The Festival of
It looks like crop
yields will be down again this year, said
Archy, looking out across the expanse of farmland
that surrounded the picturesque English village
of Great Gurning in the Morris.
I blame EEC
regulations, replied George. If we
could still use the old agrochemicals, wed
be back to the production we had in the fifties.
Thats not the real
problem, concluded Walter. He scanned the
fields thoughtfully for several seconds before
Arvernus is no
longer with us.
There was silence as they
all reflected sadly upon this self-evident truth.
The Health and Safety
Executive banned our ancient Celtic festival of
Arvernus, recalled Archy. Villagers
had called upon that god for three millennia to
protect them, their families and their farms.
They said the
rock hurling ceremony was dangerous,
scoffed Walter, disparagingly. He pointed to the
church. Since I was a boy, Id climbed
the tower of St Marks at dawn on every
Arvernus Day. Walter paused to recall his
coveted, ceremonial role before continuing
nostalgically. In accordance with the
ancient ritual, Id then randomly toss
bricks into the village square until nightfall. I
never came to any harm.
That was the
Arvernian tradition to ward-off evil spirits and
ensure prosperity for the village, said
Admittedly it damaged
cars and buildings, and some people were injured,
conceded Walter, but everyone just accepted
that in the spirit of the festival.
Villagers still speak
with pride of those killed by the Rocks of
Arvernus, George added.
Then there was the
night-time procession, continued Walter.
Wed each wrap one end of a stout
staff with underwear, stolen from washing lines
in the next village, Little Gurning in the Morris.
Then wed soak the cloth in petrol and light
it. Finally wed walk through Little Gurning,
burning staff in one hand; open petrol can in the
George took up the story: 'We'd
process past their thatched cottages, across
their garage forecourt and around their haystacks
to eventually reach Arvernus field.
Some would hurl their
staves and petrol cans into the air along the way
in joyous tribute to Arvernus, recalled
Archy, dramatically raising his arms in re-enactment.
field, blazed the great bonfire. Walter
continued to reminisce, reliving the spectacle in
his mind. All would chant the oath of
allegiance to Arvernus. Then, one by one,
his voice rose to an ecstatic crescendo,
wed hurl the virgins kidnapped from
Little Gurning into the flames.
It was lucky that the
Grand Master of the Arvernus Society was also
Chief Constable, reflected Archy.
That last bit was getting a bit
politically incorrect by the mid-seventies.
The final gathering
was in 1975, George reminded them.
That damned Health and Safety Executive saw
I think those
bastards in Little Gurning had a hand in it too,
speculated Archy. Theyd always
objected to our festival.
Of course, we
didnt notice any immediate effect on our
farming economy when Arvernus was cast out,
Why would we?
questioned George. The use of tons of
agrochemicals solved any problems with the crops.
Help wasnt needed from any god. Now that
were forced to be organic,
he complained, we have to work in harmony
with Nature again. No GM either. Thats why
yields are plummeting.
We need Arvernus to
return, concluded Walter.
BBC News: 21st June 2010:
Three pensioners from
the quiet English country village of Great
Gurning in the Morris were today arrested on
suspicion of criminal damage, grievous bodily
harm, arson, theft, kidnap and attempted murder.
A spokesman for the village council accused the
police of colluding with a politically correct,
heath and safety driven fascism that was
destroying the historic culture and traditions
that had underpinned for centuries the way of
life in English country villages.