One of the most fab of Boxing Day traditions is the annual gathering around the bottomless viper-pit at Shoeburyness. Forming a circle around the pit, and holding hands, the participants come dressed in motley, with trimmings of gimp passementerie. Eyes fixed steadily upon the viper-pit, they then recite passages from various works by Alain de Botton, before singing, to the accompaniment of bassoon and piccolo, “More Than A Feeling” by Boston. They then remain in silent contemplation until sunset, at which point they disperse, all except one, bent on self-obliteration, who is taken by the wrists and ankles and flung, voluntarily, into the pit.
I attended today, as I have done for countless years past, and I am pleased to report that a fine time was had by all. The sole disappointment was that, as usual, not a single viper slithered out of the bottomless pit to grace us with its vipery Boxing Day presence, dammit!