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Monday, 30 November 2009

The Mystery of "Q"

I was surprised to be asked by a close friend of the Beaker Folk,the vicar of a greenhouse in Hertfordshire, whether I thought "Q" was a  source of the Gospels.
Which is odd, when you consider it.  I mean, we thought he was much more famous for inventing cigars that could shoot down helicopter gunships, and wristwatches that concealed high-explosive ostriches.  And surely, we wondered, wasn't he a little on the young side - even old as he was - to have writen parts of the Gospel?

Rewind to 47AD, somewhere in an early Christian Community in the Middle East....

"Now pay attention, Matthew.  This may appear to you simply to be a list of the kind of people we need to keep happy if we're going to keep them under the thumb and stop them questioning authority.  The hungry, the mourners, the poor, those who are desperate for righteousness.  It could just look like we're offering them "pie in the sky" so they'll shut up and be grateful while their lords and masters are riding rough-shod over them.  But if you press this button marked "liberation"... you'll see that in fact what you've got there is a manifesto to overturn common presuppositions, make the first last and the last first, send the proud down to the dust and raise up those who've been ground down since the day the world began."
"That's brilliant, Q.  But don't you think somebody's gonna spot the cunning disguise?"
"Maybe one day, Matthew.  Maybe one day."

The Demise of the Moon Gibbon

I'm afraid there's no doubt about it.  The votes for NASA having killed the Moon Gibbon have now exceeded the votes for him existing.
Under the Sherine Principle, NASA killing the Moon Gibbon is now true.
The Gibbon Folk have taken it badly.  They were looking forward to the full moon as a sign that the Gibbon had given up the battle for this month - prior to starting again the moment it started waning.
You would have thought - remembering that the Moon Gibbon was in many ways a scary kind of god to have, eating the moon every month and colouring it red with the blood of clangers at ever lunar eclipse - that the Moon Gibbon People would be happy and relieved.  They should be free of fear, autonymous and happy - free to dance in the woods (not today, obviously - that would be asking for trouble in this weather), or at the least come inside and light some tea lights or meditate on pebbles.  They can do good, or evil, according to their own choice - without looking at the moon over their shoulder the whole time to see if the Gibbon is happy or angry.
But instead, they're just sitting around the pond throwing bits of stick in the water, wondering what to do with their time.  A few of them started a bit of a fight with a couple of Extreeme Primitive Beaker People, who were wanting them to hold an act of worship actually in the pond, but other than that they're just desolate.
Still, full moon tomorrow.  And it's St Andrew's Day today.  The sight of Hnaef wearing a kilt, and a good dinner of haggis on tonight's menu, may yet cheer them up.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Meep is the Word

We've caught on late to the students getting banned from using the word "meep".  But the Beaker Way is to stand alongside those being persecuted, provided we don't end up getting persecuted as well.  Especially when the bone of contention is one whose name, and to some extent nature, we share.


Introit: Meep ye first

Archdruid: The Meep be with you
All: And also with Meep.


Chorus: Meepness and Majesty


The Reading of the Law

Archdruid: Thou shalt not kermit adultery.
All:           We shalt not kermit our neighbour's ass, or his Piggy, or his Animals.


The Meep-attitudes

Archdruid: Blessed are the Meep
All: For they will inherit the beakers.

Archdruid: Blessed are those that make meaningless sounds.
All: For they will blow themselves up in unlikely experiments.

Archdruid: What will it benefit a muppet if he gain the world
All: And yet loses his meep?

Archdruid: Better for a man that he enter the kingdom of Muppets without his meep
All: Than to have his meep and yet be thrown into Balamory.

Archdruid: For the Sesame Street is narrow and the way hard that meeps to the Kingdom of Muppets.
All: But the way is wide and the Zoo Lane easy that leads unto Telly-Tubby Land.


Reading: We will not meep, but we will all be changed.

Dismissal

Archdruid: Go, and meep no more.

Recessional Hymn: Gentle Beaker, Meep and Mild.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Pagan Origins of "Christian" Festivals

I have to doff the Archdruidical pointy hat towards Clayboy for his kind detailing of the way in which Easter was originally a Christianisation of the North American Maple Syrup Harvest.
It is a little known fact that almost all Christian festivals are importations or transmutations of earlier pre-Christian fertility festivals and nature celebrations.  As a group dedicated to finding the deeper truths of earlier times, we are able to shed a great deal of light on the current "Christian" festivals and whence they came.

January 1 - "The Feast of the Holy Name" was originally a feast dedicated to the Norse god of headaches, Bleindin.  Believers would stay in their houses, with the blinds down and the lights off.  A day of fasting and silence - the fast only broken by special ceremonial food such as raw egg yolks with Worcestershire sauce, and fry-ups.

February 2 - Celebrated as "Candlemass" by Roman Catholics, but known to Celts and Beaker Folk as Imbolc.  Imbolc marks the point in the year when you realise how much of the credit card bill you still have to pay off after Christmas.  The Beaker Folk would mark this season by giving up drink, take-aways and pay TV channels, living on nothing but porridge and water until scurvy set in.  They would borrow as much as they could from neighbours to avoid putting any more on plastic.  This aspect of widespread borrowing is the reason that the time up to Easter became known as "Lent".

Palm Sunday - The people of the ancient Bletchley Culture would on this day walk in procession around the Leys, the ancient park just north of Bletchley Park, waving the ears of their enemies in the air.  All year, they would cut the ears off their defeated rivals in battle, drying them in the clay kilns of Newton Longville.  But on this day, timed to be the Gibbous Moon after the Spring Equinox, they would display the year's victories in this way.  Afterwards they would nail the ears to the trees down Buckingham Road. The rest of the year was spent making the same appalling "what's this ear?" pun.
Coincidentally, the Compo People of Yorkshire also celebrated this day.  A member of the young ladies of the village would be chosen, by drawing of lots, to be "Anna" for a day.  The purpose of the young men of the village was to find out which girl had been so honoured.  The ritual part of the day mostly consisted of people walking round the villages shouting "Who's Anna?  Who's Anna"?  The rest is history.

Easter - The Badass People of Nottingham knew this as the Long Good Friday.  They would spend the weekend in an orgy of drinking, wandering around in worn out clothing and threatening passers-by.  This is one of the few traditions to have been handed down, in its original form, for over 6,000 years.

May Day - was originally named after the goddess of screaming and running around with your hands in the air.    Her consort, "Jonesy" was conventionally portrayed as an old man with a fixed bayonet.  Worshippers would hang from bridges over rivers, while taking part in the ritual chant "Don't panic!  Don't panic!"  The shortest man in the community would be chosen to be the "Miz-Dam-Annering" - a position of great responsibility but very little real power.  However he was regarded as a sage - the upper classes of the clan would come to the "Miz-Dam-Annering" and ask him whether he thought things were wise.

Lammas - 1 August - Oddly enough, named after the French word for the West Ham Utd team, "L'Hammers" (the "h" is silent in French).  The Gaulish tribes suffered under the pillaging of the city of Marseilles by Brithonic invaders during the 55BC World Cup.  In particular, the tribe of the West Hams, a fearsome group under the leadership of the warrior Earwigoh, sacked Lyons.  The Hams pillaged a great deal of purple cloth which, worn over their traditional druidic woad body art, was the origins of West Ham FC's modern home strip.

Harvest Home - this older name for Harvest Festival in turn derives its name from a pub in Houghton Regis. The people of Houghton Regis (an offshoot of those great enemies of the West Hams, the Gunnaz), would gather at the Harvest Home to exchange things that had - in their quaint world-view - fallen off the back of their goddess, Ae-lorri.    Presumably we are to imagine Ae-lorri as a pre-Celtic version of Father Christmas, flying across South Bedfordshire with blessings falling off her back into the paths of her worshippers.

Halloween - Before being overtaken by the great evil gods Commerz and Ripov, the Beaker Folk celebrated this as a time of joy and generosity.  They would build a giant Wicka Man, fill it with marshmallows, and set it on fire.  A folk memory of this happy and innocent ceremony survives, albeit in a degraded form, in the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in the film Ghostbusters.  The evil Celts took the marshmallow out and replaced in with criminals, presumably lamenting that "I bet they're warmer in there than my poor old Nan is in her flat", and saying that criminals knew they'd get off with being roasted alive if they were caught, so where was the deterrent in that?

Advent - a corruption of the East Saxon deity Avon, the goddess of cosmetics.  In Advent the women of the East Saxons would cover themselves with face paints in honour of Avon and wander around Chelmsford looking for men with whom to indulge in mating rituals.  They did the same the rest of the year as well.

Christmas  - We now know that the Germanic celebration of Yule, and the Roman Saturnalia, were invented in an attempt to take over from the celebration of Christmas.  The pagans of the 3rd Century were jealous that the Christians were having a good time while they were still worshipping a bunch of gods who sat on mountains dressed in togas.  So they thought that if they renamed the celebration and kept it on the same day, everybody would think they had thought of it first.  Ironically, the Christians had chosen the day because it coincided with the ancient Birmingham* festival of "Winterval", in which people would have a good time, eat drink and be merry and hang coloured lights on their houses, with no idea why.

* Yes, we know.  Birmingham's had an unfairly bad press on this one.  But let's face it - it's still Birmingham.

Answers to a few questions

1.  No, you can't bring one of those into the Community.
2.  Yes I know Keith has introduced penguins.  But penguins aren't 1-ton carnivores, are they?
3.  Because they can't get the wrappers off.
4.  Yes, apparently some Eskimos do revere them.  But that doesn't mean we have to, does it?
5.  No, they don't cover their noses with their paws.
6.  No, not on the moon.
7.  Foxes Glacier Mints.
8.  Oh you haven't, have you?
9.  Well, OK then.  But make sure you discard the liver.

Friday, 27 November 2009

The Little Sisters of the Holy Herring



Full marks to Young Keith.  His training of the Rockhopper Penguins has really come on a treat! At this evening's Howling at the Moon Ceremony, the Little Sisters of the Holy Herring really put on a splendid performance.  A beautiful procession to the Worship Focus (a herring, a sign of the bounty of the sea) and a lovely spiral of penguins reverencing the tea light.  And the simultaneous genuflection was immaculate.
I think maybe it's the increasing cold.  The threat of frost hung in the air this evening and the Little Sisters clearly revelled in the atmosphere.
However he's done it, it's been a revelation.  The penguiny recreation of the closing scenes from Sister Act were marvellous as well.  All in all, I'm thinking of nipping round the safari park tomorrow to see if I can trade the Moon Gibbon people in for a few more penguins.

And did those feet...

Lessons to be learnt from the startling (but scarely original) claim that Jesus came to England as a child:
He can't actually have gone to Glastonbury, or he'd have turned water into cider.  So he must have confined himself to the Home Counties, sending Uncle Joseph off west to build the abbey.  Likewise a trip to Glasgow can safely be ruled out, or he'd have turned water into Tennant's Super or Buckie Wine.  However given that he had a beard and talked about yeast a lot, we can't rule out that he may have been a member of the Campaign for Real Ale.
That he chose twelve disciples - although only eleven actually made it into action, so to speak - suggests that while Joseph was in Somerset, Jesus was at a school where they played Association Football rather than rugby.  So probably a local Comprehensive rather than Public School.

Of Jesus' recorded sermons, the Sermons on the Mount and Plain would have taken about 3 minutes each to preach, while the one in Nazareth is only one sentence.  So we can be fairly sure that he was brought up in the Church of England.  (On this basis we have to assume that the Feeding of the 5,000 took place at the end of a very long PCC meeting, or possibly a badly-planned Alpha Away Day).

Some of our devout local community members are claiming that, as Jesus didn't have a proper job and lived on hand-outs, he almost certainly spent some time in Luton.  On this we have no evidence. But what we can do is point out that in fact we were in this very territory long before the latest film and controversy.  After all, we are the people who brought you the Husborne Crawley Holly back in February...

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Stonehedge - myth and legend

We loved this from the BT / Yahoo pages "Top 10 British Myths and Legends".  According to which Stonehenge dates back "an amazing 50,000 years".  Truly that is amazing.  How the stones stood up over the successive glaciations of that period is indeed a miracle.  However it's bad news for creationists.
But it's nice to see a valid use of the word "literally" - as in "it’s drawn visitors for literally millennia".   Which is true.
The site that Yahoo links to spells out that Stonehenge dates back "an amazing 5,000" years - which is less amazing, but still amazing.  And still wrong, as the very first use of the site was probably an amazing 10,000 years ago.  And "Visit Britain" has issues of its own. Such as spelling "sarsen" as "sarson".
But "you can get a good view from outside the main enclosure", Visit Britain tells us.  Indeed you can, as you dodge the traffic on the busy road by the Heel Stone and peer through the fence and past 10,000 American tourists debating whether it was somebody as unimaginable ancient (to Americans) as the Normans or the Tudors that built it.  And where the roof went when it fell off.

All in all, it's this kind of pseudo-history and imaginary myth that gets on the nerves of us serious druids.  Time to give Stonehenge back to those who can look after it, we say.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

5 statements of Beaker Belief

Clayboy has asked for a summary of Beaker Beliefs in five statements, the first one word long, the second two, the third three, the fourth four and the last five words long.   At least that's what I think he's done.  So, never ones to refuse a challenge - even one that comes from a member of the clergy writing under an assumed name:

Brokenness
Beautiful World
True liberalism oppresses
Knowing God means challenge
Better off with tea lights?

We pass this meme on - in its original form - to Sally, Banksyboy, Helen.

Swine Flu, NASA and Bobby Davro

Judging by our online poll, the jury is very much out on the existence or otherwise of the Moon Gibbon.  The new sect that arose last night,  Gibbon Folk against the Shadow Proclamation, are convinced that the Gibbon is at this time fighting a war on behalf of Dr Who against the Cybermen.  Speaking as one who has seen many causes go agley over the years, I'd be less surprised to hear the Gibbon was actually fighting the Ood.
But many people appear convinced that the the Gibbon was killed by NASA. This upsurge seems not entirely unconnected with a sudden influx of Gruaniad readers, which has thankfully since calmed down again.  But the option is very open - "NASA killed him".  We did not specify whether the Gibbon was murdered, whether NASA attempted to "wing" him but sadly took him completely out by mistake, or whether the Moon Gibbon was simply the unfortunate bystander who took a bullet when NASA really was trying to find water on the Moon.  In other words - was it first, second or third degree gibbocide?
In another rather odd side-conspiracy, some Moon Gibbon Folk are claiming that the Gibbon died because NASA were in fact firing Swine Flu virus at the moon, in an attempt to determine whether human - Moon Gibbon transmission was possible. I'm inclined to think that this is a conspiracy theory too far, myself.

Meanwhile we find in a remarkable co-incidence that we appear to have for sale 2,012 pairs of "his and hers" tealights in the shape of Bobby Davro and Anthea Turner.  Perfect as a Christmas present, or to light after going to see aforementioned minor celebs in panto in Bedford this year.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Yule Sale

You know, many people come to me and say "Archdruid, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
And that's a hard question.  So many faiths, so many attitudes to life, death and how to gain salvation, nirvana, or  paradise according to choice.  So many different paths.  It can all become so confusing and worrying.
So why not buy a bag of Beaker tea lights?  In many ways just like any other tea lights, but lighting one of our authentic Beaker lights will give you 2-3 hours of new-age relaxation in the comfort of your very own library, conservatory or yurt.  And if you feel at peace with the universe now, why worry about the life to come?

And speaking of yurts - what better place could there be to light your Beaker tea lights than in your very own authentic Beaker yurt?  Crafted with the expertise of those Mongols whom we can be almost certain moved to Husborne Crawley in the centuries BC.  We have a limited edition of only 2,012 Beaker Yurts.  So buy one and get a bag of tea lights for free.

For those requiring a more word-based spirituality - whoever you are, we have a Beaker Common Worship for you.  The new Bathtime Beaker Common Worship has been made with laminated pages and an inflatable rubber cover, specially for people who like to carry out their daily devotions in the bath, shower or bubble pool in the garden.  The Study Beaker Common Worship comes with hand-tooled calfskin cover, gold leaf lettering and parchment paper - a must for those wanting to get back to a simpler, more authentic lifestyle of poverty and austerity in these Credit Crunchtimes.  While Today's New International Beaker Common Worship has all words with the the dipthong "-our-" spelt "-or-", and all gender-specific language removed and replaced with the word "it".

To accompany your Beaker Common Worship, why not try our new CD - "Sounds of living pebbles".  Many have claimed that pebbles don't actually make any sounds - but they're wrong.  Using new technology, we have shown that if you drop a pebble from the top of California Cliffs in Norfolk, they do indeed make a sound.  Especially when you land them on the sound recordist.

And then there are doilies.  Shaped like a full moon, in a choice of linen, white or unbleached paper - the widest choice of doilies on earth can be obtained from Mrs Whimsey's Online Doily Shop (now only available online as we've closed all the real ones down for tax reasons).

So don't forget - buy early for Yule!  We have only 2,012 of each of these fantastic items.  And when they're gone, we'll just go out and make some more.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Doilies

We seem to have received a giant order for doilies.  The Mrs Whimsey stock replenishment system has requested 2012 packs.
Can all Beaker Folk please report to the Doily Shed.  Bring your embrocation, it could be a long afternoon.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Anniversary of the death of Blackbeard the Pirate, 1717

On this most special of Blackbeard the Pirate's day, please ensure strict dress code - eye patches, crutches, parrots and bandanas.

Introit:  Theme from Captain Pugwash

Archdruid: Ah-ha!
All:            Shiver me timbers!

Archdruid: Ah-ha!
All:           Shiver me timbers!


Archdruid: Ah-ha!
All:           Shiver me timbers!

[Continues for several hours]



Archdruid: Avast ye landlubbers!
All:           Ahoy there cap'n!

The Passing around of the Rum may be preceded by the Keelhaul of Peace.

Recessional: Yo-ho, Yo-ho, a Pirate's life for me.


Saturday, 21 November 2009

Well obviously they're Pentecostals...

They speak in a language other people don't understand and they've got their hands in the air.
Presumably 10% of the photo rights went to a Pentecostal church.
Thanks to Ruth Gledhill.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Switch it off and switch it back on again

The Large Hadron Collider is once again rotating protons in one direction.  Nice to know that the principle of fixing PCs has been extended to sub-nuclear physics.  If it still doesn't work, we're looking forward to some giant PC support engineer whacking it on one side, giving it a bit of a shake and then wandering back off to play on World of Warcraft.

Top 20 Twitterers

Thanks to Cranmer, who noticed this poll.  Thankfully we rescued the Internet Archive from the wreckage of the Moot House and have been able to find the following, which confirms our belief that you wouldn't really want to follow most of these people:


Eve @CharlesOntheBeagle Listen buddy, I don't care what your theory says.

OscarWilde Alpen for breakfast.  Yum.



MarilynMonroe @JFK - Oh alright. Usual time?


WinnieC @MaidOfOrleans - Any chance of a light, Joan?



CharlesOntheBeagle @Hitler You've just totally missed what I'm saying, haven't you?


Jesus @PrincessDiana Yeah I know how you feel


OscarWilde Just off to #Frys



CharlesOntheBeagle @LeoDaV - where's Einstein?


MarilynMonroe @PrincessDiana Yeah - he sung that rotten song for me too :(



VirginQueen @WillShakespeare Oh alright. usual time?


OscarWilde Just had a nice cup of tea.


WinnieC @Hitler You just wouldn't let it lie, would you?


CharlesOntheBeagle You know, if these tortoises were a bit quicker, we'd have a lot less soup.


JackTheRipper Had a good evening out in Whitechapel ;).  Mummy not amused.


CheGuevara You know what I really need?  A T-shirt with a picture of a spotty student on the front.


Ghandi Anyone else having trouble finding a really good suit?

WinnieC I tell you, @Ghandi, when I'm done with @Hitler you're next.


MaidofOrleans Yeah, so did I and look where it's got us.  RT @LutherKing   I have a dream


Jesus @OscarWilde Actually, I've no problem with the Pope being carried round like that.  He works hard, he deserves a rest #OnEasterDay

LeoDaV No, you're all wrong.  She shaved her eyebrows off for a laugh before I painted it #gioconda


CharlesOntheBeagle Still sitting on this boat.

Penguins again

In answer to several questions, no - I've no idea where they came from.  But they're making Fr Jack fairly nervous so we're sending him back to Craggy Island.

Holy Penguins

Young Keith has a new hobby.  A group of six rockhopper penguins.  With their eyebrows and bumbling manner they remind us someone, but we can't quite work out who it is.  Possibly a former druid?  Or maybe the old Aspley Guise Methodist minister.
Young Keith is determined that the penguins be trained to take part in liturgical ritual.  He figures with their black and white outfits, their squawking  noises when upset and their habit of waddling as they walk, they'll be a dead cert as acolytes.  At the moment he's trying to get them to learn how to form the procession at Pouring out of Beakers, but he reckons with some in-depth training a few of them may be able to deliver a homily in a month or two.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

European matters

Much excitement among the Beaker Fertility Folk at the appointment of Herman von Rumpuy.  On a casual reading of his name they assumed he was one of their own, and have been breaking out the blackberry cider, celebrating the benefits of the newly-appointed Holy Roman Emperor and the tax breaks they thought he might bring.  Indeed, rumour grew so wild that there were claims that breeding might become an Olympic Sport.
They've calmed down a bit now, and with the Moon Gibbon folk hitting more of an even keel as the moon starts to wax once again, the whole place is generally more placid.

A day of mourning for Irish football

After the despair we watched in Paris thanks to Young Keith's borderline-legal box of tricks and the dustbin lid he has customised to use as a Sky dish, the blatant cheating by a player we thought so respectable, and the sight of a bunch of players who ply their trade for our finest clubs (i.e. the French players, mostly) going through at the expense of so many League 2 players and Spurs strikers, we can only say - "Get a sense of perspective.  Ireland are not the England B team.  They won't support us now they're out."
We'd also like to ask - was that "Revd David" Keen texting BBC 5 Live this morning at 7 o'clock?

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Thought for the Day

The Church Mouse comments intelligently on the decision of the BBC not to allow secular, humanist or atheist contributions to Thought for the Day.
We here in Husborne Crawley can't see any reason why non-believers qua non-believers should have any right to contribute.  Non-belief has no unique morals that I am aware of, no higher purpose, and on the whole is profoundly uninteresting.  Listening to scientists is always interesting, presuming they can speak clearly and without sounding like Mr Bean, but then their faith or lack of it is of no consequence either way.  And science programmes abound.  This is especially true for those that deal with evolution and the natural world, presumably because Newton's Laws of Motion aren't particularly exciting once you've thrown a ball about a bit and String Theory is unproven and too hard.  Whereas seals are cute and reconstructions of dinosaurs eating other dinosaurs are exciting.
But what about a religious group that has been excluded from mainstream opinion too long - marginalised and ignored, without ever an invitation to Thought for the Day, no appearances on Songs of Praise, not even particularly exciting scandals to make the evening news?   I refer of course to the Beaker People.  After 2500 years of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon oppression, now would be the time to give us a voice.
In the meantime, my support for a religious Thought for the Day continues.  And I will continue to turn over to Radio 5 Live each morning, the moment the slot begins.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Traditional Cockney Spirituality


I'd like to thank King Chas and Queen Denise of the Pearly Folk of Bethnal Green for their visit to us today.
Especially at these times of remembrance, the Beaker Folk that descend from the Cockney diaspora look back to their ancestral homeland, from which their families fled when their old manors were destroyed in social improvement schemes, having instead to settle in cul-de-sacs of reasonably-priced 4 bedroomed houses in Hemel Hempstead, Northampton and Milton Keynes.  They remember the good old days, which of course never existed.  And what could be better than that as a basis for Traditional Cockney Spirituality?

Chas and Denise believe that Cockney spirituality is driven by a sense of loss.  Loss of a homeland, loss of a way of life, loss of a sense of community.  They were kind enough to play some of their traditional Cockey worship songs for us, on the traditional London instruments - an out-of-tune joanna and mouth organ.  Such classics as "He brought me to his banqueting table - ave-a-banana"; "Knocked him in the old Norman font;" "There is a Primrose Hill far away" and "My old man said follow the Lord".

By sharing with us their appreciation of the Cockney holy places - the Hackney Marshes, across which the Wild Cockney Sparrers fly, Highgate Cemetery, where North Londoners go to commune with their ancestors, and the curry houses of Brick Lane, Chas and Denise awoke in us a sense of what the Germans would call "Heimweh", the Welsh "Hiraeth" or the Cockneys "Gorblimey".

It was very moving to join in their Cockney liturgy - such lines as "Your father was a wandering costermonger" and "next year in the Holloway Road", simple but profound truths that resound in my head as I write.  And then to share in the traditional, homely Cockney fellowship meal - brown ale, whelks, jellied eels, pie mash and liquor - was frankly disgusting.

But the Cockney Folk have left us with an appreciation of their simple, undemonstrative, homely faith.  And we thank them for it.  And also for their dictionary of Cockney Religious Rhyming Slang, extracts from which I have pleasure in detailing below.


Alison Steadman
Matt Redman
Annoying bleeder
Worship Leader (this one works either way round)
Awful Catarrh
Acoustic Guitar
Bagpuss the Saggy Old Cloth Cat
Papal Ordinariate ("I see that bloke in the lambretta's done a Bagpuss")
Bish Bash Bosh
Regent's Park Mosque
Chicken Coop
Music Group
Hampstead Heath
Nothing worn beneath (of traditionalist parishes where not only the thuribles are swinging)
Jenkin’s Ear
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
John Rambo
Ambo
Jonathan Ross  
Archdeacon of Charing Cross
Ladie’s Night
Sarum Rite
Lambretta (pron Lamb-ber-e’a)
Black biretta 
Lizzie Borden
Church Warden
Snake Pass
Latin Mass
Total Wassock
Bloke in a cassock

An ageing population

Many thanks to Revd David Keen for his post alerting us to Britain's ageing population.  It's all very distressing.  For some.
Here in Husborne Crawley, I'm feeling rather more sanguine.  Firstly because it will improve the behaviour of our community over time.  Young Keith's not going to be half so keen on staggering back from the White Horse planning trouble when he's Middle-aged Keith.  The Fertility Folk will have to put their clothes on and come back into the fold, once they're the "Can only raise the energy once a quarter Folk".  As for the Moon Gibbon people, advancing dementia can hardly make them less coherent than they currently are.  They've now had another split, with one group threatening to leave us and join the Guinea Pig Folk because we have female Archdruids,while the others are threatening to build their own Moot House because we have female Archdruids.  Turns out the two groups hate each other even more than they hate any of us, so any evening these days the sounds of flying plates can be heard under the Gibbon Moon as they settle old scores before they all head off to their new separate lives of purity, obedience and the 19th century.
And also the demographic suits our basic philosophy.  OK, we'll probably have to hold more festivals indoors, showing live video footage of the Moon streamed in from the outside.  And we'll have to install some toilets closer to the Moot House.  But look at this correlation between age and tea-light purchase:

Basically, all Beaker-related purchases show the same pattern.  Albeit the 70 pluses are buying fewer tea lights due to a lesser exposure in their early years (they were probably rationed during the war or something).  The Beaker Shop shows a similar correlation for essential oils and holy pebbles.  And as for doilies... I tell you, the sky's going to be the limit.
Demographic timebomb?  Bring it on, I say.

Revenge of the Bogeyperson

A bit of a disaster for poor Gordon.  The Beaker Secularists have long been campaiging for the right to take assemblies, and finally somebody let him into one of the local infant schools.  His basic message, "God doesn't exist so be good - although nothing will happen either way" seemed to go over the heads of the little ones. So he expanded his thesis by explaining that God doesn't exist, just like Santa doesn't.  Faced with 120 children crying their eyes out, and looking for a way to retrieve the situation, he told them that if they didn't believe that Santa doesn't exist, the Bogeyperson would get them.  To be fair to Gordon, at least they were quiet after that.  But several of the kids need counselling, and in some kind of fundamentalist reaction six have formed the Teeny Division of the Moon Gibbon worshippers.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Commemoration of Edward Woodward


Dress code:  Scottish islanders and illiterate yokels, with a scattering of Government hit-men and freelance trouble-shooting hardmen.  Definitely no hi-viz, it makes you an easier target.

Archdruid: We come to burn the wicker man, in memory of Callan's greatest scene.  Well, obviously not Callan.  The bloke who played him, may he rest in peace.


All: Can we do anything for you, Archdruid?  

Archdruid:  No, I doubt it, seeing you're all raving mad!  
 
All:          Have  we got the sacrificial schmuck?

Earwig: A man who would come here of his own free will.

Burton:  A man who has come here with the power of a king. By representing the law...

Drayton: A man who would come here as a virgin...

Hnaef: A man who has come here as a fool!

Young Keith's Uncle the Police Officer:  Do you know what, I'm feeling a bit nervous about all this...  Look, I've been happily married for years.

All:  It's all right... we're only joking!

Closing hymn - Summer is icumen in.

The Wicker Man is burnt as a final salute to the great Edward Woodward.

Archdruid: In the end, there's only one great Equalizer....

No  police officers were harmed in the making of this liturgy.

Death of Edward Woodward

In honour of Edward Woodward's passing, there will be a special commemorative Wicker Man lit tonight.

Wild Weather

With all of the wild weather forecast for England over the next day or two, we have decided it's time to make a decisive  spiritual intervention.  So we are holding a sun dance at 12 noon in the Moot House .  Or outside if it's nice.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Pre-worship prayers

We're going to have to look seriously at cutting out the pre-worship devotions.

It all started when someone said "let's have a time of prayer before the main Ceremony each day."  Seemed a good idea - those of us who would be leading could seek blessing on the time that lay before us, and could seek to have our hearts and minds directed for our duties.

And it worked quite well for a while.  In fact it got quite popular.  First it was just the druids, but then the musicians pointed out they would appreciate it.  And given the way they sound, none of us were going to deny them the power of prayer.  And then the pourers-out and fillers-up of beakers wanted to prepare themselves spiritually.  Soon there were ten or more people attending.  And our informal, spontaneous praying style could get a bit chaotic with that many around.  So to bring some order to things, we put the person responsible for leading the pre-worship prayers down on the rota, and that structured things.

But then the people that lead the pre-worship prayers decided they needed a time of spiritual preparation - it was quite challenging, now so many people were getting involved.  So they set aside a time for pre-pre-worship prayers contemplation.  But it was a bit quiet so they started asking their friends along to join them.
But their friends quite enjoyed it, so a few of them started attending before every pre-worship prayer meeting.  And it all started getting a little unstructured, with so many of them.  So they had to appoint somebody to lead it.  And then they realised they needed some pre-pre-pre-worship prayers contemplation devotions.

But that was so quiet and still, without the kids and the trouble-makers and the late-comers.  So people started attending the pre-pre-pre-worship prayers devotions.  So it needed a bit of preparation.
Cutting a long story to just quite long, eventually a book was produced.  The "Wee pre-pre-pre-pre-worship prayers contemplation devotions worship book".  A book with not much content but a huge cover.

Look, everyone's now having to get up at 5am every morning.  The main Occasions are getting later and later.   And then we've got the problem of the post-formal ceremonies worship, and the prayer meeting after that to give thanks for how we've been blessed.   And everyone's really shattered because they daren't not show up at every pre- and post-worship event in case they're considered lightweights.  So all pre-worship preparations and post-worship worship sessions are henceforth banned.

Now maybe we can all get some sleep.

Gender-inclusive language

I note with interest Clayboy's comments on the use of Gender-Inclusive Language.  My view regarding the Book of Common Prayer and its "Traditional" language successors, to which I presume he is generally referring, is simple.  When the context for masculine use is generally positive - "for us men and for our salvation..." - this would clearly refer to all people, the "man" being used in the sense that "anthropos" is.  On the other hand, when it is something more like "that he may turn from his wickedness" - clearly that is referring to a male.  This is the tradition in all the communities of the Beakers.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Male Archdruids

Now the vexed question of whether or not men can be archdruids has constantly raised its head.  Many people would think this is a step too far from our Beaker tradition - after 4,000 years of female archdruids, how could we take this radical step, cutting us off from the rest of Beakerdom, most of which has not even accepted male druids yet?
And yet the appointment of those male druids, controversial as it was at the time, has generally proved to be a success.  Hnaef and Drayton, despite their obvious flaws (being posh and being a scheming, plotting traitor respectively) have managed to avoid making a complete bodge of it.  Those who said that men couldn't do the job, being more suited to cutting wood, filling the car up with petrol, growing nose hair and banging the holes out of doilies, have had to think again.  OK, they've not changed their views but at least they thought about it.

Drayton, who seems to have a vested interest in the situation, has come up with a whole series of suggestions about how male archdruids could work.  If a male archdruid were ever created, and in a community other than Husborne Crawley - as I own the Great House and all land pertaining to it.

One suggestion that is clearly completely unworkable is that such an archdruid should be on a level with any other archdruid, able to set their own policies on tea lights, chanting and howling at the moon.  They should even be entitled to attend the Archdruidical Synods held annually (in the Seychelles this year, as it happens) just as if they were real female archdruids.  Well, it's not going to happen is it?

Another idea that I found quite workable was that, as a controlled experiment, a Beaker community could have a male 'archdruid'.  We would distinguish the role in written communications by always putting the word in inverted commas.  When speaking we could make that little gesture where you put speech marks up around your head as you say the word.  This would in no way detract  from the dignity of the role, but make it clear that they weren't real archdruids without inverted commas.

Finally, there is a proposal that would get round the problems that many female druids would have in reporting to a male 'archdruid'.  Put simply, we would be prepared to appoint male archdruids provided they would only have male druids reporting to them.  This would avoid the bizarre situation occurring where female archdruids had to resort to Alternative Druidical Arrangements (ADA) by reporting to a separate flying archdruid - or, as she's better know to the Archer Folk of Amesbury, Archdruid Ada.

All in all, I'm not sure we yet have all the answers.  I think the best thing we can do is appoint another committee to look into it, to report back in - what, say ten years?

The ideal Christmas Gifts

Only 42 shopping days to Christmas, including Christmas Day (well, Tesco's may be tempted...).  So we're pleased to offer the "Beaker" range of toiletries.  Made with your special ones in mind.














A night on the Heath
The perfect perfume to express your loved one's natural, wilder side.  With overtones of pine, walnut notes, and undertones of grunchy acorn and heather - all given an edge with just a hint of terror.











Aromatherapy

With lavender, camomile and lemon balm, this perfume is hopeless if you're out on the pull, but you'll sleep for a week so you won't care.
Hunk




Ideal for that Beaker Secularist in your life.  The synthetic orangutan pheromones won't make them any more attractive to women, but at least it's going to give them hope.


Worship Leader
"Worship Leader" - the ideal scent for earnest blokes with sweaters and a knowledge of 3-4 chords on the guitar (Bm is so difficult...)  With the whiff of wild Celtic Heather, heavy on oil and a nagging hint of cheese.

Decque the Halls
A festive mixture of holly berries, myrrh and eggnog.  This parfum is Christmas in a bottle.

The Sweet Smell of Fervour
An ecumenical eau de toilette - a devout mixture of incense and charismatics' underarms.  Be lifted to another dimension.

Coal-Tar soap
Not natural in any way, but we got a job-lot cheap in a closing-down sale.

Ordinariate
With a hint of paranoia, the sweet smell of dithering, and an unaccountable scent of money being carefully counted.

"Yew'll be Sorry - Belladonna, Yew berries and Essence of Foxglove make this the perfect gift for that elderly aunt who just won't pop off and leave you the inheritance.   Not available (or indeed required) in Switzerland. [Archdruid's Note - this perfume has been withdrawn under pressure from the Bedfordshire and Thames Valley constabularies.  The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley do not recommend bumping off elderly relatives, no matter how big their houses.]


And the good news is, that the Beaker Collection has all been tested on guinea pigs.  So you can use them confident in the knowledge that they're safe.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Weather Warning

As we move from Equinox towards Solstice, the warnings of the season's first gales are upon us.  A shame, as the planned tea-light float is probably off.  And Hnaef's latest attempt to tight-rope walk over the Orchard.  And the balloon flight.  And the outdoor badminton tournament.  And the "who can stand on the Trilithon the longest" competition that Young Keith's organised.  Although I always had my doubts about that one.  I just don't think pelting the person on the Trilithon with wet sponges to knock them off showed true reverence for a holy artefact.

Yet it left me pondering on - on what?  A dichotomy?  A paradox?  An ambiguity?  Or something else indicating a sense of one thing, and yet a slightly different thing.  The way that the gentle trickle of a stream can  rise to something that floods a town the size of Waterbeach (although let's be honest, if you move to Waterbeach without wondering why it's got that name you're not really Mrs Lateral Thinker, are you).  The way that the flames that gently warm the hearts of beast and Beaker Person, can burn the Moot House down.  The way that a gentle breeze can cool and refresh, yet a howling gale can bring a chimney down on your conservatory.  And the way that a dove's gentle cooing brings comfort, nostalgia and gladness to the human soul.  Yet park your car under a tree and your windscreen suffers.

Truly the spirit moves as it wills, and we are in turns heartened and left to run screaming for cover.  I feel the need for a lime tisane.

Haven't they heard? Is it bravado? Do they think it's a genuine poll result? Or....

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Twitterati

Much concern among the Community's social networking community today after Young Keith threw a sheep at poor Marston Moretaine.  If they'd both been on Facebook at the time it wouldn't have been so bad.

However, the incessant twittering around the place is getting me down.  Updates such as "Edith is on Twitter", for example.  That is a message that can be read from the meta-data of another tweet, if you follow me.
Also, "I'm Spartacus" can get very wearing when retweeted too many times.

Meanwhile Elois is now impossible to drag away from her laptop.  She's missed six sunrises in succession, and on each occasion her tweets have consisted of "missed another sunrise due to being on Twitter :( ".

Likewise the Facebook status of Drayton Parslow - "Drayton should be the Archdruid" is getting a bit monotonous after nine months.  As are the 52 "Likes" after it.  Don't forget, I know who you are.

Burton, always a stickler for details, is definitely driving us all to distraction, with his consistent updates on the frequency, size and - heaven help me - texture of his bowel movements.  That would be bad enough, but why some freak has taken to retweeting them is beyond me.

I feel the need to stress the Community Rule #42 of the Beaker Folk at this point - "Use of internet social networking is permissible, and indeed encouraged, if it leads to the increased weal of the persons of the community."  However it must be modified by Rule #43, "In most cases, your opinions are tedious, predicatable and fatuous.  They are a waste of the electrons that carry them and the energy required to encode the magnetic dipoles that store them."

I'm ever so pleased we've got as far as Rule #43.  When we started we only had the one, and that was "Don't be evil".  And we had to give that one back.

Meanwhile, bad news about the Moot House in Second Life.  It's burnt down.

Cedar Tree how big it's grown

Could not help but notice this string of yew thefts in the local papers.  I am slightly worried about the resemblance of the alleged yew thief to our Assistant Druid to the Archdruid, Drayton Parslow.  And suddenly slightly more worried about the Traditional Beaker Hedge that Young Keith has been planting on our School Lane boundary.  But mostly concerned about the sheer number of puns in one article.

Catholics and Aliens

As the English religious movement most likely to be able to communicate with extra-terrestrials (excluding certain House Churches in the West Midlands), we are pleased to pass on this offer from a local Catholic priest, who insisted that he would not have a cup of tea, no matter how much we suggested he should.

The Catholic Church is pleased to offer Aliens an Alien Ordinariate.  Aliens may henceforth join the Catholic Church under exactly the same terms as they had in the past, but under a new media campaign that is intended to embarrass His Grace Ming the Merciless.
Alien priests will be free to join the Holy Catholic Church.  However, ordination as real (not alien) priests will be at the discretion of the hierarchy.    Tentacles are not a pre-requisite of being a priest.
Alien confirmation, which is dependent upon the laying on of tentacles, will not be regarded as a real confirmation.  Aliens will have to receive the laying on of hands to become true Catholics.  From real bishops.  The ones with hands.  Not tentacles.
Aliens wishing to become priests will require psychological profiling to ensure they do not have unnatural desires for aliens.  Unfortunately, odds are they will have by definition.  Let's face it, they're aliens.
Married aliens may be accepted for ordination as priests.  But clearly they won't be real priests.  After all, they're aliens.
Female alien priests will be requested to remain in the Church of Aliens, where they belong.  They're not real priests, and they're probably not real females.  Whatever "female" means in Alien circles.
On the whole, if you're an alien and you want to be a Catholic priest - best to wait till you retire.  You'll not be a burden on our congregations then.  Mind you, if being an alien you're due to retire at the age of 7,000, we'll have a bit of a wait for you.  Maybe you could minister in the C of E in the meantime?  They might not notice you're anything unusual.

Monday, 9 November 2009

The Large Hadron Collider Future Scientists Conspiracy Theory

The Sunhas undertaken a rare venture into the worlds of philosophy and fundamental science.  OK, it has the advantage of a couple of scientists with exotic names (to the Sun that is, we already know someone called Holger).  These scientists have suggested that it is not the Large Hadron Collider itself, or even God, that is preventing the doom machine from working.  No - it is scientists coming "back from the future " to protect themselves against us destroying their past.
My initial thought, that the Sun only took an interest in Hadrons for their anagram potential, I immediately condemned as unworthy.
But if they are scientists from the future, just causing electrical faults and leaks is hardly impressive.  The piece of baguette is cheekier.  I look forward to it being a beret next time, or a signed photograph of Toulouse Lautrec turning up in the place they insert the protons [insert own joke here].  Or, if they're being particularly cheeky, they could obstruct a ventilation shaft** with Richard Dawkins' epoch-making 2012 work "Why the World was made in 6 days - My Apology".

But we'll know if the theory is right if, next time they try to boot it up, they discover a De Lorean car in the collider.  Even more amusing if the future scientists materialise in the Collider, drive it round a few times, and then, having reached 88 miles an hour (which I believe is somewhat slower than will account for relativistic speeds), disappear leaving a spinning number (or, as I believe our American cousins would call it, "licence") plate.

* I would like it noted that I did not pick this piece of news up during my daily read of the aforesaid news-sheet.  I would like to give a hat-tip, as I believe it's called, to a tweet from Robin Eccles.

 **they surely must have ventilation shafts in the LHC?  If not, where do they climb to escape the aliens?

The great Guinea Pig Offer - continued

More clarity is appearing on the offer from the Guinea Pig folk to the Moon Gibbon Folk.  Apparently the Moon Gibbon Folk, if they move to Stewartby, will be entitled to continue to use the Beaker Common Prayer.  Ironic, because none of them were using it anyway.  They were using their own prayer book, the Wee Gibbon Worship Book.  That's when they weren't already using the Guinea Pig People's own prayer book.  Some of the more exteme Moon Gibbon folk were actually using the Guinea Pig service book in the original Guinea Pig, although to be honest even many of the real Guinea Pig folk don't really understand what all those grunts and whistles mean.
Apparently the Moon Gibbon folk's druids will continue to be "druids in all but name", albeit that apparently it's the "name" that means they can do all their druidic responsibilities since they will no longer be allowed to read entrails, cut mistletoe or light wicker men people.  Apart from that, they'll just retain the ability to go around telling other people what to do.  And let's face it, anyone can do that already round here, as long as they've got a cricket bat to hand.
So we wait and see.  I've told Burton not to build any reductions in druidic fees into the budget for next year just yet.  I get the feeling it's the "doing what you're told" clause they may suffer from.

Ceremony for the 20th anniversary of the bringing-down of the Berlin Wall

Dress code: 1980s hair, or, out of respect the for the death of the dreams of a million schoolboy Marxists, anoraks and duffel coats.

Archdruid:  Tonight we're gonna party...
All:            Like it's 1989.

Archdruid:   We remember the fall of the Wall - a symbol of oppression
All:           ... a symbol of failure

Archdruid:  A godless society...
All:           ...never delivered the goods

At this point, Gilbert the Secularist may interpose with the words "you're lumping us all together!  I'm one of the nice atheists - not like those communist ones!  My kind's never been tried so it's bound to work!"

Archdruid:  A failure of humanity
All:            A failure of the imagination.

Archdruid:  We dance with those who danced on the wall
All:             We weep with those who wept.

Archdruid:  And now we rejoice in our freedom - the freedom to imagine, to believe and to consume what we want.
All:            Bring on the wall!

A large wall with amusing holes cut into it moves across the Orchard.  Beaker People throw themselves through it or, if failing to move quickly enough, are knocked into a comedy swimming pool.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Namings

One of a druid's blessings is the chance to preside at naming ceremonies.  There's something very solemn about giving a child a name - one that is given with love, with care, with consideration for our hopes for their future and yet knowing that they stand at just one point - currently the latest - in their families' traditions.
And yet sometimes you do wonder.  I mean take this morning.  I know that some families, in some kind of attempt at being aspirational, have named their children things like "Chardonnay", "Chanel", Brooklyn and "Porsche".  But all the same, today's naming of the Browns seemed to be pushing it.
Still, we hope this morning's children will be blessed by the Occasion.  And that "Merlot Shiraz", "Skoda", "Hammersmith Broadway" and "Calvin Klein" will have long, happy and spirtually-fulfilled lives.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Large Hadron Bird Feeder

We're a little concerned that, after being told the Large Hadron Collider was ready to roll, and that God wasn't stopping it , once again it is not working.  This time because a bird has dropped a piece of baguette in the cooling machinery.  Even more concerned that apparently it took members of the public to notify the scientists responsible for the time-bomb machine.  What were those scientists doing when they should have been looking out for overheating hadrons?  Our suspicion is that they were probably feeding the birds.
Or alternatively - given his association with ravens - perhaps what they've actually built is a Large Odin Collider?  No wonder his Norseness would get upset and stop the machine working.  After all, having been injected into the Collider and whizzed around at speeds near to the speed of light, any deity's going to be feeling a bit thor.
But back to the bird strike.  Naturally, with all those French scientists around, it was going to be a bit of baguette - but if they whizzed it once round would they be able to get it warmed up?  Have we actually funded the Large Hadron Toaster?

Anyone else see the irony in this?



    
Temperance, Michigan arrived from google.com on "Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley: Swine Flu and Drinking Alcohol" by searching for drink alcohol kill flu.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Dumbing Down of Exam Standards

There has been a great deal of fuss over the alleged dumbing-down of Science Exam standards.

Oddly some of this was aimed at our own Beaker Examining Board.  Some people seemed to think we have abandoned scientific impartiality in order to "target" (whatever that may mean) the Faith School market.  I hope last year's Year 9 Science exam, attached below, will prove this is not true.

BEAKER EXAMINING BOARD
YEAR 9 SCIENCE FOR FUNDAMENTALISTS

Please write only in green crayon and on one side of the earth (the flat side) only.

Section 1 - PHYSICS

1 - "Light is...."
(a) A wave
(b) A stream of particles, or "photons"
(c) Both of the above depending upon your frame of reference and the type of experiment you are carrying out
(d) God's clothing

2 - Why do we not float off from the earth?
(a) Gravitional attraction
(b) Because it's flat
(c) Because it's a giant magnet and we have iron in our bodies
(d) Because God said.

3.  The universe is claimed to be c. 12 billion years old, yet the farthest stars are apparently 25 billion light years away.  Explain?
(a) There's something wrong with the calculation
(b) The expansion of the universe has caused it.
(c) Some stars travel in warp drive.
(d) God set it up so it looked that way, in 4004BC.  He created all the light on its way in at the same time.  This was a very clever trick to test the faithful and fool those who are wise in their own eyes.

4.  The limits on radiocarbon dating are now up to 70 thousand years.  What would this be useful for?
(a) Checking the freshness of food in supermarkets.
(b) Dating mammoths, stone-age humans and petrified forests.
(c) Nothing whatsover.  

5.  Schrodinger's cat is...
(a) A thought experiment
(b) A very cruel experiment, which proves why we should not trust scientists
(c) Demised
(d) Very much still with us
(e) 50% (c) and 50% (d)
(f) Hang on, I'll just open the box.  Oh dear...

6.  Fire is...
(a) The glowing of particles releasing energy after combustion
(b) One of the four elements, alongside water, earth and air
(c) A useful tool in dealing with heresy

Section 2 - GEOLOGY

1- How did fossils come to be in the rock strata?
(a) They're the remains of animals that were caught in the Flood
(b) They were put there by God to test us in our faith
(c) They were put there by the evil one to tempt us to abandon our faith
(d) They were put there by Steve Borthwick to confuse us.

2 - What action caused the creation of the Himalayas?
(a) Plate tectonics
(b) A giant tortoise ploughed into India after an ill-fated freak mutation meant it could fly but not very well.
(c) They're the remains of a dead giant
(d) God made them in 4004 BC

3 - What kind of rock was laid down by the shells of tiny sea creatures in the Cretaceous period, roughly 100 million years ago?
(a) Marble
(b) Limestone
(c) You having a laugh?

Section 3 - MEDICINE

1 - Historically, how would you treat somebody who was suffering from manic depression?
(a) Beat them with sticks to drive out the demons
(b) Chain them up and beat them with sticks on a strictly scientific basis
(c) Medication
(d) Pray for them
(e) All of the above
(f) Offer aromatherapy

2 - What would be your first actions if finding someone who had lost a hand in a road crash?
(a) Pray that the hand would be restored
(b) Phone an ambulance, keep them still and laid down, apply pressure in an attempt to restrict blood flow
(c) Offer aromatherapy
(d) Beat them with sticks to drive out the demons

3 - How would you treat sufferers from Swine Influenza
(a) Antibiotics
(b) Anti-virals
(c) Beat them with sticks to drive out the demons.

4 - What would the best method of dealing with a fever be?
(a) Paracetamol
(b) Cold flannel
(c) A nice warm blanket and hot water bottle
(d) Look, just pass me the sticks, I'll beat them myself.

Bad Science

An eventful evening yesterday, I thought.

Most of the controversy prevailed around Young Keith's new firework.  In these credit-crunched times, we decided it would be cheaper to make our own from scratch.  As Beaker People will be aware, this has involved collecting the crystallised residue around the edges of the cesspit as one of the source ingredients of the gunpowder.  So many people were deeply relieved that we had finally reached Bonfire night.
In the light of previous engineering endeavours, it probably wasn't surprising that Keith decided to build his rocket out of wood recycled from pallets.  However that did mean that the scale of the thing was quite surprising.  You rarely see a firework 27 cubic feet in capacity.

My chief scientific adviser, Albert Heisenberg, declared himself uncertain about whether this was a good idea. In his view, there was far too much explosive dedicated to going out - and not enough intended to send the firework up.  In any case, he said, the danger of burning pieces of pallet was good enough reason not to light the thing.

As we carried the firework - rather gingerly, I have to admit - out to the Orchard, Dr Heisenberg turned out to be far more certain - shouting "It's a death trap!  You're putting us all in danger!"  With this kind of scientific advice, what could I do?  Naturally I sacked Dr Heisenberg immediately.

When Young Keith lit the device, it was quite a revelation.  Lifting itself off the ground to a height of 2 feet, it then flew wildly round the Orchard.  In retrospect, lighting it in the Orchard was a bad move - as it bounced off the trees it resembled a pin-ball.  However in what I thought was quite an irony, it is fair to say that although we could tell where it was, and how fast it was going, it was quite tricky to judge both at the same time.  Eventually, leaving a pile of Beaker Folk cowering behind the Dairy wall, it flew straight into the Moot House and blew it to pieces.  At which all the people went "ooooh!"  It was very pretty, I must admit.  But we do need a new Moot House now.  And a new scientific adviser.