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Snatch Valentine

Writer Laura Joyce follows Jack Valentine down the streets of Norwich where she reflects on the pleasures and the pains of gift-giving.

In this series of Essays, we usher you into a secret world of hidden folklore. Five young writers explore the odder, darker corners of English tradition: this is not an England of bluetits, roses and white cliffs, nor of country lanes and thatched cottages, but an invitation into a compendium of bizarre and sometimes creepy rural rituals.

Each writer lives or has lived in the area. Their impression of the event stirs childhood memories, fires new convictions, deepens an understanding of ritual and reveals the awkward transposition of ancient ceremonies in contemporary life. In the final essay, the Japanese poet Lila Matsumoto takes her visiting parents to a Staffordshire horn dance.

This series attempts to hear younger witnesses writing for the times in which we live: dispatches on Englishness from the weird frontline.

Snatch Valentine

Valentine’s Day in Norfolk and other parts of Eastern England was a children’s festival, where Jack Valentine would appear on the night before, mysteriously leaving a gift for the younger members of the house. But the unluckiest Norfolk children were faced with the ordeal of Snatch Valentine, where the gift was suddenly taken away from them. Writer Laura Joyce follows Jack Valentine down the streets of Norwich. Laura lived in Norwich for many years, and her essay is both a celebration of and a valedictory note to the city. In an elegiac piece, she reflects on the pleasures and the pains of gift-giving.

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14 minutes

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