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An Experience not to be missed?

Barwicker No.17
March 1990

When I had previously seen the maypole brought down or raised had placed myself in a position as near to the maypole as was allowed, wanting to see as much of the method as I could. However, on the occasion when it was being lowered in 1981, I found my nerve was not what it was and felt a desire to put a respectable distance between it and me. The position I settled on was in Main Street, on the pavement outside the Old Rectory wall - between the past and the present bus stops.

It was a cool evening as it so frequently is at that time of the year and the long wait involved in the digging out made it feel even more so. It seemed the operation must be getting near the end and the crowd of watchers was beginning to get impatient, wanting to see the next stage of the lowering by the ropes. The line in Main Street on the opposite side of the road from me was only loosely manned and waiting full control. Feeling time was near, I glanced up at the top of the maypole and saw it move. I looked across the way at the loose rope, at the few officials gathered at the dig and then uneasily looked up again to see the maypole top dip in my direction. I screamed 'It's coming down', and ran towards the Old Rectory gateway. There was a thud behind me, followed by a deathly hush. I turned, putting my hands to my face, fearing to see the carnage I expected.

Slowly I lowered my hands to see people standing still and no sign of any casualties on the ground. Then I looked down and lying at my feet was the splintered and, I thought, rotten end of the maypole. A policewoman ran from the shop area across the way, put her arms around me and asked if I was alright. Feeling very shaken I enquired if anybody was hurt and she assured me that nobody was, saying that I was the nearest person to the fallen pole. I again looked at the smashed pole at my feet and then at the shocked but now vociferous crowd around and could hardly believe that the 88 ft. or so heavy pole had not hit anybody on its downward path!

From then on a search was made for the weather vane, which I hadn't seen, but it transpired it had already been picked up and removed for safe keeping. Bits of broken top were collected by souvenir hunters but feeling I had had a very narrow escape, I returned home to soothe my shaken nerves. Of course, I was there to see the maypole erected a few weeks later and have seen it lowered and raised on each following occasion. It is an experience not to be missed, I believe. I still maintain my respect of the maypole and my distance from it when it is moved.


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