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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

March 01, 2006

Seasonal Conspiracy

Apologies in advance for those I am about to upset.

According to the Met Office Seasonal Marketing Department, today is the first day of spring. Hello Scotland! Can you hear me under all that snow?

They like it neat and tidy, see. March, April, May, that's your spring. June, July, August, that's your summer. It fits into their Excel spreadsheet that way. Never mind that September usually has better "summer" weather than August, and half of October, too. And never mind that millennia of traditions and festivals surrounding solstices and equinoxes are being thrown out of the window for what amounts to accounting purposes.

What is wrong with people? I think I know, but it's hard to express in words. I'm a Generation X-er. That means I was born just slightly too late to be a baby boomer, and slightly too early to be noticeable as anything else. I'm exactly who Douglas Coupland was talking about in his novel. If you were born after 1972, forget about it. Generation X is the one that gets ignored, the ones who don't get a say.

It was completely spot on when - a few years ago - all the Sunday supplements decided that "Generation X" meant all the trendy young things who were in their early-mid 20s at the time, because they were a nice, easy demographic to target with their fashion and technology supplements. Of course they got it wrong, because of course Generation X remains invisible to them.

The problem with the world today is that it's having all the edges knocked off it for the convenience of what I can only describe as a poorly educated generation, a generation of people who have been brought up under the National Curriculum, the GCSE syllabus, whatever, people who have been forced to "learn" subjects like IT instead of, you know, important stuff about history and culture, about science and nature, about things like equinoxes and solstices.

There are huge sums of money being spent in education on technology - I should know - because the people in charge think it's important that kids at school are equipped for the modern world and "learn about computers." Never mind that it takes half an afternoon for an averagely intelligent person to learn how to point and click. My younger brother had computers bought for him when he was growing up. I knew nothing about them and didn't even sit down to use one till I was 29 years old. And yet I know more and can do more than he can now, because it's easy.

I find it gobsmackingly shocking that the BBC choose to have someone like Phil Williams presenting the breakfast programme - as they did this morning. He's their former entertainment correspondent. The same one who came on Drive on the afternoon Katherine Hepburn died and talked about how wonderful she was in Breakfast at Tiffanys. But I shouldn't be shocked, because he's substituting for Nicky Campbell, former DJ and light entertainment presenter, who can never resist a stupid joke, can't say "Kent Hunt" without getting into trouble, and thought nothing of participating in Celebrity Karaoke on TV recently.

The BBC has a perennial problem when it comes to science and technology in that their producers and editors and presenters are all generally from an "art" background, and always think that science and technology stories have to be pitched at their level. They don't think, I've got a problem here in understanding basic science. Perhaps I should do an Open University course or something. They think, There's a problem with this story - people won't understand it.

That's the broadcast media. In so-called New Media, we have the opposite effect in that the world is moulded to fit the views of techies, geeks, nerds, people who know every episode of Star Trek but somehow manage to get confused by the fact that the first day of Spring is March 21 - not March 1. On the one hand the Borg - resistance is futile - and on the other, TV and radio presenters who are too timid and unsure of themselves to challenge a weatherman who claims that today is the first day of spring.

No it's not. I don't care what your fucking spreadsheet or your shitting Powerpoint presentation says, the first day of Spring is the day of the Vernal Equinox.
As the newly reborn sun races across the sky, the days become longer, the air warmer and, once again, life begins to return to the land. Twice a year, day and night become equal in length.

These times, equinoxes, were markers in which seeds would be planted and then harvested. The first of these, the Spring or Vernal Equinox occurs on or about March 21st.

The ancient goddess, Eostre, a Saxon deity who marked not only the passage of time but also symbolized new life and fertility, was the key symbol of this celebration which was also known as Ostara. Legend has it that the goddess was saved by a bird whose wings had become frozen by the cold of winter.

This process turned the bird into a hare. Yet this was no ordinary cottontail; this long-eared rabbit could also lay eggs!

The main symbols for Easter are the egg, for new life or beginnings, and the rabbit/hare, for fertility.


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