I went to my first music festival ever this weekend. I have supported the Wickerman since its inauguration into the UK festival calendar – a couple of blokes on a hill with a guitar and a corn dolly, giving it laldy.
It has grown quite a lot since those days and, despite the terrible musical line-up, was a truly unique experience.
The one thing that bothered me, however, and I do not necessarily adhere to any particular organised religion, was the burning of the Wickerman on the Saturday night.
Apparently Edward Woodward refused the role this year, still nursing the scars from the third degree burns that he suffered in 1973. He has apparently never spoken to Ingrid Pitt since that time.
Now, I know that this is a huge publicity stunt riding on the back of a famous cult movie of sinister pagan rites, but it took two artists a whole week to build this maginificent, 30-foot structure only to see it destroyed in less than half an hour.
Anyone who has been to the festival will know that the Wickerman is innocent – for god’s sake, he has only just been built – he could not have learned evil ways within the space of seven days! There were no shouts of “save the Wickerman” or “The Wickerman is innocent” and everyone appeared to want to let blood in a frenzy of alcohol-induced aggression.
I was fortunate to get up close to watch everything (I pretended to be with the BBC RADIO crew – they were let in because they had a camera to record the ritual. The world’s gone mad!)
The urge to free the Wickerman was overwhelming, but someone cavorting athletically with a flaming brand got there before I could raise the alarm.
The Wickerman’s spectacular combustion sent the crowd into uproar! Some of the elderly ladies even dropped their knitting (and their bloomers), so much was the excitement.
There is a parallel here: for over 400 years we have been burning the effigy of a man whose only sin was to attempt to blow up a few corrupt politicians. Guido Fawkes must be the most despised character in British history. So heinous was his crime that we burn him every year on millions of pyres so that his tortured soul may never rest. For some unwarranted reason, we do not do the same to the treacherous historical Nazi sympathiser Edward VIII or even the hissing Tony Blair. The Wickerman bore a strong resemblance to Our Guy and I wished that he would make a break for freedom and mash the tight ring of Up Front security guards with his woven wicker soles.
In the style of a true martyr, however, our 30-foot hero endured the excrutiating flames in order to glut the insatiable needs of a hungry mob who had no idea what they were shouting for. Some even sang “Flower of Scotland” in an inappropriate misinterpretation of the ceremonial intention. Poor Wickerman, the sacrificial lamb amongst a herd of Judas goats.
The moral of the story? Fire purges. The old must be destroyed to make way for the new. The blood of the innocent must be let to show the corrupt and the tainted the way to salvation. Without pain, there can be no pleasure. Without evil, we would not appreciate the general notion of good. It is a Christian concept and one that we have been indoctrinated with for nigh on 2006 years.
For the 2007 Wickerman, however, fire burns and life is bollocks!