with both paws.  And indeed both jaws.  
It would appear that Rubbles was still technically toxic waste, as now Boudicca has started skulking around the place looking shifty.  We think she may have taken on Rubble's burden of sin, and is in fact suffering from guilt.  The vet told us not to be so stupid, so we're dosing her with lemonbalm (to ease her conscience) and catnip (to cheer her up).  It's not easy, dealing with sin.

The Hamster of Atonement

We are today sad to announce the passing of Rubbles, the community hamster.

As many of you will be aware, Rubbles has never been a terribly happy hamster of late - you will recall that the problem started when we used a "sin-shredder" in an act of alternative worship. By the time that someone got totally frustrated with the noise of the shredder, and shoved a pound of plasticine it it, we had accumulated quite an amount of shredded paper, on which people had written the things they felt they needed to confess.

In an environmentally friendly kind of way, we used the shreddings to line Rubbles's cage, and that's where the trouble started. We believe he may have eaten some of the bedding, and inadvertently acquired the sins that had been disposed of on the pieces of paper.

Naturally, the contents of the sin-shredder were confidential. However given that Rubbles went on to a short but brilliant career as an internet banker, starting up a pre-pack limited company that specialised in selling bundles of sub-prime mortgages onto RBS, we suspect that greed may have featured highly.

The vet believes that Rubbles died of a hard heart. And we think he may be right.

Saturday 11 April 2009

Spin when you're winning

It is with sadness that I have to announce the resignation of my special adviser, Headwig, after emails were discovered in which he smeared prominent traitors and deviants.  Headwig made the foolish mistake of being found out, and he will have to live with the consequences. 
I will not try to defend Headwig.  It is clear that his claims that Drayton Parslow likes to dress up as a smurf and have postmen rub Ralgex onto his chest are juvenile and pathetic, even if I suspect that's just the sort of thing that Drayton would like.  So it is clearly right that he go.  But I am concerned that in order to get this information, somebody must have illicitly accessed Headwig's emails.  This is outrageous.  Obviously, I have recently taken on myself the responsibility to filter all emails into and out of the community, in case they contain threats to the freedom of thought, conscience and belief which we hold so dear.  But of course I can be trusted.  
I am sure the stain of this nasty affair need go no further than the scapegoat we have already driven into the wilderness.

Offering Strange Merchandise

Firstly, it was a great delight to be able officially to declare the Standing Stones open. Thirty-six beautifully arranged blocks of concrete, painted in a weatherproof buff polymer, then sandblasted to resemble sarsen.
And the Easter Full Moon festival was just the right time. Full of the hope of spring, resurrection, new life and fluffy bunnies. Particularly the fluffy bunnies. We know what sells, at the Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley.
Now we just have to await the Summer Solstice, to make sure that Hnaef's measurements were precise and the sun rises over the Amazon Warehouse in just the alignment that he predicted.

Meanwhile, I hate to spread a damper over the general eastery feelings but we seem to have an unauthorised producer of merchandise in the camp. I've noticed a number of people's 4x4s have acquired such as "Druids do it under the mistletoe", "Show us your Beaker, Big Boy" or "Honk if you don't think Eileen's a very good archdruid". Naturally, we can't name names until we've proof of who has been offering this strange merchandise for sale - but Drayton Parslow springs instantly to mind. The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley are a spiritual and serious attempt to discover a link between post-modern post-christendom church paradigms and the roots of our English past. As such, the brand is damaged by such tacky offerins. I - I mean, the Community, with me as nominal representative - own the copyright in the Beaker Folk, and the words Druid and Mistletoe. And we're not afraid to defend it in court.

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Tadpole Trouble

A simple rule for future reference. If you're going to try and achieve spiritual one-ness with a creature, at least make sure you're spiritually and intellectually its superior.
Egweld is currently sitting by the pond, chewing algae and looking forward to the day when he is a frog. Every now and then he decides to go for a lap of the pond and has to be dragged out, because he has never learnt to swim. He's also saying that all his psychological problems (which existed before yesterday's ill-fated ceremonies) are due to a traumatic hatching, and to the realisation that his father is a natterjack toad.
That toad business is even more concerning. Natterjacks being a protected species, Egweld is claiming we can't even remove him from the pond for his own good, and has employed lawyers to get an injunction forbidding members of the community from the surrounds of the pond on the grounds that "they keep looking at me funny". The Equal Rights people are even now on the case, demanding the right for Egweld to have the Moot House flooded so he can worship in the environment to which he is accustomed.

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Festival of Tadpoles

What creature is more appropriate to the Springtide season than the tadpole? A sign of new life, a graceful vegetarian, and with a hope one day of transformation to its full glory. The 2nd Tuesday after the first Sunday after the Spring Equinox will henceforth always be the Festival of Tadpoles.

Today's program:

8 am - Wriggling about

10 am - Wandering aimlessly in the Weeds

12 noon - Channeling the Spirit of the Tadpoles (at the pond)

2 pm - Forseeing a Froggy Future (spiritual envisioning and aspiration in an aquatic environment)

4 pm - Batrachian Browsings (in the Tea Room)

6 pm - Sponsored Swim (Dunstable Leisure Centre)

8 pm - Closing hymn - "If I were a tadpole" (adapted from "If I were a butterfly", and yet somehow even more patronising)

Friday 3 April 2009

Spring Clean

The spring air is upon us, and many a Beaker Person is casting a clout afore May is out.  Especially the Fertility Folk, for whom clouts are notoriously castable even at the coldest times.
But Spring brings with it spring cleaning.  The physical spring clean of buildings is familiar, of course.  But how often do we have a spiritual spring clean?
So as part of a spiritual spring clean, we have decided to purge the community of the following.  Not that we are saying all these are evil or deleterious to the corporate morality.  Although they may well be.  But better safe than sorry.  In any case, we are henceforth banning:

Goatee beards;
Children called "Edric", "Fleur" or similar;
Re-runs of the last series of "My Parents are Aliens".  It had thoroughly jumped the shark;
Personalised number plates;
Manchester United fans who were Chelsea fans until last year (and Arsenal fans before that);
People who are already disappointed by Obama;
Anyone who thinks Jonathon Ross deserves rehabilitation;
Anyone who also thinks Jonathon Ross is young and cutting-edge; 
Anyone who still thinks Grand Prix is a serious sport;
Anyone who talks about reducing the impact of climate change but daren't mention population;
The Google Street View van (I've a horrible feeling my bum looks big in hi-viz)
Tinted glasses;
People who think Newcastle don't deserve to go down;
Robert Peston;
Adele CDs;
Cats that their owners treat as if they are human beings;
Their owners; 
Personalised number plated car-drivers with tinted glasses and goatee beards.

I must away to dab my temples with cologne.  But be assured, the Banning Squad will be round later.

Wednesday 1 April 2009

April Fools Day

Once again an eagerly anticipated April Fools Day event has been ruined by the activities of a few.
We introduced the All Fools occasion as a special event that would encourage others from outside our community to see that Beakerism isn't all swanning around in hi-vis and cutting mistletoe.  Indeed, we wanted people to see the warm, light-hearted side of our faith.
Every year we advertise the service as starting at 8 am - but everyone knows it actually starts at 7.50, so we can have a quiet laugh at those arriving late.  That's just the sort of whacky people we are.
But somebody - we have no evidence, but Drayton Parslow is currently locked in the coal bunker on sus - went around the community last night moving all the clocks forwards by an hour.  We thought it was a bit dark, but put it down to weather conditions.  All the jokes and fun songs fell fairly flat when there were no children from the village there to enjoy them.  If all you're left with is a group of middle-aged hippies singing "if I were butterfly", we might as well re-join the mainstream.
The sticking onto people's backs of the April Fish is a traditional part of our All Fool's service.   It shows respect for others' traditions, in particular the garlic-loving cheesemongers from across the Channel.  Naturally I didn't take any particular notice of the one I received.  It is only now, sat in the study writing today's notices, that I observe that someone actually attached a notice to me saying "Drayton for Archdruid".  Again, I have my suspicions.
Finally, as we were wrapping up for the morning, all the villagers turned up (1 hour and ten minutes late, of course) and assumed we had just started.  Despite the onset of boredom, exhaustion and hypothermia, we were therefore compelled to do the whole thing again.
Frankly this April Fool's lark is no fun at all.