I First Learnt The Facts From a Lunatic

Interesting things I have discovered on the internet that I can't be bothered to share with people in a normal way so I'll sign up to tumblr and become part of the teeming mass that throngs around me

I believe all mythologies, memories, lies, fantasies, evasions.

"It seems to me that we have to regard everything in the world around us as fictional, as if we were living in an enormous novel, and that the kind of distinction that Freud made about the inner world of the mind between, say, what dreams appear to mean and what they really meant, now has to be applied to the outer world of reality. All the structures in it - flyovers on motorways, office blocks and factories - are all part of this enormous novel. Take a structure like a multi-story car-park, one of the most mysterious buildings ever built. Is it a model for some strange psychological state? Some kind of vision glimpsed within its bizarre geometry? What effect does using these buildings have on us? Are the real myths of this century being written in terms of these huge unnoticed structures?"

- J. G. Ballard (1930 - 2009)

"In Paradise what have I to do? I do not care to go there unless I may have Nicolette, my very sweet friend, whom I love so much. For to Paradise goes no one but such people as I will tell you of. There go old priests and old cripples and the maimed, who all day and all night crouch before altars and in old crypts, and are clothed with old worn-out capes and old tattered rags; who are naked and footbare and sore; who die of hunger and want and misery. These go to Paradise; with them I have nothing to do; but to Hell I am willing to go. For, to Hell go the fine scholars and the fair knights who die in tourneys and in glorious wars; and the good men-at-arms and the well-born. With them I will gladly go. And there go the fair courteous ladies whether they have two or three friends besides their lords. And the gold and silver go there, and the ermines and sables; and there go the harpers and jongleurs, and the kings of the world. With these will I go."

- Aucassin and Nicolette (Anon, 12th or 13th century)

The festival of the Straw Bear or “Strawbower” is an old custom known only from a small area of Fenland on the borders of Huntingdonshireand Cambridgeshire, including Ramsey Mereside. (Similar ritual animals have been known in other parts of Europe, and still appear in parts of Germany at Shrovetide.)

On Plough Tuesday, the day after Plough Monday (the first Monday after Twelfth Night), a man or boy was covered from head to foot in straw and led from house to house where he would dance in exchange for gifts of money, food or beer. The festival was of a stature that farmers would often reserve their best straw for the making of the bear.

The festival has now expanded to cover the whole weekend when the Bear appears (not Plough Tuesday nowadays, but the second weekend in January instead). On the Saturday of the festival, the Bear processes around the streets with its attendant “keeper” and musicians, followed by numerous traditional dance sides (mostly visitors), including morris men and women, molly dancers, rapper and longsword dancers, clog dancers and others, who perform at various points along the route.

The Bear dances to a tune (reminiscent of the hymn Jesus Bids us Shine) which featured on Rattlebone and Ploughjack, a 1976 LP by Ashley Hutchings, along with a spoken description of the original custom (which partly inspired the Whittlesey revival).

'Sessions' of traditional music take place in many of the public houses during the day and evening, and a barn dance or ceilidh and a Cajundance round off the Saturday night. The bear “costume” is burned at a ceremony on Sunday lunchtime (just as, in Germany, the Shrovetide bear costumes are also ceremonially burned after use).