The archaeology of laughter

I have fallen among morris dancers, and people of that ilk. They take a lively interest in English traditions, including the mummers’ play. This is an oddity dating from the eighteenth century. During the Christmas/ New Year period, the mummers occasionally appear in pubs to deliver a very silly, very short, very traditional performance. This one involved cutlasses, a glass of whisky and a horse who was clearly the worse for wear as he made his entrance in the third pub of the evening.

The clothes and props were striking. If they survive at all they won’t make much sense to the archaeologists of the future. But to the drinkers of the Vale Inn, and to the Macmillan nurses for whom they were collecting, it was a worthy and wholesome entertainment.

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