Saddleworth Villages Light The Way

Wassail! Yes, it's that time of year to hoist a glass in the air and toast the dark, the coming light in the dark and the hope for a good harvest in 2017. Let's face facts, our ancestors knew the power of beer, mead and moonshine to make you warm in the depths of a cold winter. 

light in the dark

Getting together also generated heat, in more ways than one! However, nowadays this age old role has become a chance to light the lights, deck the halls and pay homage to the Green Man. The beloved Green Man. The largely forgotten Green Man. For those of you thinking the Green Man may have something to do with an old TV advert for sweetcorn, you're wrong but let's enjoy that advert one more time.


Of course, there's other sweetcorn available and other beer, as in this...

green man

Ho ho ho...slightly drunk. No, not really, maybe a bit tipsy, warm in the cheeks and having the feeling of Christmas come across you. It's not hard for that to happen when outside the pub this is happening.

dobcross, christmas

People gathering in the dark, waiting for the light, mulled wine in hand, clutched between palms to give hands warmth. Come on light! Come on! Wassail! Bingo!

christmas

The light pours in and the brass strikes up and another Saddleworth village is lit up. Tonight all the villages are alive, Delph has closed the roads through, men and women stand on its outskirts turning back cars, outsiders and the plain curious. They bang their drums and warn them off with red signs that say, 'Road closed, bugger off'. Uppermill send out hundreds of Father Christmas's in a bizarre hunt that rages through the streets, the quarry and two bob millionaires driven out into Oldham. Wassail! Diggle keeps quiet, no one goes in there because no one comes back out. Denshaw is cut off as locals silently dig to break the village loose to drift back over the Pennines. Dobcross invades the streets, cars creep past glares and circle the square in a strange dance of ghost faces at car windows wondering what the hell is going on as locals raise glasses and Wassail!

brass bands

The bands though are bliss, the brass and the brass necks of people who take over their villages as outsiders glare and swear that they are cut off from the M62 or fall foul of saying they are cut off from Yorkshire. They are the ones never seen again. Then there are the incomers, the bewildered that walk among us, stopping to ask, 'What is going on?', 'Why?' and; 'Don't you people have the X Factor?' They join in, or they leave, their houses dark against the light of the villages sparking up in the night.

christmas

The brass floats on, through doors, windows, curtains and shutters. The music floats in and those asleep tap their feet to the beat. Even Father Christmas arrives early to dash by, to wave, to laugh, to be jolly and gone in a flash of red. The roads open for him but Clive from Littleborough can bloody well go round the long way.

Christmas

Down the hill is a solitary moving van, the people moving in confused, their movers, confused. The van is still running, its lights on as if to say, 'Can we leave, please?' but it's going nowhere. We go in and out of the pub, we move from the warmth of a coal fire to the warmth of mulled wine, and then in a sprinkling it's all gone, people move away, the brass floats away in the last bars and yells of, 'To band club at half seven'. It's the time of year to spend it with those you love, the pub is full of love, the married couple who drink, who recognise us and tell us that it's their night off from parenting though their office party - for that's what they call it - will end in falling asleep in front of the television in an hour. There are mother's and father's with children, a toddler crawling around the feet of people in the pub, Little D looking at the candy canes and counting them. Wassail!

christmas

Then after food, after drink, after the last people vanish into the night, there are the lights left in the dark. The flickering candle, the gaudy bauble, the twinkling trees.

Saddleworth christmas

Then in the end, there in the distance we can hear the Wassail Song. It's in our veins, if only we listened to them more.

Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wand'ring
So fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.

We are not daily beggers
That beg from door to door,
But we are neighbors' children
Whom you have seen before
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.

Good master and good mistress,
As you sit beside the fire,
Pray think of us poor children
Who wander in the mire.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year

We have a little purse
Made of ratching leather skin;
We want some of your small change
To line it well within.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.

Bring us out a table
And spread it with a cloth;
Bring us out a cheese,
And of your Christmas loaf.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.

God bless the master of this house,
Likewise the mistress too;
And all the little children
That round the table go.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.

And if that's too Pagan for you. Then there's this.

0 comments:

Post a Comment