St George’s Day and Hock-tide

April 23rd, 2007

FIRST DAY COVER                                   




Dear Mum,

I had a great day out in Limassol with Declan and Anna on Saturday. As promised last Monday, I asked them both to give their professional opinion on my current mental state. All I wanted was a short quote from each. One word would have done! ‘Bonkers!’; ‘Completely off his trolley!’; ‘One island short of an archipelago!’; something along those lines. But they both said the situation was worse than they thought, and they needed more time to prepare a full report, which they’ll let me have later in the week.

They both tried to catch me out with trick questions. We’ll just have to wait and see whether or not they saw through some of the trick answers I gave them! There were several occasions when I wasn’t sure if they were just politely enquiring about something, or looking for clues. Anna in particular was quite sneaky.

Anyway, more about my daytrip to Limassol in my next letter on Friday.

I’ve long been an advocate of more Bank Holidays for the UK. We only get eight per year. The argument against having more is probably economic  –  loss of productivity etc. But I disagree. Work hard and play hard should be the motto. More time off makes for a happier work force. (certainly a more hungover one anyway!)

There are plenty of opportunities for more bank holidays. I mentioned Pancake Day a while ago as an obvious choice (well done to Portugal for taking me up on that one). November 5th is another; November 11th; Hallowe’en; Christmas Eve; New Year’s Eve; Burn’s Night; Midsummer’s Eve or Day; The Queen’s birthday; my birthday; your birthday; October 14th (battle of Hastings); No Smoking Day; No Beards Day; No Wobbling Day  –  the possibilities are endless.

Then there’s St. Patrick’s Day, St. Andrew’s Day and St. David’s Day (are we a United Kingdom or not?); and of course St George’s Day, which is today.

There should be street parties everywhere today, flags hanging from every window, everyone dressed up as Georges or dragons; with medieval banquets, court jesters, buxom serving wenches in low-cut frilly tops, everyone talking in Shakespearean quotes (it is his birthday today after all), morris dancers put in stocks so we can hurl rotten tomatoes at them, free beer in every pub throughout the land…

And how does the UK plan to celebrate St George’s Day this year?

By issuing a new set of stamps today called Celebrating England!

Fantastic! Just what we all need… Forsooth!

Personally, I prefer my ‘Nice Jugs!’ collection.

Hock-tide is another event which should definitely be celebrated, in my humble opinion. Sadly, this particular date has disappeared from the calendar. I believe they do some sort of celebration of Hock-tide in Hungerford, but that’s about it.

Hock-tide is the second Monday and Tuesday after Easter, which just happens to be today and tomorrow. In year’s gone by, it was an excuse to have a bit of fun. On Hock Monday, guys would tie up the gals, and only release them on payment of either money or a forfeit. The roles were reversed on Hock Tuesday, with the girls tying up the blokes and holding them to ransom.

It is, of course, where the expression ‘to be in hock’ comes from. I’ve absolutely no idea what the origin of the custom was. I daresay I could find out, but who cares! It’s just such a great idea! Hock-tide should definitely be reinstated on the calendar. It would give a whole new meaning to “I’m a bit tied up right now” when you answer the phone.

And having Hock-tide fall on St George’s Day is a real bonus! Never was there a better excuse for having a day off and getting your bunting out!

I think I shall have an ad hoc Bank Holiday today starting right now! I’m off to the beach with my bucket and spade to build a giant sand castle so St George can hide from the dragon.

Not sure if I ought to tie up any woman though. They just might not get it…


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If you’d like to enter into the spirit of things today, then why not try using the Shakespearean Insult Kit. Just choose one word from each column, preface it with ‘Thou’, and hey nonny nonny  –  instant insult!


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Delighted to see that one of my sponsors made an effort:

…so thou knowest that we do join in the spirit of the day  –  in fact most of Reigate is thus adorned. (tho someone came in the office this morning and asked if England had won the cricket or something…doh!!!). Perhaps if you find a dragon on the beach you could rescue it and look after it and let us have it for our window display next year……so its quite clear what the day is and so that we have something to feed the numskulls to!!


©MPB 23/April/2007
‘Celebrating England’ stamps courtesy of the Royal Mail.


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