Shakespeare, the Mermaid Tavern, just after closing time.
England has a rich and fascinating history of folk traditions that some people made up in the 19th century, then cleverly backdated to the era of King Ulfwang the Far Too Sarcastic (c. 897-897). But how significant are our ancient customs and practices in these materialistic times? I’ve no idea but I thought I’d list a few anyway:
In the village of Monty Stubble in Suffolk, residents gather every May Day to ‘strongle the lumgits’ – that is, to terrify estate agents by putting them in a light trance, then claiming that nobody wants to buy Georgian farm labourers’ cottages because the roofs are too low.
Strummocking is a North East South West Gloucestershire term for having another drink when you know you shouldn’t and don’t really want one anyway. The introduction of larger wine glasses has led to widespread female involvement in strummocking, a controversial development as giggling and shoving is frowned on by purists.
Hurdle-me-dongler is a game played by trainee shepherds on the Isle of Wight, but not too near the edge. The dongler, a small shrub with a marked list, is placed near a redundant chartered accountant and the hurdlers rush towards it shouting ‘No Pot Pourri!’ The first one to give up wins a purely decorative bunion.
Clappo Day is celebrated on 1st August in secluded hamlets in the old county of Westmoreland, and also – due to a clerical error by Disraeli – in East Tonga. Clappo, a man dressed as a tin of pork luncheon meat, runs around the village making amusing noises with his armpits until the Turgling Provost (the oldest resident who can recite Deuteronomy backwards) gently subdues him with a sock full of gravel.
Semolina Sal was a much-loved prostitute and part-time borough surveyor in the Dorsetshire town of Perming Fluid. When a woman feels she is being taken for granted by her husband she may invoke the spirit of Sal by standing on the common in her underwear and crying ‘Skimpy Drawers and Belly Bumptious, Look at Me I’m Bleeding Scrumptious’. She is then arrested and cautioned.
Old Flockle is a spectral ferret said to haunt the Cheviot Hills on every third Tuesday in the month, except during leap years, when he manifests himself as a cynical macaroon. When Old Flockle appears you may ask him three questions about your destiny, provided that the answer to each can be rendered as a low squeaking noise.