26 May 2020 – St Augustine of Canterbury’s Day

Today I’ve been playing with my hair. It’s St Augustine of Canterbury’s Day. Now St Augustine of Canterbury wasn’t a big fan of the pagans and allegedly spent a lot of his time in the C7th appropriating their spaces, ousting their gods, and converting the masses, becoming the founder of the English Church in the process. But when he didn’t get his own way, he got pissy. When confronted with a bunch of local pagans in Kent (or Dorset) waggling fishtails pinned to their derrières in dissent, he failed to see the funny side. So much so that he cursed the lot of them. Some say he just cursed the next generation, others say it was eternal. But either way, he damned all their forthcoming children to be born with tails. 

So in honour of the pagans, I thought I would make a fish tail. Originally I was thinking about making some sort of overlapping scales affair, maybe with tissue paper and PVA, creating a stained glass window effect to add further insult to injury, but I ran out of time. So I made it with hair.  

I’m not a huge fan of fancy hairdos. Occasionally I’ll put in the effort if I’m going somewhere nice, but mostly I’m a fan of messy buns, Milly Molly Mandy clips, and Croydon Facelifts. But if I’m plaiting, I’m definitely part of the Pippi Longstocking school of braiding, rather than a fan of YouTube tutorials that take several years and guns of steel to perfect. Also, I think most fishtails looks fussy and horrible. 

But it was to YouTube that I turned. And to be fair a fishtail braid looked relatively easy, and in practice wasn’t all that bad. Just fiddly. And annoying. And time consuming. And as it turns out, when I do them, much chunkier than the perfect insta-shots my search engine turned up. I tried it a couple of times, first over my left shoulder, then over my right. Right was easier, or maybe by then I was more skilled at it. And I’m using skilled in the loosest sense of the word here. But when it came down to it, the way I fishtailed didn’t look that much different to a normal 10 second plait. So while I salute the Kentish arse-wagglers, I’ll have to find another way of joining them. 

Oh and it’s also #WorldDraculaDay, as Bram Stoker’s Dracula was first published on this day in 1897. Not to mention it’s the best Van Helsing, Peter Cushing’s 107th birthday. For more on the undead, check out my enormous one sentence post as a homage to Byron’s vampiric precursor, A Fragment, on Quasimodo Sunday. Or you could just join in the pagan rebellion and dance to Groove Armada instead…


Resources

Brewer, E.C. (2001) Wordsworth Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, Ware, Wordsworth Editions Ltd

Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Room, A. (revised by) (2000) Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, Millennium Edition, London, Cassell & Co

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