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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
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Sunday, 13 April 2014

Brock out-strutted

We set out for beer and sandwiches at The Bull at Craswell, a remote pub on the ridge that defines Golden Valley, setting for the Anthony Hopkins movie, Shadowlands. It's been years since I drove the route and I lost my way on impossibly narrow country roads with grass growing in the middle.

We never made The Bull but we came upon a strange sight: a badger - in broad daylight - trying to cross the road into a field, but being held back by a handful of sheep who moved backwards and forwards on the other side of a wire fence, blocking each outflanking move he made. Both Professional Bleeder and son Ian thought the badger for the Bull was a fair swap.

We ordered sandwiches at The Pandy Inn at Dorstone where shouts of anger, followed by a slammed door, rose from the kitchen and a pretty, overworked girl - close to tears at one point - worked the bar and served the tables. Service was much delayed but, as you can imagine, we'd have paid extra for the drama.

Poetry service, run by RR as a tribute to the late poetry-loving Joe Hyam.

Deo gratias Anglia
Redde pro victoria.

Our king went forth to Normandy
With grace and might of chivalry,
There God for him wrought marvellously,
Wherefore England may call and cry
Deo gratias, etc,

Reasons why. Fifteenth century carol, better sung - shouted? - plainsong style,  stamping like a knight's charger. Latin translates as: England, give thanks to God for victory. Wars aren’t my bag: certainly when claimed as God-driven. But the declamatory style cannot be bettered: six words (third line) summarises the whole campaign, "grace" is so persuasive it's forgivable, "wrought" (obsolete in 2014?) seems inevitable.



mike M said...

Wrought not ob. Not while I'm livin'.

Lucy said...

That's a good comment what thou has wrought, Mike.

Mediaeval England was brutal, squalid, ignorant, riddled with fear and superstition, but you can't quite escape the impression it was kind of merry too.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

That badger photo: is that its mouth at the top? I can't make out whether its head is looking up or whether what looks like the face is actually the neck?

mike M said...

Natalie: the 3 white lines converge to the nose. Mr. Badger is looking over his right shoulder, perhaps wondering, as I am, who Brock is.

Roderick Robinson said...

MikeM: But the tide may be against you. By all means hang on to "wrought" and, by the same token, hunt quail with an arquebus. But eventually common usage, alas, supplants precise meaning. One version of "wrought" does survive in "overwrought" (as well as in wrought iron) but the connection is rather more tenuous.

Lucy: This supposition sits rather uneasily with that opinion about showers you recently advanced. Stick to my reason for not taking them as often as one might: it's hard to read while doing so.

Natalie: Come on, Nat. That's a perfectly good photo of a badger, your misinterpretation is wilful. Anyone would think you were a townie.

MikeM: Brock, slang name for badger dating back centuries. I had thought the word appeared in Wind In The Willows but a quick burst of research, the only sort I go in for, suggests he is always referred to as, simply, Badger. Neat explanation, by the way, in keeping with your tendency to spend words as if they were sovereigns.

Lucy said...

Merry if smelly. I like reading in the bath but no longer take baths except when away from home. Is that the actual badger you saw?

Beth said...

Have never seen a badger but would greatly like to. Loved the story of your dramatic meal. And now you have me humming a different version of "deo gratias" -- Britten's in Ceremony of Carols.

Blonde Two said...

"Wrought" is giving me problems. I think it is a word that should be saved from extinction but how might I turn, "The Blonde wrought havoc on her adversaries." into, "The Blonde is ...ing havoc on her adversaries." Apparently "wreaking" is not correct (even if you go round it - you can explain that one RR).

Not too big a problem though as with my lack of R's they would emerge as "wart" and "weaking".

mike M said...

Wrought is past and past participle of "work". Wreak means to inflict. Saved you some seconds there, Robbie.

Roderick Robinson said...

Lucy: Economising on your own water bill? Doesn't sound like you. To tell the truth I've only just discovered the usefulness of showers following the installation of a proper, powerful and instantaneous unit over the bath in our main bathroom - for use by a theoretical but almost extinct group of people, our guests. In and out in less than five minutes, with no more "curd patrol" afterwards. Previously I only took baths and all lasted an hour; but new lights in the ceiling and diminishing eyesight inhibit reading these days.

Alas the badger pic is "borrowed" from Google Images. Would that we'd had a camera available (Is that a subjunctive?), the badger appeared to be snarling at the sheep. Then grumbled like buggery as we followed him along the lane, slowly and unthreateningly in the car, until he turned off into the woods.

Beth: It was indeed a privilege and - if you like - an act of solidarity on our part. Badgers are being culled in the adjacent county of Gloucestershire in a controversial government programme to stop the spread of bovine TB. Only the farmers are convinced, plus a few reluctant pols in DEFRA.

Another act of solidarity. I've sung that version of DG in a school choir: the range is not wide, but the stresses require a few runs through. Trust it wasn't an earworm for you.

Blonde Two/MikeM: MikeM (my new ADC) is correct. "Wrought" it seems is often misinterpreted as the past tense of "wreak", with both erroneously cropping up in the phrase "wrought/wreak havoc". But I have to say I was tempted until I indulged in the little egg-relative-to-face verification.

My inclination is to see it as a secondary meaning of "work", the one referring to shaping. In fact that may be what MikeM had in mind.

Obviously there is a slight difference of meaning in the poem. Perhaps "achieved".

In the post I speculated whether "wrought" was by now obsolete. Both of you vigorously said "Nay" and I join you in that. But given the misunderstanding it may deserve to be. The ambiguity doesn't help.

mike M said...

I've long held the belief that badgers are ill tempered and vicious. I think they were often portrayed that way in the "wild kingdom" TV of my youth. Even a fairly bold creature, badger sized, will be intimidated by a slow moving vehicle. They are oddly unable to sense the intentions of the car's occupants, or perhaps even that the car HAS occupants. Had you been able to get him into the vehicle with you, saving him a few steps, there's no doubt he's have shucked off his mood.