Thursday 24 June

Today is Midsummer’s Day, celebrated in style in most Scandinavian countries, with traditional costumes, bonfires, maypoles, singing and dancing. Generally in England it passes without comment. I always felt it seemed harsh to have midsummer so soon after the solstice, regarded by some as the beginning of summer, hence making the entire season about a week long. Which in England is sometimes about the measure of it.

Midsummer's Day 2007 (Midsummer's Day Festival)

This is a Swedish community in the USA celebrating in the traditional manner.

One year we were invited to a wedding in Austria where traditional dress was requested. The locals duly appeared in Dirndl and Lederhosen, and we deliberated about what English dress could be. Discussing it with friends we received all kinds of ribald suggestions: string vest and knotted handkerchief, or bowler hat, or for the women, ill-fitting shorts and skimpy top. In the end, the two women opted for conventional English wedding attire: smart dress and large hat. The men had in one case a linen jacket and straw boater, and the other a version of smart angling clothing; checked shirt, sleeveless gilet. But we do not exactly have an unmistakable English costume.

I have received some great comments recently, on the blog. Do read them if you get chance. It is always tremendous fun to read what my audience is up to, and what generates the most interest. My comments on friendship seem to have gone down well. I remembered today what my mother said about her best friend: it was someone she could sit with in companionable silence. I think that is a very fine definition.

Today I heard Ponchielli’s Dance of the Hours, but unfortunately it has been ruined for ever for me by “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh”: as a kid I laughed so much over this.

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