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Saturday, 31 October 2009

An Ecumenical Halloween


I think we're all set up for our Samhain celebrations.  The Wicker Person now looks scarily like Harriet Harman but it's too late to do much about that now.  The oven-ready chicken, spare ribs, potatoes, sweet corn, marshmallows etc are all ready to be put in the Wicker Person later.  The cider and spices are ready for mulling and we've all got umbrellas at the ready.

In a spirit of ecumenism (for we owe no man or woman ill) we have been sending some cards out. We've sent "You're making it all up as go along" cards to the neo-pagan folk down the road who think that this is the new year.  They also tell us that "Samhain" is pronounced "Saw-win" instead of being pronounced "Halloween" so what do they know?

We've sent "Happy All Saints" cards to the local vicars, and "Hope they're all out of Purgatory soon" cards to the local Rabidly Traditional Catholic splinter group, ready for All Souls.

We were also going to send "Hope you stop being so bonkers" cards to various American evangelicals for the claim that, among other things, Witches have prayed over most of the candy sold at Halloween -  but remembering that the good people of a Bible college in the Midlands once prayed for the soul of this site's author, we thought let's not - there's little enough decent irony in the world without going around wasting it.  Also it could be a giant set-up by militant atheists to make Pat Robertson and his friends look like they're bonkers....  As if they need to.

So now we just have the excitement of wondering whether the Moon Gibbon Folk will join us for tonight's celebrations.  They still keep telling us that we're a bunch of heretics and they're only staying for the money, but on the other hand the moon is nearly full now so they're cheering up nicely.  And I noticed they had their eyes on our Halloween masks this year.  The Nick Griffin one is of course really popular, and I wish Private Eye hadn't got there first, but I like the Ann Widdecombe, Christopher Hitchens and Jordan masks as well.  There's gonna be some terrified people down School Lane tonight.


Friday, 30 October 2009

Drinking Alcohol for Swine Flu



On the day that the Government's Drugs Adviser was told to sling his hook after he claimed that Ecstasy, LSD and rat poison are all less dangerous than alcohol*, we discover a surprising upsurge in traffic from people from the world over, searching for whether drinking alcohol causes flu, interferes with the vaccine shot, prevents the action of Tamiflu, or - incredible as it may sound - whether drinking whisky, brandy or other ardent spirits are able to cure Swine Flu.
Take the unfortunate Professor Nutt's advice. If it's more dangerous than Skunk, then it's not going to help your swine flu, is it. **


* Not the rat poison. I made that one up. NB - rat poison is even worse than alcohol for swine flu. Don't try this at home.
** But it might cheer you up a bit. But we can't say that.

Expenses Scandal

People have been asking why, under pressure from such notorious trouble-makers as Drayton Parslow, we have not adopted a similar policy to the MPs and appointed someone to go through the Druids' expenses for the last few years.  The suggestion is that if we find that any members of the Druidic council have over-claimed they should refund the money.
The fact is, it's very difficult to go through these expenses claims.  Those for 2004 were inadvertently turned into a papier-mache model of an oak tree during a "Messy Druids" session.  2005's were destroyed during flooding - you may remember that we found somebody had unfortunately dropped hundreds of unsold copies of Victoria Beckham's "Learning to Fly" into the brook, causing an unprecented rise in water levels.
2006's expenses were supposed to be wheeled in the expenses wheelie bin from my study to the Expenses Shed, but unfortunately somebody left them out for the night.  It's amazing how similar that bin was to the ones the council collects... 
Likewise early in 2008 we discovered that unfortunately somebody had used the expense claims for 2007 to light the Mayday wicker person.  And at the very end of that year, the Expenses Shed itself unexpectedly exploded after we needed to use it to store all those butane bottles, firewood and phosphorous.  Who'd have thought it?
And today I have to report the remarkable news that a dog got into my study and ate the expenses.
We managed to recover only the claim that was still in the dogs mouth.  I have had to enage in some serious document restoration, and resorted to some minor conjectures.  But the gist would appear to be that Drayton has put in a claim for a helicopter.  Since we have no need for a helicopter, and indeed there is no helicopter around that anyone can find, we have asked Drayton to return the money forthwith or face the full penalty of law.
Some Beaker People have suggested that we should hold expenses on-line in future, and possibly publish them on this website.  Definitely an idea we should consider.  Paper's all very well, but for real potential for creative amendment there's nothing like a computer.  

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Human Rights and Waxing Gibbons

Now you couldn't get a group of people more interested than the Husborne Crawley Beaker Folk when it comes to human rights.  From dawn to dusk we are watching anxiously to ensure that no-one's rights are infringed by anyone else's, no matter how much the rights concerned may appear to conflict.  For example, when Bildad's right to play the banjo at 3am clashed with my right to have a good night sleep, we were able to encourage Wilpo's right to smash banjos to resolve the issue.
But today I had a lawyer turned up on the doorstep.  She said that by locking Bloodwort and Ludwick up in the Gulfing Room for nine hours, we were interfering with their rights to be bullying, fascist bores and that she would see us in court.
Naturally, I took the opportunity to show her the Gulfing Room so she could see that nothing untoward happens in there.  Nine hours later she came out burbling something about butterflies.  She was last seen sitting on the lawn, singing "Orinoco Flow" while looking up at the waxing gibbous moon.  
On the subject of gibbous moons, we still haven't heard anything from the breakaway Gibbon Moon People.  Apparently their negotiations with the Guinea Pig Folk of Stewartby have broken down on the important question of whether they've actually got to keep the rules they're agreeing to, or whether it's all just pretend like being in the Church of England.  I get the feeling they're in for a shock. 

Swine Flu Latest

After the latest swine flu update from the British Government, telling us that there's another 70,000 plus cases arisen in the last week, it's time to put back the precautions we had in early summer.
Accordingly, the "manly handshake of blessing" is once again replaced with the "waving gingerly from behind a perspex screen of blessing". The snog of peace and hug of hunny-bunnyness are definitely still banned. And please avoid sharing Beakers.

Woodhenge and Halloween

We note the rather nice piece on Wood- and other henges on the BBC website. Especially the (necessarily conjectural) idea that the dead were carried from the forests of Durrington Walls (a wooden structure) to the stone and therefore permanent emplacement of Stonehenge - symbol of the dead. We are struck with the parallel with Swaledale's "Corpse Way", whereby once upon a time dead Northerners were carried in wicker baskets to their rest at Grinton Church. We also consider the irony that in the mid-19th century, almost the entire population was carried from this beautiful Dale down into the Durham Coalfields. We have been asked whether we might consider a similar long-distance transportation to a resting place.
So far we have said no. Partly because you don't like to think about such things, especially coming up to Samhain. Partly because the current crop of Beaker Folk look like lasting for years, thereby holding up any chance of getting our hands on their legacies. And partly because it's such a blooming long way to the crematorium along dangerous roads. I'm not carrying a dead Beaker Person along the A5 for any amount of tradition.

Meanwhile on the Halloween front, I notice that the Wicker Person (I've decided to change it from "Wicker Man" for the purposes of annoying everyone) is now at full height ready for the great burning on Saturday. Unfortunately it also seems to have taken on a decided resemblance to Simon Cowell, including the high-waisted pallets. On the bright side, as it sways in the wind our Wicker Simon has more mobility in its face than the real one. Still, we don't want to upset the rich and powerful. Please can somebody make the Wicker Person more anonymous.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Night of the Living Meerkat

Meerkat PicturesStrictly speaking, meerkats are more like Anglicans than Beaker People. Both meerkats and  members of the Church of England having the habit of keeping their heads low to avoid detection, then suddenly bobbing up and down to see what is going on.



Archdruid: May Sergei be with you.
All: And also with you.

Archdruid: We come together to feed on scorpions, ants and termites.
All: And also on crickets.

Archdruid: And also in the hope of sponsorship.
All: I'd forget it, Eileen.  Honestly.

Archdruid: Let us confess our sins.
All: We confess that we have been total mongooses.  We have taken small defenceless rodents without caring.  We have eaten those maggots that we ought not to have done.  And we haven't eaten those maggots that we ought to have done.  And there are no grasshoppers in us.

Archdruid: Go, and bob up and down no more
All: You must be joking Eileen - that's what we do.

Blessing

Archdruid: Compare the Market.com / compare the Meerkat.com.
All: Simples.

The sound of an exploding computermibob is heard in the background.

Liturgy for the 1697th anniversary of the Battle of Milvian Bridge

A dull grey morning as the two opposing armies (led by Hnaef and Eileen) head out onto the Field of Battle (the Great Meadow).

Archdruid: OK, so I'm Constantine... 

Hnaef: No, I'm Constantine

Archdruid: No, I'm Constantine. 

Hnaef: I'm Constantine

Burton: I'm Spartacus.

Harfwit: I'm Spartacus.

Earwig: No, I'm Spartacus.

Eldric: I'm Spartacus....

("joke" continues until a number of Spartaci receive prods with a pokey-pokey sword
*)

We recite the list of things that Constantine's victory ultimately did for us:

All: The Nicene Creed;  The Fall of Arianism; Oecumenical Councils; The Christianisation of Europe; People Referring to "perichoresis" and meaning a girly dance; Christmas; The division of the Roman Empire; the Fall of the Western Empire; The Byzantine Empire; The Holy Roman Empire; The British Empire; The Austro-Hungarian Empire; The Ottoman Empire; Saint Augustine; the other Saint Augustine; the other Saint Augustine that nobody's ever heard of; The Roman Inquisition; The Spanish Inquisition; The Welsh Inquisition (Aberyswyth Branch Office); The Church of England; Erastianism;The persecution of the Waldensians; The Invention of the True Cross; Hammersmith Palais; The Bolshoi Ballet; Jump Back in the Alley and Nanny Goats; The Iconoclastic Controversy; The Filioque; The Dissolution of the Monasteries; The Chi-Rho symbol; The European Union; Swine Flu; The European Central Bank.

Archdruid: OK, enough with the Constantinian legacy already.  Let's fight!

There is war in Husborne Crawley.  The Archdruid and her Beaker Folk battle against Hnaef and his Beaker Folk.  And Hnaef is thrown down into the Husborne Brook.
At this point in the original battle, the body of Maxentius was dragged from the river, decapitated and dragged around Rome.  In our Beaker version, Hnaef is dragged back out of the brook, hosed down and given a hot toddy.
Four Giant Rabbits of the Apocalypse hop across the Great Meadow, scattering Beaker Folk in all directions, in a totally unexpected diversion from the liturgy.

Archdruid: What's that glowing cross-shaped object in the sky?
All: An Easyjet plane coming out of Luton, Eileen.  You ask that every morning.

* Copyright Eddie Izzard

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Halloween Wicker Man

The Wicker Man is now rising nicely over Big Meadow.  By the time Samhain arrives we're wanting it to be 40 feet tall.  We're hoping the flames will be visible in Dunstable.
But this year there is extra urgency.  With all the excitement over the End of the World and the threatened schism (so far not actually happened) we've really rather left the Wicker Man a bit late.  So can all the Beaker Folk, as they finish their Data Mining, please swap their keyboards for nail extractors and hatchets.  We've a lot of pallets to split if we're going to get that Wicker Man up to size by Saturday.  As usual we're also looking for the sacrificial victims to put in it, so please can you all rack your brains.  A few oven-ready chickens would be nice, and obviously the normal potatoes and sweetcorns.  But what else does anyone fancy for tea on Saturday?

Data Mining Updates

Possibly no real surprises here.

People who bought Eamonn Duffy's "Stripping of the Altars" also bought lovely baroque or Romantic-period doilies that make you wish you're back in the middle ages.

People who bought very ornate doilies made from lace rather than paper also tended to buy Newman's "Apologia Pro Vita Sua".

People buying material for the Alpha Course made the mistake of letting someone else buy doilies for them, with the result that they've all got beer-mats.

Doilies that were very plain - frankly just pieces of circular, undyed paper -showed a strong propensity to purchase Calvin's "Institutes of the Christian Religion", while doilies that are made of recycled paper, washed in the cleanest streams of the Scottish Highlands and islands, show a strong affinity to the Iona Community's "Wee Worship Book".

People who bought "The Communist Manifesto" refused to buy doilies at all on the grounds that they're a product of the enforced labour of the working classes.

People who bought Spring Harvest worship CDs tended not to buy doilies at all on the grounds that they're not much use when you're driving.

And people who bought either copies of "Humanae Vitae" or "The God Delusion" will be right back to let us know what doilies they like, just as soon as they've been told.

Business Intelligence Day

As proof that the Divine is found in all things, we are declaring today to be "Beaker Business Intelligence Day". All Beaker People will spend the day carrying out basket analysis and data mining operations on the sales from Mrs Whimsey's Doily Co as we try to determine the one nugget that will clinch our attempt to combine selling doilies with selling books.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Send them back to Rome

Bordwulk has a habit of expatiating loudly on subjects which he doesn't always fully understand. And I'm afraid he managed to get two threads in the news rather confused - he's never really happy with trying to hold two thoughts in his head at the same time, which is why we're trying to persuade him he may be better off joining the Beaker Secularists.  In any case, we've been trying to explain to him that Anglo Catholics don't "come over here imposing their customs on us" - they were here already. And "if they don't like the Church of England they can clear off back where they came from" would presumably mean Oxford.
He then had a couple in the White Horse and was later to be heard shouting "one of them Fransiscans comes near my wife, I tell you I'll do time."

He's on the Forward in Faith website now, hitting the Refresh button repeatedly under the impression that every time he votes an Anglo-Catholic goes back to Rome.

The X-Anglican Factor

Who goes to Rome first from a list of high-profile Anglican traditionalists ? You decide...

For the Bishop of Ebbsfleet phone 09889 998001
For the Bishop of Rochester phone 09889 998002
For The Bishop of Chichester phone 09889 998003
For the Bishop of Fulham phone 09889 998004
For Simon Cowell phone 09889 998005
For the Archbishop of Canterbury... don't bother.

If you phone after February 2010 please be aware that you may be charged for your call, but your vote won't count.

These are made-up numbers as far as we're aware, but then we could be wrong. For all we know phone calls to these numbers could cost £1000/ minute especially in Nigeria so we don't advise phoning them.
Normal terms and conditions apply. Joining the Catholic Church no longer results in a simple lump sum from the Church of England. Does not apply in Northern Ireland.

Moon Gibbon Poll

I'm concerned about the Moon Gibbon poll we're running. Asked whether the Moon Gibbon exists, 6 people have voted "yes". Since that happens to be the same number of people as there are Moon Gibbon Folk, including all four of their druids (they're a bit top-heavy on druids - the other two members can't be druids due to their lack of beards), we suspect that there's some poll-rigging going on. Not least because the IP address of the votes suggests they all came from the Moon Gibbon Folk's dedicated broadband access on the Howling Hill.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

The Night of 10,000 Tea Lights

Accustomed as I am to recounting the serial disasters that we suffer whenever we attempt some kind of alternative worship, we seem to have had a wonderful success with our "Night of 10,000 Tea Lights".
The "Night of a 1,000 Tea Lights" last year was a terrible disaster, as you may remember.  One of those occasions when we managed to burn the Moot House down.  Too many tea lights in too small a space.  It was no wonder we kicked up so much heat.
But the "Night of 10,000 Tea Lights" was a complete triumph.  To reduce the chances of synergistic meltdown we strung the tea lights 4 inches apart, connected with fuse wire.  Linked together in a labyrinthine spiral around the meadow and all the way out to School Lane, the lights sparked into life in a beautiful sequence, flickering in a mystical chain of light stretching away to the distance.  We stood and gazed in awe.
To be honest, having lit the spiral we were slightly confused.  Yes it was all lovely.  But what had we achieved?  The lighting of a vast number of tea lights in a short period, sure.  Maybe a world record, for what that's worth.  But was anyone fed, anyone saved, anyone changed?  Or had we just made ourselves all go "aah" for a short period of time?
You can over-analyse these things.  One thing's for certain.  When Boldrid stepped over the chain of tea lights and his flares caught fire, it was hilarious.  Do you really need a spiritual experience to have a point when that happens?

Peaceful, Liberal Conflict Resolution

In the end we had to do something about Ludwick and Bloodwort.  Frankly they were really getting to us, strutting around the place wearing their notorious "Mauve Shirts" (all the other colours have gone) and telling us we had to be out by tomorrow lunchtime.
As mentioned previously, our normal conflict resolution methods of pretending we didn't really disagree, patronising people and saying that all paths lead to the truth didn't work with people who keep poking you in the ribs and insisting that actually they're right and you aren't allowed to have an opinion.  And we'd forgotten how to use the skills of intelligent debate and actually finding the flaws in other people's views.  So we've had to resort to the Gulfing Room.
I'm afraid I'm not at liberty to say what happens in the Gulfing Room.  But I can tell you that it came about through the  application of my Psychology degree with Hnaef's interests in Theology and Electronics.  It approaches these disagreements at the psycho-spiritual and emotional level.  I think you could say it's therapeutic rather than educational or informational.  And that's all I will say.  However, when our two would-be dictators crawled out, smelling faintly of lavender oil, we knew we'd done the trick.  At the moment Ludwick is out in the garden burbling that the rabbits are secretly gnomes, while Bloodwort is enjoying his "Sufi'ism for Beginners" workshop.

The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley would like to express their thanks to those two late, great English authors, Douglas Adams and PG Wodehouse, for having the original ideas we stole for this posting.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

The Moon Gibbon Folk Druids - Decision Update

The Moon Gibbon Druids have been having a "Howl" to decide whether or not to accept the Guinea Pig Worshippers' offer of acceptance into their community, no questions asked, as long as they do what they're told and take the pay cut.
Last we heard, indications were that those Moon Gibbon Folk nearing retirement feel spiritually led towards the Guinea Pig Folk, while those younger Moon Gibbon Folk with wives and young families feel equally led to stay where they are, at least until they're sixty or so.
We await more developments... 

A completely unrelated link

A deep concern

Pausing only to wipe the froth from his mouth occasionally, Ludwick managed to cause great concern in the Moot House yesterday with his speech, "Why you can all get out".

We have always been an accepting Community, happy to allow anyone to believe anything they like as long as they have the same attitude to everybody else.  But Ludwick has concerned us.  His argument is based on a claim that I strongly suspect is erroneous - that his people ruled the entire glacier that lay above Husborne Crawley 17,000 years ago and therefore the Great House and all the associated  farmland belongs to him.  He has issued us with a document explaining that, in accordance with his inheritance, he gives us three days to get out.  To help him in this he proposes to employ Bloodwort, who until a few days ago we regarded as one of the dimmest Beaker Folk and useful only for banging holes in doilies, holding up cross-bars when the goalposts are broken and claiming the dole.  Now he is dressed in a bomber jacket and with his new number 2 haircut and tattoos, we realise he is in fact, when directed, a force to be reckoned with.

You see, we have a lot of people with different views around the place - the Moon Gibbon Folk (currently trying to work out whether reduced wages and doing what you're told is a price worth paying), the Kirsty Worshippers and so on.  And we deal with them by telling them that all viewpoints are valid as long as you keep paying your "voluntary" contributions.  But Ludwick insists that in fact we're all wrong, and what are we going to do about it?  When people we consider may expose us to undue argument try to join our community from the outside, we just don't let them in.  But with Ludwick who's already here, it's not so easy.  Even sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting "la-la-la I can't hear you!" doesn't work when Bloodwort is poking you in the ribs with a pointy stick.
It's all very upsetting.  We must consider what to do. 

Friday, 23 October 2009

... burning crosses

You could have heard a pin drop around the Moot House as we watched the BBC's "Question Time" this evening.  Nick Griffin announced that he was standing up for the indigenous people who have been in this country for 17,000 years.  17,000 years?  Since 5,000 years before the end of the last Ice Age?  No wonder the British are such a hardy race.  After 5,000 years of permafrost and glaciers, standing up to a bit of drizzle was always gonna be a doddle.

But the question rang in our minds.  If we are only to allow the original indigenous people of these islands to live and work here, who will that be?  The original Beaker People?  They clearly predate the Angles, Saxons, Norse, Normans and Celts whom Mr Griffin is presumably thinking of.  Yet they have this annoying habit of laying around under round barrows and buried in holes near Stonehenge.  They're not gonna be reclaiming the country.  Or bringing it forward a few centuries - perhaps we should allow the  Welsh, Cornish and Scots people of Great Britain to reclaim England?  After all, they were driven out by the invading Angles, Saxons and Norse - coming over here, taking their wives and jobs.  Perhaps all those of Germanic origin should head back where they belong - Friesland, Saxony and Jutland - came over here bringing their foreign and oppressive Odinism.  Make some space for the real British people?
Or perhaps - cue the violins and pull out an onion - perhaps we should all who live in these crazy, mixed-up, dirty and yet achingly beautiful  islands learn to respect one another, stop identifying the "Other" - whoever that "Other" is - light our tea lights and stand shoulder to shoulder.  It's a decent country underneath it all.  Let's celebrate it.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Burning Bibles, Burning Worlds

Now I think it's generally known that we in the Beaker People don't really "do" irony.  Likewise parody, satire and just plain sarcky-ness.  We don't get it and we don't approve.

Which is why we are struggling slightly.  This Book Burning Website is a big hit with all  the most intelligent evangelical Church of England websites.  But is the mind behind this website the dimmest most ludicrous fundamentalist?  Or a genius of parody?  We can't tell.  And now, consider what I saw linked from this, sane if godless, website - Steve Borthwick kindly links us to the Rapture Website that promises the end of the world is... well it did say 21 October  last time I looked, but I notice that they've removed reference to that date as well now, presumably because it is in the past.  But the thing that strikes me about the Book Burning Baptists and the Dodgy Rapture site, apart from utter theological barren-ness, is the colour scheme.  Do all really really mad fundamentalists have purple-yellow colour blindness?  Or are both these sites the work the same colour-blind fundamentalist?  Or of a very cunning atheist with a penchant for purple?  Possibly Professor Dawkins himself? Or a brilliant parodist?  We don't know.  

It's all too much for me.  Thankfully it's not long till Question Time.  I'm looking forward to listening to a bunch of intelligent, altruistic and well-balanced people discussing the issues of the day in a consensual spirit of mutual respect. 

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Those appropriate and inappropriate Funeral Songs in Full

After the fuss over secular funerals (a good idea for people who don't believe in God, in our opinion) and unsuitable hymns, I offer the following guidance for any druids who may have to conduct a Beaker funeral, whether at Crownhill, Stopsley, or even one of the many pet crematoria in the Bedford area. 

Just about OK, if not exactly traditional

My Way (Sinatra)
Simply the Best
You'll never walk alone
Angels 
Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner

On the Borderline

Goodbye-ee
Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye
The Lambeth Walk (as the coffin is carried in/out)
My Love will go on
Stairway to Heaven

Probably not

The Road to Hell
The Okey-Cokey (see Lambeth Walk, above)
Deeper and Down
The Final Countdown
My Way (Sid Vicious)
If leaving me is easy (then coming back must be harder)
I hear you knocking

Not for cremations

Come on baby, light my fire
Colours of day (light up the fire)
Fever
In the Air tonight
Cool for Cats


Real-time Conversions Feed

Roland arrived at A personal ordinariate from The Church of England by searching for a safe haven from the liberals -- 2 seconds ago

Lucian arrived at Opus Dei from Moderate Catholicism by searching for more discipline -- 4 seconds ago

Elsie arrived at The Church of England from  Catholicism by searching for ordination -- 8 minutes ago

Archie
arrived at The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley by searching for tea lights -- 10 minutes ago

James arrived at The United Reformed Church from Evangelicalism by searching for warm fuzzies -- 15 minutes ago

Oddric arrived at Methodism from The Stewartby Guinea Pig Worshippers by searching for Blessed Assurance -- 20 minutes ago

Martin arrived at ECUSA from Assemblies of God by searching for gay bishops -- 20 minutes ago

Ralph arrived at Stewartby from Husborne Crawley by searching for guinea pig gods -- 25 minutes ago

Harold arrived at Paganism from The Jehovah's Witnesses by searching for women with tattoos and piercings -- about 1 hour ago

Arfwit arrived at Fundamentalism from Sanity by searching for an escape from the modern world -- about 2 days ago

Tony arrived at The Vatican from Westminster searching for the european presidency -- 2 years  ago

Richard arrived at Assertive Atheism searching for a safer world + more book deals -- 8 years  ago

Ann arrived at Catholicism from The Church of England by searching for priests that aren't women -- 17 years ago

John Henry arrived at The Oratory from Oxford -- 160 years ago

John W arrived at Methodism from High Anglicanism by searching for a warmed heart -- 200 
years ago

Henry arrived at The Church of England from Roman Catholicism by searching for a younger woman - is that so wrong? -- about 500 years ago

Paul arrived at The Way from Pharisaism by searching for Heretics -- about 2000 years ago

Moses arrived at Judaism by searching for the Promised Land -- about 3500 years ago

The Guinea Pig Folk Offer - a Reconsideration


On reflection, I may have been a little unprepared in my reaction to the offer yesterday from the Guinea Pig Folk of Stewartby to accept any groups of the Moon Gibbon Folk, on their own terms, into a special "Gibbon Folk of Stewartby" sub-sect.  The Moon Gibbon Folk will be allowed to continue to scream with fear at New Moon and Lunar Eclipses, and to use their Wee Moon Gibbon Worship Book (actually the Iona Wee Worship Book with the word "God" crossed out and "Moon Gibbon" written in its place in crayon).
Our relationship with the Guinea Pig Folk has not always been without its ups and downs.  You may remember that last year we accidentally ate their "gods" after our Peruvian visitor mistook them for tapas at a barbecue.  And a few years ago there was that awful event with the steel-toe-capped boots.  Followed by the accident when one of the guinea pigs ate the electronics of a Blackberry device and ended up in a shootout on Weymouth seafront.  But apart from those minor issues our dealings have always been cordial.


But when presented with the news of the GPF's offer last night, I should have taken longer to consider my response.  When  I said "Thank goodness for that.  With that bunch of trouble-makers moved safely to the ferret-fanciers I can get on with moving the Beaker Folk forward into the 9th Century BC.  And think of the money we'll save not paying their druids", what I really meant was "this is a big step forward in ecumenical relations.  I look forward to continuing to work with the Grand Guinea Pig and his furry followers, enriched by the common heritage of the Moon Gibbon People."  I also look forward to seeing the Moon Gibbon druids working out whether they can live in an environment where they'd be expected to keep the rules, and wondering how they'll keep their wives and families on the reduced wages.

I hope I have made myself opaque.

Swine Flu Vaccination

I note that the rollout of the new Swine Flu Vaccine is now beginning.  I can only encourage all members of the community, as it becomes available to them, to take advantage of it.  It is important that we take all steps to stop the spread of this virulent disease.
For myself, I can reassure Beaker People that I'll be receiving it just as soon as it's been tested on, oh, say 99% of the population.  Except then of course I won't need it.  That is, after all, what Herd Immunity is all about.  Immunizing the herds. 

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Of Quarks and Berks

Young Keith has been taking a great interest in the aims and problems of the Large Hadron Collider.  His comment that the scientists concerned obviously just aren't very practical led to a great deal of shouting around the place, and he's now gone off and built his very own "Big Bang Machine".
At first glance the Large Bozo Collider looks like two giant catapults set at approximate right angles.  Late at night when he can find willing volunteers walking back from the White Horse, Keith loads up the catapults with a Beaker Person each, and fires them across one another's path at high speeds.  Keith believes that when two Large Bozos travelling at near-relativistic speeds crash at 90 degrees, there is a chance that what will result is what is known as the "Huge Bozo".  It took some fine tuning.  Early on Keith took no account of the different inertias of differently-sized Bozos, resulting in some people landing up in the pond while Luna's progress across the Meadow was only stopped by a barbed-wire fence.  But Young Keith now reckons he has a 100% hit rate.  

So far, you will not be surprised to hear, no Huge Bozo has been observed.  Keith has come up with a number of possible explanations for this - these include:
  • God is stopping the Large Bozo Collider from working until he is ready to reveal the secrets of the universe.
  • The Large Bozo Collider is sabotaging itself from the future.  The Huge Bozo would be a particle so abhorrent to nature that even the Westboro Baptist Church wouldn't let it be a  member.  Therefore the space-time continuum itself intervenes to stop the device working.
  • The Bozos are not reaching the speeds necessary for the quantum effects to kick in.  So he needs to buy some stronger elastic.
  • The Bozos aren't large enough, and he has in fact only built a medium-sized Moron collider.
Whatever the reason for Keith's failures, the fact is we now have a number of bruised Beaker Folk wandering around the community.  Please can you all ensure you wear proper safety equipment when being loaded into the Large Bozo Collider.  In the event of the world coming to an end, it may save you from a nasty bump on the head.

Friday, 16 October 2009

A Momentary Lapse of Reason

Just a minor panic for a moment there. 
I was sitting in the conservatory, watching the sunlight illuminating the remaining leaves on the pear trees.  From far off I could hear the happy sounds of Beaker Folk, singing spirituals as they picked sweetcorn for our new "Jolly Green Druid" range.  All was well, mentally, physically and spiritually.
And then I thought.  
What if I'm wrong?  What if the Divine isn't subject to my whim?  What about if I can't make him/her/it agree with everything I want?  What if the response "I'm sure God's/the gods are/the Divine is not like" that is founded on nothing more than what I happen to be feeling?  Could it be possible that I've founded a whole religion based on my own preferences and not on any objective knowledge of the thing I've been talking about?  Could my personal belief that the Creator is liberal, universalist and non-judgemental simply be because that's how I'd like things to be?  Might someone, somewhere one day want to know why I've spent the last few years ripping off the pilgrims and residents in the Community and polluting the air with burning tyres?
If so, I'd have to account for my views sometime and frankly even atheism would be better.  If it were true.  
But I had another cup of  a lime leaf tisane, lit a tea light and, all in all, I'm back to normal again.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Global Warming Action Day

Despite the evidence of thriving populations of polar bears, and it being ten years since the warmest year globally recorded, we remain ever-vigilant to the dangers of global warming.  After all, it was the original Beaker People that invented global warming. Faced with the danger of a new ice age, they burnt down all the forests to keep the temperature up.  Thus proving that it is possible to work with Mother Gaia in a constructive, but forest-burning, kind of way.

I think we can show our commitment through the following initatives that we carried out over the last six months:

  • We've been heating the Great House by burning old tyes in the wood burning stove. OK we've had to buy a new stove after the old one filled up with toxic rubber compounds, but you've got to make sacrifices.
  • We've been recycling all the empty aluminium cases from our tea lights into a giant statue of Al Gore, instead of burying them in the orchard like we used to.
  • We buried all the pumpkin pulp after the Parade of Pumpkins, at a depth of half a mile. The JCB we used may have emitted some carbon dioxide - but we offset this by only drinking non-fizzy beer.
  • To avoid pilgrims bringing their 4x4s into Husborne Crawley, we've been setting an example by getting them to park at Cranfield Aerodrome and then bringing them in by helicopter.
  • Realising that the windows in the Great House were wood-framed, we ripped them out, burnt the frames, and replaced them with U-PVC.  So much warmer, and they'll last forever.  The Planning Committee didn't like it, but we've blackmailed them.
  • We've stopped Burton from eating any more lentils.
  • Since we heard that mature woodlands are actually a net creator of carbon dioxiode, we've burnt down the spinney.
  • We're really keen on recycling bottles. Especially the milk bottles we get delivered each morning. Every day, without fail, we drive them over to Leighton Buzzard to put them in the bottle bank.
  • We've kidnapped a couple of pandas from the Safari Park.  Strictly speaking this doesn't reduce global warming or increase biodiversity, but they're just so cute.
www.blogactionday.org

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Swine Flu and Drinking Alcohol

As one of the sites that frequently mentions Swine Flu (and Alcohol) we here in Husborne Crawley are finding that the most common search by which people are finding us contains the words Swine Flu and Drinking Alcohol.
There's only one possible conclusion here.  We're being hunted down by people with Swine Flu, who want to drink alcohol, but aren't sure if it's a good idea.
Now we're not experts in alcohol.  But it does seem to us that alcohol suppresses the immune system.  It causes a loss of body temperature, even when you think you're warming up.  So on the whole it's not something that's going to build up your resistance.
While Swine Flu is particularly dangerous for people who have lowered immune systems.  
Let's put those two together.  A drug that lowers your resistance, and a disease that is much worse for people who have lowered resistance.
But you didn't really want to hear that, did you?

Swine Flu Update

Many official bodies - especially hospitals and churches - have been recommending the use of alcohol based hand cleaning gels to restrict the outbreak of H1N1 "Swine Flu" influenza.  

Which is ironic, because Marston Mortaine caught Swine Flu despite drinking bottles of the stuff.  He says he likes the taste.*

I'm glad that we managed to prevent the first outbreak of Swine Flu in the Community just as long as we did.   A combination of rigorous hygiene and banning the Sharing of the Hug of Friendship and all hand-holding related ceremonies seemed to do the job.  Along with a no-sharing policy on pebbles and tea lights, and shrink wrapping all participants in major ceremonies.

We've delivered Marston's Tamiflu to him this morning.  Now it's only flu - even if it's a man who's caught it - so I want to see a sensible approach to this with no panic measures.

So for the time being, we're keeping it at a yellow cross painted on Marston's Door, and all Beaker People to wear surgical masks at all times.  Makes eating tricky I know, but better safe than sorry.  Meanwhile it's important Marston gets some fresh air when he wants (and he's got to make it down the corridor to the toilet) so we've equipped him with a hand-bell to ring whenever he's out and about.  And we've evacuated three rooms either side of Marston's, just to be on the safe side.

* Don't drink alcohol-based hand gels.  It's a really bad idea.  No, really.  A really, really bad idea.  Leave hand-gels for hands.

Disaster at the Pet Service

Not good news from this morning's Celebration of the Wonders of Evolution and the Created Order.  Or Pet Service, for short.  In fact, disaster would be a much better description.  Of course, it all started so promisingly.  Elois brought her horse, Champion.  The Bogsleys brought along their rather lovely Retriever.  A couple of nice Siamese, Drayton's budgie and little Ellsmere's tarantula.

But it all went downhill after old Mrs Griggs swallowed that fly.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The post-modern airplane

We wondered what all the banging around in the Toolshed was about, and now we have discovered.  Young Keith has built himself a post-modern airplane.
After the rocket made from pallets and powered by a barbecue, Keith had been inspired by the thoughts of creating new and exciting vehicles.  We think he over-reached himself here.  After all, building a rocket's not rocket science.  You get a tube, fill it with something explosive and shoot the explosion out of one end.  As my niece would say, "Simples."














But an airplane is different.  We've all seen the diagrams - the arrows indicating the air flow as they hit the leading edge, spiralling above and below the wing and creating, in some way too complex for my mind, a lifting effect.  You have to balance the yin of gravity with the yang of lift, and all the while keeping hold of the fundamental ability to turn left and right.
But Young Keith insists that by taking a post-modern view, he is freeing himself from the constraints of aerodynamics.  He says he is deconstructing what we mean by a plane.  He points out that those curly lines representing airflow don't actually exist - they are a social construct.  And therefore in a post-modern and ironic way he's build his plane out of pallets.  He likes pallets.
I've seen what I can only describe as Keith's death trap.  My only hope is that the Mini Metro engine he's wedged into the front, and onto which he has taped a propellor, has rusted up in just the same way all the rest of the Metros used to.  If he gets that thing moving, I advise all Beaker Folk and inhabitants of Husborne Crawley to head for the hills.
I don't know much about post-modernism, but when it comes to airplanes I'll go for one that's been built by an engineer.  There's one thing round here that's definitely ripe for deconstruction, and it's made out of pallets.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Son of the Moon Gibbon

After staying up very late, one of the Gibbon Moon people finally got a view of the Moon some time in the early hours of this morning. Discovering that it was indeed smaller than last time he saw it, he came to the conclusion that the Moon Gibbon had survived the assault on the Moon that Nasa launched on Friday. Needless to say he ran back to the Great House (Gibbon Wing) to share the glad tidings with his fellow-religionists.
Maybe it was sleep deprivation after the weekend's mourning activities, but his news wasn't universally received with the joy he had expected. Approximately half of the Gibbon Folk declared that it wasn't the original Moon Gibbon that was now eating the Moon. They claimed that the Moon Gibbon's son had taken on the family profession, and had probably buried the original Moon Gibbon on the Dark Side of the Moon.
We now have a schism in the ranks of the Moon Gibbon. Anathemas have been pronounced, a new plasterboard wall has been built down the centre of the Gibbon Wing. And ink and blood have been spilt in the biggest argument over a load of unprovable assertions since the Reformation.
Now New Beakerism is a big tent. We somehow hold together some post-modernists, Taizeholics, Enya fans, an accountant, and a bunch of people whose idea of worship is to run off into the woods for an evening's fertility frolics. Not to mention a group of the Hermits of Suspicion, who sit in the veg store and throw potatoes at people they don't trust. But I'm not sure we can cope with yet another sect. I think it's time some of the more extreme Beaker Folk loosened up a bit - particularly the Extreeme Primitive Beaker Folk, still living in a yurt in Five Acre Field. As the Prophetess herself said, "why can't we just be happy, baby?"

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Parable of the Talents II - The Sequel

And once again, unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took yet another journey.

After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them once more.

And so he that had received five talents came and brought fifty-five talents, saying, "Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, by shorting RBS I earned myself a bonus of fifty-five talents."

 He also that had received two talents came and said, "Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I invested in the selling of packaged mortgages and now have a  bonus of forty-five talents."

 Their lord said unto them, "Well done, good and faithful servants; ye have been faithful over a few things, I will make you rulers over many things: enter ye into the joy of thy lord, and turn over to me my seven talents."

And the servants replied unto him, "Afraid we've lost your talents due a sudden lack of market liquidity.  But verily we've bought ourselves a couple of nice little villas even in the country, so verily at least we're sorted."

Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, "I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: so having learnt my lesson from thee last time, I put it in the bank."

And his lord said unto him "Well done thou good, faithful and prudent servant.  Verily let's have the talent then - after all these long journeys I am sore in need of a bevvy."

And the servant said, "Sorry to break it to thee, lord.  But it was in Kaupthing.  Still, you got 10 centi-talents back in the talent."

And there was more wailing and gnashing of teeth.

A Clash of Ideologies

It's been a disappointing weekend for our latest group of pilgrims, as they pack their weekend bags into their Shoguns and head off in the rain for Junction 13.

This was our fourth "Encountering the Silence of the Night" weekend.  Friday night they were to be standing in awe in the Orchard, feeling the quiet and the darkness and receiving them as balm to the soul.  This was ruined by the sound of wailing from the Gibbon Moon people as they mourned the possible death of their god in the landing of the NASA moonshot.  It's hard to feel that the universe is beneficent and friendly when all you can hear are cries of "It's so unfair!  He was only 4 billion years old!"
By 3am the Gibbon Moon people had finally gone off for some sleep.  Silence fell, I am told, for 5 minutes.  Then the place started to resound to the sounds of the Wiccan Drum Ensemble, trying to scare off evil spirits.  Not a good first night all round.  And not the best double-booking we could have made, in retrospect.
The following day, our pilgrims should have had the chance to get some sleep after their long night.  Instead they were kept awake by a worshop* that Hnaef had organised - "The Spirituality of Brass Bands for the Tone Deaf".
Last night, a group of sleep-deprived and generally grumpy pilgrims headed out to the Moot House for what they hoped would be a quiet yet challenging meditation on "listening to your inner owl".  And what did they get?  Drayton Parslow and Siousie doing a three-hour set with their Kirsty MacColl tribute concert, "Electric Landmine".
We are in favour of respect between religions, mutual discourse and learning from one another.  But maybe in future we'll keep everybody apart instead. 

* Worshop - a Worship Workshop.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Liturgy for the Nativity of Kirsty MacColl (10/10/59)

Kirsty is among the premier rank of Beaker saints.  Just for being so feisty, and her singing voice, and the brilliant lyrics.  And the cleverness.  And "Chipshop".  And we miss her.

The Beaker Folk have various honorary titles for Kirsty, including "Queen of New York City", "Electric Landlady" and, of course, "Celestine".

 

We call to mind the mystical presence with us of the Community of Former Folk

Archdruid: There's an angel floating round my house.  Floating round my house.
All: There's an angel floating round this house.  Floating round this heart.  Round this head.


Archdruid: From an uptown apartment to a knife on the A-Train
All: It's not that far.

Archdruid: From the sharks in the penthouse to the rats in the basement
All: It's not that far.

Archdruid: To the bag-lady frozen asleep on the church steps
All: It's not that far.

Lapse into pre-Reformation theology regarding forgiveness

Archdruid: You just haven't earned it yet, baby.

Rejection of the hierarchy's attempt to control the dispensation of grace

All: It's my affair, it's up to me and not to you.  It's my affair.  Oh Yeah.

The Archdruid's response to such rebellion


All: And also with you.

The Traditional Beaker Hymn: Mambo de la Luna

Meditation on the apparent pointlessness of social action

Archdruid: I don't want to change the world
All: I'm not looking for a New England.

Dismissal

Archdruid: I look to the future and see a thousand setting suns.

All: And tomorrow never comes.

Happy 50th, Kirsty.  There's still an empty bench in Soho Square.

Justice for Kirsty                                                Kirstymaccoll.com

Friday, 9 October 2009

Prize Giving

I can only say how humbled I am to have received an Oscar for best actress.  That the sole acting role of my life is in a home video of Hnaef's called "The Beaker Folk Take Walsingham" only adds to my surprise.  I shall endeavour to stay centred.  I would thank all the people that have contributed to my success in this role, but in fact it was all down to me.
Likewise, I am honoured and humbled to have received the Man Booker Prize for Fiction.  Not least because it was for my leaflet "Places to Eat in Husborne Crawley".  Even more so because it is a very small leaflet as there are only two places to eat in Husborne Crawley and one of them is the transport cafe at Junction 13.
And then there's the Turner Prize.  I am delighted, honoured and humbled.  Again, my installation "Tea Light on the Altar" was something I just threw together for a Healing Service.  I wasn't even aware that Young Keith had taken a photo of it, or indeed that it counted as art, until I won the Turner.
The ITV British Comedy award was less of a shock, as I told Ant and Dec that either I won it or we'd be reversing a tradition by feeding parts of them to a kangaroo. 

Who shot the Moon Gibbon?


The news that the space shot threw up no moon dust comes as no surprise to some of our more extreme Beaker People.
There is a story going around the Moon Gibbon Folk that the first space shot, intended to smash into the moon's surface, was heading straight for the Soup Dragon's cave.  But the Moon Gibbon bravely "took a bullet" for his soupy pal.  
The Moon Gibbon folk are now really worried that the Moon Gibbon may have died intercepting the probe.  They're desperate to see if the moon's any smaller tonight, but sadly the cloud prevents them making the necessary observations. 
The rumour going around the Community that small, pig-like creatures have been observed by the Hubble Telescope, picking up two new lumps of space debris, is just that.  A rumour.

Shooting the Moon

I'll be honest, we Husborne Crawley Beaker People are unhappy about NASA's experiment to shoot two spacecraft at the Moon.

The complaints come on several levels. Firstly we have the annoyance at this typically alpha-male desire to go around shooting at anything that moves. Pheasants, quail, pigeons we can maybe tolerate - they're food, after all. But the Moon? It's not even real sport. It's not like it can duck.

Secondly we have the concern that by behaving in this manner, we are once again putting Humankind's size 11s all over something serene, beautiful and spiritual. But I don't suppose the NASA scientists will care about this.

Thirdly there's the slightly barmy fringe. The Moon Gibbon folk have concerns that their god may get hurt in all this should he be sitting in a crater in the wrong place at the wrong time. And some others are more concerned about the impact on the Clangers, particularly if the Soup Dragon's cave takes a direct hit. They're going to be hoping that the scientific analysis doesn't reveal traces of oxtail in the debris that's kicked up.

And then there's that more general worry. Why is money being spent looking for water on the moon when there's so many people trying to find water down here? And if the search for water is really to enable a shot at Mars - well, Mars is a cold, empty wasteland even further from the Sun than we are. If we completely wreck this joint, going to Mars is not an option.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Debunking

I'm not happy with some of the chat going round the Community lately.  There's been a certain amount of rather foolish scaring of those weak in faith with tales of supernatural beings.    So can I summarise:

Herne the Hunter is a rather strange hangover from the Celtic god Cerunnos.  Being Celtic he's almost certainly completely made up, probably with the intention of selling some rather cheesy, New-Agey worship CDs.

Even if the Moon Gibbon existed, he'd live, as the name suggests, on the Moon.  But he doesn't exist.  Some wally overheard us saying "Gibbous Moon" and made a religion out of it.

The Bogeyman is on slightly firmer ground.  But again, seems to be some ancient Angle tradition of the earlier Neolithic people whom the Germanic and Celtic tribes drove underground.  Probably, ironically, the Beaker Folk.

And Old Black Shuck.  Now I know that Young Keith claims he saw one late one night last winter, a six-foot tall dog with glowing eyes.  But I think it's more likely he saw a Skoda Fabia.

And there are definitely no ghosts floating around Husborne Crawley.  Nobody that I am aware of has died in tragic, suspicious and unforeseen circumstances, apart possibly from mummy and daddy when they had that hay-baling tragedy.  And they were too upper-class to do anything as common as roam by night.

Finally, Richard Dawkins is a respected Oxford don with a resemblance to a cheesy left-over curate from Holy Trinity Brompton.  He does not lurk at the corner of Crow Lane and School Lane, waiting to eat lost children.

I hope I've cleared this up.  Now can we please have some people attending at Howling at the Moon again tonight.  I'm fed up leading that ceremony on my own.  It's embarrassing and, frankly, it's a bit spooky being out there on my own.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Litany for the 30th anniversary of barcode usage in Britain

Dress code: Black and white stripes

Archdruid: May the code be with you
All: And with thy scanner.

Archdruid: Let us give thanks for the invention that took up to 10 seconds off the average shopping trip.
All: Truly it is amazing.

Archdruid: That lets the price be known by reading the GTIN from the stripes, and converting it even unto a SKU through the power of PLU.
All: Truly it is amazing.

Archdruid: Whether ITF-14, UPC or EAN-13.
All: Truly it is amazing.

Archdruid: Gathering Management Information unto the third generation.
All: Even unto the portals of Tesco Towers, Enfield.

Archdruid: We have seen the light.
All: And it is red.

Archdruid: Not that we would want to look straight at that light.
All: For indeed it is a laser.

Blessing

Archdruid: May your light margins be ever wide.
All: And thy check digit ever add up to 10 minus the sum of all the odd numbers times 3, plus the even numbers.  Modulo 10 of course.* 


* for EAN-13.  For other symbologies please refer to the GS1-UK website.

The Holy Cider Apple of Husborne Crawley

While collecting the Redstreak crop for our Beaker cider, Burdwit came across this wonderful and rare object.  We believe, given that this is clearly a fisherman, that we have a Somerset Redstreak in the image of St Peter.  Normally we'd regard this as a thing of great significance and possibly a portent of something.  But after the End of the World last week we're going to have to calm things down a bit and just regard it as "interesting".  We were going to put it in the Beaker Museum, but unfortunately Young Keith got a bit carried away and pulped it.

The Beaker Course

We're putting out a poster campaign to advertise the new "Beaker Course".  This is an exciting new development in Beaker mission.  We get nice, middle class people together, give them a good lunch, and then it's up to them what they believe - we won't judge.  We just like people to feel good, and ideally make a donation.

Monday, 5 October 2009

SITUATIONS VACANT - THE DISPERSED COMMUNITIES OF SPALDING

The Dispersed Communities of Spalding are looking for a male or female druid with vision, capable of leading our communities forward into new challenges.
We are a group of 12 Beaker communities scattered across the hamlets to the east of Spalding.  

Well, when we say communities, strictly speaking four of these communities have only one member each and there's only twenty-three of us in total. But we are dedicated to keeping true to our roots.  Which is why we insist on worshipping only each within our our own Moot Houses, coming together only for the annual Falling Out ceremony where we remember why we don't get together any more often.

In order to help our communities to reach out to the people in the Spalding area, the new druid must be capable of vision, bringing forward radical ideas to transform the way we "do community".  Which we will ignore.  They must be capable of relating easily with the young, teenagers, the old and the middle aged.  They will be up to date with the very latest ideas in Beaker Worship, but still willing to keep on with the same old pebbles and tea lights regardless.  
They must be good at dealing with frustration, and able to keep their thoughts very much to themselves.

A gifted evangelist and strategist, the main role for the new druid will be to try to work out how to raise the funds to patch up the roofs of 12 Moot Houses, all of which are in dire states of repair.  The boilers have gone in 6 as well.  The new druid must be able to inspire a giving attitude amongst our Folk, without at any point ever mentioning money.  It tends to depress us.

We are a modern and equal-opportunities group of fellowships, and will welcome the right druid, regardless of marital status, sexuality and gender, as long as his wife is good  at baking cakes and they have a couple of kids.

Jolly Hockey Sticks

In these environmentally-friendly days it behoves us all to consider the impact of our actions. So Young Keith's suggestion that we just dump all the smashed pumpkin flesh we are currently extracting from the Moot House, would have been totally reckless. And since he suggested throwing it in the brook, we could have ended up being charged with polluting a watersource.
On the other hand, if we just leave it to rot it will end up discharging carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and assisting climate change. I'd hate to think that somewhere in Greenland there's a glacier with our name on it.
So we have decided to embark on a process of carbon sequestration. For two reasons, really - first because we just like the word "sequestration", and secondly because it was a very traditionally Beaker People thing, burying things in ritual holes. We've taken advice on this and we reckon, given the porous nature of the Greensand on which the Community lives, we need a hole about a mile deep which we can then cap off with a hundred yard depth of clay. Should keep the carbon down.
Hnaef will be handing out spades, and Burton will be banging the drum to encourage everyone to keep digging in time. Keep at it - remember this is for the good of the planet!

Anyone needs me, I'll be in the conservatory.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

The Great Pumpkin Fight

Now that the fall-out from last night's events has diminished let us consider the things that have come to pass among us.
The Harvest Moon Celebration was to have been a moment of great spiritual significance - the entrance of the White Pumpkins, representing the full moon,  causing the carrying-out of the large Yellow Pumpkins, representing the sun.
Trouble broke out as Morbit walked into the ceremony carrying one of the white pumpkins.  Morbit is a keen gardener, and was very gracious in supplying us with the whites, and a selection of the yellows.  But it was as Morbit moved forwards towards the Focus Table, he saw that the central pumpkin was the  200lb "Prizewinner" he's been growing for the Horticultural Society Competition.  Hollowed out, and with a tealight glowing through the traditional runic shapes cut in the side.
Forgetting that his role as cucurbitafer required grace and solemnity, Morbit ran towards Young Keith, whose role should have been to carry the large pumpkin out through the North-East door, throwing white pumpkins.  One missed Keith by a large margin and plugged Burton Dasset, while the second ricocheted off Keith's left ear and hit Burdwit in the stomach.  At this point, the joint erupted.  Pumpkins, butternut and other related squashes and  - for reasons we have yet to get to the bottom of - onions started flying around the place.
In the confusion, and with the air becoming thicker with squash flesh by the moment, somebody dumped the "Prizewinner" over Morbit's head.  He could not take the pumpkin off his head because he had his hands round Keith's throat.  Confused by the sudden lack of visibility and the sounds of battle, he blundered out through the Summer Sunrise door and into School Lane.
Now, it's little known that there is still an ancient by-law in Husborne Crawley that means that anyone trick-or-treating out of season is to be regarded as an outlaw, the punishment for which is to be rounded up by men with pointy sticks.  The locals were happy to revive a tradition that has not been enacted in several decades, and the next thing Mobit knew he was having to use Keith as a human shield to try to fend off some of the fiercer pokes.  Eventually Young Keith's uncle the police constable turned up and settled the situation down.
Not so in the Moot House, where by this time somebody had decided to avail themselves of the fire extinguishers.  We can't tell who the miscreants were, because they were already so covered in pumpkin, but unleashing the foam at short-range on the acolytes only added to the mess in which we were by now knee-deep.
Some people have complained that I may have been heavy-handed in bringing the ceremony to an end at  this point.  But surrounded by fifty people all throwing autumn vegetables at each other, what was I supposed to do?  Pronounce a blessing?  I'm just glad that I still had a couple of canisters of Mace, a present from a curate in East Anglia, in my handbag.  Suprising how quickly things came to an end after that.
All ceremonies are cancelled unil Thursday.  First we're all going to have to clean out the Moot House, and after that we're going to have to wait until the smell of pumpkins dies down.
In other news, we are contacting the Guinness Book of Records to see if "largest squash-related fight in a neo-spiritual coenobitic community" is a valid category.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Praying with Pumpkins

Now that the universe is still here, we can look forward to tonight's Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ritual.

Symbol is very important to the Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley.  In Symbol we can come close to touching the divine.  And the great thing about the use of Symbol is that it means we can avoid all that tedious reading and studying books that so many other religions such as Christianity, Islam and Dawkinism are into.  
Symbols have the benefit of being both powerful and ambiguous.  So if we spend half an hour looking at, for example, a sea-shell or a collection of rose-hips, or if we are feeling particularly post-modern and meditate on that burnt-out speed camera that Drogin brought back from the A5 last week, or if we are feeling particularly worshipful and use a nice big picture of Stephen Fry - then our meditations are our own.  We don't have to waste weeks in late-night, Diamond White-fuelled discussion-forum abuse with other like-minded obsessives, rowing about whether that last semi-colon in Isaiah was inspired by God, or whether we were designed by hyper-intelligent aliens.  No, instead we get what we need from our worship and then we head off to the pub, or the woods in the case of the Fertility Folk, or a spot of late-night moon-gazing if it's clear, and get on with our lives.

Among the powerful symbols of our faith, the Pumpkin is important.  Although the Pumpkin is generally regarded as an American import, we believe that they were grown in England in Beaker times, but were ritually smashed by the so-called "Celtic" invaders as the Bronze turned to the Iron age.  In celebration of which, most Celtic races seem to be ritually smashed most days of the week.  That there is no evidence of this Beaker Pumpkin culture does not prove anything.  Pumpkins are edible and rot easily.  Where would you look for this evidence?  Inside a beaker?  Precisely.
Pumpkins as a symbol of the sun are a central point to this time of year. As we watch the dying sun sink earlier and more to the south each day - fleeing to the warm regions - we light our tea-lights inside our hollowed-out pumpkins to encourage him to return.  Glowing warmly on our Worship Focus Table in the Moot House tonight, our pumpkins will remind us that, though the wind may blow over Husborne Crawley, the warm days will return, bringing times of hay-making, harvesting, fruit-picking and other things that we subsidise the farmers to do for us.
The nice and oh-so trendy white pumpkins, representing the moon, will be brought into the Moot House tonight, as we remember that it is the time of full moon.  Not just any moon, either, but Harvest Moon.  But at this time of month and year, when the moon rises as the sun sets, we will remove the orange pumpkins as the whites enter.  It's gonna be so moving, I can't wait.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Banning

For once, not burning but banning.  But we know how swiftly one can turn into another.

The news that And Tango Makes Three is the most-banned book resulted in a Beaker Person asking whether we have ever banned books from the library.  Naturally we need to ensure that no Beaker Person reads anything that they may find disturbing to their faith in any way.  We can't build a religion on feeling good and thin air by letting people get worried at the drop of a hat.   And Tango Makes Three has cute penguins and a feel-good attitude, so we're fine with that.

So here is a list of books which aren't particularly banned but aren't particularly... well, welcome.  Let's put it that way.

Hardy's Jude the Obscure - too depressing.

The Epistle to the Romans  - too exclusivist

Autobiographies by current or former Man Utd footballers.  Obviously.  Apart from Giggsy.  Whoever he is.

Von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods - even Beaker People aren't that gullible.

The Revelation of John - everyone's dead by the end.

Ladybird Book 1A Play with us (with Peter and Jane).  In these troubled times you can't be too careful.

Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic - for its analysis of why women might claim divine inspiration.

Richard Dawkins, The Bod Delusion - A book all about how a 1970s cartoon character doesn't exist - is that really necessary?  It's particularly scathing about Aunt Flo.

Jane Austen - Emma - for obscenity

Karl Barth - Kirchliche Dogmatik.  We don't approve of this kind of lightweight theology.

Anything by Jordan.

The Left Behind series - Christians have enough trouble with other people claiming they're dim, without actually going out and proving it.
To save everyone the trouble of pretending, we've got Hawkins's A Brief History of Time in the library, but only the first 20 pages.  We figured we'd get more use from the rest of them by giving them to the Guinea Pig Folk of Stewartby to use for bedding.