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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mayday! Mayday!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012.

May Day.

I know, I know. "Mayday!" the distress call, comes from the French, "m'aider" "HELP ME!" but this is different. 

What a fascinating day, historically, is May Day. Look it up on Google; if it interests you enough, there's no point in my repeating its astronomical, astrological, pagan, sociological and political significance over time.

Mostly it's remembered these days for just a couple of reasons.

Maypole dancing. Source
One is that as it's the traditional Spring awakening in the northern hemisphere, Maypole dancing day, where homage is given to male virility (what else?) by having virgins dance around the pole – the bigger, the better, naturally. For the boys, rather gratifying in its symbolism, or optimistic perhaps. 

Not that it was all so innocent. May Day orgy-asm has a long history, and a long way from chastity ­– Dionysian rites, snake worshipping....

It's funny that my name derives from Dionysus, God of revelry and master of rites similar to those of the less philosophically aware and more earthy of the Tantrikas of Hinduism, especially the New Age Western devotees. No wonder the ancient Christians quickly grabbed May Day and made it respectable, regarding it as unsafe to leave in the licentious hands of Wiccans and animists and other Satanic spawn. Sex was replaced by its more slightly more sober form, morris dancing; especially down there in Kent, where we lived in 1980. Whitstable was just a stone's throw away.

So were the morris dancers, but I resisted the temptation.

Perhaps I'm being unduly harsh, as I am on line-dancers in Tamworth during the Country Music Festival, but to me, nothing kills a good old orgy deader than morris dancing. The neo-pagans are dragging it back though, with the impetus of the age of Aquarius, abetted these days by fizzy popcorn-coloured but deceptively alcoholic drinks to get the virgins in a good mood, and the horrors of politics.

By Dionysus, we're winning.

But politics, that sets a new tone. The Mayday celebrations remind us of the glories of revolution, vast military parades, with ICBMs apparently in the hands of the proletariat (I'm doubtful) ready to purge the world of the evils of power-drunk generals and Halliburton and create the socialist utopia at last.

The sonorous intoning of the Internationale rings in our ears, but there are six verses, which is too many. The poem, piggy-backed on to those of the French Revolution, seems like practically the whole of Das Kapital, though I marvel at the ability of someone who can reduce to a single page the entire socialist doctrine from Marx via Mao and Uncle Ho to Kosygin.

Still, it's five verses too many, even for a song a great revolutionary fervour.

But who can go past the Marseillaise for whipping up a storm and convincing the gang to top a few worthless powdered-wig aristocrats?

Aux armes, citoyens,
Formez vos bataillons,
Marchons, marchons 
 Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons !

Or, to put it colloquially, get a paling off the fence, mates, bunch up, leg it to the toffs' fancy pads, and let's cut 'em up as blood and bone for the roses.

Something like that.


  1. Ha. Do I sense some weary cynicism comrade?

    1. Truthfully? I'm way more cynical about Halliburton and friends than the Socialists of any description.

  2. Ha ha! That's wonderful, love it.
    Also I am quite interested in the Toys R Us sale...

    1. For that particular sale you'll have to get to Singapore in the Tardis to go back a year or so using time travel. But it was wonderfully appropriate, I thought.

  3. Wish I'd read this at the beginning of the day Denis, would have given me quite a different outlook! Quite quite different hah! And I only buy books (not toys) for gifts so could you please arrange for a Dymocks or Mary Ryan bookstore ad instead of Toys R Us

    1. See what I can do.... Avert your eyes when passing the Maypole.

  4. Oh I loved this piece Denis...and I'm thrilled to have joined up on your birthday! Every year in Swan Hill when I was a kid we had a Shakespearean Festival and Maypole Dancing was a great feature. They didn't tell us we had to be virgins but I guess they assumed we all were! May Day is far more than I assumed too - thanks to you!

    1. Somehow your comment escaped my view till now, Nancy. It slipped under the radar, even though the Blogger program is quite good at showing them as they appear.

      The conventions of other societies are as different as they appear here. I'm not sure of the requirements before you could dance round the Maypole, but for some reason it popped into my head that in early C19 Britain it was still possible for a man to sell his wife at the local pub. So conventions are nothing more than conveniences to be used as the occasion dictated.

      I suspect that's a perfect demo of a non sequitur but what the hell.


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