Today is MAY DAY, but it is of no Christian significance. For centuries, however, in ‘Olde England’ the people went mad in May. After the hardship of winter, and hunger of early Spring, May was a time of indulgence and unbridled merriment. One Philip Stubbes, writing in 1583, was scandalised: ‘for what kissing and bussing, what smooching and slabbering one of another, is not practised?’

Henry VIII went ‘maying’ on many occasions. Then folk would stay out all night in the dark rain-warm thickets and return in the morning for dancing on the green around the May pole, archery, vaulting, wrestling, and evening bonfires.

The Protestant reformers took a strong stand against May Day, and in 1644 May Day was abolished altogether. Many May poles came down – only to go up again at the Restoration, when the first May Day of King Charles’s reign was ‘the happiest Mayday that hath been many a year in England’, according to Pepys.

May Day is a medley of natural themes such as sunrise, the advent of summer, growth in nature, and – since 1833 – Robert Owen’s vision of a millennium in the future, beginning on May Day, when there would be no more poverty, injustice or cruelty, but harmony and friendship. This is why, in modern times, May Day has become Labour Day, which honours the dignity of workers.

Good to hear from Mike Neal who is well and in good spirits. He is staying in the Yorkshire Dales in a very rural location, near Pately Bridge, Harrogate.Keeping him company are alpacas and chickens and his daughter Debbie. He is still using a walking stick most of the time but says he is getting stronger. Come back when you are ready Mike, you have lots of friends here.

South Glos Council, Trading Standards Office, is warning against a spate of rogue traders. They are offering to take away rubbish or carry out garden maintenance. Sometimes they knock on the door or telephone. BEWARE – do not engage them. Trading Standards are also warning about scam emails from HMRC advising of a tax refund. This has been doing the rounds for 6 months or so but has started up again. It is a SCAM. Do NOT click on the link.

A New England: Life after lockdown

“After lockdown? Well, life has changed so much in recent weeks and in many ways for the better – lovely to see people out walking and chatting to others with a whole road between them. I think this sort of social distancing will carry on, up to a point, after lockdown. And, children have been indoctrinated with it all, hygiene, washing hands thoroughly etc. They will certainly be more aware of the importance of cleanliness in the future. I worry that there might be a second wave. If there is, then maybe the Nightingale’s will be put use. I know they are under used at the moment, partly a lack of patients, thank goodness, but also a lack of trained staff. Creating Nightingales may have been costly but it’s better to be prepared for the worst than to be unprepared. I’m proud of all the young nurses who carry on with their training knowing that one day they may be faced with a potentially deadly virus like CV19. And what do I miss most at present? It’s not being able to have all my family round for our Sunday Roast! Source: a practising nurse

What our parents taught us about – HOW TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE:   “If you’re going to kill each other, do it outside. I’ve just cleaned in here.”

A child’s letter to God: Dear God – it must be very hard for you to love everyone all the time. There are only 4 of us in our house and I can’t do it. From Jennifer.