Day 27 (13 April): The social niceties
You have probably noticed that this is the Noah’s Ark of blogs. For a vegan, I do seem to like animals. During the last three weeks many of them seem to have popped in by chance just to see how we are all doing. In fact I am sponsored by Chester Zoo and it is all subliminal product placement. As soon as confinement is over you will be queuing up to buy tickets.
We have met bats, bears, bees, budgies, cats, chickens, dogs, ducks, foxes, frogs, gerbils, goats, guinea pigs, hedgehogs, herring, horses, mackerel, octopuses, pangolins, penguins, rats, rhinos, sardines, sheep, squid, toads, turkeys, turtles and unicorns.
I put them in alphabetical order to save you doing it. You don’t realise just how obsessive confinement is making you.
The last creature on the list, the unicorn, is at the crossroads between mortal and mythical - and he would do well to stop standing there when traffic gets back to normal..
To cut to the chase: with Easter Bunny poo still covering the furniture I thought it the right moment to take a deeper look at Bunny and introduce him to some of the other mythical creatures who figure prominently in our lives.
The story of the Easter Bunny is thought to have become common in the 19th Century.
Rabbits usually give birth to a big litter of babies (called kittens - just to confuse you), and are considered a symbol of new life.
Legend has it that the Easter Bunny lays (n.b. biology to be prioritised when school starts) , decorates and hides eggs as they are also a symbol of new life.
This is why Easter egg hunts feature as part of the festival.
Incidentally, just to prove that a lack of solidarity extends beyond surgical face masks, in Switzerland Easter eggs are delivered by a cuckoo and in parts of Germany by a fox. Add cuckoo to the list.
The mythical creatures found in folklore do a lot of different jobs, says Simon Young, a British historian of folklore and co-author of the book Magical Folk: British and Irish Fairies, 500 AD to the Present. “They uphold morality, enforce taboos, connect to divinity, warn against dangers and, most importantly, entertain.”
But he doesn't tell us whether they interact with each other. Are they aware of each other? Do they Zoom?
Back to our introductions. I think it is time to settle this matter and for Bunny to meet Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy.
I have limited myself to the Big Three as they actively intervene in our lives as opposed to reindeer and unicorns which we only catch glimpses of on the way back from the pub.
Whatever they do virtually, we know that In real life they do not meet. The calendar keeps Father Christmas and the Easter Bunny well apart. The Tooth Fairy is an all year rounder - but she is nocturnal; which rules out meeting Bunny, and a bit of a prima donna so she avoids appearances on Christmas Eve.
I thought I might get them together over a spot of lentil dinner, social distancing not yet having been applied to mythical creatures. My first concern is not whether or not they will accept but how to manage the niceties of it. These are three ancient and venerable beings. I have little doubt that they are sensitive to their dignity. What to do? Consult Debrett's of course - that bible of etiquette and precedence.
“Precedence and respect is signalled by the name said first. Courtesy gives honour to those who are female, older or more distinguished.”
Fair enough. But establishing age, sex and relative distinction is a minefield in this situation. It is not obvious who is oldest. It is hardly a complement to a fairy to suggest that she looks haggard. Father Christmas, on the other hand, has always looked old. Was he ever young? And the Easter Bunny is a rabbit. What am I supposed to do ? Count the rings in his teeth?
And it gets worse:
“Men should be introduced to women. ‘Charlotte, may I introduce John Debrett? John, this is Charlotte Berkeley’. Aim to introduce younger people to their elders or junior people to more senior people.”
Father Christmas is a man. The tooth Fairy is a woman. So far so good. But again, that bloody bunny. According to Wikkihow, to determine the sex of a rabbit one should “apply gentle pressure with a finger and thumb on either side of the opening….” I shall not detail the rest - but its not something I see myself doing in a casual way before dinner.
And then there is the first name problem; am I really expected to say “Tooth, may I introduce Father Christmas?”
“You may wish to add a short explanation, or provide some information: ‘John is a wine expert’, or ‘Charles has just moved back to London’, or ‘I know you are both tennis fans.’ “
Perfect. “John is a rabbit!” or “Tooth creeps into children’s bedrooms at night and leaves them a coin in exchange for body parts. She’s a tennis fan too.”
“Older people will expect to be introduced by their title. It is then up to them to say ‘Please call me Jane.’”
Perhaps all three can agree to be called Jane?
I think the Easter Bunny should vacate that couch and leave it for me and the tooth freak.
Keep well and sleep with your mouth closed.