Twelfth Night is not Plough Monday

Tonight is Twelfth Night; the last night of the twelve days of Christmas, and the night before Epiphany . All the kids in Presteigne have gone back to school this morning; which is unfair, in my view, since strictly speaking Christmas isn’t actually over till the twelve drummers have drummed. On the island of Foula, they haven’t even begun; since Foula is the last part of Britain to cling to the Julian calender, Christmas Day is tomorrow.

I guess most of ‘credit crunch Britain’ goes back to work today, me included, but arguably we should hang onto as much time off as we can. If all we are doing is working to service debt and taxes, then what’s the rush? Noddy Holder had it right on the Christmas ‘Have I Got News For You.’ Why worry about what doesn’t exist? At least for one more Twelfth Night. In Herefordshire (i.e. about half a mile from my flat), this is one of the traditional nights for wassailing . Seems like a good idea to me…

The first day back to work in agricultural communities was Plough Monday , which is the first Monday after Twelfth Night, i.e. next Monday. So, since Presteigne probably still counts as an agricultural community, and since I am the proud descendant of generations of farm boys, I might just claim an extra week off.

Nobody ever did much work on Plough Monday anyway; it was a last day of festival. A few places hang onto their Plough Monday celebrations, the most famous of which are various mummers plays that still get performed. Old Perry and I are still working on the new website, which will be launched properly in a few weeks time. Meanwhile, one bit that is working is ‘Buried Treasure’ If you dig around in the old web pages enough, you might find a few fragments of what I (but not my publishers) thought of as ‘The Battle for Dole Acre Inter-active Web pages’. My idea was that the fictional town of Pancester should have a tourist website, where readers of the book would be directed now and again, if they so wished. The Pancester Tourism website would have had maps and lists of accomodation, but it was also to be a repository forsome bits of writing that I had generated during the making of the book, but which were probably too long winded and arcane for inclusion in the novel. In 2001, my publishers thought it was too gimmicky; but since they hated the book anyway, they were hardly going to support my interactive idea. I couldn’t afford to fund it myself, so it never happened, except for these buried fragments. I hope that publishers will be increasingly open to interactivity between printed books and websites. Perhaps it could be added to the marketing budget? Anyhoo, the point is, one of the pieces I wrote for the Tourist Website was the text of The Pancester Plough Monday Mummers Play , which is why I thought I might big it up today. To be brutally frank, it doesn’t make much sense even if you’ve read the book, but mumming buffs might be interested. In fact, I might post it again next Monday, i.e. Plough Monday, just to cover my back.

Note to self; how many mumming buffs are there in the world? Is this a good demographic for me to try for?

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~ by Ian Marchant on January 5, 2009.

5 Responses to “Twelfth Night is not Plough Monday”

  1. I wish we could stretch old English traditions as far as the Cape, and claim the rest of the week off too. Would be nice, but even here work starts again tomorrow.
    What I would like to share though is what turned out to be one of the best surprises of this Christmas. Discovered ‘Men and Models’ in a second-hand bookstore in Gordons Bay, overlooking Falsebay to the south of Cape Town. What a delight, every page, every character, every text gives pleasure and increases my belief in humanity. Thanks for that! Sits on my bedside table for a quick smile whenever it is hard to face the new day.
    May the dreams of the last Holy Night be good for you and come true in the year ahead.

  2. Thank you Wilfred.

  3. Good stuff; but worth saying that the Gwaun Valley in West Wales has continued in the Julian tradition. Hen Galan is still celebrated 200 hundred years on. I wonder if the survival of the much feted Dyffryn Arms is connected with this?
    http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Dyffryn+Arms+Pontfaen&sll=51.993701,-4.852662&sspn=0.102529,0.263672&ie=UTF8&ll=52.013204,-4.852524&spn=0.102484,0.263672&z=12&iwloc=A
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/pubs/3335325/Pint-to-pint.html

  4. Hello Ian, Pete Edwards again. You might be interested to know that you can catch the World Famous Ashdown Mummers in a variety of pubs around Sussex, including Lewes and Brighton before Christmas each year. Their website: http://www.mummers.org.uk isn’t hugely informative, but worth a look. I guested for them as Little Johnny Jack a few years ago when I still looked good in figure-hugging pink leggings.

    In comes I,
    Little Johnny Jack
    Wife and Family at my back
    Though I be so little and small
    I am the biggest rogue amongst you all

    etc.

  5. Thanks for this Dr. Pete!

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