Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hug a medievalist day, with thanks

This from the New Yorker.

by Macy Halford

Today is International Hug a Medievalist Day. Do I really want to hug a medievalist?, you wonder. Yes! you do. Medievalists are the best kind of historian, in my opinion (which is why I majored in medieval history in college): they are always very interested in the body, the bawdy, and the beautiful, by which I mean they have a profound interest in the nitty-gritty of Western culture—in its material composition and the spiritual and intellectual urges that give rise to it. Perhaps because they delight in details and see worlds within them, medievalists are uniformly possessed of an excellent if slightly juvenile sense of humor, which becomes more pronounced when they drink and their inherent social awkwardness wears off. They drink most nights, usually at dimly lit pubs or sitting in tight clusters on the floors of grad-student apartments, and they prefer to drink red wine or ale. The caveat to this is that at least once a year, in every medievalist cluster, someone has the idea of hosting a medieval-themed party, at which they serve a) mulled wine b) mincemeat pies and c) some multi-animal mishmash like turducken. If you are very unfortunate, someone will attempt rabbit stew with cinnamon and mace, which no one will eat. But such comical failures are part and parcel of the medievalist lifestyle.

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(I have never had the idea of hosting a medieval themed party, though I did once participate in an all night reading of Beowulf which was lubricated by some devastating ale brewed, we were told, to an Old Icelandic recipe.

So here's thanks to all the saints and scholars, the gentle lunatics and social misfits, the straight geniuses, the professional teachers and the ones who didn't mean to but did, to all those who preserved the field, the antiquarians, archivists, librarians, the amateurs when there was no profession, who have , one way or another, helped and hindered along the way.
Many thanks.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"I'm so happy now Saint Patrick's day is over".

All together now:

I'm so Happy now Saint Patrick's day is over
And all the silly hats are thrown away
And all the plastic paddies have gone back into the clover
But I know they'll return another day.

(Saint Patrick's Dance in San Fernandao)

Although, we did have a good time. For once we played all night and weren't swamped by the noise of drunks telling irish jokes in fake accents.
But I can't connect it to the people I grew up with.


For Brendan, who told it this way:
There’s these two fellas, see
they’d come across after the war
he and his misses, and the friend.
They worked on the production line.
You know the kind of character
who drinks his tea and has his breakfast
while the misses cut him sandwiches.
When he came home from work,
his tea was always on the table,
he never knew or cared where it was coming from.

And then of course, she ups and dies.
That left him and his mate.
The two of them, without a clue!
But there’s this neighbour, down the road,
came across from Galway, in the fifties,
He put them straight.
Gave them tips for making stew.
And then the factory shut down.

I went there, once, After his misses died.
He said: You know, I’d like to top myself.
But if I did, they’d send me down below
and she’d be up above,. We’d never meet again.
I couldn’t stand that. I told him about tins.
There’s good stuff in them cans these days