Happy birthday Charles II

It’s Oak Apple Day today, which commemorates the restoration of the monarchy in May 1660 and Charles II’s birthday.

Back in the day, it was a bank holiday. According to an entry in Samuel Pepys’ Diary on 1 June 1660: ‘Parliament had ordered the 29th of May, the King’s birthday, to be forever kept as a day of thanksgiving for our redemption from tyranny and the King’s return to his Government, he returning to London that day.’

The village has a special connection with the flamboyant king. He stopped here overnight in September 1651 when he was on the run from the Battle of Worcester. It’s the same six-week escapade that saw him hiding in a tree at Boscobel (hence the plethora of pubs called The Royal Oak).

Here, he found sanctuary in the top rooms of a pub (now a private house). But when the place was crawling with parliamentary troops, he managed to escape after a pregnant camp follower went into labour downstairs. There was such a hullabaloo among the local officials who didn’t want responsibility for the child’s upkeep that the young king was able to sneak away.

He spent nine years in exile on the continent before being invited back to England in 1660 following the death of Oliver Cromwell in 1658.

I’d forgotten that it was Oak Apple Day until I was reminded by a text this morning from a friend. It read ‘grovelly, grovelly’, the standard greeting between wearers of oak sprigs on 29 May.

The day is still celebrated in parts of England. I’ve long wanted to restore it in this village. I’ve had an Oak Apple Day supper more than once in my house.

According to Wikipedia, anyone who failed to wear a sprig of oak risked being pelted with bird’s eggs or thrashed with nettles. In Sussex, those not wearing oak were liable to be pinched, giving rise to the unofficial name of ‘Pinch-bum Day’. In Essex it was known as ‘Bumping Day’.

Here, however, 360 years on from the Restoration, we made do with a song for Charles II during the daily fun at one slot, The Sound of Music Through The Square Window. I chose King of Rock n Roll by Prefab Sprout. It was either that or a 1600s instrumental number called Johnny Cock Thy Beaver, and I wasn’t sure Lush Places was quite ready for that.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x

Lockdown poetry please

There’s been a bit of a mixed reaction to Boris Johnson’s televised speech yesterday evening on what happens next in the country’s fight against coronavirus.

And when I say ‘the country’, I mean England. The other three nations that make up the UK have already decided to stick to the ‘stay at home’ message, fearing it’s too soon to dismantle the lockdown and maintaining that the ‘stay alert’ slogan adopted by our government is confusing.

The prime minister’s speech was a bit of an anticlimax for some and lacking in clarity for many others. On Facebook last night, this meme fell into my lap:

Lines from Prefab Sprout’s classic song King of Rock ‘N’ Roll. Perfect. The new slogans make just about as much sense as this wonderful lyric.

Any road up, it got me thinking about words, their meanings and turning things into catchy sound bites. There must be a whole team working on that at Number 10. Or perhaps not.

With that in mind, I had an idea. It’s about time the village had its own Lockdown Poem. A few years ago, with the help of performance poet Matt Harvey, the village came up with The Ode To The White Lion when our pub was shut and we wanted it back.

Here are two of my favourite lines:

The White Lion lives with my husband under the kitchen table

A warm glass of Chardonnay from a fridge too far

A few years later, we had the Village Poem, written for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, which summed up how we all felt about the place where we lived.

Here’s two sample lines from that poem:

Friends on our doorstep, people you can rely on for support

There is often some fog, and there is often some mist

The thing that linked both of these poems was that residents were asked to each come up with two lines, which were melded together to create the whole.

The lines didn’t need to rhyme or, like the Prefab Sprout lyrics, make sense. So I’m now looking for local readers to submit up to two lines each to sum up your lockdown life in this village.

Your lines could be about things we miss during this crisis or that which is keeping us going. Or strange or joyous happenings. Your lines can be as sad, funny, banal or interesting as you like. The lines won’t be attributed to individuals so you can say what you like, within the confines of decency and taste.

All I ask is that you send them to me, either by email or direct message me via my Maddie Grigg Facebook page so I can put them together into a poem.

And then, when this is all over, as well as a playlist curated by you from the requests from our one o’clock Sound of Music Through The Square Window, we’ll have the Lockdown Poem to entertain us at our village party.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x