Welcome to the first of a new series – nature ramblings with Barry Frontalcheese. Every now and again, mostly if it’s a bit slack at work one day, Barry will be regaling you loyal Monkeybrothers with tales of the countryside. This week Barry sheds some light on the mystically ancient and mystical rural art of going for a poo in a tree.
Arguably there is nothing quite so quintessentially English as the ancient and mysterious ritual of pooing in trees. Many mistakenly believe that it was the Vikings who, while they were having a much deserved break from raping and pillaging, first introduced this wonderful tradition to these shores. However, while pooing in trees is mentioned in the Doomsday Book index under ‘P’, it’s not until much later that the mystically ancient, mystic and mystical ritual of pooing in trees really entered the English psyche.
For those of who you may be from abroad or London, pooing in trees is a form of English excretion usually accompanied by music. It is based on the rhythmic squatting and grunting by a group of men who poo in trees, or the ‘pappers’ of rural legend. Women were never allowed to honk one out at height – following a decree by papal envoys to England who, in 1470, stated that ‘womene who pooeth in the trees will be besette by licce and furevver live in synne.’
Implements such as sticks, swords, handkerchiefs and bells were traditionally wielded by the pappers as they sat and squeezed in the high boughs of oak trees, which, by a country mile, were the pappers of legend favourite receptacle. In a small number of rituals, the act of pushing out some dirty sausages, or the ‘papping’ was carried out while a young virgin girl from the local village stood at the foot of the chosen tree and shrilly blew a clay whistle to ward off both evil spirits and any foul maleveont odours.
Claims that English records dating back to 1448 mention pooing in trees are perhaps inaccurate. There is no mention of papping or pappers earlier than the late 15th century, although early records such as Bishops’ Pappis de bogge de tre mention pooing on tree roots, ‘hooling’ or urinating on bark to ward off evil spirits, and other papping style practices, such as the use of leaves, sticks and badger corpses as rudimentary cleft cleansing devices. Modern historians now agree that these Tudor practices bore the fruit of the modern pooing in trees movement.
These days and quite correctly doing a number two in a big tree is commonly thought of as a mainly English activity, although there are around 150 ‘papping’ groups in Iowa, Arizona and Northern Canada. British Expatriates have also done much to spread the art of fudging on a big branch in the Far East and Australasia, where up until 1963 it was still legal to wipe one’s crack on a live Koala.
Other countries too have their own dumping in undergrowth traditions, perhaps none more so than Austria and the small Alpine town of Vorsprungdurchtechnik. Each year, residents of the town clamour together in a small field to the west of the village to clear their pipes in the thick gorse bushes so renowned in the area. Indeed, a small statue Crappenupindetrees made by Erasmus Rubber in 1768 stands tall and erect as a reminder of the town’s pride in its outdoor brown drowning traditions. Visitors come from far and wide to see the spectacle and its not unknown for protagonists to bake one in the tummy oven for days before the event, to ensure those attending do not leave disappointed.For myself and all purists though, snipping off Chewbacca’s fingers in a tree will remain an English tradition – one remaining bastion against the legion of foreign imports which so blight our land, like Burger King, Clinton Cards, Curry’s Electrical, pancakes and vegetable samosas.
More rural rumblings from Britain’s foremost idiot Barry Frontalcheese next time folks!