Tenth Anniversary (IX)

We do not always pay proper attention to the wider world here at Hooting Yard, but on 29 April 2011 we marked the occasion of the royal wedding with a piece about the regal woading. It is reposted here as part of our year-by-year tenth anniversary celebrations.

By rights, several dimblebys should be on hand to guide you through the events of today’s regal woading, but they have been ripp’d untimely from their anchorage, so I am stepping into the breach. Let us be joyful.

Before entering into the state of woaded bliss, the darlings are pulled by elegant horses in procession through the streets of the capital. These streets are lined by flag-waving peasants and other savages, watched over by coppers with clubs “on the ground”, as they say, and, from high buildings, by snipers armed with high-velocity rifles and walkie-talkies. But the mood is rightly joyous. The peasants wave their flags and, as the carriages progress, the darlings, yet unwoaded, wave back, though flagless. The horses have been equipped with tackle that occludes their peripheral vision, to prevent them seeing anything that might make them panic and, in panic, go galloping pell mell, crushing peasants beneath their hooves. Were that to happen, to continue with the woading would be unseemly, and there must be not a smidgen of unseemliness on this day of all days. Hence the horses’ blinkers-tackle.

Within the huge ensteepled and consecrated edifice await the guests and the shamen. None has need of blinkers. The arch-shaman is a fellow with a ragged grey-white beard, as is considered proper for his office. He will perform the rite of regal woading when the darlings are ushered, separately, into the cavernous interior of the edifice. See, there, the trough of woad, and the siphon and funnel and besplattering implement which will be used to woad-besplatter the darlings at the most significant moment of the ceremony.

But first there is much rigmarole, of a kind that cries out for interpretation-by-dimbleby. The arch-shaman, or one of his acolytes, will ascertain that the woading is pure, unalloyed and sullied not by any hint of bewolfenbuttlement. In a modern woading such as this, those watching electrical transmissions may be able to see each individual grey-white hair in the arch-shaman’s beard trembling faintly in the cool air. It is a sight to behold. The horses remain outwith the edifice, stamping their hooves, being fed from nosebags. The peasants and savages too, stay in their pens beside the streets, feeding from crisp-packets. The coppers and snipers stay alert.

Inside there is solemn blathering and the woading itself, and the darlings buss their lips, and a great hosannah of voices is raised in song. Here even a dimbleby might pause, to let it sink in, sound and spectacle without comment. Then, blue with woad, the darlings emerge, upon the steps, to much cheering and clanging of bells, before climbing together into a carriage to be pulled by snack-refreshed horses for the return procession. Somewhere in the teeming masses, a “student” raises a placard of contempt. Before he can be clubbed by a copper or shot by a sniper, he is torn limb from limb by a gaggle of peasants, unnoticed by the larger throng. It is meet that it should be so.

Across the land, jelly and ice cream are gobbled. Huzzah!

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