Wednesday 30 September 2009

The Beaker Bible

Now that the world's not ending after all, and it's worth carrying on with the process, I'm excited to announce the work-in-progress that is the "Beaker Bible".

We here at the Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley have always been dedicated to the pursuit of inter-faith dialogue.  But at the same time we have suffered from the tendency of the Bible, a noteworthy and uplifting book in many ways, to descend into genocide, rough justice and religious exclusivity at the least expected moments.  We are therefore busily engaged in getting the Bible up-to-date, in the way that God would appreciate now (s)he has had another couple of thousand years' experience of how the world works.

Highlights include:


After the unfortunate "flashing" incident, Ham is given counselling, while Noah has to sign the sex offenders register.

When asked to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham responds "No way, Guv.  You're right out of order."  And having agreed that an alternative animal sacrifice is out, they roast a butternut squash.

Lot is taken into custody by Gomorrah social services, while his daughters are given council houses.


Returning from the Promised Land bearing a cluster of grapes (for which they have paid a fair-trade price), Caleb and Joshua persuade Moses that the best way forward is some kind of two-state solution.


Having seen the error of his ways, Haman returns to the Government as Home Secretary.


It is made explicitly clear that the so-called "Three Kings" were in fact "An unspecified number of Wise Persons, of varied ethnicity, gender and sexuality". 

Matthew remains a tax collector - a responsible job and vital to society, without which no redistributive economic policy could ever work.


Instead of being healed, Legion is awarded a grant to start a career in street theatre.  The pigs are left to graze safely.


The Shrewd Manager gets 5 years for fraud, while the Servant who buried his talent is praised for resisting the temptations of the bonus culture.


14:6 - "No-one comes to the Father except through me, or certain acceptable alternatives"


War in Heaven ceases after the Dragon signs an Antisocial Behaviour Agreement.

Everybody gets into the City at the end, after the camp for "the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars" gets knocked down by the Immigration department.  They are granted asylum on the grounds that if they are deported they will be thrown into a lake of burning sulphur.

Free at last

Who would have thought it?  After all the fire lighters, petrol and solar panel experiments Young Keith's rocket finally got airborne.
I put it all down to the use of barbecue charcoal for fuel.  After three days of trying to get it alight it goes up in flames in the middle of the night, terrifying all the Beaker People who thought the end of the world had just arrived a few hours later after all.
We don't know when or where it's going to come down, but one thing that's guaranteed for a rocket made of pallets and powered by charcoal - it's not gonna stay up there all night.

Tuesday 29 September 2009

That Beaker Address in Full

Beaker Folk of Great Britain.
It's good to see the support you continue to have for me, as evidenced by the way that this Moot House is resolutely half-full.  Definitely not half-empty.
I know that there are grumblings over the events of the last week or two - organised, needless to say, by people we will not dignify by mentioning the name of Drayton Parslow - but consider.  When I discovered that the world was ending, I took instant action.  We organised a substantial injection of tea lights into the spiritual economy.  We took action against those whose greedy actions had caused the imminent end of the world.  And we arranged a Day of Rolling in Ashes.  Obviously, I cannot claim that these actions alone prevented the world from ending.  There is the additional consideration that Young Keith's figures were appallingly miscalculated.  But I do not consider that to be any reason to deprive him of his position as Treasurer.
I would now like to turn to the claims that I have been using therapeutic substances to enable me to continue in my role as Archdruid.  What is wrong with lavender oil?  Its soothing effects have been known since the Ancient Greeks first put lavender in their pillows.  Likewise, camomile is a calming herbal remedy, and there is no evidence that the two together can result in any ill effects such as throwing staplers at Hnaef.
Enough of dealing with such scuttlebutt.  I am here this evening to draw out the roadmap of the future.  And I'd like to unfold that roadmap and lay it on the floor now.
In the matter of voting.  Many people have complained that there is no chance of anyone else becoming Archdruid.  I am now pleased to introduce a more democratic system.  From now on we will be using the "Archdruid's Transferable Vote".  Under ATV, you all get to vote for who you want as Archdruid.  And if I don't like the result you all get to vote for an alternative until I'm elected.
On the subject of Community finances.  We are committed to supporting an increasing number of charities in the coming year.  Some have questioned the wisdom of spending more money at a time of financial restrictions.  But we have committed to making efficiency savings.  From now on, hot water will only be available on alternate Tuesdays, and we will be saving electricity in the Doily Shed by working in all hours of daylight during the Summer.  We will sadly be making a number of redundancies - losing both the gardeners and the receptionist.  But we will be investing those savings in creating six new posts for "redundancy advisors", to help the gardeners and receptionist to look for new jobs.
On the subject of trouble-making and anti-social behaviour.  Since we started opening the Community Bar (suggested donations only - selling alcohol would be illegal) 24 hours a day, there has been an unrelated rise in agro.  We will crack down on this.  We are going to create four new posts for Beaker Community Stewards.  These people will have no actual powers, but will be equipped with a whistle and authorised to tutt loudly in the direction of anyone who is causing trouble.
Finally, we have been concerned for some time about the plight of unmarried teenage mothers.  To crack down on - sorry, help -  these unfortunates, we are going to open a Beaker Dormitory for them to stay in, to learn such important life skills as scrubbing floors and needlework.  To staff St Magdalene's we are instituting a new chapter of the Beaker Folk, the "Little Sisters of Drudgery".
So join me in building a better Beaker future!  Take no notice of the slick showmanship of Drayton Parslow, with his dinky bike helmet and quiff.  With me you can rely on solidity, seriousness and turtles.  Sorry, truth.  I've no idea why I said turtles.  Must have been the ylang-ylang.

The End of the World - a major Correction

Seeing's we're all still here, a feel a few explanations are in order. It would appear that when calculating the date of the End of the World, Young Keith divided by the radius of the Stonehenge outer sarsen circle. Clearly he should have used the outer ditch. Also, he employed the height of the Great Pyramid as it is now, when he should have included its original marble cladding.
The End of the World, it turns out, is now scheduled for 10th January 2765.
Sorry to have worried you all.

The End of the World - a minor correction

I did say Greenwich Mean Time, didn't I? All prophetic oracles are GMT, not BST.

The Great Day

A clear blue sky as the sun climbs this fine Husborne Crawley morning. It's a lovely day for the world to end.

Please can I remind everyone to be on the Knoll at 4pm sharp for the preliminary supplications. At 4.28, the angels holding hands that keep the Universe together, thus giving rise to the myth of "dark matter", will let go of each other's hands, thus causing the whole Creation to fly apart. At 4.30 precisely we expect the M1 to be rolled up like a carpet. We righteous Beaker Folk will stand in the midst of the chaos as we watch the old world washed away. And Husborne Crawley will be the new Jerusalem. Or else we'll all get wiped out. That much of the vision is sadly still a bit hazy.
Hang on tight, it's going to be a bumpy ride.
Can all Beaker Folk please note that, due to the swine flu precautions, they should keep at least 1 m of personal space between themselves and any other Beaker Person during the End of the World.

Monday 28 September 2009

The End of the World... a confession

In view of tomorrow's End of the World I feel it's best that I get a few things off my chest.  I've checked with the Archdruid and it's fine.

I've always had a bit of a "thing" about authoritarian, middle-aged women in hi-viz.  Ever since I was in class 3C with Mrs Milling.  When I saw the Archdruid I knew that at last I could be fulfilled.  But in fact it's been so hard.  Often she's not even noticed me.  Sometimes I thought she was secretly in love with Hnaef.  Even though he was posh.
It is so intense, this love I have, that sometimes I couldn't concentrate on the words to Iona Community liturgy.  Especially all those songs that sounded a  bit like a bad Scottish jig.  All that poetry that didn't quite work - it all reminded me of the Archdruid.
And it wasn't Drayton Parslow who painted the words "Eileen is a bad businesswoman" all over the Moot House after the great doily shop debacle.  It was I.  It was a cry for help, but still she didn't notice me.
I feel much better having got this off my chest.  I know that as the world ends tomorrow, I will at last have been true to my own self.

God bless you all.  I hope to see you in a better place.  Better than Husborne Crawley, at any rate.

Still no take-off

I've had to have a word with Young Keith.  It's bad enough that he pinched the solar panels off the Whittling Shed to try and power his rocket.  But given that the sun is going to turn to ashes there's not going to be a very reliable power source tomorrow, is there?  He then tried to convert the council's JCB into a "space tractor".  I think the fear may be getting to his mind.
Meanwhile I suggest we all hunker down when we get back from the White Horse and meet on the Knoll about 4pm.  For once, if you're late you won't miss anything.
By the way, if anyone wishes to do some last-minute atoning, feel free to put any cash or valuables you wish to donate to the poor in the basket in my office.  I'll get it to the poor as soon as poss.

Day of Rolling in Ashes

In the hope that we may be spared the forthcoming conflagration, while the rest of the world burns, today is officially a Day of Rolling in Ashes.
Now I know that in the past we have kept our ceremonies generally cheerful. But this is a bit different so let's get down there and grovel. Whatever it is we're grovelling to.

8 am - Wailing

8.30 am - Gnashing of Teeth

9 am - Rolling in Ashes

9.30 am - Grovelling

10.00 am - Snivelling

10.30 - Blaming the Baptists

11.00 am - Blaming the Atheists

11.30 am - Blaming the U.N.

12 mid-day - Blaming Delia Smith

12.30 - Weeping

13.00 - Shuddering

13.30 - Imposition of Ashtrays

14.00 - Ducking & Diving

14.30 - Reading the Runes

15.00 - Wishing we hadn't

15.30 - Gnarling (temporarily re-instated)

16.00 - Apologies

17.00 - Early withdrawal to the White Horse for the night. Well, we might as well.

Dress code: Sack-cloth.

Sunday 27 September 2009

Lift Off

Well done to Young Keith for completing his rocket a full two days before the expected end of Life, the Universe, and Everything.  Incredible.  However I still had my doubts about whether the pinewood construction could resist the vacuum of space, and the bubble wrap he used for the windows was also a little... flaky, let's say.  Even with the world ending, it's not a vehicle I would want to spend the last three minutes of my life screaming in.
Unfortunately Keith also had some problems with his propulsion method.  We all expressed doubts.  I'm not sure that barbecue charcoal can even sustain a flame in a vacuum.  However Young Keith has been on a fake moon-landings website, and assures me it's air all the way up.  Up to where, he was rather vague on.  However, nothing daunted he still carried out the test firing.  This would normally be the point at which any Beaker endeavour goes up in smoke and ends in tears.  But you know what it's like, trying to light a barbecue.  He's still out there, and I don't believe he's gonna get the sucker going by Tuesday.
Meanwhile, in what seems like a strange irony, a direct-line descendent of Ghengis Khan has showed up with a bulldozer and announced that he's got to bulldoze the Great House to build a bypass.  Hnaef is laying down in front of it for us while we consider what to do next.
Anyone got an Electric Thumb?

Friday 25 September 2009


I've been pestered by many Beaker People to allow an early introduction of Christmas Bling.  As you remember, in previous years we have had a number of disagreements over the correct date for the lighting of Bling - sometimes people have tried to light up their LED Santas as early as November 1st.  However some might regard late September as a little early.
Not this year.  Since we know there's not gonna be a Christmas, you go ahead.  The sooner the better.  I like a bit of bling for the end of the World.

An auspicious anniversary

I note from the calendar that it is the anniversary of the "Solemn League and Covenant" - the date when the religious and state powers of two nations came together to agree to fight a man who claimed the Divine Right of kings.  It seems an appropriate anniversary as the end of the world swirls around us here.
Outside the men are digging up the road, in the belief that it will last more than four days.  Above us we see the planes from Luton airport, carrying people to destinations from which they will not return, and in the distance we hear the sound of people zooming up the M1, under the strange belief that they'd rather be in Birmingham or in London than wherever they started off from.  Truly it is as in the days of Noah.
Keith's rocket is half-built already.  I'm not convinced that pallet wood is necessarily going to withstand the rigours of space flight, let alone the consumption of the entire universe in dust and ashes.  But it's handy to keep busy as we await these final hours.  Keeps your mind off things.  Personally I've been selling the belongings of various Beaker Folk, planning to give the proceeds to the poor.  

Thursday 24 September 2009

...and all that entrails

We needed more specific information on the forthcoming End of the World. So in line with Beaker tradition we checked out a chicken's entrails. We had to wait for them to thaw out after we got back from Tesco's but the new results are unanimous. The Hedgehog of Time will meet the Juggernaut of Doom in the middle lane of the Motorway of Eternity at about 4.30 on Tuesday afternoon. Young Keith is already building a rocket, but I doubt he'll build it in time and in any case, since my latest prophecy is for the entire universe to fold up like a Chemistry student's cagoule, I can't see where exactly he thinks we're going to go.
I'm just off for a chant now. I may be some time.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

A Rapture in the Space-Time Continuum

I have some remarkable news I'd like to share with you all.  I think it's best I don't keep it to myself.

While locked in the library after my minor wobble regarding the coming of Autumn I spent some time reading the book of Daniel, details of the Mayan calendar, some Egyptian prophecies and the precise orbits of a number of Near Earth Objects.  Following a hunch, I had Young Kevin run some figures through the Beaker Computer.  He had some trouble aligning the megaliths but eventually we managed to get the results out.

On Tuesday 29th - Michaelmas, in the Christian calendar - the asteroid 2009 XX43 will crash into the Moon.  The debris from this collision will be kicked out towards the earth in a cloud which will fall as what appears to be shooting stars.  The people of Earth will be drawn out to see the meteorite cloud.
On Wednesday 30th people will awake to find they are blind.
On Thursday 1st - the vision becomes slightly hazy.  But large plants with stinging appendages seem to be involved in some way.  Whatever.   It's bad news.

If anyone needs me after Monday I'll be in the cellar.  If anyone wants the lavender oil, I'll have it.

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Proof that God exists

Everyone has been asking for proof that God exists.  Some have been getting terribly excited.  I've heard some awful theories about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and the Quantum theory that without an observer nothing could happen, so where was the observer in the first place?  Not to mention the fine-tuning of the strength of gravity, the value of the Boltzmann constant and whether dark matter is really there, or it's angels holding hands that keep the universe together.  All the usual Sunday School stuff, really. So I'd like to settle this once and for all.

1) Keep calm
2) Light a tea-light.
3) Play some Enya.  "Shepherd Moons" is always nice, and so fitting to these kinds of scientific discussions.
4) Drink some camomile tea.
5) Give it a day or so.   It'll pass.
6) Try not to wear anoraks.  The hoods suck the spirituality straight out of your head.

I hope this has helped everyone to understand the evidence for the existence of God.

Darkness visible

All Beaker Folk are invited to attend this evening's Equinoctial Bonfire on the green.  And tomorrow night's.  And Thursday's.  We're going to keep driving the darkness away until the pallets run out.  And after that we'll just have to try whistling.

Monday 21 September 2009

Autumn Equinox - that Sermon in full

Was it Kipling who referred to Autumn as "a time of mists and mellow fruitfulness"? Once again the Equinox has crept upon us, as we have pursued the ancient Beaker activities of picking blackberries, pressing cider, chopping wood and chasing Morris Men around the orchard with pointy sticks whenever they appear.
But I digress. This is a time to celebrate the fruit of the earth. The golden apples tell us of a time of the first light that Eden saw play. We dance in the dew of morning, before retreating for a mustard footbath to ensure we don't lower our resistance in this time of swine flu. We watch the rooks and seagulls as they follow the shining plough. And all the time we are aware that the year is drawing towards its death.

This is a time of balance. Of uncertainty. Of things being, and then yet not quite being after all. As of when a curtain is drawn and the outlines in the room become blurred - just before the police turn up. Do you feel it? Do you feel the sharpness in the air on a late September morning? The leaves as they hurtle to their doom - destined only for the cycle of decay and rebirth, decay and rebirth? Do you see the blight in the apple that thas been left too long? The wasps that infest the orchard all buzz out their message of desolation.
And every day the darkness grows. The sun rises a little further south, giving up the north to the powers of the dark. The darkness grows like a pool of ink, spreading out across the darkling hemisphere. The nights grow longer. We remember tales of ghosts and spirits, dragons and goblins.

Throw down your hi-viz! Why celebrate the darkness? Why embrace the despair and oppression? Why dance as the lights go out across the continent? The Dark! The Dark! Aaagggh!

(the Archdruid runs from her Sermoning Chair out into the fields).

Sunday 20 September 2009

More on balance

More on preparations for the Equinox.  Please for this special occasion can you all ensure you bring your beakers along on Tuesday.  As is appropriate for this time of year, beakers should be half full.  Or, if you're of a less optimistic disposition, half empty.
We'll leave it up to you what to half-fill your Beakers with (or what to half-empty them of), but acceptable possibilities are water from the Beaker Spring (which I can bless for a reasonable fee); mead; beer; milk; cider; Yoplait; olive oil.  Last year Orloff brought along a half-empty beaker of vodka, and didn't really play much of an active part in the ceremony at all.  So I'd suggest a maximum ABV should be in place.
Bobbing for Apples will form a large part in the festivities of welcoming the Autumn (or Fall, for our American Gibbon Moon contingent); but we're going to hold the pumpkin fight over until Samhain.

Saturday 19 September 2009

In search of perfect balance

And so we drift towards the Equinox.  The time when dark and light are equally matched.  The time when we start the long, inexorable plunge into darkness.  As the heat evaporates from the land and the light is withheld, we will be taking up our positions in the Orchard at 10pm on Tuesday Night for our six-monthly Celebration of Balance.
After Hnaef's plunge into the duck pond caused all those feathery fatalities in March, there will be no funambulism this year.  We will instead be lighting alternate tea lights, as a symbol of halfway-ness.  Everyone is to wear brown hi-viz - halfway between green and orange.  I know that the mere sight of it is enough to bring on feelings of nausea, but they are suitable for this time of year, and it's the only way I could flog them.  Meanwhile on the subject of suggestibility - does anyone have Darren Brown's number?  There are still four people stuck on their chairs.  We carried them out onto the lawn because it was getting so smelly inside, but we are concerned that even rain may not persuade them to move.

Friday 18 September 2009

Darren Brown

And what a night of it we had in the TV Room as we all watched the Darren Brown programme this evening.

Probably 50 per cent of the Beaker Folk present (let off from Moonwatch specially) were left stuck to their chairs.

We're really pleased.

We know which 50 per cent to aim the next fund raising campaign at. 

Thursday 17 September 2009

New Harvest Moon

The New before the Harvest Moon is upon us.  Please can all Beaker Folk appear in appropriate ceremonial smocks at  6am tomorrow morning, ready to call on the Lunar Sprites to revive the lost moon.  Gibbon Moon folk are excused as they are already running around the Orchard gibbering, and will probably do so for the next two or three days.

Wednesday 16 September 2009

The Science v Religion Game

As the nights draw in our thoughts start to turn towards the Autumnal Equinox, to falling leaves, and to board games.  We've bought the latest exciting board game - "Science v Religion" which you can all feel free to play in the Library.  No violence please.  Complete rules are below.

The Basic idea

The players take up a position on either side of the fence.  They take it in turns to throw their cards over it.  The aim of each card is to trump the other team's previous card.  For example, if the Science player plays the "Spanish Inquisition" card, the Religion team might play the "Darwinian eugenics" card.  Likewise a "Homophobia" card might be met by a "Gays will burn in Hell" card - or possibly by a "My vicar's gay actually, but he just doesn't shout about it" card.  Although the latter card is rare, and only available in the limited Edition "C of E" game pack, where you're allowed to sit on the fence.

Special Cards

The "Voltaire converted on his deathbed" card is of doubtful worth.

The "Bible says" card is worth either a million points or none, depending upon which side of the fence you are. 

"Sister Wendy" is better than " Jimmy Carr".

The "Bono" card scores highly but everyone's a bit embarrassed to play it.

Two "Problem of Suffering" cards are equivalent to three "Original Sin"s.

The "Hitler" cards are powerful but have different effects - depending on whether you are playing the "Anthropology of the 3rd Reich" card, "Catholic Hitler" or the "Hitler was an atheist" card.  If you play "Vegetarian Hitler" you're in the wrong game.

The "Richard Dawkins" card can be played by either side at any time.  It scores 100 points, but doesn't really make any difference to the final result, although occasionally it will make someone turn the board over.

The "Fossils are an invention of the Devil" card is no use whatsoever to anyone.

The "Hubble Telescope" card is lovely. 

How to Win the Game

Nobody ever does.

Monday 14 September 2009

Ten Random Beliefs

According to various commentators this is the latest "meme."  And who are we to miss out on a meme?

1. Thin places are where earth and heaven join.  How dangerous is that?  They must be marked out and isolated.

2. Lavender is more soothing than lemonbalm, but it's not as gentle.

3. "Jumbo packs" is probably a bad advertising line for sanitary products.

4. Alternative therapies are great, except if you're actually ill.  Then you need a doctor.

5. Whale song is overrated.

6. Steven Fry probably ought to be quiet for a bit.

7. Tea lights and pebbles are good.

8. There is no belief so bizarre that someone can't make money out of it.

9. All paths lead to God.  Except the M1 southbound after Junction 2.  That goes to Staples Corner.

10. The Moon Gibbon doesn't really exist.  Unless, of course, that's your personal belief in which case we respect your faith.

Charity begins at home

We seem to have cocked up slightly on this one.  For the last two years we have been collecting assiduously for the "Smelling dogs for the Anosmic" charity.  A lot of Beaker time and effort went into this.  Young Keith single-handedly cycled from Little Brickhill to Northampton on his cycling pub crawl.  OK, he spent six months in hospital after he accidentally cycled down the "up" slip road of Junction 14, but he got into a lot of pubs and made a lot of money.
Likewise Drayton Parslow spent three weeks sitting in a bath of baked beans.  He wasn't sponsored or anything, he just thought it might be interesting.
Hnaef's sponsored Beowulf reading clashing with the Brass Bandathon was likewise an exciting but strangely unlikely way of raising money.  But let's face it, it's not about doing anything sensible or constructive - it's the thought that counts.
So after all that we finally raised the money. And "Honey" arrived.  A lovely golden labrador that has been trained to be a Smelling Dog for the anosmic.  
Now I'll confess, I hadn't really thought how this would work.  Maybe, I thought, the dog learns how to mime certain dangerous aromas - gas, for example, or smoke.  Maybe - at a pinch - it could indicate that a particular meal was a bit strong on the garlic. 
It never occurred to me that when Honey was described as a "smelling dog" that's exactly what she is.  All the genes that produce the smell of wet labrador, carefully crossed for maximum effect.
I hope we can move back into the Great House next Tuesday.  If the cleaners can find the necessary NBC suits.

Saturday 12 September 2009

Dunstable Downs Bunny Hugging

A truly eventful day.

The sacred associations of bunnies are of course well known - from the sacred hare of the goddess Eostre, from whom we get our English words "yeast", "yesterday" and "erstwhile", to the bunnies that are in fact little gnomes in the prophecies of Madeline Bassett.  Not to mention the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland - leading Alice into a world turned upside down.

So what better way to experience the sacred than in hugging bunnies in a traditional Beaker location such as Dunstable Downs?  Home of the 5 Knolls round barrows, the great Long Barrow and the location for the traditional Dunstable ritual of rolling oranges down Pascombe Pit: a ceremony which we are sure must date back to Beaker Times, when the climate was warm enough to grow oranges in Dunstable.

How were we to know that the bunnies didn't want to be hugged?  Chasing them all over the downs, we managed not to get near a single one.  After an hour or so of trying, we had to deal with an officer from the RSPCA.  By that stage, of course, we also needed medical assistance for Burton who, in the process of chasing a potential hug, fell down Pascombe Pit in the manner of aforesaid oranges.  He only stopped rolling when he collided with a courting couple hidden in a clump of brambles halfway down.  The police arriving and treating Burton as a potential peeping Tom only added to our worries.

There is an unfortunate tendency of small furry animals, when in contact with this community, of being accidentally eaten.  Or even, in one case, implanted with the electronics from a Blackberry and, a weird electronic rodent hybrid, taking part in a shootout on Weymouth seafront.  So I'm going to turn down all requests for us to buy a Community Hug Bunny.  Drayton's offer to dress up in a giant rabbit costume to offer hugs to all and sundry is, I'm afraid, best described as a cry for help.

No, if anyone wants to do any hugging, they're just going to have to hug trees instead.  At least they don't run away.  But due to the Swine Flu policy, we will insist that you wrap cling-film round the trunks first.  And no sharing of trees.

Friday 11 September 2009

Commemoration for the Official Apology of Gordon Brown (PM) to Alan Turing

The Archdruid writes: Firstly some explanations may be in order.  Many of our Australian readers, and indeed our American cousins, who apparently are generally Moon Gibbon followers, may be under the impression that the British Prime Minister is still Tony Blair, or possibly even Margaret Thatcher.  In fact, both these esteemed leaders have since retired, although Mr Blair continues to have a role as an even more charismatic and pluralistic religious leader than myself, giving instructions to his disciple, the strangely named "Benedict XVI" and numerous Muslims throughout the world on how to bring world peace, see that all religions are in fact true, and ensure that things only get better.  No - in fact the British Prime Minister is now a man called Gordon Brown.

The Celebration

Archdruid: Let heaven and earth rejoice!  For Gordon Brown has apologised to Alan Turing on our behalf!
All: Alan Turing?  Who's he then?

Archdruid: That bloke at Bletchley Park?  - Just up the road.  You must remember.  Enigma?  Colossus?
All: No, you'll have to remind us a bit more...

Archdruid: Batted for the other side....?
All: Oh Yeah!  Rejoice!  For Gordon Brown has apologised to him. 
All: By the way - Why?  What did Gordon Brown do to him?
Archdruid: Well, nothing really.

All: So how can he apologise to him?  
Archdruid: He's not doing it for him, is he?  He's apologising for all of us.
The Youngest member of the Folk: But I wasn't even born at the time.  How come he's  apologising for me?
Archdruid: In a sense, we're all guilty.
Burton Dasset: Well, I'm not.

Archdruid: Let us now pronounce the Litany of Things for Which We're Sorry Even Though We're not Responsible for them and Don't Really Feel Guilty and Don't Plan to do Anything About Them.

Archdruid: For the Persecution of the Anabaptists:
All: We're truly sorry.

Archdruid: For the burning of Archbishop Cranmer
All:  We're truly sorry.

Archdruid: And for the loss of Calais
All:  We're truly sorry.

Archdruid: For the conversion of the Dutch by Wilibrord of Northumbria, thus laying the foundations for the South African branch of the Dutch Reformed Church and therefore apartheid... 

All:  We're truly sorry.

Archdruid: For the entire British Empire, obviously excluding Jersey, which is nice for a holiday:
All:  We're truly sorry.

Archdruid: For the Battle of Waterloo

All:  We're truly sorry.

Archdruid: For the pit ponies, and all the dear little canaries in the coal mines:
All: We're truly sorry.

Archdruid: For witch trials, and especially for poor Elizabeth Pratt, who got arrested on Dunstable Downs and had to share a prison with John Bunyan.  Imagine all that Psalm singing.

All:  We're truly sorry.

Archdruid: And for imprisoning John Bunyan:

All:  We're truly sorry.

Archdruid: For the wiping out of the Levellers, the 17th century egalitarians and religious nutters:

All:  We're truly sorry.

Archdruid: And for all the religious nutters:  

All:  We're truly sorry.

Archdruid: For the inflicting of Tom Jones on the world:
All:  It's not unusual. No, scratch that. We're truly sorry.
The Archdruid and Beaker Folk head off to the Great House, smug and self-satisfied.

Wednesday 9 September 2009

Comparative Religious Exam Paper 1 - Modern Christian Songs

Answer one (1) question only from each section.  


1. "I'll become even more undignified than this.  Na, na, na, na, na, na!  Hey!"  Justify this lyric, writing only in green crayon for your own protection. 

2. "Broken I stand, mercy I need."  Consider the possibility that "Kindle the Flame" was written by Yoda. 

3. "More Lord.  I must have more Lord." Struggle to sort out the grammar in this.

4. Discuss the concept of psychological impossibility in the context of the phrase "Forget about yourself and concentrate on him".

5. "This is the Year when hearts go free."  Which year was he thinking of?


1. "Kumbaya O Lord, Kumbaya".  What are the chances?

2. EITHER (a) "I am the Lord of the Dance, said he" - appalling hippy nonsense or Hindu syncretism? OR (b) Why on earth did Kevin Prosch think it was worth updating?  You may accompany your answer with diagrams of people in loon pants.

3. "Morning has broken" - just what on earth is being worshipped here?


1. "I want to be out of my depth in your love".  How deep, in your opinion, would be sufficient?

2. "Celtic" worship - rediscovered tradition with deep spiritual significance or a bunch of blokes with beards singing earnest lyrics with poor poetry?

3. Discuss the dangers of mixing metaphors in the context of the phrase "come and fill your lambs".

4. Why do so few men come to church?  Discuss in the light of the lyrics "Come hide me in your arms and calm my restless heart" and "my lover's breath is sweetest wine, I am his prize and he is mine."

5.   "Let me have my way among you, do not strive"  - how uncomfortable should this make you feel?

Tuesday 8 September 2009

2012 - some necessary reassurance

Many Beaker People have been beside themselves with worry at the thought that the world may end in 2012.  Yordred has been reading the signs of the times, Gilbrethionel has been drinking solidly since he heard the news, and Burton Dasset has made himself an Anderson shelter in the orchard.  I did ask Burton how, if the world is going to end, sitting in a hole with a piece of corrugated iron over him is going to help and he said it worked for his granny, so it's good enough for him.  Hey ho.

Many have asked for my spiritual advice, and here it is:
  • The Mayan civilisation was so bad at forseeing the future that they didn't twig that the right thing to do when meeting a Spaniard carrying a crucifix and a gun was to run as far and fast as they could.  What are the chances they could get the end of the world right?
  • 2012 is the London Olympics.  After the fiasco of forty years of failing to land a major sporting event, it is probably a good year to expect Hell to freeze over, rather than the end of the world.
  • Many New Age people predict that 2012 will be the year that everything becomes much better - an age of the Spirit when everyone will be in touch with their inner Tweenie.  Oh hang on, they did that in 1968 as well.
  • The extreme evangelical Christians think 2012 will be the end.  But they also thought Jimmy Swaggart was plausible, that orange is the correct skin tone for church leaders, and that the number of the Beast can be found encoded onto groceries.

In order to settle everyone's nerves, we will be holding a series of  "2012 - Business as Usual" sessions in the Big Tent that we've brought in while we're clearing the new Moot House of clay. As a tribute to the indigenous peoples (or mostly former peoples) of middle America we will be playing Gabriel's Oboe on a loop while lighting tea lights representing every day from now to 1 January 2013.  And Hnaef will be selling the 2012 calendars that we managed to buy cheap from an evangelical stationer. We'll be knocking off 10% because for some reason they don't go past 21 December.

Monday 7 September 2009

Summer Fete

All in all, it's not been the worst Fete we've ever held.  Inasmuch as the police forces of three counties weren't needed to control the riots this time.
Naturally the Provisional Wing of the Met Office were out in force.  Their basic complaint being that September 6 isn't Summer at all but Autumn.  I pointed out to them that according to all competent folklorists, amateur weather forecasters, diaries and druids the Summer doesn't end until the Autumnal Equinox.  And since that didn't stop them picketing we threw them in the brook.  That seemed to work.

The "Gladiators" game seemed to be easily the most popular.  However I'm sure if we'd put those big cotton-buddy things on the end of the sticks like they use in the programmes, there would have been a lot less bruises sustained.  The "Bucking Bronco" was also very profitable.  It was nice to see the screams of delight as Beaker Folk were thrown far and yon.  
Ducking for Apples is always popular, but Young Keith went a bit too far.  Using cider apples instead of eaters was a nasty trick.  I've never seen a queue for the toilets that long at a fete.

Once again there were accusations of cheating at the Fruit and Veg show.  Drayton tells me he has no idea how all that mercury got inserted into his prize pumpkin - but certainly it was the heaviest in modern history.  Likewise there were claims that somebody had been through Burton Dassett's cabbage patch with a Slazenge cricket bat.

All in all we raised the grand total of £12.45.  The cost of hiring generators, bucking bronco, bouncy castles etc was £2,456.  Thanks to all concerned in making this Summer Fete the most successful we have yet held.  And I'm ever so pleased to have won the first prize in the category for best cabbage.  Next year I may even try growing one.

Friday 4 September 2009

Full Moon / Death of Keith Waterhouse

The massed armies of Ambrosia march into the clearing.  The president (aka Archdruid) receives their salute.

Archdruid: Did I tell you my uncle is the king of Yorkshire?
All:   Nay, lass, surely not?

Archdruid: And I used to be an astronaut before becoming a newspaper columnist?
All: Ah'll go to 't foot of us stairs.

Archdruid: And do the drunks still run around 't town on a Saturday night?
All: 'appen as they do.  Specially at full moon.

Archdruid: Ah'll be thraiped if they don't.
All:  'appen as you're right, Mr Shadrack.

Archruid: I announce the banns of marriage between Billy Fisher, bachelor of this parish, and Rita, and between Billy Fisher, bachelor of this parish, and Barbara, and between Billy Fisher,  bachelor of this parish, and a fair number of oother lasses who he's a'coortin'.  Anyone know any reason why he shouldn't marry these lasses?
All: Yes.  He's in love with Liz.

 Archdruid: Shall us all run off to London in search of Aberrant Apostrophe's?
All: Let's.

The massed armies of Ambrosia retire, to "The March of the Movies".  They'll be back later, scared by the thought of leaving home.

Festival of Blessing

Our Festival of Blessing for the Summer Fete did not go without the odd hiccough. Although I'm pleased to say that the marquee didn't burn down - which is a first for this tea-light-addicted community.
No, instead we had Sam Hain's attempt to bless us all with the water of blessing from above. Full marks to Sam, the way she managed to fit a sprinkler system into the New Moot House, and equip it with a pump to supply it from the Husborne Well, was quite an achievement. And doing it all overnight, without any one else from the Community involved - a credit to her and her suppliers. Although I'm not so happy about the invoices I've received from City Plumbing and MK Piping today. Hnaef will be collecting more "voluntary" tithes tonight, let's put it that way.
But the real problem was when she switched it all on. Sam's idea was that we would be gently blessed by the water of the Holy Well as we cast our benisons on tomorrow's events. Shame about the miscalculation of power. First we were battered to the floor by the sheer force of water. Then as the watery contents of the Well were rapidly used up, the pump started forcing mud out through the sprinklers. Thankfully we were only covered by about 6 inches of silt by the time pump burnt out from the blockages.

Yet another Moot House is now, at least temporarily, unusable. That's one burnt down in the Night of a Thousand Tea Lights, one turned into a swimming pool after unusual amounts of rainfall,and one now filled with mud. At least with this one we may be able to clear it. Please can everyone turn up at 3pm for the clearance party. You will be divided into two groups - one digging the mud out of the Moot House floor, and the "wattle and daub" party to re-apply it to the walls. Meanwhile due to the sudden extraction of all that mud, the Husborne Well is henceforth renamed the Husborne Pond.