Pinch Bum Day

Royalists all! Join together in declaring your allegiance with the monarchy by demanding your compatriots wear a sprig of oak in their lapel and threatening to pinch them on the butt if they refuse, for today is Pinch Bum Day, or Oak Apple Day if you’re of a more euphemistic persuasion.

I have no proof that small boys went around Greenwich pinching people’s backsides (or, for the more sadistic form of South East London youngster, whipping other kids around the legs with stinging nettles) for not denuding Greenwich Park’s trees of oak apples (those funny little round galls that form round an insect if memory serves) but I’m willing to bet that people did follow the tradition here. After all, it was Blackheath that served as the gateway to London for the exiled King Charles II’s giant comeback gig on 29th May 1660 (he was actually declared king on 26th, but it took him three days of adulation from the patriotic people of Kent to get from Dover to London.) Most of Greenwich went berserk with excitement at seeing Charles back, though our very own local regicide was probably getting a little sweaty. It was going to take more than an oaky-buttonhole to save him from the gallows…

If the killjoy Victorians hadn’t put paid to it, today would have been yet another May bank holiday – it was a public holiday of dancing and feasting from the merry monarch’s time until 1859 – but some places still celebrate Oak Apple Day – Worcester decorates the city gates with oak, Castleton makes giant garlands, Northampton lays a wreath of oak leaves at the foot of Charles’s statue (they really know how to party…) and the Chelsea Pensioners have a special parade in honour of the king.

I can’t help thinking the Royal Observatory should do something. I suspect the curators going around pinching visitors’ bums might get them arrested, but all the same, I’d wear a sprig just in case if you’re going anywhere near those saucy astronomers today. If you’re reading this after midday, you can heave a sigh of relief – like April Fools’ Day, you’re immune after the clock strikes twelve…

2 Comments to “Pinch Bum Day”

  1. Dazza says:

    I am most disappointed…… I deliberately didn’t wear my sprig and yet still no-one pinched my behind. I demand a re-run immediately!!!

  2. Benedict says: