celebration – 1066 and all that – a good thing?
October 16, 2016
950 year anniversary of a ‘Good Thing’ (1066 and all that: a memorable history of england. yeatman + sellar). The town celebrates this after voting for Brexit which many think, was an acknowledgement for the predicament that the fishing fleet had found itself in during years within the EU. So, to stop being conquered and thus able to become ‘top nation’ again, has a new meaning . . . mmmm . . .
. . . here sheltering from the rain by The First Inn Last Out pub, we await the procession. The rain stops and here it comes down the Old Town High Street . . .
. . . drumming, shouting, clapping, explosions. This event continues in a Sussex town every week until November 5th when Lewes holds the culmination bonfire event celebrating and commemorating the burning of protestant martyrs and of a papal effigy following Pope Pius’ decision to restore the Catholic hierarchy. Images and models – guys – of popular hate figures were placed at the pinnacle of the bonfire. Some discussed who might be honoured this year . . .
. . . costumes are important, as are masks. There is an order for who wears what in the procession, for example, those dressed in striped smugglers tops should process before anyone in black tail coat. This year, a few Normans, but mostly it’s a motley collection and with surprisingly a good few tiny sleeping tots in push chairs – the overall feel is of bonhomie.
The crowd follow the procession to the Stade where the bonfire is lit and then the explosions, in the sky, commence. Great evening.
The poem needs to be read with any sort of English country accent that you can muster.
As happened in days long gone by,
When Duke William became King of England,
And ‘Arold got shot in the eye.
The Duke, who were always a toff
Having no battles on at the moment,
Had given his lads a day off.
When some chap in t’ Conqueror’s ear
Said ‘Let’s go and put breeze up the Saxons;’
Said Bill – ‘By gum, that’s an idea’.
He lifted his big Norman voice,
Shouting – ‘Hands up who’s coming to England.’
That was swank ‘cos they hadn’t no choice.
The sea was so calm and so still,
And at quarter to ten the next morning
They arrived at a place called Bexhill.King ‘Arold came up as they landed –
His face full of venom and ‘ate –
He said ‘lf you’ve come for Regatta
You’ve got here just six weeks too late.’At this William rose, cool but ‘aughty,
And said ‘Give us none of your cheek;
You’d best have your throne re-upholstered,
I’ll be wanting to use it next week.’
When ‘Arold heard this ‘ere defiance,
With rage he turned purple and blue,
And shouted some rude words in Saxon,
To which William answered – ‘And you.’
‘Twere a beautiful day for a battle;
The Normans set off with a will,
And when both sides was duly assembled,
They tossed for the top of the hill.
King ‘Arold he won the advantage,
On the hill-top he took up his stand,
With his knaves and his cads all around him,
On his ‘orse with his ‘awk in his ‘and.
The Normans had nowt in their favour,
Their chance of a victory seemed small,
For the slope of the field were against them,
And the wind in their faces an’ all.
The kick-off were sharp at two-thirty,
And soon as the whistle had went
Both sides started banging each other
‘Til the swineherds could hear them in Kent.
The Saxons had best line of forwards,
Well armed both with buckler and sword –
But the Normans had best combination,
And when half-time came neither had scored.
So the Duke called his cohorts together
And said – ‘Let’s pretend that we’re beat,
Once we get Saxons down on the level
We’ll cut off their means of retreat.’
So they ran – and the Saxons ran after,
Just exactly as William had planned,
Leaving ‘Arold alone on the hill-top
On his ‘orse with his ‘awk in his ‘and.
When the Conqueror saw what had happened,
A bow and an arrow he drew;
He went right up to ‘Arold and shot him.
He were off-side, but what could they do?
The Normans turned round in a fury,
And gave back both parry and thrust,
Till the fight were all over bar shouting,
And you couldn’t see Saxons for dust.
And after the battle were over
They found ‘Arold so stately and grand,
Sitting there with an eye-full of arrow
On his ‘orse with his ‘awk in his ‘and. Marriot Edgar