One shouldn’t plumb too deeply into English traditions.
Take a few examples:
- the blooding of neophytes at a fox-kill:
- ritual killings, such as those behind The Cutty Wren;
- the “mislaid” verses of The National Anthem, notably the one that’s still there, but never addressed:
Lord, grant that Marshal Wade
May by thy mighty aid
May he sedition hush and like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush.
God save the King.
- Guy Fawkes nonsenses. Somehow the possible State conspiracy, so well-known that as early as 1678 Bishop Thomas Barlow of Lincoln had to deny all this was a contrivance of Secretary Cecil, goes missing. As does the gratuitous barbarity of the executions:
Yet here Malcolm finds himself, a few hundred yards from the birth-place of Proctor Edward Fawkes’s second son, Guy. Even closer to Guy’s tenement, just down the road in Clifton. All around are the crashes and flashes as the modern citizenry of York celebrate, without reflection, the unhappy end of their fellow citizen.
That despite many of them passing reminders on a daily basis.
Yesterday Malcolm walked across the modern bridge on Ousegate, York, on his way to Waterstone’s bookshop. The combination of Ousegate, “Water” and “Stone” came into his mind. He passed the spot where Margaret Clitherow was crushed to death at the toll-booth under half a ton of stones.