Mumming…. our way through the 23rd.

Saint George and the Heathen fight- a while ago mind...

HAPPY ST. GEORGE’S DAY!...( though why a Middle Eastern or Eastern European knight should be our patron saint I cannot fathom… much better to have a home grown one like St. Edmund…but that’s another story πŸ™‚ )

Like the Pantomime, Mumming has become part of the English calendar. It’s our own version of this silly and thoroughly entertaining art form. ( Panto was originally Italian and evolved from the Commedia dell’arte ). It’s traditionally performed at Christmas, usually Boxing Day, and today…St. George’s day.

It all revolves around a few chaps in silly costumes posturing and spouting drivel -like doggerel ( but amusing drivel-like doggerel ) the origins of which are really rather hazy. There may also be a bit of cross dressing. The plot goes something like this.

  • A Narrator, a man who likes the sound of his own voice, a super-duper doggerel – driveller.
  • St. George – bold hero, dragon slayer extraordinaire, maiden kisser and general all round Good Egg. A bore.
  • Wicked Saracen or possibly Heathen or possibly Infidel or possibly Foreign Knight…you get the picture…. A Bad Man.
  • A Doctor – probably struck off for devious behaviour but still practising ‘alternative medicine’.
  • A dragon….or monster. ( Please be aware that no animal is harmed in the mumming of this ‘play’. ) A thoroughly evil creature, though undergoing therapy.
  • Other persons,some maybe “female”, ( we aren’t fooled ) hangers on and general hissers and booers.

St George, that good man is being taunted by a multi purpose baddie, the Saracen Knight. Georgie is rather a big head so it’s not surprising. The baddie is also a big head but that doesn’t matter. HE is a Baddie. ( It’s never really determined who starts the fight but again, that’s immaterial, Georgie is a Goodie. )

Saint Georgie...as a dummy board? No actually it's Aaron but it's Biblical- it'll do.!

With various bits of rubbish added and bits taken away ( no- not yet…) depending on which mumming play you are watching, the Baddie challenges the Good St George to a duel. There may or may not be a’ female’ present… but we still aren’t fooled.

Now there may be bits taken away. No-Only joking… the swords are usually bits of card covered with silver paper!

St. George ‘kills’ the Bad Saracen Knight. ( this involves stabbing him right through with his trusty bit of cardboard covered with silver paper. ie: under the arm. No vital organs there! )

Please at this point suspend disbelief if you haven’t already πŸ™‚

Enter the Medical Practitioner. I must say that I find this bit very odd as our Doctor is usually kitted out in top hat and tails as if he has just come in from the Opera. Very unhygienic.

WARNING – the next bit is really moving and may bring a tear to the eye of the sensitive reader. You may need to have a box of tissues handy!

After a lot of haggling ( the Doctor is not a Good Man despite his skill), the Heathen is cured of his death! Money changes hands… he is a Private Patient.

The Heathen is brought back from the very doorstep of the Pearly Gates. He has glimpsed the glint of St. Peter’s Key. He has put his very eye to the Celestial Keyhole. Does he repent?

Nahhh. He is a Bad Man, remember.

A Saracen Knight dummy board πŸ™‚ That doesn't look like silver foil covered card!

He challenges Georgie to another duel. Some people never learn.

This time Georgie is not going succumb to the Doctor’s blandishments. He is going to keep his money in his ISA, ( International Saints Account).

The Heathen stays dead.

Georgie is insufferable. He struts, he pontificates, he generally puts it about!

There is a R O A R !

( The crowd so far have been roar-less only hissing or booing so What Ever Can It Be?)

A Dragon Appears. A Hideous Monster…breathing fire and smoke. ( The chap inside the costume is having a fag!)

It too, is a Bad Thing. It too is Hubris Personified. It speaks? ( OM-I-GOD! Now we have anthropomorphization! I forgot to say that this play is usually performed outside a pub, so there may be a wee bitty alcohol consumed, hence the ‘speaking dragon’.) πŸ™‚

The Alvechurch Dragon. Hubris personified? Rather cute really...

Not one to be put off by Creatures of the Devil. Georgie reciprocates. They fight. This involves a lot of huffing and puffing, growling and yelling, and dancing round but not a lot of actual fighting. The dragon falls, again, stabbed with aluminium foil! He must be allergic to it.

Georgie is again insufferable. Why they cheer him on I just do not know. No one could really ever live with such a pillycock!

Anyway, he gets a fit of the collywobbles. The R.S.P.C.D. will be onto him. Striking down defenceless animals indeed- carries a fine of over One Pound!.Shame on him. He calls for the Doctor. The same one. Some people never learn.

Did I need to say, the Doctor is also a Dispensing Chemist. He carries a bottle. He is also an alcoholic.

For a fee ( he is an E.N.T. specialist… he will lead you by the ear, grab you by the throat and make you pay through the nose. ) he will revive the dragon. No one asks the dragon.

The Symondsbury Mummer's doctor.

Unlike the Ungrateful Heathen, the Dragon has seen the error of his ways and slinks off to seek easier prey and to ravish a maiden or two… how that is accomplished inside that costume……? I will draw a veil….

Georgie gets his ‘girl’….( he will get a rude awakening when he tries to..you know what. ) I thought that Saints were a Celibate Species…mmm.

George is unspeakably arrogant and thoroughly obnoxious. And remains so whilst the Narrator winds it all up.

And remains so when they go into the pub for a well deserved drink. No one buys him a pint!

We shall, as Brackley Morris Men be performing our Mummers Play this evening {Delphi Dog will be there for her birthday celebrations! } to, no doubt be hissed and booed by the local populace.

No change there then….

ThereΒ  WILL be some cheering. OR ELSE!

Even card covered in silver foil has its uses.


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