Bridport & West Dorset News, Views, Videos & Curiosities

Lush Places: Happy Oak Apple Day

Odd’s fish, it’s Oak Apple Day: Charles II’s birthday and the 350th anniversary of his restoration to the throne.

Here in Lush Places, the day passes by unnoticed, as people scurry under large umbrellas across the village square in a dance choreographed jointly by Renoir and Magritte. They charge to the shop for their Telegraphs and Daily Mails, to pick up the gossip about the latest politician to be hoisted by his own petard or to add to the rumours about the building work going on in our house.

‘Well, I heard they were having a three-storey tower extension,’ says a farmer.

‘Yes, as big as The Gherkin, they reckon,’ says a second homer from London.

It is spring in the village: the bronze statue of a nude nymph greeting motorists has had a clean-up and the vulgar bizzy-lizzies lurk in the concrete flower pots next to the village pump, although one is broken thanks to a child using it as a stepping-stone to climb over the fence on to the green.

If Charles II were to suddenly appear here today, no-one would think much of it. He probably would not get a passing glance, like the white bearded tramp who turned up on Christmas Eve and sat forlornly on a step, his head in his hands. Village folk passed him by, until I insisted Mr Grigg go out to ask him if he would like a cup of tea and toast.

I mean, he could have been Jesus, or at least Father Christmas, and I was not risking losing out on a full pillowcase the next morning.

But hold fast, I have just seen a very tall man with rather large feet walking purposefully towards my front door. Could it be him? Could it be Charlie Boy travelling through time and coming to pick up a birthday present?

The moment of fancy passes and I open the door to the carpenter, clutching a hammer and nails.

Were it not for the whistling of ‘Billie Jean’s not my lover‘, he could be Jesus. Well, you never know.

3 Responses to “Lush Places: Happy Oak Apple Day”

  1. The Red Bladder

    The count-down approaches

    They really have little imagination out in your neck of the woods Maddie. I am amazed that not a single local has spotted the new launch platform for the Dorset Interplanetary Society’s first launch of an interstellar exploration probe. My word, the tongues will wag once you finally mount the mighty Saturn rocket on your roof and they will all tremble with anticipation and fear as the count-down approaches the moment of blast off. Talk about put your village on the map – the world will beat a path to your door. Life will never be the same again for you but you will have gone in peace, for all mankind and, for that, we salute you.

  2. Alison Dike

    Rough music

    Well… Charles the Second couldn’t quite make it to West Dorset yesterday as he always goes to Membury on Oak Apple Day. Beneath the green bough of reconciliation which hangs from the church tower he reads out his proclamation after processing through the village.
    At 4am on Oak Apple Day I was at Great Wishford outside Salisbury making very rough music – dustbin lids, cowbells and a bell on wheels – to wake the villagers up.
    Then off to Grovely woods to cut boughs of Oak, no bigger than a man’s forearm, which are hung above doors and gates and preferably decorated with bulbous new Oak Apples.
    By 8.15am I was on the church tower watching the men of the Oak Apple committee raising the marriage bough onto the roof, complete with coloured streamers (having found my hips were too big to squeeze past the bell and made it chime twice at ten past eight; this could start a new tradition…)
    At 9.30am, complete with Union Jack and a banner proclaiming the Grovely rights, we were coached to Salisbury Cathedral, where at 10am the Bishop confirmed the rights of the villagers to collect fallen wood for the following year. Unity is Strength said the banner. So true. No-one gave a thought to King Charles, though: (but co-incidentally, in the church, there is a carved Royal coat of arms seemingly erected around the time of the Restoration; and the Pembroke wedding took place up the road at Wilton at the same time – Lord Pembroke owns the Grovely woods).
    So, maybe next 29th of May, with the help of a bad black curly wig, maybe discarded from a Queen tribute band or something, and a foppish blouse, the carpenter, suitably attired, could represent Charlie and alllow West Dorset to celebrate this important day too.

  3. Maddie Grigg

    That bad black curly wig

    Red Bladder, I really wish you hadn’t said that. Like most men, Mr Grigg is obsessed with fireworks and the bigger the rocket the better. I can see it now, Mr G sitting astride the rocket and perhaps wearing that bad black curly wig as he launches himself on a journey to oblivion.
    Grovely, grovely, Alison, this is indeed too good an opportunity for West Dorset to miss. Your Oak Apple Day sounds truly splendid and has my brain whirring to think of a suitable activity in this neck of the woods for this time next year.

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