Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Beltane Drudion 2002 CE

May 2002ce

What a beautiful day to be lying in the sun listening to endless ambient Ragnarock. Yup, Southern Lord have done it again, and the new sounds corroding my speakers come from those Wodenist dead boys Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine. Man, the opening track is a 29-minute ear gouger to rival Khanate. No wonder they’ve called it RAMPTON! And it’s an ideal sonic pillow as I’m still coming down from those heathen Cornish Mayday festivities at Padstow. If you know the Obby Oss festival and you know the fabulous harbour town of Padstow, you’ll have no trouble imagining the thousands of drunken people teetering on the edge of the quay as massed legions of red & white clad accordionists stomped the narrow streets, delivering their singularly proto-Cajun meditational grooves. And most of them smoking too! I’d gone there at the behest of my friend the writer Welbourn Tekh, who celebrates most of these so-called ancient festivals. We’d been up to the Abbots Bromley Horndance together, but I was quite unprepared for the sheer frenzy and alcoholic intake of these all-day Padstonian activities. I also came to the conclusion that the Obby Oss and his female baton-wielding ostler was the most bizarre sight I’ve ever seen in a town centre. It has been claimed that it was the Oss which inspired the ceremonies shown in the movie The Whicker Man, and the strangely unbalanced dipping and swaying movements were chilling to observe. I should also note that the black clad troupe of Gothic retainers always in tow added a wonderfully Eldritchian counterpoint to these proceedings.

So here we are in May already and Queen is getting us ready for the big five oh. I thought it was quite funny the way she declared that she ain’t never gonna stand down for old Chas, then threw him a few crumbs by getting some royal super-biddy mate of hers to tell us all how dysfunctional Lady Di was. No shit, Sherlock! That’s why she married your eldest, Ma-a-a-a-a-a-a-mmm! They’re obviously setting us up for the big wedding between Prince ‘I wanna be your tampon’ Charles and Camilla ‘so dry I ain’t so sure I ever menstruated’ Parker Bowles. Okay, so Billy Bragg might get a hit out of it all – Hoop-dee-doo. I can’t see playing political pub-rock on Top of the Pops ever bringing the monarchy down, myself. Maybe that cringingly embarrassing televised duet between Sir Billy and Jamie Theakston doing ‘New England’ is still too fresh in my memory to see it as anything more than justifying trying to go Top 10. Now beating dwarfgirl out of T’Pow and winning Celebrity Weakest Link – that’s punk!?!?!?!

Still, as a British republican I did feel a bit Devil & the Deep Blue Sea a coupla weeks ago as I drove into Belfast with British number-plates and a guitar tech wearing a Wolftones cap. Soon as we got to the Empire Theatre, the crew told him to take the cap off and I modified my Odinist face paint to exclude any pointlessly ‘politically significant’ colours. I guess it made for a great show and the audience all roared when I told them how, back in ’93 when the troubles were still ringing in our ears, Rooster Cosby had got us lost on the road to Eniskillen at 3 a.m. No Fun. The Irish shows were a stoned gasser but the ruddy fieldwork reminded me of how tight-assed I can actually be. Hello sweet old Irish Biddy, how do I get to so-and-so stone circle? Now, why would you wanna go there? After several such replies, I felt a closet Nazzy rearing up inside me silently screaming: "Nien, nien, nien, I hav no vish to tell you a thing. Tell me vare are dee stones zat I may tick zem off." But then I saw a coupla big I.R.A. monuments down on the Cork/Kerry border and got weirded out all over again. Took photos but felt like a white South-African. How loose can you get? I guess I’m a Kelt in a Krautrock-style.

My forthcoming evening at The British Museum is now scheduled for July 5th and I’ve called it DISCOVER AVEBURY. The museum recently cancelled all their public events but asked if I would still go ahead with a semi-open lecture which would mainly cater for their members. I didn’t mind as the July event will be far less involved or iconoclastic than last October’s DISCOVER ODIN. Those two evenings took seemingly endless organisation and this year’s fieldwork precludes my getting involved on anything like the same level. So instead, I have decided to just curate the evening and let the big guns say their (extremely brilliant) pieces. First, I’ve asked Aubrey Burl, one of my all-time heroes, to tell us all about Avebury past. He’s such a mine of information that even the most casual comment will elicit a truly insightful response. Dr. Burl is also currently working on some of William Stukeley’s lost manuscripts. Of course, in ’99 the re-discovery of the Beckhampton Avenue changed many scholars’ views of Stukeley. Being of the truly forward-thinking persuasion I was always one of his most loud and vociferous supporters. But now, even those who previously thought of him as a deluded pre-Blakean clot are just having to revise their opinions. Which brings us conveniently to the second half of the evening. This will feature Mark Gillings and Josh Pollard, the excavators of the Beckhampton Avenue. Those two are a really funny team and Mark especially has a habit of running around the field in delight every time some new discovery is made. I’m really excited to get all these genii under the same roof, so get yerselves down to The British Museum and get yerselves in.

I’ll quit now while I’m winning,

Mr. Drude (M’Lud Yatesbury)