jack-in-the-green – finally

May 6, 2014

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‘Finally’ is used in the title as I feel bad that this post didn’t make it on the day – very poor from the this blogger’s perspective. The alexanders are in full flower now and best to search for the young shoots  if they can be found. It’s an acquired taste but would surely have been foraged at many hundreds, maybe thousands of May Day festivals. Background information and for previous posts on this colourful extravaganza that dominates Hastings Old Town every year on May Bank Holiday. click here

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The crowd was thick down at Rock-a-Nore waiting for Jack to exit the net huts and see the light of day again 12 months on. Headdresses are the first thing that catch the eye with the usual mix – lots of foliage, horns, feathers, tat and more thoughtful compositions – which merge together when folks get closer and closer straining to see when the procession might start . . .

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. . .  a few look nervous about the whistling, loud bangs and unidentifiable noises. Or is he just bored?  Some intricate costumes need close inspection and some couples just look so dapper without much decoration . . .

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. . lots of green and relief to see some red – but who is he, or she?  Finally we get underway and Jack appears festooned with ribbons and his neat crown ribbons.

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For me, the day would not be the same without this couple. They appear in all previous posts and in many guises but all exquisitely designed and crafted. Today, he (Bob) becomes the pope in the foreground and his female companion just hidden behind – well, she shouldn’t be there anyway. A pope with a partner?

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Her hat is something to wonder at – equally the footwear . . .

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. . his mitre held many sprigs of spider plant and a mackerel for good measure. And he had a furry tail.

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So a good deal of banging sticks from The Sweeps and some with garlands and clogs from somewhere more refined than Hastings surely?  A very neat group . . .

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. . . and the fire eater, nicknamed ‘the baby’ goodness knows why as this year the ‘baby’ has developed adult chest hair. He received applause quite rightly from the imbibers at The Dolphin when doing his stuff.

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fire-eater-jack-in-the-green-festival-hastings-1184664 Here his is last year ( image from the web).

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As the procession moves up All Saints Street and then crosses The Bourne to descend The Old Town High Street, I meandered around looking at a property that wasn’t quite right but it was very green and then on to stare at a few shop windows with the usual bits and pieces displayed outside. Also enjoyed the reflections that were offered up . . .

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. . . and find a place by Café Maroc to see it all again.

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And I can see and admire it all for the third viewing when they reach the top of Croft Road (the home of the famous allotment) before the procession turns left and then just makes a short flat run to the castle where jollifications, eating and drinking and making merry can really start.  The pope is already looking forward to the final events. It’s a steep hill, a hot day and many struggle under the weight of costume and heavy musical instruments. Bye-bye  Jack, until next year  – goodness knows where I’ll be then.

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last

last last

 

If you were to think of painting May

you would think of a locus of appearances –

the nature-goddess yanked from the soil

like a snake from a hole and shaping herself

 

as a tortoise or a sheaf of barley.

 

You would look with a clear eye

of Aphrodite Kyanopeis at her washing day

and see the starched iris, the hyacinth,

the sickle-blade of every stainless shadow,

 

and you would dream of a going-into-blue

like a stippled brushwork of wisteria

and the blue glaze of the sky where the bees meet,

 

then also of its exact golden opposite,

 

for honey is the colour of sun through eyelids

and above all the pure food of the Oracle,

transparent as the truth her handmaids the Melissae

 

etch on the air by their way-of-buzzing,

their way-of-flying.  Alison Fell  6   May  from Lightyear

 

 

5 Responses to “jack-in-the-green – finally”

  1. Tom Says:

    Just marvellous! Thank you so much x

  2. elizabethwix Says:

    How very green they all are. How splendid and oddly not British and British at the same time.
    How I love sort of eco-pagan greenery. Looks lots of fun.
    I loved the (regency?) house just before the shopping pics.
    Still cloddish here and everything about a month behind what it should be.


  3. Great post. Fab pics. British culture at our most quirky. Great stuff.

  4. julia fogg Says:

    many thanks foe visiting Charles – appreciated


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