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Viewpoint from Revd Sue Hemsley Halls 01/05/2020

Parish of South Trinity Broads

as published in the Great Yarmouth Mercury

May Day takes me back to the time when I was vicar of a parish in Nottinghamshire. We lived in a house that had been built in the 1850s for a family who all served as parish clerks until the death of the last descendent in 1992. It was left to the church in her will, and it became the vicarage
dove leftPeople would often tell stories about the house and its former owners. There had been little modernisation until it came into the church’s ownership, so the earth floors and a hand pump in the kitchen rather than taps remained in place until the 1990s

I also heard how each year on the first day of May, a maypole was erected in the garden, and children from the village would come and dance around it. So many people told me about this over the years that I did consider getting a maypole and continuing the tradition, but as happens with these things, I never got round to it

I don’t know if you’ve ever watched maypole dancing, with children, or adults, each holding a colourful ribbon attached to the top of a tall wooden pole. As they dance in and out, the ribbons weave around the pole into a colourful pattern
Dove rightThis deliberate dance of careful movement to avoid bumping into others reminded me of these current days of self-isolation and avoiding touching others – the awkward ‘dance’ we do on the pavements or in the aisle to avoid close contact. However, we are moving in certain ways to keep ourselves and others safe from infection; they were having fun, celebrating the spring and rebirth, and creating a pretty pattern with their ribbons as the community came together
By May Day next year, hopefully this current situation of social distancing will just be a memory. But I think that, from now on, I will think on May Day about the privilege of communities being able to come together and celebrate. In the church, we have seasonal celebrations such as Plough Sunday and Harvest, particularly in rural areas, but we have never formally celebrated being able to dance together and just to be together as a community. Perhaps next year I should think about getting a maypole for this vicarage or village green. Anyone interested?


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