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Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Thing To Visit Today: an ale.

It's the First of May. 

In some countries this involves huge processions and displays of military hardware, but England is different. 

The English are more interested in ales.

No, not the sort of ale that's an alcoholic drink. An ale in the sense in which I'm using it is a sort of talent competition, though without the actual, er, competition bit.

And, as in all these affairs, the talent is a fairly optional, too.

The ale, however...

Ales have been around since Mediaeval times, and are events when sides of Morris Men (that is, groups of a particular type of English folk dancer) get together to display their best dances. It's not a competition, but a convivial gathering. The first ales were fairs arranged by the local parish church.

You're not likely to be able to get to a Morris dancing display unless you're in England - and they aren't so common, even here - but there are fairs everywhere, and ale (that is, beer, more or less) in many places.

If you can't find a fair or a place selling beer to visit then I can only suggest you put on your own display of dancing to enhance the gaiety of the season.

If you want it to look authentic then you probably need either a handkerchief or a stick to wave. The dancing should look something like this:

Well, I never claimed it was pretty, did I?

Thing To Visit Today: an ale. Churches that put on fairs used to provide ale as an added attraction, and this is how the celebrations got their name. Morris dancers are still strongly associated with pubs and beer. In Old English the word ale was alu, or ealu.

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