Scratch the skin of modern England
October 6, 2004 2:53 PM   Subscribe

England is still full of local distinctiveness: 'England in particular'. The site includes a calendar of local English events. Apparently around now Nottingham is limbering up for its annual goose fair. With it's own unmapped and illogical structure, it's worth digging around the site. I loved finding the English orchard year and gazetteer.
posted by iffley (14 comments total)
Wait! What about the pace-egging? I didn't see any pace-eggings on there.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:08 PM on October 6, 2004

"BRIGHTON, East Sussex - a map was started in 1997."

Always good to be reminded of that from time to time, eh?
posted by toby\flat2 at 3:18 PM on October 6, 2004

What on earth are you two talking about? Pace-egging? Reminder of a 1997 map? Eh?
posted by iffley at 3:24 PM on October 6, 2004

Fuck you. I'll have you know we're all watching re-runs of Friends and wondering when Eminem is going to release his next album.
by Jove.
posted by seanyboy at 4:33 PM on October 6, 2004

i got to the Building for Life site thru there, and there are some nice buildings (this is BedZED, in Surrey).

And cut the shit, seanyboy--we all know you guys are all wearing bowler hats, and eating things made out of suet while you watch Benny Hill, and listen to the Bay City Rollers ; >
posted by amberglow at 5:50 PM on October 6, 2004

Heh. I see they repeat the official line about the Ottery St Mary tar barrel rolling. Ancient fire rituals? The historian Ronald Hutton found it started out as an anti-Catholic demonstration.
posted by raygirvan at 6:04 PM on October 6, 2004


It combines the virtues of decorating Easter eggs, trick-or-treating, and, er, embarrassing blackface in one wonderful celebration!
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:40 PM on October 6, 2004

Actually, I'd say that Goose Fair is the least "for local people" fair around -- I mean, okay, maybe it had all that old-tyme flavour back in, well, the old times, but now it's just every single possible carnival ride stuffed into one place.

Think of it as a state fair without the displays of sheep. Or something.
posted by Katemonkey at 1:44 AM on October 7, 2004

Local things for local people.

NB, the orchard year for apple orchards may be a thing of the past after this year. Good old DEFRA, always working in the best interests of agro.

Celebrate Apple Day whilst you have the opportunity. Bowler hats and suet optional.
posted by asok at 3:11 AM on October 7, 2004

Katemonkey: yes, but at least it helped me solve one of Araucaria's crossword clues in the Guardian: 'dumb blonde in Nottingham (5, 4)'.

raygirvan: if you're looking for a good old-fashioned anti-Catholic demonstration, check out the Cliffe Bonfire Society website. Scary stuff:

Burn him in a tub of tar
Burn him like a blazing star
Burn his body from his head
Then we'll say old Pope is dead
Hip Hip Hoorah!

posted by verstegan at 5:15 AM on October 7, 2004

Ew. I'd only seen the Lewes Bonfire Council site, which is rather less explicit but still has a very nasty flavour (as much in the general attitude as the religious specifics).
posted by raygirvan at 12:05 PM on October 7, 2004

Sidhedevil - you shouldn't be embaressed. No one could sensibly argue that it is "blackface" in the minstrel show tradition if it is a custom that predates common contact with Africans, and has no intention to imitate other people - it's just a blackened face (note how there are now facial features drawn).

This is all facinating, thanks.
posted by jb at 11:53 PM on October 7, 2004

it's just a blackened face, and has no intention to imitate other people

Depends. It looks like a variant on the mummers' play, where the black-faced character is a Turkish knight.
posted by raygirvan at 3:32 AM on October 8, 2004

Dressing as a Turkish knight (which would make sense) is still very different from "blackface", which has a specific history. Though I wonder - the pace-egg tradition apparently is as old as Edward I (c. 1300); if the costumes are nearly as old, they could have been meant to be Moors or Turks - or maybe black demons or spirits. Turks and Moors were enemies, but not an underclass - and the character of the mummer's play Turkish knight seems to show a feared enemy, not a character meant to belittle.

I guess it's just that I think we should remember that what something looks like isn't always what it is, and that traditions shouldn't be ditched because they have come to resemble something completely different. One could argue about whether race (in our modern conception) even existed for most people in Britain before c.1750 (it certainly did for the colonists, but they were far away) - and certainly it continued to be used by most people to indicate nationality, not skin colour. (Thus English race, Irish race, German race, etc, all considered to have different characteristics).
posted by jb at 1:39 PM on October 8, 2004

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