Category Archives: Folklore

“Greatest dramas are about ordinary people”

In Brian Blessed’s preview for Who Do You Think You Are? this evening, he says:

‘I’m not looking for crowns and coronets and the glittering prizes. I’m looking for humanity. On television the greatest dramas are about ordinary people, ordinary relationships. That is where you learn so much, that has great meaning and that’s what I’m looking for.’

I couldn’t agree more Brian. Looking forward to a Blessed drama this evening. 9pm BBC 1.


‘Hidden killers’ in your family’s history

I enjoyed this week’s episode of Hidden Killers (BBC 4, 9pm, Tuesday), about dangerous products invented and used in Edwardian times. What struck me was, in some cases, how long the dangers were known by manufacturers before the use of dangerous materials was stopped.

Len Collier

My Grandad, Len Collier, in the 1940s

With asbestos we were told the link to lung disease was recorded as early as 1899, and the first death attributed to asbestos was in 1906.

I can remember my grandfather telling me that when he worked as an engineer in London in the 1960s, making circuit breakers for the Aswan Dam, he worked with asbestos and would cycle home with his hair and moustache covered in it. As was usual for his generation, he made light of it.

He did have scars on his lungs and eventually died of lung cancer, but not until he was 90 years old. I guess he was one of the lucky ones.

It took until the 1980s for the use of asbestos to be completely banned in the UK.

Did your ancestors work with dangerous substances? Don’t forget to write down your family’s stories for future generations.

Marry in May and you’ll live to rue the day

Advice on which month to marry in is given by the following rhyme:

Married when the year is new, he’ll be loving, kind and true.
When February birds do mate, You wed nor dread your fate.
If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you’ll know.
Marry in April when you can, Joy for Maiden and for Man.
Marry in the month of May, and you’ll surely rue the day.
Marry when June roses grow, over land and sea you’ll go.
Those who in July do wed, must labour for their daily bred.
Whoever wed in August be, many a change is sure to see
Marry in September’s shrine, your living will be rich and fine.
If in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry.
If you wed in bleak November, only joys will come, remember.
When December snows fall fast, marry and true love will last.

May has been considered an unlucky month to marry in for a number of reasons. In Pagan times the start of summer was when the festival of Beltane was celebrated with outdoor orgies. This was therefore thought to be an unsuitable time to start married life. In Roman times the Feast of the Dead and the festival of the goddess of chastity both occurred in May. The advice was taken more seriously in Victorian times than it is today. Queen Victoria is thought to have forbidden her children from marrying in May.

Lent was thought an inappropriate time for a wedding as this was a time of abstinence, so in many churches the end of April was a busy time for weddings as couples wanted to avoid being married in Lent and in May.

June was considered to be a lucky month to marry in because it is named after Juno, the Roman goddess of love and marriage.