In this week’s episode of ‘The Cutty Wren’, the third instalment, we finally get to the Ceremony of the Cutty Wren itself. It really happens in the village of Middleton in Suffolk, under the auspices of the Old Glory Molly Dancers, though not this year for understandable reasons, but much of what happens in the story is my own invention. As far as I know, there isn’t a pub there commemorating the decapitation of a local magistrate with a plough share or anything like that in real life, though I suppose anything’s possible.
As well as the Old Glory revival of this ancient ritual, the other inspiration for this part of the story is ‘The Exorcism’, (1972) from the BBC’s Dead of Night anthology series, where two insufferably smug middle class couples (Sylvia Kay and British tele-folk horror favourites Clive Swift, Edward Petherbridge and Anna Cropper) decide to slum it for Christmas, chomping their turkey in a converted former agricultural labourer’s cottage, while pontificating about socialism and other subjects. But while this arrangement might meet 2020’s guidelines for Christmas household mixing, the house’s previous occupants don’t approve and make their displeasure felt in various ways…
But it was the terrible fate of those former inhabitants that influenced this part of my own story, ‘The Cutty Wren’. Before listening to Part Three below, those just joining us might want to catch Part One and Part Two.
And don’t forget to tune in on Christmas day for the spine-chilling conclusion to my tale of the cutty wren!