Thursday, 6 January 2011

Happy New Year, wassailing, mummery and frivolity on Bankside.

Happy New Year to all of you. I hope you had a great Christmas despite the weather and all the assorted plagues and lurgies on the loose. Honestly it has been a season of snot and snow.  We managed to enjoy it though. Our new year was spent with lovely friends in a lovely house in Cheshire for whose generosity and kindness we are still grateful. As I sit writing this on Twelfth Night proper, it occurs to me that this first week back at work and after the festive season can be a trial. The old Twelfth Night habit of having one last hurrah should be reintroduced.  A night of naughtiness away from church, familial strictures and with a stream of heathen jollity. I blame the Victorians, or the puritans, or the Nazis (it's always down to one of the three) for it's virtual disappearance from the modern world.

Wishing kissing tree and the crowns for King Bean and Queen Pea.

We were able to extend the jolliness to some extent by celebrating Twelfth Night on Bank Holiday Monday by going to Bankside in London to join the celebrations organised by the Lion's Part Theatre Company.  These involve an old fashioned mummer style performance and was followed by the traditional crowning of a king and queen who then led a procession to the George pub in Borough where wassailing and dancing and storytelling took place.  Washed down by generous amounts of cider and mulled wine of course. A wonderful combination of the traditional and pagan, old and modern and making the most of the very particular character of the Southwark Bankside. The whole thing was cheering, raucous, and energising. It extended your feeling of Christmassiness whilst celebrating the arrival of a new year, one that I hope will be good for all of us.

Calum Coates (as St George) and Emma Bown flanking a Twelfth Night erm..thingy.

Crowds in the courtyard of the historic George pub.

The Green Man was rowed up the Thames and arrived from the river to commence the proceedings.

Southwark dancers strutting their stuff.

New Sheridan club members gather under the heated poles.

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