Jaqui's Daily Blog

Friday 22nd June

On our way to the shops this morning we found ourselves surrounded by a group of very polite, very smiley Austrian students.  They were waving a list of questions on British customs to which they were required to find the answers - which meant, of course, finding some willing locals prepared to provide said answers.


Well, Mr B and I were up for the challenge and so we found ourselves getting more and more animated, explaining what Guy Fawkes Day and Remembrance Day are all about; naming three British marriage traditions; and recounting what we mean (and what we do) on April Fools Day.  Being me, I couldn't just keep it simple, so there we were, trying to explain, to an increasingly bemused audience, some of our more outlandish customs. 


 "So Guy Fawkes, you see, tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament on November 5th 1605 and now every year on that day we build bonfires and let off fireworks.  Oh, yes, and children sometimes make guys out of old clothes and ask for a "Penny for the Guy" and then poor old Guy Fawkes gets burnt on the bonfire all over again, year after year....." Puzzled looks, quickly masked by those ever polite smiles.  Mr B just about manages to restrain me from singing: "Remember, remember, the 5th of November, gunpowder, treason and plot."  I do agree, in hindsight, that this would have been a step too far though at the time I felt it might be enlightening......


We tried explaining why the presence of a chimney sweep is considered lucky at a wedding ("Chimney sweep? What IS chimney sweep?") and why we sometimes present the bride with a lucky horse-shoe ("Horse-shoe? What IS horse-shoe?") and what the Remembrance Day poppy looks like ("Poppy? What IS poppy?")


I am afraid to say that I couldn't resist telling them the story of a long-ago April Fools Day when my brother, Phil, tied one end of a piece of string onto the door knocker of our house, with my sister and I holding onto the other end up in the front bedroom.   I can still remember the absolute joy of pulling the string to make the door knocker clatter, seeing my mother answering the knock on the door to find nobody there - and calling down "April Fool!" from the bedroom window!  She took it in good grace, bless her.


On further reflection, it has occurred to me that the over-riding impression our students will have taken away from our chance encounter is that the British are truly, wonderfully, batty.   Oh dear, all my fault.....


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Latest comments

28.12 | 07:41

This wonderful blog has summed up the true meaning of A Christmas Day. Once the dread of a restricted day had sunk in, other ways were invented. Thank you

22.12 | 09:20

So sorry to hear that Brian is in hospital. It would be bad at any time but at present....... It must be true agony for you. You'll both be in my thoughts. xx

22.08 | 02:02


I'll be able to help you with information on the usher's as Thomas Henry Usher is my aunt's ancestor as well can you please email me so we can talk

22.08 | 02:00

Hi Karen,

I thought I would try again to see if I can get a response from you again please email me so we can talk further. My email is: lol-emma@live.com.au

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