More Rye Yule, really. There seems to be something, something old, something sinister, something pagan perhaps about the Rye Christmas Parade that stirs the Gods: for each year they send rain. Perhaps they are tipped off by prayers from the Kindly Ones
At the front of the parade strode the town cryer, stern faced under an umbrella, looking quite unlike the familiar, welcoming soul who announces the wedding party to thrilled tourists on a Saturday morning.
Following him: giant puppets of wire and papier-mache glowing with inner light, each accompanied by shadowy black-clad children peering out from rain-sodden hoods, and no little donkeys, oxen nor sheep neither: but bright, ungainly mermaids, centaurs, gryphons, orcs and chimeras,
And then at the heart of the procession: the Rye Drummers , blown in the sea wind, dressed in black and red, faces painted, drums adorned with skull and cross-bones, they hunched into a circle, backs to rain and the crowd, hat brims dripping, in their midst a sweating soloist as, red-faced, black-faced, grim-faced they sounded out the rythms of Saxon Rye when the sea pounded at the land-gate causeway, and the French raided and stole the church bells, when Old Winchelsea stood, still, in Rye Bay.
And it wasn't about the children, either: even as Father Christmas approached, waving and hohohoing from an ersatz american limousine, the Rolf Harris-sound-alike MC, in a gold lame jacket made sure to puncture the spirit of Santa, slurring suggestions of his half-pint too many. Beside me a mother gripped her daughter's hand tightly, a whistle blew and the drums restarted.
Afterwards Mrs Botogol and I retired to the steamed-up Apothocary, its drawers with hand-lettered promises of Hemlock, Foxglove, Monkshood and Laburnum
"Well, they need to sort it out", opined a local shopkeeper, warming his hands on an espresso, "is it supposed to be late night shopping or not? We need to be organised".