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Exeat: Day 90/84: Midsommardagen and Juhannuspäivä .... it's Midsummer's Day

Midsummer Day for Sweden and Finland this year is today, June 20, 2020 … Midsommardagen in Swedish and Juhannuspäivä in Finnish. It really is a grand occasion for Swedes and with their country never having gone into lockdown they have more latitude than we will to celebrate - or indeed Finland. It's well illustrated by the schedule in Årsnäs which was founded in 1963 on the west coast of Sweden, near Kode. As late arrivals they go for it 101%! It all starts with 'Frog Dances' around the meadow Maypole in the early afternoon followed by games with different tasks each year but often including nail hammering, log balancing and darts. By evening there is a dinner by the meadow including the year's first potatoes, soused herring and pickled herring, chives, sour cream as well as the first strawberries of the season. There's beer and snaps for the grown-ups.

The origin of the melody for the Frog Dance is a French Revolutionary song of which these are Sweden's words :
The little frogs, the little frogs are funny to observe.
The little frogs, the little frogs are funny to observe.
No ears, no ears, no tails do they possess.
No ears, no ears, no tails do they possess. [now start leaping]
Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack ack kaa. Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack ack kaa.
Why frogs? Why Flowers? It's not clear as the ritual dates back to the 16th century. The the dance, Små grodorna in Swedish, involves movements that illustrate body parts that frogs lack, namely ears (öron) and tails (svansar). A second much loved celebration is to place 7 or 9 different flowers under your own pillow on Midsummer's Eve and it will ensure you dream of you future husband or wife.

For Avril and I and Anne it will always be Chemainus! To fulfil one of Avril's bucket list Midsummer Night's Dream on The Night Itself Anne, with whom we were staying in Victoria BC, suggested heading up island to Chemainus. We'd not heard of it or its world famous murals but our theatre visit there launched the Murals Trail in Prestonpans, now dubbed Scotland's Tapestry & Murals Town, after we met Karl Schutz and led to us convening the Global Murals Conference in The Pans in 2006 with investigative global touring to 34 towns from Australia's Bowen to Twenty Nine Palms … and crafting our own Pans 'Chemainus' Totem Pole. As they say, the rest was history …. with us returning to celebrate Burns' Night there and receive the Key to the City from the Mayor. Midsummer madness perhaps ….
Finland's Juhannuspäivä also holds to the Swedish tradition with flowers. People escape to their summer cottages, enjoy the nightless night together and do not hesitate to light bonfires and express their joy drinking beer, listening to Finnish music and cooking outdoors. Grill sausage is a must and you can expect first-harvest potatoes and herring on your plate for sure as in Sweden.

Thoughts and distractions as we exit lockdown keep coming … but I hadn't expected these last Thursday in the Daily Telegraph Business where Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, off his normal beat, was reviewing Kishore Mahbubani's book Has the West Lost It? "Britain's history is abased and presented as a Marxist caricature. All Lives Matter! That is the universal slogan of the West and was Mandela's [and our NSB client Mahale Mahanele's] vision for South Africa's liberal democracies to achieve colour blindness. It is not ventriloquism to assert that position at Oriel College Oxford in deference to Cecil Rhodes. But we have seemingly crashed through the gears from the goal of equal opportunity we readily accept to the goal of equal outcomes as of right and then from there to the jurisprudence of hate crimes with differing tariffs depending on racial motive, arriving now at a point where everything is filtered through the prism of race and sectoral interests. We have re-radicalised society and are coming full circle where equal opportunity can no longer be seen as the achievable and appropriate goal". I stand four square with Ambrose that it must be; and that No.10 where our hope seemingly lies with Munira Mirza, Boris Johnston's Policy Director, and Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch, to deliberately establish a 'Commission on the Widest Range of Inequalities of Opportunity in Britain'. The disparities between BAs, MEs, poor Whites and many others in having or not having the opportunities to achieve good outcomes are there for all to see. Knee bending focus simply on Black Africans is not the answer nor banning Sing Lo Sweet Chariot at RFU matches! Many not least today's 2nd Lord of the Treasury/ Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and Kemi have achieved such outcomes and absurd accusations of gaslighting are symptomatic of how great the challenge truly is.
The power of positive thinking still drives us on … ...allied to a tolerance of ambiguity and devoting as much time to future direction and plans as to present day challenges and enjoyment …. nowhere more so than in Scotland where ambitious Visions are being floated, literally suggesting a Water Park on the eastern end of the battlefield and thermal energy generation at the west ….

Published Date: June 20th 2020

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