3 June 2020 – Mother Shipton’s Day

Today I’ve been doing my laundry drunk. Well tipsy. It’s Whit Wednesday otherwise known in Cambridge as Mother Shipton’s Day. Which is a little odd given that Mother Shipton, Yorkshire’s fictional answer to Nostradamus, is said to have lived in a cave in Knaresborough, 160 miles away. Distance aside, to celebrate Mother Shipton’s Day, it was traditional for Cambridge laundresses to add rum to their cuppas on Whit Wednesday, Mother Shipton being their patron saint.

But as I don’t drink tea, I subbed in a mojito tinny with extra mint. And because I have lovely friends, I had rum company on a video call this evening while the washing machine was going. And all was well and slightly hazy round the edges with a hint of lime until the washing machine stopped spinning and I began to remove the contents. There were white bits clinging to everything. Not disintegrated rogue tissue white bits, no this was malleable. And greasy. And suet. It was suet from the plum duff owl tea towel. Which was gross enough in the first place, let alone five days later when squiffy on rum. There is no real end to this story. 

So I’ll just go on to the next. I was on BBC Radio 2 just after 02.17 this morning! Luckily it was all pre-recorded last night which alleviated my worry about swearing profusely on air. But I can’t say I covered myself in glory, at best I swerved between mild hysteria and gibbering. It was still fun, though. I was talking about my Desert Island Discs with the lovely OJ Borg, who was so professional and calming and charming, and well, just lovely. And at the end, after we finished recording, I did my folklore due diligence and asked him if he had any rituals or traditions. And it turns out he does: a lucky banana before every live show. Always one, never two. And it stops his mouth from getting all ‘sweaty’. I so wish I’d known this trick before last night. Anyhow, then it was all over, and I went to bed shaking with adrenaline. But just to prove it wasn’t all a dream, I woke up to find this tweet:

So if you want to have a listen to me absolutely failing to articulate what I’m doing on this project and why She Came In Through The Bathroom Window makes me laugh so much, the interview starts after Whitney Houston, Step By Step.

Right, now I need to sober up and figure out if I can’t just flick all the suet off my clothes or if I have to put the whole lot through the wash again. Mind you, one traditional washing rhyme does say that if you wash on a Wednesday, you wash for double. Goddamn it. 


Daniels, C.L. & Stevans, C.M (eds) (2003) Encyclopædia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World,Hawaii, University Press of the Pacific

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

https://www.mothershipton.co.uk/the-story/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000jmqj

Ps. Last night wasn’t my first radio rodeo, I did a whole slew of disastrous interviews when promoting My Celebrity Boyfriend. Not to mention when I was on Richard and Judy and spent 95% of the interview staring at the ceiling. My hair did look great though. 

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2 Comments

  1. Glorious Barbara
    4 June 2020
    Reply

    You were the consummate professional as always!

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