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Author Topic: Downton Meadhall  (Read 7504 times)

Bowerthane

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Downton Meadhall
« on: August 01, 2017, 02:11:21 PM »


Anyone for deference? 

Or knows of any good book going into the history of domestic service in medieval times, or anything like our period?  Only in the course of actual writing of this kiddies’ book of mine it has borne in on me that I know too little in any detail as to just what domestic servants would be doing at this or that point in the day and, more importantly, how interpersonal relations between household servants and the eorlisc folk actually worked out, on a day-to-day basis.

Awkwardly, I found only one decent history book about domestic service in Peterborough Central Library.  Of this the first chapter proved to be a round-up of what little is known about domestic service before mid-Victorian times, what with this being an ill-recorded aspect of social history because it was not considered worth writing about, at the time.  What little seems to be known, for instance that in Jacobean times the gentry thought nothing of roping their servants into parlour games whereas, by Late Victorian times, domestic staff had become “living statues” with whom any kind of social interaction was more or less unthinkable, or that in Elizabethan times there was nothing infra dig about young noblemen functioning as personal servants, all left me less confident than before about how this side of life worked out in an Old English meadhall, whether in early tenth-century Mercia or elsewhither.

The remaining chapters concentrated on the 1850s-1950s phase although that has persuaded me that social, personal and practical reasons would tend to conspire to re-create a position roughly equivalent to a Victorian lady’s maid in any male-dominated, hierarchical society in which domestic servants were normal.  Eanflaed knows because that’s what the “lady-in-waiting [ who] strung Lady Ethelflæda’s bow with a jerk as unfeminine as it was professional” she’s read about, when Lord Athelred’s court tools up for the wolfhunt, amounts to.  She’s called Heregyth of Gloucester by the way and she’s shaping up as an astute and resourceful right-hand woman, as well as a trusted confidante, of her mistress.  Likewise I was relieved and a bit chuffed to feel vindicated in something I had already portrayed, that most ealdormenn and many another high-status warrior have a sword-bearer whose functions cover roughly the same ground as those of a batman/ valet/ gentleman’s gentleman/ kind of thing.  So much so that some of mine don’t do any actual sword-bearing, it’s just a way to denominate a senior manservant who enjoys his lord’s personal confidence ( and either way some boy had to polish the sword).

Yet none of that leaves me very far ahead.  Maybe the Victorian custom of “living statues” is close to how slaves were regarded by eorlisc folk, and again, as Eanflaed has read, already I’ve portrayed the slaves in Lord Edgekeen’s hall as the only ones who don’t stare clean through the slaves.  Also I just happen to be reading Inventing the Individual by Larry Siedentop ( Penguin Books 2014, ISBN 978-0-141-00954-4, tasty bit of intellectual history, don’t miss it) and he refers to the Classical world’s attitude to slaves as that of “living tools” who were “socially dead” and how, whilst that attitude waned under Christian influence, it was still one to be reckoned with in Carolingian times.  Correct me if I’m wrong Eanflaed, but I don’t think I can be accused of romanticising our period when it comes to the cruelties of slavery.  I think I’ve pulled only the punches one had better pull in a book targeted at nine-to-fourteen-year-olds.   

I’m certainly still in two minds as to how the status-consciousness of more recent domestic servants, and their own hierarchies, are any kind of bum-steer for how well or badly their Old English counterparts resembled them.  One can imagine how free servants would dislike being confused with the slaves, but would other free commoners regard their work as demeaning in an age when ‘democratic rights and civil liberties’ was a meaningless jumble of syllables, and the rest of society was one, big pecking order anyway?  I can believe that bagsing the candle-ends would be a perquisite for a senior servant in a meadhall as it once was in stately homes, but what could be the equivalent of slivers of soap or indeed their high folk’s old clothes?  If a pious hláford or hlǽfdiġe preferred to give cast-offs to the poor, would servants resent a mæsse-préost who encouraged him or her to do so? 

And so on.


Then one of the women in my life lent me the DVD of Gosford Park.  Which proved to be far better than I expected and the success of which, I learned, gave rise to that series Downton Abbey.  This I have been cheerfully ignoring all these years, but lately snapped up a DVD of the first series in the Bernado’s across the road.

All of which has got me thinking again.  Things like, “What’s that bolshy cow mean by moving in on the village hospital?” “Ooooh, what a lovely horse!” “Eugh, a left-footman!” “Ooh... more lovely horses” and “Keep an eye on that gobby Fenian stirrer of a chauffeur, I would” and yet, also, what might be the Old English equivalent to having one’s morning newspaper ironed for one?  And please nobody say “Run over a herald with an oxwain”: serious suggestions as there is a serious chance, here, to strike a blow against preconceptions of the Old English as rough and rustic folk ( think of Cedric’s meadhall in Ivanhoe) and here is an opportunity to make clear that they must have had their fair share of social niceties, even if we are thrown back on guesswork for just what form they took.  Already my child characters of ċeorlisc backgrounds have learned that “worshipping with the woses” is a courtly U-phemism for answering a call of nature, that it’s non-U to blow your nose on tablecloths, and how to hitch a cloak so U don’t trawl up a wake of rushes behind you when presenting yourself to your hláford at his friþ-seat.

The other hitch is that, forced to lean on distant times and places for the broad strokes, I fear my portrayals of Lord Athelred’s court, and of the households of those his ealdormenn on which it is billeted, in action will begin to slither towards Downton Abbey despite my better judgement.  If they haven’t already and they really mustn’t.  They have to stand on their own as a plausible re-creations of life at an early medieval Old English court ( or an ealdormann’s household well on its way to evolving into a court, which is the stage Lord Athelred’s has reached at the time my child characters show up there) consonant with the best historical knowledge, no matter to how many imaginary substitutes for the real details I end up resorting. 

Which is where you, my fellow ġesìþas come in!  Any chance of shouting out some suggestions folks, or at least a reality check?  Or can anyone recommend any other sources of information about domestic service, as long ago as possible?  So far Downton Abbey has helped most in making me realise why the Frankish legate to Lord Athelred’s court had to be replaced, if you remember that misadventure with the oversexed Turkish diplomat who croaked in Lady Mary Crawley’s room, in episode two. 

( Foreigners, huh.)





PS: It did occur to me that the tensions ( not to say turf battles) that could crop up between head cooks and head butlers in stately homes may well be innate to the organisation of an Old English meadhall too, only it would be the head cook ( out in the cookhouse or bakehouse) wiþ the head steward/ seneschal.  However, my portrayal is a special case in which Lady Ethelflæda is effectively her and her husband’s own head steward, so their court doesn’t bother with a formal or official one, so-named.  Until Lord Athelred’s death of course, when her nibs has to worry more about dragonships than sauce boats.   

PPS: Not that the lady of the hall’s duties were wholly domestic.  What else I have discovered is that medieval manors invariably had an adjoining ‘home farm’ that supplied the day-to-day and maybe other needs of the household.  Insofar as a medieval noblewoman oversaw the running of her household ( viz, didn’t leave it all to a steward or seneschal) the ‘woman’s domain’ was hardly confined to childcare, cooking, needlework and housekeeping, but called for some knowledge of farming, estate management and market mechanisms too.  I have portrayed Lady Ethelflæda drawing upon hers in a ( hopefully not boring) passing mention of how she teaches mathematics to my child characters, counting in sesters of honey and sheaves of barley.

PPPS: How on earth can a series like Downton Abbey need eight stuntmen?  Nobody’s begun jumping out of windows yet, that I can see, or even cleared a hedge on horseback high enough to pull negative Gs on the way down ( which can cause accidents as this gives your head an adrenaline ‘high’ – the stereotype of the happy-brained tally-ho foxhunter does have a basis in reality).  Nineteen twelve is too early for Fathers for Justice and anyhow they knew how to dress in those days, the costumes would be splashy enough.  Does the series end in the Trenches or does somebody run away to join a circus?






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The moral right of the author to identify that stoneware mixing bowl in the kitchens on Gosford Park, used by Mrs Croft the head cook, as exactly the same make as his mother had in the early 1970s, when he was little, has been asserted.

Eanflaed

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Re: Downton Meadhall
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2017, 12:20:44 AM »
I haven't read it yet, Bowerthane, but "The Meadhall" by Stephen Pollington (Anglo-Saxon Books) might help a bit. There are some helpful-looking chapter headings anyway. Otherwise, you may have to use guesswork about slaves etc, after all if there is no information available you can't be proved wrong! Unless you get really fanciful, which I'm sure you won't. Just go with your gut on it - as an AS lord, what would you think about slaves (if you thought at all about them!)?

Bowerthane

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Re: Downton Meadhall
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2017, 03:21:24 PM »
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“The Meadhall” by Stephen Pollington (Anglo-Saxon Books) might help a bit.
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Aha, right! That sounds as if it ought to, doesn’t it?  I’m tracking down a copy as you read this...

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[A]fter all if there is no information available you can't be proved wrong!
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Well yes I could just make up shit exploit this opportunity to be as creative as I like and otherwise Just Get The Hell On With It.  And to a certain extent I already have, if only ‘cause I’ve no bleedin’ choice.  As newbies at court my child characters have been warned, “Don’t use the slaves’ well, they’ll spit in your drink!” and I’ve made mention of slaves having other perquisites.  General ones such as them having the left-overs left by the free servants who, in turn, are entitled to the left-overs from any banquets and the like, or local ones such as a Yuletide custom for Lord Ceolfrith of the Lyme and Wirral to ride back from his St Stephen’s Day hunt through his front doors and drop the hares, birds, squirrels etc. the children have bagged on the way back at the foot of his longhearth, as a Yuletide treat for his slaves.  Those who work in and around Lord Guthlaf’s hall in Staffordshire get black puddings made from the blood of the boars he, Lord Athelred, Lady Ethelflæda and my child characters have been out hunting, as part of the end-of-harvest merrymaking, and so on.

Yet all this only focuses attention on quite how the free, unfree and the elite interacted and quite how they regarded one another.  And I don’t know whether to trust myself with any answers to the question “as an AS lord, what would you think about slaves” because I’m not really, am I?  I’m a legatee of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment and, in particular, there’s too much of Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and Ayn Rand in me to look upon the very idea of human slavery with anything but triple-barrelled loathing.  The real me would set ‘em all free.  If not before you can say “William Wilberforce” because, he found and as Adam Smith could have warned him, the incentives to learn a skill in slavery are almost as bad as the promotional prospects, so I’d organise some sort of apprentice scheme, first.  And improve the pay and conditions of the free servants.  And build a school for the children, give women the vote, hang Tony Blair etc.   

Would anyone else please throw in any thoughts and suggestions?  I wondered if any ġesìþas, if working or holidaying abroad, had any queer or disturbing experiences of societies less egalitarian than ours that might be suggestive?  One such I’ve pinched adapted that I heard off an ex-RAF, ex-policewoman who worked as a personal bodyguard to an eight-year-old Saudi princess.  Who in her innocence wanted a baby, an actual human baby, to play with and which her bodyguard, in her innocence, took for just a sweet little girl’s pipe dream when she left for a few weeks’ break back in Blighty.  Only to find on her return that, there in his or her own little crib, lay... a real human baby.  With whom the girl was playing, procured I shudder to think how by her loving parents.  This I have shamelessly plagiarised creatively re-worked as a story brought back from Constantinople by an Old English ealdormann and his kindred, entertained as guests by the Emperor Leo IV on their way to Jerusalem, and it is his eight-winters-old daughter they overhear wanting a baby to play with.  Of which they think much the same as the bodyguard until, as guests again on their way back from Jerusalem, sure enough there’s this real human baby.  With whom the girl, a little Byzantine princess, is playing. 

Saudi Arabia is the least bad comparison I can think of to how the Old English thought, insofar as any of them did ever think, of Byzantium, give or take the reputation the Indian princess had for opulence and despotism amongst the Victorians.  Beats me whether there is or ever was any better comparison, so by all means improve on that, who can!



PS:  I may have solved The Downton Abbey Mystery about the eight stuntmen.  If you slow-reel the scenes at the flower show, you can see a mixed martial arts fight break out just above Lady Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham’s right ear.  Then when the Earl of Grantham is having that Serious Talk with the young Duke of Crowborough, flitting behind them you can catch Barrow the left-footman taking a running jump out of the window screaming, “What d’you expect me to do, live a lie?”  Then in the deleted scenes you find that Lady Cora, the current Countess of Grantham exercises the same way as Lady Agatha out of The Curse of the Claw, on the trapeze.  Less than becoming for an English noblewoman of Edwardian times maybe, but one must make allowances.  She’s a Yank.

Unless of course there was any gunplay I missed.


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The moral right of the author to be identified as the Black Fingernail has been asserted.

Bowerthane

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Re: Downton Meadhall
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2017, 03:36:24 PM »
Oh cripes...

Eanflaed

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Re: Downton Meadhall
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2017, 07:47:17 PM »
I was watching Neil Oliver's series on the Vikings tonight (BBC 4 on play back) and he discussed the Vikings' slave trade at length in the second programme of the series, which might be of interest to your researches, Bowerthane. One thing he mentioned was that there appeared to be a hierarchy of slaves - some slave collars excavated in Dublin are more ornate and better quality than others. He speculated that the really flash collar could have gone round the neck of a captive king...Obviously this may not reflect Anglo-Saxon practices but at least it's contemporary.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2017, 11:52:36 PM by Eanflaed »

Phyllis

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Re: Downton Meadhall
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2017, 06:24:55 PM »
That sounds a bit like the Romans too - the Imperial slaves in the "Civil Service" were definitely a cut above a lot of people if I remember my O-Level rightly.
Phyllis

Bowerthane

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Re: Downton Meadhall
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2017, 01:01:14 PM »

Gosh, thanks Jenny and Phyllis. 

A “hierarchy of slaves”, eh?  I can believe that a slave with a skill or trade, an experienced fowler say, would be rated higher than an elderly or crippled one, and I recall now that in the Classical world girls of elite backgrounds, if enslaved, were thought to make good nursemaids-cum-governesses.  Then of course the Romans imported many educated Greek slaves when they conquered Greece, didn’t they?  Such that many Roman lads in senatorial families had a Greek tutor, and the ensuing Hellenophilia gave Virgil such a hump he stalked off and wrote the Aenid

It also occurs to me that slaves, like free servants, of long standing may develop a more trusted and intimate relationship with their masters and mistresses.  The ones who end up “as much one of the family as a servant/ slave can be”.  You haven’t met him yet, but there is a Welsh slave-boy named Gwyon in my children’s book who is almost a brother to Lady Ethelflæd’s and Lord Athelred’s daughter, Ælfwynn, which as you know I’ve simplified to Elfwen.  Originally Gwyon was bought as a sweet-natured playmate from whom Elfwen could learn Welsh, since I portray the Old Mercian and Welsh aristocracies on visiting terms with each other, usually, and that means banqueting, hunting and heroic poetry.  So I’ve portrayed adequate Welsh as a desirable social accomplishment for upper-class Mercians, at least away from the Welsh Marches where I portray bilingualism as common amongst all social groups, mixed marriages still not raising eyebrows and where thanes and midshieldsmen ( a senior NCO status I’ve invented, anywhere you like between a modern-day platoon sergeant and a US master sergeant) need to know how to give orders in both languages.  By the time my other child characters meet Gwyon, Elfwen is fluently bilingual and Gwyon has developed into an all-round dogsbody and family pet. 

Also, I don’t suppose you ever saw my favourite ever, ever film: Escape from Sobibor ( Global 1987)?  It tells the true story of the only successful mass breakout of Jewish inmates from a Nazi extermination camp, 14th October 1943.  One trick the survivors learned was to whisper to newbies, stepping fresh off the train, to tell the Nazis they were seamstresses or cobblers by trade, since that gave them a chance of being kept back from the gas chambers to process the property of the victims.  Particularly seamstress and cobbler since those inmates with dress- and shoe-making skills could teach a newbie quickly enough to fool the Nazis in charge of them.

So it occurs to me that there may be more of an incentive for learning a skill in slavery than I expected.  Granted a skilled slave, and never mind a literate one, could expect better treatment.   

Also you’ve jogged my memory about something I heard about Negro slavery in the Old South, with echoes of the same in the Classical world: women were supposed to make the best and the worst of slave-owners.  The best if she is kindhearted, like the widowed mother of my twin-sister characters, Ashwen and Godwen, who owns two slave-girls but treats them like family, so theirs is very much an all-girls-together household.  The worst if, like a certain Massa’s wife on a sugar-cane plantation, she is capricious and cruel enough to order a Black man nailed to a tree by his ears for allegedly looking at her ankles as she stepped from her carriage. 

In an Old English context, given that slave-masters would have sexual access to their female slaves, I wonder if it wasn’t their wives who made sure the custom about female slaves having to have their hair cut short was observed?   

Any of the spindle-kin care to, er, comment on that, I wonder?

( I happen to be reading The Power by Naomi Alderman too, if anyone knows about that? Sorta The Midwich Cuckoos in skirts.  Don’t be too critical, lads!)







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The moral right of the author to identify Jack Shepherd as Itzhak Lichtman has been asserted.  Lichtman was one of the leaders who was re-united with his wife in the woods after the breakout, and was still alive when the film was made.  Jack Shepherd is the same actor who played the Master of Jordan College in The Golden Compass and sorely underrated all round if you ask me.  They didn’t even give him a credit in Escape from Sobibor

David

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Re: Downton Meadhall
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2017, 03:23:44 PM »
In the laws of king Ӕðelbeorht of Kent there is definitely a hierarchy of slaves. For example
 
Ġif man wið cyninges mæġ denman geliġeþ, L scillinga ġebete. Ġif hīo grindede þēowa sīo XXV scillinga ġebete. Sīo þridde XII shillingas.
 
If a person lies with a maid of the king, he shall pay 50 shillings. If she be a grinding slave, (he) shall pay 25 shillings. If third(-class), 12 shillings.

Bowerthane

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Re: Downton Meadhall
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2017, 03:05:40 PM »

Thank you David.


I’ve been a’googling trying to see if slavery tends to fall into any patterns that might explain those distinctions.  Yet I came up with nothing better than the one common sense might suggest: men, women and children.  For instance, the Muslim slave-traders who brought African slaves into the Middle East over the Sahara or up the east coast of Africa preferred women and children as they were less trouble.

Can you think of any such tendency that might explain King Æðelbeorht’s threefold distinction?  I’m guessing you’d have uploaded comparable Old English instances if you knew of any, so what if I were to back the ( gloomy) hunch that it probably reflects custom and practice peculiar to Kent and the circumstances of King Æðelbeorht’s day?

However, I am just old enough to remember the demarcation that UK trades unions used to insist upon in many closed shops, and the demarcation disputes to which these could give rise, based on differentials.  If memory serves these could be based on several things, but usually fell into a distinction between skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled employees and that pay differentials were insisted upon to reflect this.  That is: higher grades had to be paid more that the one below regardless of the claims of productivity, business sense or economic literacy.  Again this is on the cusp of my recollection ( I was born in 1965) but unions were once insistent about something called a “family wage” or “living wage” as skilled men were assumed to be family men with households to support, and competition ( real or imagined) with female labour could cause disputes as women were assumed to be working for “pin money”.  However, as anyone who saw Dad’s Army* will know, pay differentials also reflected social standing.  One of the great hidden hands in the UK class system was the subdivisions of social class between working-class people themselves ( or ourselves, as I am authentic rural proletariat and I can still do the funny voice to prove it), since skilled men were definitely considered a cut above semi-skilled, everyone looked down on the merely unskilled, and never mind the Gypos, tramps, floozies** etc.  Ġesìþas may know that Captain Mainwaring got to be the captain because he was the bank manager, but maybe not that Sergeant Wilson got to be the sergeant because he was the bank clerk ( skilled and white-collar) and that Corporal Jones got to be the corporal because he was the butcher, butchers being the sort of royal dukes of skilled blue-collar men because meat was considered essential to the diet.

So... what if I assumed the Old English tended to think in terms of skilled semi-skilled and unskilled, amongst slaves as indeed generally, and that King Æðelbeorht’s law is giving us a glimpse of some such thing in action?



Another difference between slaves and free workers I’ve been reminded about is guild membership.  In the event of accident, illness, injury or old age a slave was quite possibly screwed.  Co-incidentally I happen to be reading The Pinch by David Willetts, in the first chapter of which he gives that thanes’ guild from Cambridge in the late tenth century as an example of how far back self-help stretches and how it was not confined to families, even extended families.  Friendly societies used to fulfil a similar function, and provide for weddings and funerals ( to which the Co-op’s funeral services is the nearest thing left) in this country before the rise of the welfare state, though I think friendly societies do cling on in a niche market, and trades unions once arranged insurance against sickness and unemployment, too.   

How do you suppose enslavement affected a member of a guild?  If an enslaved guild-member died, were his guild-fellows still bound to fetch his body and bury it decently?  Is there evidence of guilds insuring against enslavement, in that they would try to buy an enslaved member out of slavery, or litigate on his behalf?  Is anything known about such contingencies?   

Willetts also made me realise that Old English guilds may be the best examples of people doing on purpose something which, according to natural selection and evolutionary psychology, all we Homo sapiens do unwittingly: be political animals.  It’s all got to do with the question some have raised against the ‘selfish’ gene, in the light of social and emotional bonding and reciprocal altruism, and the answer to it: that figuratively selfish genes by no means necessarily militate towards literal selfishness in individuals.  Rather the opposite in that the survival advantage behind emotional and social bonding lies in how it enables hominids to survive better in groups than as lone wolves, rather like a friendly society, guild or a cash-free DIY insurance co-operative.  The ‘premium’ you pay is that of pulling your weight and acting like you give a damn as a member of a kinship-group of hunter-gatherers, and the ‘cover’ you get is that, if you’re the unlucky one who falls in the rapids or gets chased by the woolly rhinoceros, the other members of your kinship-group ( your ‘significant others’) will do what they can do, because they like you, and you’re handy to have about.  Or at least, hominids who didn’t band together on this basis dealt their genes out of the pack, because sooner or later they all came to one or another sticky end because there was nobody nearby who saw any reason to dig them out of whatever poo they’d got themselves into.

This is how evolutionary psychology vindicates Aristotle’s point about humans being political animals because, like the jury principle, we are more intelligent in a group because our strengths can cover one another’s weaknesses ( IIRC social experiments using groups in mazes bear this out, too).  Now I think there were fraternities amongst the Orphics and certain gods’ devotees in Classical Greece ( I’m sure one god was Asclepius) that cover some of the same ground as this and Old English guilds but, again if memory serves, the evidence is seldom very clear and they do not seem to be all-singing, all-dancing guilds of the Old English kind.  I think dedicated Asclepians went Dutch on a kind of DIY sickness insurance, and the Orphics of course pooled their resources for funerals, but generally I think they were nearer to dining clubs than any kind of guild or friendly society.

The other thing is that Old English guilds are still with us.  At least in London, as many of the liveried guilds there are of pre-Conquest foundation.

And they may have originated as the best on-purpose examples of one of the keys to human survival...     







*PS: Did anybody catch the new Dad’s Army film? Never in my life would I have dreamed anyone could hold a candle to Clive Dunn as Corporal Jones, but damn me Tom Courtenay did it!  Otherwise I’d rate the film as a so-so comedy that wasn’t the Dad’s Army as I enjoyed it, frightfully so in that Toby Jones was abysmally miscast ( Warmington-on-Sea home guard was not led by a deformed dwarf, FFS) but it’s worth watching just to see Tom Courtenay pull off Corporal Jones. 

**PPS: Not so long ago Fenlanders and people from Stanground in Peterborough looked down upon each other in this way.  Some people think ‘Fen rat’ is an insult, you know!  Whereas Stangrundians are thin-skinned about snobbery, real or imagined, and have a reputation for being chippy, so they can be wound up by just about anything.  As a born and bred Fen rat with a mother from Stanground, I had to watch my mouth lest I be seen as a traitor to both camps...

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The moral right of the author to identify Areala the Warrior Nun as his top Marvel comic superhero has been asserted.

Bowerthane

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Re: Downton Meadhall
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2018, 02:57:41 PM »
You just can’t win, can you?


Instead of taking my Downton Abbey DVD set back to Barnado's I’ve been hanging on to it, party in case it proves more useful for my kiddies’ book, partly because I find it therapeutic, sometimes, to have a DVD on in the background whilst I’m proofreading.  Only nothing too interesting so it won’t stop me working.   

This is how I thought I’d arrived at the serious explanation for that bit of joshy nonsense about all those stuntmen.  In episode six the young and impressionable Lady Sybil slips off to that rowdy political meeting, an evil from which she is delivered by Branson the Fenian chauffeur and that second aunt of hers, Mrs Crawley the do-gooder debint from darkest Manchester, when it begins to boil over.  Enough, most likely, to explain what a mellow and sedate series about domestic service in Edwardian times should be doing with eight stuntmen.


Now guess what happened last night?  Only I couldn’t help but notice, in the end credits to episode one, it said “Stunt Co-ordinator/ Andy Bradford”. 

In episode one.  That’s the pilot episode in which nothing more physical happens than when Miss O’Brien, that conniving cow of a lady’s maid, trips over poor Bates, the new valet with the dickey leg, when the staff assemble to greet the Duke of Crowborough. 

So that’s me back to square one.  Wondering whether I missed the train crash or the custard-pie fight or the flashback to Carson’s time in the music halls, celebrated for his 200-foot somersault into a giant batter pudding. 

Unless the Dowager Lady Crawley was taken hostage in the St Trinian’s Mutiny of 1881*, or something?





*This is true. It's in the novel.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2018, 02:59:46 PM by Bowerthane »

Bowerthane

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Re: Downton Meadhall
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2021, 10:12:20 PM »
Just had a chance to watch the 'Downton Abbey' film.


Guess what?  My mum's old mixing bowl did not one but two cameos, the second when that French chef chucked it aside.


It was  :)  great.


Now if I have another chance to watch it, I'll see if I can't find out what that fuss about the visitor was all about...








« Last Edit: September 11, 2021, 10:14:27 PM by Bowerthane »