In an idle moment today, my fingers played internet search word association. What started with an attempt to buy my children’s names as internet domains, brought me, via a competition to win an iPad Air and a report on the tourist impact of the Tour de France on Yorkshire’s economy, to a delightful British custom. I’m fascinated by these things, haling as I do from a hotbed of clog dancing and later married in Abbots Bromley, a Staffordshire village where a rag-tag assortment of locals don Anglo-Saxon deer horns and beat the parish boundaries in what could easily pass for a Breugel-inspired inharmonic drinking competition.
So what a delight to discover the Marsden Cuckoo Festival, named after (according to Wikipedia) a local legend of the Marsden Cuckoo. Marsden is also the birthplace of poet, playwright and sometime troubadour, Simon Armitage*. Simon’s translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight won plaudits for its sensitive handling of old northern English, so it seems right to find a reference to the festival featuring local dialect from The Huddersfield Daily Examiner.
- “Many years ago the people of Marsden were aware that when the cuckoo arrived, so did the Spring and sunshine. They tried to keep Spring forever, by building a tower around the Cuckoo. Unfortunately, as the last stones were about to be laid, away flew the cuckoo. If only they’d built the tower one layer higher. As the legend says, it ,were nobbut just wun course too low’.”
*And, with typical circularity, one of Simon’s books is ‘CloudCuckooLand’. I haven’t read it, but I will now.