Day 98

Social Distancing

The bonefire? Complete wash-out; in a break with all known tradition, we’ll have another go at it tonight.

They won’t see the fire from my house on Tory though, which is the place I first stumbled upon the tradition of bonefires to mark St John’s Eve on 23 June. And stumbled is the operative word here, as me and the lads fought our way out of a drunken soup in the Club on the island, and staggered down the road a bit to a handy square of exposed concrete which the girls had constructed a fire on. There was no doubt, given its size, that the Tory fire could be seen on the mainland (not Great Britain, in case there are any lurking NI Civil Service types reading this), and several fires could be seen across the seven miles of water from where we stood.

At the time, I had no idea what the bonefire was in aid of, and there was certainly no mention of John the Bap amongst the assembled youth. It was, in essence, a pagan event. And no better place for it than that wind-scoured crag of rock braving the Atlantic off the north-west coast of Donegal. It still is mostly a pagan event, as all public fires tend to be; sure the only reason The Catholic Church in all her wisdom placed the feast of John the Bap at this time of the year was to hijack the already extant pagan festivals around that time to celebrate the Summer Solstice.

And here we go [at last! – Ed.]. When do you think Summer starts? The poor Brits cannot even get that right. Follow this link, and then read it. and you will find the surprising statement from the Brit Met Office that Summer will last four months this year. Have you got that? And have you got your calculator handy? So four seasons in a year, one of them is Summer and that is lasting four months, apparently … so, eight divided by three equals two point six seven (2.67). Who is going to tell the other three seasons that they will be short by 0.33 of a month this year because of either a) Summer’s greed or b) the Brit Met Office’s stupidity? You’re a better man than me, Gunga Din, if you take that task on: Spring can have a bite to it, Autumn can be stormy and Winter is notoriously frosty and, apparently, is coming. Does the Met Office know where this time is going? Sandy Denny, didn’t, and this one is for Des.

Even their meteorological calendar does not make sense. If midsummer is around 21 June, how could Summer only start on 1 June? That would make midsummer really onethirdsummer, and that does not have the same ring to it.

The answer, as usual, is provided by the Irish language, and by those old wise heads who named the months. The word for September in Irish literally translates as ‘Middle of Autumn’, the name for October means ‘End of Autumn’. Is that clear enough for you? Summer therefore consists of the months of May, June and July, with midsummer – surprise! surprise! – being right bang in the middle of it where it should be. So next year when some linguistically-challenged West Brit contradicts your assertion that Spring begins on 1 February with St Brigid’s Day, just point them in the direction of the nearest Irish-language class. Twould be pointless to point them in the direction of the nearest logic class: look at the result of the Brexit vote for the reason for that.

Apparently six people not from my family have to turn up at my outdoor bonefire event tonight, according to my understanding of the new opendown rules announced by Marlene. Is this strictly compulsory? Because I do not know six people outside of my own family. Maybe some of the four surviving readers of this blog should turn up at the hacienda tonight to make up the numbers? I wouldn’t want to get in trouble with the Peelers.

Not about mathematics, anyway.


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