Straya Day Reflection

The Queen Must Die!

-An Australia Day Reflection

(as in looking in the mirror)

 

I don’t celebrate Australia day because l am a traditionalist.

Let me put that another way;

l don’t celebrate Australia Day, because l am a traditionalist.

The blackfellas have a long tradition of not celebrating Australia Day, dating back many thousands of years. It is this ancient tradition that l like to uphold.

As you may well know, our venerable Prime Minister is an avowed republican, but he has vowed to wait for our venerable queen to die of old age before he sets about the long and arduous task of establishing The Republic of Australia. While this is very sensitive of him, it could mean we are in for a long wait. Apart from the occasional sniffle she is in rude good health. Many of us may die of old age ourselves before our cherished republic comes to fruition. She could do us all a favor and abdicate, but she is a bit worried about her darling Prince Charles. Rumor has it he is a bit flakey, always banging on about organic vegetables and renewable energy and hippy shit like that. He could very well declare a republic himself if we’re not careful.

But when she dies, as surely she eventually must, we must be ready to grasp the nettle.

Let’s face it, this place needs a total makeover, root and branch.

 

  1. A new date for Oz Day (l suggest May 8 – pronounced ‘maaate’, or even better, the day we                 declare a fucking republic)
  2. A new National Anthem (l would suggest Waltzing Matilda, but standing on the                podium at the Olympics and breaking into song about a vagabond committing suicide because he was caught inflagranto dilecto with his favourite sheep would make us the laughing stock of the entire world, if we are not already)
  3. A new National Flag that includes a kelpie and no union jacks
  4. A stronger constitution, because you need a very strong constitution to stomach some of the shenanigans of our national parliament.
  5. A Republic – Based on true Australian values like barracking for the underdog.
  • Let’s face it, we are a nation of failures and proud of it.
  • The Blackfellas were decimated
  • The convicts were flogged
  • The Eureka Stockade was a massacre
  • Ned Kelly was hung
  • Gallipoli was a disaster
  • The Tazzy Tiger was exterminated
  • Phar Lap was poisoned
  • Gough Whitlam was sacked

But we’re still rooting for them, aren’t we? You bet we are!

 

We are like an old FJ Holden, limping along on 3 cylinders and spewing out black smoke. We don’t just need a grease lube and oil change, we need to recondition the entire engine, and bog up all the rust, and give her a new paint job.

(green and gold of course, or should that be black & gold)

 

So if Oz Day is destined to be more than an excuse for a a piss up and a piss take, it is timely to nail down just what it is Australian Culture? Does it even exist? And while we are at it, what is culture anyway? Maybe its easier to define what isn’t culture. Bar-B-Qs, fishing, surfingtaking the piss, wearing thongs on your feet instead of your crotch, playing sport, this is a way of life, but it isn’t culture. In fact it could be argued that playing sport is what you do when you have no culture. The Greeks don’t run around all weekend getting skin cancer and acquired brain injuries, do they? No, they have weddings, really big weddings where they sit around inventing democracy and philosophy and shit like that. The Italians, ditto, more weddings, where they sit around eating pasta made with tomatoes grown in polystyrene boxes in the front yard. The Lebanese have endless weddings, where they sit around inventing cumbers with edible skins.

Culture grows out of the land we live in, much like yogurt. Most of us here in this nacent nation haven’t been here long enough to create a culture, so maybe we should look to those who have, the local blackfellas. We may just find we have a lot more in common than we thought, such as camping. According to the stats, we are the most urbanized society ever invented, huddled together like ginea pigs, clinging as close to the edge of this vast continent as we can possibly get, starring longingly out to sea. But we do love the great outdoors, don’t we? You bet we do! Learned anthropologists have postulated that this quite possibly due in large part to the influence of the locals, they call them ‘aborigines’. These so-called Aborigines love nothing better than going camping, in fact their entire ‘life-style-choice’ is designed around the ability to pull up stumps and ‘go walk about’. No need to work overtime all year round to afford the airfare and the hotel and the restaurants and the exotic trinkets. Imagine the freedom of waking up one morning, any morning, grabbing your hunting gear and heading out on an adventure. No 20 kilo packs to lug, food and lodging provided as need be, and when you arrive your relies cook up a mouth-watering feast and put on a real song and dance to knock your socks off.

So we can see that the vagaries of the local climate dictate a nomadic lifestyle, including a life of feast & famine. None of this toiling all season and salting it away for the winter, to be nibbled one morsel at a time. When there was food you ate it all, when there was none, you went hungry. This life of feast & famine is yet another custom adopted and adapted from the locals. With the subtle difference that we have forgone the traditional famine bit, preferring instead, to feast pretty well constantly. In turn we have taught this recent adaptation to the blackfellas, with obvious consequences.

We can see that all true culture is shaped by our surroundings, and the elements of our surroundings that are unique is what will make us, in time unique. The unique climate created by the oscillations of El Nino have created a culture based on camping and partying (safe in the knowledge that it probably wont rain much for at least another few years.)

So what are some other unique aspects of the nature of our nature that is nurturing the unique nature of us?

Well, the place is very flat and very dry and very empty, (having decimated what few inhabitants there were) hence we have large cow farms that sport drovers with RM Williams boots and hats and a kelpie by their side, and feisty women who can ride a fucking horse and crack a whip.

We have more beaches per head than anywhere else except Canada, but most of theirs are frozen solid all year round (know anyone going on a surfing trip to Canada? No, l didn’t think so) Thus is born the surfing lifestyle – driving old Volvos, smoking bongs and eating junk food, getting up early to check the waves before going back to bed, roaming around the country in semi-nomadic fashion (just like the locals)

Fishing – Many of you may remember that oft quoted saying from the great Mao Tse Tung himself, that was drummed into us all throughout grade 3 Political History: “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day- teach a man to fish and he will spend every second weekend with his mate, sitting in a dingy in the middle of a lake, getting quietly sozzled. It is a well kept secret that the fish are of secondary importance and it is actually all about contemplating the awesome beauty of the natural world. (the Japanese have a special word for this; ‘shinrinyoku’ – forest bathing)

Alas and alak, these embryonic cultural practices have begun to die out before they are fully formed. As we speak they are being guzzumped by new cultural practices like Instagram. (my friend Alex says we should start Consider-a-gram, where every comment has a 24 hour delay before it can be posted. In Consider-a-gram it is a real no-no to boast about the great fun you are having, as it tends to have a deleterious effect on those not having an orgasmic experience every five minutes. In Consider-A-Gram we like to post about the truly boring time we are having so no one gets jealous.)

Yet another unique aspect of our way of life generated by the vast emptiness that engulfs us (literally as well as metaphorically) is immigration, immigration on a vast scale. We currently import more people per head than any other country on earth. (not counting refugees of course, because they don’t count). We may not be the most multi-cultural nation on the planet but we can argue that we are the most successful at it. (Just look at The U.S.A. – now referred to as the D.S.A.) We may be lacking in culture but we are not lacking in cultural choice. This has made us a nation of foodies. A whole new growth industry of people who get very well paid to eat food and talk about it while we watch.

(Back In my day if we uttered a single syllable at the dinner table we got a whack in the earhole.)

So to be an Australian is to be into eating food, strange, exotic food.

We are big eaters, now officially the biggest in the world.

 

The more we look, the more aspects of our way of life we find that are really quite unique and special, and the deeper we look, we see that these things have sprung from our unique geography. So to sum up l would venture to say that culture is a product of the interaction between geography and time, but most of us have not yet spent enough time here to acquire culture, nor have we spent enough time interacting with our geography or learning from those who have.

 

 

 

Valentines Day – Official History

Dead love

Catholic Martyrologies and Hagiographies list no less than 11 Saint Valentines, but it is one Saint Valentius of Narnia (l kid you not) that has come to symbolize ‘Romantic Love’, quite possibly due to the reason for his gruesome execution in Rome, way back in the year 269 -on the 14th February coincidentally.

Whilst delivering his weekly sermon to the good people of Narnia,
a town in Umbria, Valentius couldn’t help slipping the word Jesus into his homilies from time to time,(Yes, the very same J.C. who has since become a household word) a bad habit to get into, as it turns out. The mere mention of this word made the local judge, one Autuaro Asterius, prick up his ears. (if you will pardon the expression)
Valentius was put under house arrest – in the judge’s own house –as was the custom of the day. Yet again, the excitable Valentius couldn’t help blurting out that word. Now Artie explained patiently to young Vali(they were on a first name basis by now) that he was under strict instructions from ‘The-Powers-That-Be’ to have him beaten to death with a blunt instrument –publically, ( there was no television in those days) if he some much as whispered that word. But being the kindly old sock that he was, he gave young Vali one last chance to redeem himself. The judge had a beautiful daughter who was as blind as a bat. If Vali could restore her sight he would be spared the gruesome death that awaited him. Vali duly laid his hands on the girl’s eyes and spoke that word several times, (soto voce, of course) the girl opened her eyes and for the fist time in her life she saw the world in all its radiant beauty. A Miracle!
Young Vali had ticked the first box on the Application for Sainthood. Judge Arty not only revoked Vali’s imminent death warrant but became an instant devotee of the unspeakable messiah and so did his gracious daughter, of course.
Things were going swimmingly for young Valentius, so well in fact that he ventured to chance his luck in the big city, the biggest of them all, the seathing, bustling metropolis of Rome, no less, the Capital of the world. But as luck would have it, the-powers-that-be in the cauldron of power would not be quite so malleable as the folksy folk of Umbria.
As was to be expected, Vali could not refrain from mentioning the unmentionable word that brought instant ire to all good law abiding Pagans. From whispering his heresy in the darkest corner of the tavern his hubris told him to shout it from the soap box in the city square.
Emperor Claudius Gothicus himself, no less, soon pricked up his ears, and he could be a particularly prickly fellow at the best of times.
Valentius was placed once more under house arrest – in Claudius’s very own house, as was the Roman custom, and yet again, on a good day, as luck would have it, when the notoriously prickly Claudius was wasn’t feeling such a prick, he was offered one last chance to escape is grisly fate. Claudius had a comely wife; one Clitimnestra, who refused to bare him an air, though not through lack of trying. If Valentius could induce his barren wife to conceive a bouncing baby boy, all would be forgiven. This was no walk in the park, but but one more miracle would make his sainthood a ‘lay-down-messiere’. After exhaustive investigations, over many private sessions with the vivacious Clitimnestra, she got pregnant. The emperor was overjoyed, as any prospective father would be, and vowed to set Valentius free the very next day, but first he felt the urge to rewarded his fertile wife with his greatest gift; the fruit of his loins, a gift she embraced with open arms, with fervour and with gusto. But alas and alak, as luck would have it, at very height of her exaltation she raised her comely eyes to the heavens and cried out, in a guttural moaning wail:
“ooooooh Jesus.”

Epilogue
Thus his fate was sealed. Young Valentius of the golden tongue, met his grisly end; beaten to death with a club, beheaded and paraded around the square on a pointy stick, as was the custom of the day. (no T.V. remember) But he ‘took-it-on-the-chin’, as we say in Rome’, knowing his martyrdom had ticked the last box. glorious martyrdom awaited- plus the added bonus of a hero’s welcome in Heaven.
And that is why, to this very day, on this very day, we celebrate his death as an undying symbol of romantic love.

Ben Laycock 2016

Mandy Rice-Davies

Clitimnestra

Fire in the Henge

Henge Fire
Fire in the Henge
– Where two hapless hengemakers face the full force of the law

This story involves little drama but much melodrama.
Either a great calamity is averted due to scrupulous adhesion to the letter of the law, or a great deal of time effort and water is wasted due to a failure to apply just a modicum of good old fashioned common sense.
You be the judge.
The story begins right here in Sleepy Hollow, just across the road from our brand spanking new fire station. It is mid-March 2015. The Fringe Festival is taking shape. My contribution is a henge of fridges.
After much wrangling and cajoling and begging and pleading l finally wrestle 40 fridges from the clutches of the Lords of the Landfill, who are reluctant to part with them for reasons l cannot not fathom.
Studious students from all the local schools except South School have gone to great effort to adorn the fridges with pictures of food and filled the shelves with mock food; good food, bad food and absolutely rotten food.
Before we have even begun to arrange them, all hell brakes loose, a hue and cry from all corners of the shire.
The council, who see their primary role as keeping us all safe from harm, is flooded with distress calls laden with angst and anguish concerning the danger of the little kiddies becoming trapped inside the fridges and slowly being asphyxiated. Many old people still alive today vividly remember such horror stories from their youth, indelibly etched in their consciousnesses.
I try to reassure the agitated officer not to fret, modern fridges do not have latches or catches, any child can open them with ease. But he is not to be reassured. The fridges must be lain down lest a someone climb inside, rock the fridge till it falls on its door, thus trapping the poor unfortunate inside till they inevitably die of asphyxiation. After complimenting him on his vivid imagination l point out that on the other hand whilst inside the fridge they would be protected from the far more likely event of being struck by a passing asteroid.
So we dutifully put our fridges to bed that night. Next day my trusty off-sider Dean Bigfoot – the human forklift, places the fridges exactly according to the dictates of the ancient texts, in the sacred circle of the Druids, with the columns equidistant and the lintels on top. Dean throws them up there like they are made of balsa wood.
Next day we arrive to find them strewn about like confetti at a giants wedding. They are daubed with lewd graffiti making reference to unmentionable parts of the female anatomy.
It seems we have been visited in the night by a mob of hoons.
Dean must spend all day resurrecting. We determine to guard our beloved creation from marauding hoards of heathen barbarians, an all night vigil. This is where the nub of the story begins to unfold in all its farcical absurdity. As the sun sinks and the light fades we soon get cold and hungry. l happen to have a squashed rabbit and a fry pan so naturally we light a campfire to cook our dinner and warm our cockles. With full bellies we recline on our banana lounges and stare into the flickering flames, swapping yarns about the good old days. We are jolted from our reverie by a piercing screech emanating from yonder fire station across the way. Cars soon arrive from all points of the compass, humans rush about, donning yellow jackets and yellow hats and yellow gloves and jumping into shinny red fire trucks. The giant roller doors ascend, lights flash, sirens wail, engines roar and the big red trucks pullout onto the road…. and keep coming, straight towards us. They surround the henge, leap out, connect the hoses and blast our little fire with both barrels. We have not moved, we stare gob smacked as the steam rises from the wet coals. Not a word has been spoken. The big chief with the epaulettes marches up and officially informs us that our smoldering remains do not have a permit. He deftly and appropriately produces a fridge magnet and says:
“To get a permit you must ring this number.”
He strides up to the nearest fridge, slaps on the magnet and strides off, beckoning his team to follow. The engines roar and away they go as quickly as they came. Soon after the police arrive to take a statement. After they leave we ring the number on the fridge magnet, inform the relevant authorities of the nature and location of our fire and get the go ahead to relight it and resume our reverie. The cruising hooligans see the flickering flames and continue on their way, seeking the less vigilant.
A nice lady from the fire station comes over to lend us a fire extinguisher.
Each night of the festival we light our fire in the centre of the henge. It soon becomes a sacred ritual, replete with sacrificial rabbits. There are no further incidents.
Some weeks later l am informed that my case has been referred to a higher authority, a judicial committee of eminent experts in the law of the land who dutifully pontificate upon the severity of my transgression. Some more weeks later l am informed that my transgression is indeed a grave matter that warrants further action. l am summoned to appear before a magistrate at the Castlemaine Court House along with the rest of the great unwashed: drug fiends and lunatics, vexatious litigants, serial shoplifters, recidivist graffiti addicts, suspected kiddy-fiddlers, the dregs of humanity – all those whom society has utterly failed. The poor magistrate is plainly bored shitless with his dreary job, dealing with this endless parade of misfits and ne’er-do-wells day-in and day-out. He manages to dredge up just enough interest to dispatch them to the relevant welfare institutions that will oversea their attempt at rehabilitation.
At last, when the courtroom is almost empty l am called upon to rise and present some visible display of my subjugation to the authority of the court. The magistrate has left the really nasty cases till last: The arsonists and pyromaniacs that threaten life and limb. For these miscreants and psychopaths he saves his most damning diatribe. The policewoman reads out the fact sheet, describing the incident as a ‘burn-off’. l leap to my feet to correct her:
“Your Lordship, l take exception to this gross exaggeration. It was no more than a humble campfire to cook our victuals and ward off evildoers.”
His retort is swift and blunt:
“Why then did it require two fully manned fire trucks to extinguish it?”
To which l ruefully reply:
“l often ask myself the same question.”
Despite my protestations l am ordered to rise while the Magistrate reads out my punishment:
“You, Benjamin John Laycock of Mosquito Gully Road Barkers Creek are hereby ordered to donate the sum total of $300 to the Castlemaine Fire Brigade, a mere fraction l might add, of the costs that your wanton disregard for the law has incurred. Furthermore, from this moment on you shall enter into a probationary period of not less than one year. If, during this time you engage in further unlawful acts involving the combustion of inflammatory substances you will be placed on the Known Arsonists Register and required to wear a tracking device at all times during the Fire Danger Period.”

Ben Laycock 2016

CAPTAIN COOKED

Cook & Scrotum copy
Those who did not pay attention in primary school may not be aware of the fact that Australia was discovered by Captain Cook in 1770. Some of you may be suffering from the delusion that it was discovered some 40,000 years earlier by a bunch of blackfellas. Some may believe it was Willem Janszoon, purportedly the first white man to set foot on this land, in the vicinity of Cape York way back in 1606 would you believe, or maybe Dirk Hartog who mapped the west coast in 1616, or William Dampier in 1669. But you see, the problem with all these people is they were not Englishmen and we all know that Australia was discovered by the English, the very pinnacle of human evolution according to the social Darwinism that was all the rage at the time. So there fore logically speaking they could not have discovered Australia because they were Dutchmen weren’t they? But hang on, what about good old Able Tasman who discovered Tasmania several times, way back in 1642. Well as luck would have it, bad luck as it turns out he has the dubious honour of circumnavigating the largest island in the whole world without an inkling of its existence. After circumnavigating Tasmania he set his compass due north in the hope of coming across the fabled Great Southern Land, alas, a wild storm cropped up in the night and the woke up in Aetearoa (the land of the wrong white crowd) renowned for its bloodthirsty savages. They didn’t stay long but headed north again, eventually ending up in the Philipines, then heading south-west to Batavia, (Jakarta) then returning to Drizzle & Fog a broken man where he lived out his days telling anyone who would listen: “Australia doesn’t exist, l know l’ve been there.”
Some time later Captain Cook did actually stumble across the place. Some of you may not be aware that he sailed all the way up the east coast without once setting foot on terra firma. It was not until his boat sprung a leak on the notorious Great Barrier Reef that he came ashore to fix it. There he encountered the Guugu Yimidirrh people.
He offered them gifts of cloth, nails and paper all of which they obviously found completely useless, but they were delighted when he gave them a fish, which they regarded as a symbolic gift.
He pointed his index finger at a large fury beast and enquired:
“What is that?”
Unaware that the loclals point with there nose (no doubt because they usually have their hands full) The fellow said gungurru, which is of course the Guugu Yimidirrh word for finger.
After repairing the boat, which took 6 weeks, Captain Cook bid a fond farewell to the Guugu Yimidirrh and set sail for the Cook islands which had a different name at the time, where he did not receive such a warm welcome.
He wrote in his log:
‘From what I have seen of the natives of New Holland, they may appear to be some of the most wretched people on Earth, but in reality they are far happier than we Europeans, being wholly unacquainted not only with the superfluous, but with the necessary conveniences so much sought after in Europe. They are happy in not knowing the use of them. They live in tranquillity. The earth and the sea of their own accord furnish them with all things necessary in life.’
This is a very important statement. A description of the first encounter with people living in the Stone Age. They were obviously as happy, if not happier than we are today. So that begs the question ‘what is all this development for? All this technology, all these gadgets, all this stuff. Obviously not to make us happier, we were already happy. The only advantage to all this technological development is that we can support more and more people. But is the world a better place for having more people in it? Are we happier because there are more of us? This is not a rhetorical question? This is a very important question, at the very nub of the paradigm shift we face. The only advantage to an ever increasing population is that it is good for business. An ever growing population is an ever growing market. It keeps wages down and prices up. It keeps the economy growing and an economy that is not growing is not an economy at all.
Now where was I before I drifted off course into that diatribe. Ah yes, Captain Cook was sailing off to meet his grizzly fate. A friend of mine was teaching at a school in Aukland a place much frequented by auks and Cook islanders. She innocently asked of her 5th graders ‘what do you know about Captain Cook?’ A little girl, of no more than 8 years old pipped up with:
“My great great grandfather ate him”

Aparently Australia wasn’t always called Australia. When Captain Cook first arrived in his boat, he spied a group of natives involved in some sort of ceremony involving fire and animal sacrifice. Ignoring the caution of his less intrepid companions he strode purposefully up to them and asked:
“What…you….call…this…place?”
To which the natives replied in surprisingly good English:
”Barbeque area, bro”
Captain Cook promptly claimed all of Barbequearea in the name of the king and returned to England forthwith to tell said king the good news. The king however was not impressed, having delt with cheeky natives before.
“They were pulling your leg mate, having a lend of you, taking the piss”. The good Captain was blank with incomprehension till the king said “Jimmy, they were being faceacious.”

Ben Boyang 2010

INVASION DAY Homily

Cook-Cairns-Hitler
We see ourselves as peace loving, generous, tolerant people yet is that how the world sees us? The rest of the world sees a country constantly at war. We have been at war in Afghanistan for 14 years now, and no end in sight. We here in Sleepy hollow may have forgotten about those wars but I can assure you the people of Afghanistan have not.
The rest of the world sees a nation hell bent on denying asylum to some of the most desperate people on earth, fleeing conflicts half of which we have created, while we debate whether to tow their boats back out to sea and use them for target practice.
The rest of the world sees a nation that treats its Indigenous people like shit. Always has and always will. We may believe we are trying really hard to ameliorate their endless suffering, but the world, I’m afraid sees only our complete and utter failure to do so. Why do we treat them so? Is it punishment for making us feel guilty?
We are one of the wealthiest nations on earth yet we sit back and watch our nearest neighbour Papua New Ginea descend into barbarism. We attempt to diddle our other neighbour East Timor out of their oil. We turn away Pacific Islanders desperately seeking somewhere to live once their countries disappear under the rising seas. A problem we have helped to create and are unwilling to fix.
Maybe it is time to administer a few drops of Optical Viagra and have a good hard look at our selves.

Ben Laycock 2010

Australia Day History

Oz map-nothing
As we all learnt in grade bubs, Invasion day is the day the first batch of convicts arrived on our fair shores. The few members of the invasion party who were not chained up in the hold, ran up the nearest hill, stuck a Union Jack in the ground and proclaimed the entire island now belonged holus bolus, to the king of England.
I don’t think they realised just how big the island really was, and still is. Were the rightful owners of the place consulted in this serious matter? Were they even informed of their newfound status as chattels of King So and So? A rhetorical question, of course.
Some of us in our blissful ignorance however, may not be aware that fateful day of January 26th also commemorates the only coup de tat ever to take place in Australia. In 1808, exactly 20 years to the day after the arrival of the first fleet, a bunch of disgruntled officers from the New South Wales Corp overthrew the government of the fledgling colony. I do not mean to besmirch the good name of the gentlemen involved, but it has been reputed that they were drunk at the time. Not surprising considering that the legal tender of the colony was rum. Giving Australia the dubious distinction of being the only place in the world to employ such a form of currency.
Legend has it that when the said soldiers arrived, singing ribald sea shanties no doubt, Governor Bligh was found cowering under the bed. He was discovered there by one Captain Thomas Laycock no less, a distant relative of mine, I do believe.

Of course, that was not the infamous Captain Bligh’s only claim to fame was it now? This is the very same Captain Bligh that, some 20 years previously was set adrift, as depicted so dramatically in ‘Mutiny on the Bounty.’ The story goes that the lads were having a high old time in Tahiti with the local lasses, a welcome relief from their own sore bottoms, when Captain Bligh had the audacity to order the anchors reeled in and the sails set for a return to the land of fog and drizzle. The lads having by now grown quite fond of their native paramours, and finding their attraction reciprocated, made the very sensible decision to abandon their captain rather than their lovers. Poor captain Bligh was set adrift in a dinghy on the open seas, with only a Yam as sustenance.(though it was purportedly a more than average sized yam) After suffering unspeakable sunburn on an epic journey of over 1500 miles, he arrived at what is now Timor L’Este.
The lads, meanwhile found Pitcairn, an idyllic little island in the middle of nowhere, promptly burnt The Bounty, just in case anyone was having second thoughts, and their they lived (happily) ever after. I do believe their descendants are still living on the island to this very day, though they have become a little in bred over the years, allowing some rather unsavoury habits to develop, but that is another story.
Ben Laycock 2010

Church Bans Christmas!

Church Bans Christmas!
In the latter half of the 1500s the Puritans took over much of Europe, urged on by Queen Elizabeth (the first, of course, quite a different woman to the second, renowned for her hedonism)
They did not believe in having fun, not dissimilar to the Taliban today.
They first thing they did was to ban Christmas altogether, claiming, accurately that it did not get a single mention in the Bible. Claiming, correctly again that it was a pagan ritual of indulgence based on the Roman Saturnalia. The Saturnalia was a bachanal of debauchery and depravity where the poorest peasant was made the king for a day and all his foolish decrees were to be obeyed, such as; everyone must remain naked. The slaves were waited on by their masters. Absurdity was the order of the day.

Xmas was banned from 1647 till 1660- anyone found celebrating was fined 5 shillings- a king’s ransom in those days. The baking of minced pies was also banned. Upon the promulgation of these onerous edicts there was rioting in the streets. Blood was spilt. Lives were lost.
In New England (what was to become the United States) Xmas was banned until 1870. In Scotland it was banned until 1958 (l kid you not)
A key item of worship in the northern regions is The Yuletide log that once burned brightly all of Xmas day, a custom that has withered here in the antipodes for some unknown reason, whilst in the U.S. it has been contemporized: There is a Yultide log channel on the television so one can watch it burning all day long.( Believe me, l have seen it with my own eyes, but l can tell you, it is not a real log. It burns all day without diminishing. Perhaps this is one of the many miracles of Jesus Christ our Saviour?)
So that is Xmas or Saturnalia, a northern midwinter festival, absolutely nothing to do with the Midsummer Festival that we all celebrate around the world at the Summer Solstice. As we have very little record of traditional midsummer festivities here in the Great Southern Land, having exterminated the participants before documenting their amusing habits. ( something the anthra-apologists are very annoyed about) We must refer back to the habits of our European ancestors. These were people who knew how to party, not yet having invented Public Liability Insurance and Risk Assesment Protocols. It was a time of respite between the sowing and the harvesting, a time of healing and a time of fertility. 77 ½ herbs were gathered to cure all the known diseases plus The Unknown Disease.
A bonfire must be lit of immense proportions (No Total Fire Bans in those days) Once everyone is sufficiently inebriated they are required to leap over the fire and even run through the glowing ashes. Those who pike out will not have a good harvest and their house will burn down. Witches were traditionally placed on the top of the pyre but now-a-days that is considered a breech of O,H & S.
Young maidens find this an ideal time to pick up the usually catatonically shy young men. The idea is to remove ones vestments beside a pool in a quite glade in the forest. Pearing into the waters, your future husband will miraculously appear out of nowhere.( l am assured this time honoured practice still renders similar results to this day)
So what were some of the other weird cults doing around this time of the year?
The Jews, the Muslims, the Zoroastrians, the Yazidis. Well it turns out the dates of their festivals vary from year to year and over the millenia have long ceased to bear any relation to the solar year (how long it takes the earth to go around the sun – 365 days 5 hours 49 minutes 12 seconds)
The Christians however, under the astute rule of Pope Gregory rectified the problem way back in 1582. The Julian Calendar had become hopelessly out of sink with the solar year, by a whopping 10 days. This was simply rectified by erasing 10 days from the calendar year. Alas, those who missed their birthdays were not amused, there was rioting in the streets, blood was spilt, lives were lost.
The Gregorian calendar uses this simple and effective formula:
Every fourth year is a leap year – we add an extra day, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. For example, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 are not leap years, but the year 2000 is. Thus we keep in sink for thousands of years. Neat huh!
So here we are today, 5 centuries later and no other religion is yet willing to adopt this very practical calendar, simply because it was started by a rival religion. Therein lies the problem of religion itself: When faith and common sense collide, it is common sense that invariably loses out.

Ben laycock 2015