Oss Oss!!

Tomorrow, May 1st is Mayday, which in early pagan Britain was the traditional day to celebrate the coming of summer, and known as Beltane. Modern pagans continue to mark the day by gathering at ancient Stone Circles and hilltops around the country, seeing in the dawn, followed by a day of revelry, music and celebration. Over much of Northern Europe, part of the celebations involved the erection of a Maypole, usually decked with fresh flowers, particularly white Hawthorn blossom. There are various theories about the symbolism of the Maypole, any or all which may well be true. From the Nordic and Germanic traditions, it represents the great tree of life, or The World Tree Yggdrasil

as above so below

Whereas other scholars would suggest that it represents the World axis (Axis Mundi) symbolising the inclination of the Northern Hemisphere towards the sun, and also thought to be the point where a direct communication between the earth and sky is established each year.  And for the Ancient Greeks and Romans, its a symbol of fertility associated with the minor deity Priapus, who was the rustic fertility god, the protector of livestock, fruits and plants, gardens, bees and male genitalia, and who took the form of a man with an incredibly large penis and a permanent erection.


You pays your money and you picks your choice, but for my money all 3 are relevant.

I first became acquainted with the Mayday custom in my 20s, when I joined Stevenage Sword Dancers. We were invited to join our local Morris Dance side, Offley Morris Men to dance at dawn at the local Ickwell Mayday celebration, and we continued doing this for a couple of years. However, a couple of the guys in the Stevenage side were heavily involved each year with the Padstow May Day celebrations, also known as the Obby Oss festival. I joined my friends Mick Hursey and his brother-in-law Bill Warder at Padstow one year, and continued to go to Padstow for several years after. Both Mick and Bill’s fathers had been early members of Offley MM, and both my friends were accomplished dancers and musicians, Mick being a superb accordion player and Bill a pretty good drummer. They are both good singers too.

One of the many Padstow May Day pages

Padstow is a fishing village on the north coast of Cornwall, in the far Southwest of England. For the Padstonians, Mayday marked the coming of easier fishing conditions and although records of May Day celebrations go back to at least the 16th Century, the introduction of the Obby Oss appears to date from the 18th Century. The Oss is a fiercesome large black horse, originally constructed from a wooden hoop frame draped in tarpaulin (with real tar!!!). A yoke across the centre of the construction enables a dancer (usually a young, fit male) to carry the Oss while the yoke spars allow him to spin the whole contraption round, and sweep the skirts up and down. The dancer’s head which protrudes above the middle of the Oss, is capped with a tarpaulin  horses head and mane.

The Oss itself is thought to have evolved from the tradition of running lighted tar barrels through the streets of Padstow in earlier years. The practice was banned by the Elfen Safety people, probably because several houses each year got ignited as the day progressed and everyone got a bit dazed and confused from the drinking.

The whole town of Padstow dress in white for the day and wear hawthorn blossom and/or fresh spring flowers. The day itself starts at midnight on May Eve, when the Oss and his party visit the local big houses and inns around town and sing the Padstow May Carol. It’s got a lot of verses, giving the local bigwigs plenty of time to find sufficient money to donate to the beer fund and tell them to bugger off elsewhere :). The night singing continues until around 2am, giving the participants the chance of a couple of hours sleep before the main day-long celebration kicks off at the crack of dawn.

Traditionally, the Obby Oss party consisted primarily of local fishermen and farmworkers. Leading the Oss around around town is the ‘Teaser’, another dancer holding a decorated leather bait mounted on a stick in his hand to tease the Oss along the route. Following the Oss in procession are a massed band of accordionists and drummers. The Oss itself dances, twirls and will attempt to lift its skirts high above any young maiden to cover them. It is thought that any woman covered by the Oss will become pregnant within the year. Until 1919, only one Oss existed, which collected solely for beer money. The Red Oss and followers  adorn themselves with red ribbons and sashes. From 1919 onwards there has been 2 Osses with the introduction of the Blue Oss, which collects for the local seaman’s charity. In recent years 2 children’s Osses have also appeared. The traditional Red Oss is stabled at the Golden Lion pub in the centre of Padstow.

While most of the procession consists of music, the full Padstow May Carol is sung at various times, during which the Oss takes a little rest. But then as the music swells, the Oss revives and the band will frequently shout ‘Oss Oss’!!! to which the onlookers respond ‘Wee Oss’!!!

In recent years there has been a massive increase in the numbers of people coming into Padstow for Mayday, and the place is heaving. All good for local local business of course, but it does mean that native Padstonians feel their day has been to some extent been taken over. Nevertheless, everyone who attends is made to feel welcome, and everyone has a brilliant and joyful time. Padstow May Day is always celebrated on 1st May, unless its a Sunday, when it will be celebrated on the Monday.

Try to get along one year…..but book early!!!! The best times to go are when May 1 falls during the midde of the week.

The Padstow May Carol:

Video of Padstow Mayday 2012

You’ll find lots of other good Padstow Mayday videos on a search


Feel like I’m fixing to die

And it’s one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it’s five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we’re all gonna die.

‘Feel like I’m Fixing to Die Rag’ – Country Joe and the Fish

I live close to a major UK Army base. A friend of mine works on the base as a shop assistant. For the last coupla weeks, most of the base has been divided into 2 groups, 1 who has been on exercises in Thetford Forest, UK and the other was shipped out to the US and had joint exercises with the US military, particularly concentrating on night-time parachute drops.

Over the last coupla days, both groups have returned to base, and my friend tells me that alcohol sales are rocketing.

Given the predictions of impending doom from the likes of Max Keiser, and a recent interview on the Internet Radio ‘Weekend Vigilante Show’, and the general state of the world at the moment, I’m beginning to become very concerned.

Also, here in the UK we have a General Election coming up, where the vicious Tory Government are widely expected to get kicked out. Maggie Thatcher had the same problem in her time and her solution was to declare war on Argentina over the Falkland Islands. She won the election by a landslide.

Coincidence? I think not Unhappy
Expect a shock and awe event before May 7, would be my guess

Feel like I’m Fixing to Die Rag

The Harpers: Their part in my victory (with apologies to Spike Milligan)

‘I was a young man, back in the 1960’s‘ – Robin Williamson, Incredible String Band

I’m not quite old enough to be called a proper hippie, but as a young teenager I got well into tye-dying, and making my own ridiculous flares from cordurouy jeans. I had 2 pairs, one a fairly bright ginger-orange and the other a rather fetching shade of mauve. Fortunately, there remains no photographic evidence of my lurid sense of fashion, as far as I’m aware. If I do find something in my late father’s photographic archive, I’ll make sure not to post it here :).

My musical tastes were also defined by the era. I was a big fan of The Beatles from their earliest days, and my first record bought with my own cash from a paper-round, was their EP ‘From me to you’ which contained their 4 early hits. My best friend at the time was a lad a couple of years older than me, who was part of our fairly close knit social group of kids that grew up together on one of the earliest estates that were built in Stevenage New Town, which we moved to in 1958 when I was 4.

My mate Steve was responsible for introducing me to LP’s from the Rolling Stones, the Who, Jimi Hendrix,  the early Pink Floyd, Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, The Beach Boys, John Mayall and a whole host of other good music. In those days we were all listening to late-night Radio Luxembourg whenever we could, and then the pirate radio stations took to the airwaves and Radio Caroline became our prefered listening, along with John Peel‘s ‘Perfumed Garden’ show broadcast by Radio London.

I must have first become aware of Roy Harper via Peely around 1968, but at my school’s annual Christmas play in 1969, several of the older boys bought in a load of records for us to listen to during rehearsals and backstage when the play was performed for 3 nights. Amongst which, Jethro Tull‘s 1st LP ‘This Was’, Rory Gallagher‘s ‘Taste’ album, Family‘s ‘Music from a Dolls House’, Jeff Beck‘s ‘Truth’, Van Morrison‘s ‘Astral Weeks’, the Incredible String Band‘s ‘5000 Spirits’  and the early LPs of Bob Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel. All brilliant stuff  and the music and artists have stayed with me for a lifetime.

But the most popular records to be played were sampler albums from 2 different record labels – ‘The Rock Machine Turns You On‘ and ‘Gutbucket‘. Both albums contained a mixture of British and American artists and they were all very good. Roy Harper’s track on the The Rock Machine ‘Nobody’s Got any Money in the Summer‘ was a clear favourite and led to his album ‘Folkjokeopus’ being brought in for our listening pleasure. I thought it was an astonishing album and still do. It contained a couple of  very strong short songs, ‘She’s the One‘ and ‘Sergeant Sunshine‘,  an amazing instrumental ‘One for All‘ but to cap it all was the closing song, a 18-minute epic called ‘McGoohan’s Blues‘ whose inspiration came from the cult TV series ‘The Prisoner’ starring Patrick McGoohan. I was hooked.

I first got to see Roy live in the summer of 1970 when he supported Free who were riding high in the charts with ‘Alright Now‘. A very savvy Student Union social secretary at our local college had booked them well before they had become well known, and we got to see them for a ridiculously low price – I think it was no more than 2 quid old money or 1 pound in today’s money.

Free were a magnificent live band, full of energy and instrumental prowess and the late Paul Kossoff’s guitar playing was sublime. He was a musical genius IMO and is sadly missed by all that got to see him. But, for me, Roy blew them off the stage, with his hilariously stoned interactions with the audience, the power of his lyrics and songs, and his beautiful acoustic guitar playing. He played tracks from Folkjokeopus, and the recently released ‘Flat, Baroque and Berserk’, along with the 4 songs that would comprise ‘Stormcock’ which was released in 1971 and is considered by many to be his great masterpiece.

In his first set, he floored me and most of the audience with ‘I hate the White Man‘ which was to become his signature song for many years. Its a classic Roy rant, railing against rampant consumerism, the destruction of the environment, the mind control of the State and the genocidal warmongering of ‘The White Man’. And then he finished his first set with ‘McGoohan’s Blues’ and everyone gasped in awe.

He played another strong set of songs for his second set half and then with a crowded room full of bikers who had come to see Free, he closed the set with ‘Hell’s Angel’s’ a raging piss-take of biker culture inspired by the violence and shooting incident during the Rolling Stones headline act at the Altamont Festival.

The man has balls of steel. I thought he would cause a riot, but thankfully the bikers in the audience ‘got it’ and instead he got a thunderous ovation. And so, we all head-banged happily into the night while Free played their second set.

I still think its the best gig I ever went to. I bought ‘Flat Baroque and Berserk’ as soon as possible, and ‘Stormcock’ as soon as it came out and played them so often at high volume that things became very strained between me and my parents, with my father at one point pulling out the upper mains fuse and in the ensuing silence bellowing up the stairs ‘Now turn that fucking noise down’!!! I think it was the only time that I ever heard him raise his voice to me :). I went to see Roy as often as possible in those early days particularly all the early free day festivals in Hyde Park, London, and the early Knebworth festivals, which were right on our doorstep (and could be heard from our house in Stevenage) 🙂

Roy has since gone on to record a string of beautiful lyric love songs, more bile-filled rants and all sorts of other good stuff in between, and IMHO has not made a bad record in a musical career spanning some 50 odd years now. But of course his trenchant anti-establishment views and steadfast refusal to compromise his art has led to him pissing off a lot of people in high places, especially the establishment press and within the record making industry. And so, he’s had very little commercial success, despite gathering a rabid army of fans worlwide. Which is a shame, in my opinion. The world could have been a much happier place if more people in the establishment had listened to him and taken his world vision onboard.

In July 1995, I went to see Roy at the Half Moon in Putney, and it was the first time I got to see his son Nick Harper play. He opened with a short solo set, then accompanied his dad for 2 more sets of sublime music. Even back then, it was apparent that Nick was a demon acoustic guitarist who had a similar yet distinctly different voice and set of songs to his Dad. I’m guessing that Roy’s good friends Jimmy Page and David Gilmour had a hand in developing his guitar playing 🙂

I was hooked again, and have got to as many of his gigs as I could over the years since. He has his Dad’s worldview, but has become much more of an accomplished showman than his Dad, IMO. And he’s funnier too, with a very quick wry wit and seems much more at ease with performing than his Dad. Every gig I’ve seen of his, he gives about 2000% effort and unbelievably he seems to just get better and better with every gig.

Plus he’s a lovely, friendly approachable guy with his feet firmly on the ground.
Where his Dad earned the sobriquet ‘Dr Doom’, Nick just radiates positivity.

Go check him out if you’ve never seen him before, he tours regularly and extensively and he’s fucking brilliant!!!

Personal favourites:

Roy Harper – Commune (Live)

Roy Harper – Me and My Woman (from Stormcock)

Roy Harper and Jimmy Page – Same Old Rock (70th birthday celebration)

Roy and Nick – Hallucinating Light (70th birthday celebration)

Pink Floyd with Roy on vocals – Have a Cigar

Roy and a fairly young Nick – ‘When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease’

Nick Harper having fun with some fans before a gig

Nick Harper – Evo

Nick Harper – The Kilty Stone

Dance to the New Saint George

Happy St. George’s Day all


Here’s an early song from Richard Thompson. Its one of his rare overtly political songs, dealing with the class struggle

Richard Thompson – The New Saint George

Morris Dancing‘ covers a broad umbrella of traditional English Dances, and there are different styles of dance performed in different areas of the country. In all cases they were perfomed originally by low-paid working people. The most familiar style, incorporating handkerchiefs and sticks, comes from the Cotswold counties of Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire and were predominantly performed by farmworkers. The Cotswold dances were performed primarily during the ‘winter layoff’ when farmworkers were unable to work on the land and so were laid off without pay until the weather improved. Another traditional day for dancing was Mayday – May 1st, on which the dancers celebrated the coming of summer.

The dances had pretty much died out by the turn of the 19th Century, but were revived largely due to the efforts of a music teacher called Cecil Sharp who chanced upon the Headington Quarry Morris Men on Boxing Day 1899. Sharp befriended the team’s musician and leader, William Kimber and the friendship led Sharp to devoting the rest of his life to collecting traditional folksongs, tunes and dances, seeking out the few Morris Dance Teams still in existence, and those who could remember the dances being performed, where the dancing had died out.

The dances themselves were revived largely due to the efforts of a few collaborators, particularly Mary Neal, who ran a club for disadvantaged young women in London, called the Esperance Club. Mary used Sharp’s notations to teach the dances to her young women. Sharp and his collaborators would later form the English Dance Society and the English Folksong Society, which later merged to become the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) 

In recent years, many ‘Revival’ Morris sides have taken to dancing out on St Georges Day
Hammersmith Morris Dancers

Poem – Now that the talking’s over

Featured image

Avebury Stone Circle, Wiltshire

I got dumped by my fiancee about 3 weeks ago. We’d known each other for 10 years and I considered her my best friend and Soulmate. We were due to be Handfasted at the Beltane celebrations at Avebury this coming May. Handfasting is the pagan marriage ceremony. This poem arrived about a week ago.

Now that the talking’s over

I wander lonely as a cloud
And try my best to lift the shroud
Of darkness that envelopes me

Just two weeks ago I loved and laughed
As my love and I enjoyed a draught
Within a local hostelry

Then back to my place for a night of passion
But first some mead then got some hash on
We both enjoyed our reveries

So off to bed and feeling mellow
Cuddles and kisses and feeling swell
O let us meet our destiny

But she said no and I said yes
Which seems to have caused her some distress
Though there was no physicality

Before I knew it she’d upped and gone
I spoke to her a couple of days on
But failed to make an apology

For things got ugly, I got mad
Accused of doing something bad
What happened to the sweet love you and me had?
A dream it seems, not reality

And now she will not answer the phone
Nor Skype nor e-mail, FB friendship gone
No chance of finding harmony

So now I sit here without a song
And wondering what the fuck went wrong
A gaping hole where my heart used to be

copyright Ian Cropton 13 April 2015

Janner and beyond

In a recent blogpost on The Coleman Experience website, he suggests that most members of the worldwide paedophilic fraternity are secret adherents to ancient teachings in the Talmud, the central text and basis of Law within Rabbinic Judaism.

The link to the full blog is below, and its well worth a read. Its a very long and detailed joining of the dots ranging from Greville Janner, Frank Beck(the man who ended up getting convicted, jailed and probably murdered in prison when the accusations against Janner first surfaced), Janner’s connections with the rich and powerful, including the Blairs and Margaret Thatcher, and other senior MP‘s, Jimmy Saville and other high-profile entertainers, to the assassination of BBC presenter Jill Dando, who it is widely believed was ready to go public with an exposure of Saville and the BBC paedophilia network, and detailing the corruption rife in the UK’s Social Services, the Judiciary and the Police Service. It paints a very frightening picture.


And then, right at end of the blog, he has a notes section where he makes the connection with the Talmudic teachings, amongst which (and I’m paraphrasing here):

1. ALL Gentiles are vermin and should be treated as such, including killing them

2. Its OK to not pay a Gentile for his work
3. Its OK to have sex with Gentile boys under the age of 9

4. Its OK to have sex with Gentile girls aged 3 and above
5. Its OK to lie to Gentiles

Coleman cites specific lines from the Talmud, and they all check out as accurate. Coming from a Christian upbringing, I immediately thought of the Leviticus stricture against homosexuality, which has caused so much devisiveness within the Christan world, while most of the rest of the book is a dog’s breakfast of stupid strictures which are largely ignored.

Now, I have 2 good real-life friends whose parents are Jewish, who I’m pretty sure don’t follow any of these teachings and I’m happy to believe that many that have been brought up in Jewish households in recent years don’t subscribe to these teachings. But if we accept that there are Jews who do subscribe to everything written in the Talmud (and its a requirement for Hassidic and Orthodox Jews to do so) then the actions of the state of Israel against Palestinians and their hatred for strong Islamic countries in general becomes a lot clearer. As does the actions of the many paedophiles amongst the rich and powerful. And for that matter, would be the reason why the Jews of the day had the man known as Jesus Christ convicted and crucified. The Talmud has some very spiteful things to say about Jesus and his mother Mary, and regards Mary as a harlot and thus a lapsed Jew and her son as the bastard son of a Jew and Gentile, and doubly bad as a result of his mother’s lapse.

But that’s not my main thesis.

Closely aligned to paedophilia is the concept of pederastry, which is a relationship between an older man and a pre-pubescent or adolescent young man. In ancient times, the relationship was regarded as beneficial to both parties, in that the elder man passes on his knowledge to the younger, and achieves spiritual growth in the teaching. And the young man also benefits from the patronage and knowledge given to him by the older man. Within a pederastric relationship, homosexual sex was frequently part of ‘the knowledge’ that was passed on. Such relationships were commonplace in Ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt, and have continued to this day. It is the kind of relationship favoured by Oscar Wilde amongst others.

And so to my own bit of dot-joining.

For most of my life, I’ve lived with effects of deep-seated PTSD(Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). In my case, I witnessed the death of my younger brother in a horrific freak road accident on our way to school. I was 9 at the time. It was thought best that I didnt attend the funeral, and although it was suggested that I might benefit from being seen by an Educational Psychologist, our local GP advised against it, preferring to let me ‘get over it’ in my own good time. I became incredibly introverted for many years and was still barely sociable and very awkward when I made it into University. By this time I had developed a very strong liking for good beer and lots of it, and hash.

Given free rein at University, I got wrecked as often as possible, and in hindsight it was no surprise that I flunked at the end of my first year. Oblivion was soo much nicer than living with the self-loathing. suppressed grief and guilt I had bottled up inside me. After a couple of years in a dead-end job, I started to take courses in computer appreciation and then computer programming and I took it like a duck to water and never looked back. I worked in the IT industry for almost 25 years,
and became a very competent IT Technical Specialist and Project Manager.

But the PTSD was always festering away and I finally had my first nervous breakdown at the age of 35, just as my 1st marriage was falling apart. It was only then that I received psychiatric counselling and encouraged to grieve for my dead brother. Which I did, to a certain extent. The years had dulled the pain and crying out my grief was difficult by then. Crying has always been difficult for me, but I have got better at it in recent years. Following the counselling, I resumed my career, scaled new heights and eventually found another lovely woman to fall in love with and marry. I thought all was rosy in my world. It turned out it wasnt, and at the age of 50 I had another nervous breakdown as my 2nd marriage fell apart. It was only then that I got further counselling from a Jungian psychiatric counsellor, who finally recognised the symptoms of PTSD and helped me on my path to full recovery. I don’t believe that I’m fully recovered even now(I’m now in my early 60’s), but I continue to work at it.

My own symptoms will be fairly familiar to many other PTSD sufferers, particularly victims of physical and sexual abuse. Many of course, don’t get the necessary counselling to help them get past the self-loathing, loss of confidence and mental scars, and never make it back to sanity. But for those that do, I do believe that you come out of it much stronger.

And so to my thesis:

The victims of sexual or physical abuse, or emotional trauma will of necessity live with depression, anxiety, sleepnessness, substance abuse, emotional and communicational problems and suicidal tendencies unless and until they get good psychiatric and perhaps medical assistance. But if they do find their way back to sanity, they can become a lot stronger for it.

But what of the perpetrators of the violence?
By converse, they achieve a heightened sense of self-worth and emotional growth, and may go on to achieve great things as a result. But with it comes greater and greater self-delusion as they attempt to ignore the consequences of their actions. One can only conclude, that they’ll also plummet into the deepest depths of insanity sooner or later though.

May they all rot in hell

24 April 2015:
Here’s some further useful reading about the Janner case:

and in recent news, despite Janner’s alleged dementia, he was apparently sound of mind enough to write the House of Lords only recently to request that he holds on to his seat for another 6 months:


Hello world!

Hello and welcome to my blog.

I like to write about stuff that I come across, along with occasional rants, philosophical blatherings and bits of fiction. Every now and then, poetry comes out of me from nowhere.

I also take some nice photos once in while, though I just use a fairly standard mobile phone, digital camera and more recently a Samsung tablet. My cover photo, which seems to have been shared widely around the net, was taken close to Ramelton in Co. Donegal while taking my dogs out for an early morning walk in 2003. The view is over Lough Swilly towards Buncrannan.

I’ve been blogging on various social media sites since 2001, and ‘eeyorn the space donkey’ was one of my nomme-de-plumes on Myspace. I had the idea of writing some short stories based on the premise that AA Milnes character eeyore was in fact a highly intelligent space traveller sent to Earth to see if the planet was ready to be accepted into the Galactic Confederation. There are or were a few early attempts posted to my Myspace account. I may go back and dig them up soon, if only I could remember my Myspace password, lol. A good Myspace friend in Wisconsin, USA made the nice photoshopped pic for me to go with the stories