Letter: Pretty insulting

Sir: Marianne Macdonald's article on the selection of Holsworthy's 'Pretty Maid' by the church elders of the town (Ritual Britain, 7 July), brought back memories.

At the Methodist church I attended in the Sixties and Seventies, the annual selection of the Sunday School May Queen was just such a beauty contest. Had I known in advance which Sunday it was to take place, I would no doubt have been indisposed, but no warning was given.

All girls of a certain age were required to parade in front of the entire Sunday School, carrying numbered cards, and endure or enjoy whatever insults or wolf whistles were hurled at us.

Those of us who groaned loudly at being forced to take part were killjoys who couldn't see when something was just a bit of harmless fun.

Needless to say, my breathtaking piety, wit, charm and devotion to jumble sale duties didn't ensure me any success over the five years or so I was obliged to take part. The prettiest maid won every time.

Yours - a lapsed Methodist,


Ripon, North Yorkshire

7 July