Today I manifestly failed in my mission. It’s Rogation Monday, traditionally the time for a young chorister to do a headstand while Edward Wilkes, late of the parish of Leighton Buzzard since 1646, has a portion of his will read out. Apparently, since my reference book was published, this tradition has been moved back a day to Rogation Sunday, but that’s just details.
The reason for such gymnastics was due to the belief that watching weirdness improved memory and comprehension. This method was used a lot when passing route information on during the Beating the Bounds, a lot of the weirdness not altogether pleasant.
So anyhow, I thought I would have a go at a headstand. To be honest, I was rubbish at them as a child so my mindset was already verging on the negative. Nevertheless, ever the folklore professional, I thought I would give myself a little refresher on technique before getting started. Only instead of the shrieking laughter and slapdash tack of my youth, it appears that yoga has appropriated headstands, thus sucking out all the joy in the process. It also reminded me that I have zero core strength and short hamstrings.
My next obstacle was space. I wasn’t about to move furniture or risk bringing down a bookcase, so I wandered around until I figured I could do it up against a door in the hallway. After all, the chances of me being able to do a freestanding headstand were already nil. Having watched all the fit people perform, I felt strangely obliged to change out of my jeans and into my running gear. And then all that was left was to lay out my mat.
Reader, it did not go well. I tried the kick and flick method, I tried walking my feet up the door but physics wasn’t having any of it. So I stopped. It was for the best. But you’ve got to love a trier.
Roud, S. (2006) The English Year: A Month-By-Month Guide To The Nation’s Customs and Festivals, From May Day to Mischief Night, London, Penguin Books