One of the impressive floats at the New Orleans Mardi Gras — but the clue is in the name, says Charlotte.
THE VIEW FROM HERE OH, dear Lord, here we go again. It’s Mardi Gras time once more on the IW.
Now, I’m trying very hard to be patient but we went into all this two years ago and just managed to avoid looking daft. So who wasn’t listening?
Chris Slann and Frankie Goldspink, that’s who. They’re from the Island’s New Carnival Company, they’re organising Ryde’s midsummer parade, and they’ve just returned from a "fact-finding" mission to New Orleans. Among the facts they found was that New Orleans stages a Mardi Gras parade. Fun all the way, it seems. So now Ryde is going to have its very own Mardi Gras. On June 29.
Haven’t we tried this before? Why, yes, it was Cllr Ian Stephens who, as council chairman in 2011, first decided to bring Mardi Gras to the Island, planning a special charity event, all costumes and feathers and unlimited bowls of nibbles.
Unfortunately, it had to be pointed out to him that Mardi Gras, French for 'Fat Tuesday’, is invariably celebrated on what we call Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent begins. Cllr Stephen’s Mardi Gras night was scheduled to take place four weeks into Lent (a solemn period of fasting and repentance) and so very much missed the point of the whole thing.
In the end, it was all called off. Not enough demand for tickets, apparently, though I suspect there may be a terrible curse on events which attempt to inflict Mardi Gras on the Island on inappropriate dates. So, listen up, Chris and Frankie. Christmas is on December 25. Guy Fawkes Night is on November 5. And Mardi Gras celebrations take place on the day before Ash Wednesday. The actual date is variable but it is never, ever on June 29. That would be silly, wouldn’t it?
I’m sure you found out lots of facts on your trip to New Orleans, but it was a pity you failed to grasp the meaning of Mardi Gras. "We were inspired by the giant papier mache bull that led the main Shrove Tuesday parade" said Chris. Shrove Tuesday, see, Chris? Did that not give you a teeny clue?
A midsummer parade sounds lovely, though. Just don’t call it Mardi Gras. You can’t have Mardi Gras in June, not to mention June 29 being a Saturday, so it’s the wrong day of the week anyway, plus the whole thing will be cursed just like Cllr Stephen’s unfortunate event.
Still, you seem to be keen on having a religious-festival theme to your parade, so I have checked what else you might use. And, look, here’s just the thing.
In the Russian Orthodox church, they commemorate the Miracle of the Moose on June 29. It’s a complicated story, involving some 15th-century monks who ate a moose, but don’t worry about the details. The point is, it all happened on June 29.
Perfect. Ryde’s Midsummer Moose Parade. And monks, too. You could borrow some from Quarr Abbey. And if you’ve already ordered the papier mache bull, just add some moosey antler bits and nobody will notice the difference.
Berry better bet to stave off cross-Channel hordes
I AM impressed by the outstandingly tetchy tone of M. Cave, of Rookley, who last week put a notice in the CP entitled "Disappearing England (or 10 reasons for an Immigration Referendum)"
M. Cave starts off being cross because nobody knows the name of the immigration minister. "Name him in 60 secs." Nope, ’fraid not. Hold on, I’ll Google him. Here we are, it’s somebody called Mark Harper.
Does that improve things now I can answer your question, M. Cave?
Golly, no. "The PM wants to bring in thousands of the 'brightest and best’ foreigners ever year because it’s 'good for business’. What about Britain’s brightest and best?" Good point, M. Cave, were it not for the fact we’re so thick we even can’t name the Immigration Minister.
"Over 300 languages are spoken in London," fulminates M. Cave. Actually, I think that’s nice, don’t you? It makes us sound rather clever and cosmopolitan. If we go on at this rate, we’ll be able to name the immigration minister.
Whoops, no, my mistake. Seems the 300 languages aren’t good at all. M. Cave is not to be placated. On and on he goes about the horrible foreigners, finishing up on a startling crescendo. "O Great King Alfred, Saviour of England, we need you now!"
I’m sorry? King Alfred? What crazy suggestion is this, M. Cave?
He’d be 1,164 years old and in no shape to repel all those invading Polish plumbers. In any case, what’s the only thing anyone knows about him? That’s right, he burnt the cakes.
What use would he be in the face of hordes of French patissiers settling on our shores? Mary Berry would be a better bet, by far. I’ll send her the name of the immigration minister.