The Maldovarium

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    Craig @craig

    Once again, I have to apologise for my absence. I really hope to be back again now and will be posting more episodes soon.

    I’ve been a little distracted. If you don’t know (not sure if I mentioned it), my department got closed down so my colleagues and I all lost our jobs. Then I got another job, and got fired from that after a month. But I was kinda glad to get fired as I hated it. So back to being jobless. But now I know there’s worse fates than being jobless.

    Thought I’d tell you a little story about what helped prompt me back.

    I popped down to the shops last Sunday. There was a couple outside the supermarket trying the door. But it shuts at 5pm on a Sunday.

    Me being a helpful person, as I was passing I said “If you want a supermarket there’s a Sainsbury’s Local round the corner, about 2 minutes away, that stays open until 10pm.

    They said “Thanks, we’re just looking for a couple of spices but Sainsbury’s could be the best bet”. But there are also a couple of Middle Eastern shops near the supermarket so I said they could always try there first.

    And then I looked at the guy as I was chatting to him – he was wearing a white baseball cap pulled down but I thought I recognised him.

    It was only Matt Smith. Not a joke.

    I said “Are you Matt?” and he said yes so I said “Pleasure to meet you”. He said “You too, boss.” We shook hands and then I left them to it (Not one for celebrity selfies, me! Or mentioning I run a Doctor Who forum!)

    Was cool though. I gave Doctor Who some directions regarding space and time. ūüôā

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    @craig What an awesome story! (Not the bit about your employment woes…that bit is a bummer.)

    But the fact that you should run into Matt Smith and give him directions in space and time. Fabulous!

    Clearly, you are our Emperor for many reasons!



    winston @winston

    @craig¬†¬† Wow!¬† Your helpful¬† manner paid off big time. You gave the 11th Doctor directions in time and space. You are “the boss”. I would probably have gone mute and not even asked him if he was Matt. Then I would have walked away wishing I had said a 100 things. I am pretty sure that I will never bump into any of the Doctors in my little town but if I do….I will be polite and leave them alone.I am Canadian eh!

    I really hope things work out for you on the job front, we are all pulling for you.

    janetteB @janetteb

    Hi @craig Lovely to hear from you but not so good re’ the job situation. Still being unemployed has its’ benefits as I have discovered these past few years. Trouble is I find I am just as busy if not more so than an employed person but not getting paid for it. What I do is a hell of a lot more rewarding though and hopefully benefits others too.

    Loved the story about meeting Matt. How wonderful, especially as you did not know who he was when you started talking to him. You should have told him about the forum but I probably would not have done so either. It would be rather overwhelming to find that you are giving directions to the Doctor.




    janetteB @janetteb


    Exciting news re’ the Moff’s (and Sue Vertue’s) next project. I did really enjoy the book not least because I read it on the flight to the U.K in 2005, my first O.S. trip in over ten years so good associations. I hated the film. It was a let down in so many ways. Another series to add to the watch out for list..



    Missy @missy

    Hello there,

    I cannot believe that it’s been 2 months!

    Although I’m not looking forward to the next Doctor, I still want to be a member and commune with all you friendly people. So, whilst dinner is cooking, here is a precis of what I’ve been up to.

    My OH was in a car accident – T-boned I think it’s called. The fire brigade had to smash windows on the driver’s side and take the door off to get him out. Although he was rushed to hospital and into emergency, he escaped with only a bruise on one arm and one on his back! ??? No one could understand how he got out injury free, especially as he is nearly 83. They put it down to the fact that our car was a 1998 model and stronger than more modern cars.

    Unfortunately, it was his error, he didn’t notice a”Give Way” sign. So, we had to find finance for another car, plus all the checks, police, insurance – you know the kind of thing – then the shock set in. Ironically one month before, we’d paid for our funerals to save our kids the trouble. *rolls eyes*

    Needless to say, I hadn’t the heart to join all of you here. However, life has calmed down, loan almost paid off plus another car.

    Most of the threads I shan’t try to catch up with, only the 12th Doctor and notifications.

    be back soon.


    syzygy @thane16


    that sounds awful! I’m so sorry that happened. At least the injuries were minimal but certainly, dealing with new vehicles, insurance, titles is all very depressing.

    Some modern cars are pretty ‘light weight’ but more and more have 5 * safety ratings. After years with a 1989 Ford I finally purchased a new car 7 years ago with a terrific safety rating -and also comfortable. I think in Australia it’s almost impossible to be without a car of some kind.

    Stay safe and looking forward to new discussions.

    Puro and Thane

    MissRori @missrori

    So sorry to hear about your troubles Missy!¬† Take care and be happy… <3 <3

    MissRori @missrori

    @craig Sorry to hear you’ve had some really tough times.¬† I hope things turn around soon, and how cool that you encountered Matt!

    I don’t follow filming reports and such, and a recent shoulder injury’s still got me down, so I’ve been quiet too.¬† But hopefully Series 11 will give me lots to talk about!¬† ūüôā¬† Also, I made it to the RegenerationWho convention back in late March after all and got to meet Peter Capaldi.¬† So it isn’t all bad.¬† ūüėČ

    winston @winston

    @missy   So sorry your summer was so stressful but thank goodness everything and everyone  is getting better. Life just has to get in the way. Anyway I am very glad you are back and I like to read your posts.

    @missrori  It is good to hear from you again and I am sorry your injury has got you down.Soon you will have a new Doctor to distract you.

    @thane16  Canada has some pretty wide open spaces and it is hard to function without a car here too.

    Missy @missy

    <span class=”useratname”>@craig</span>
    <div class=”bbp-author-role”>How about that for a coincidence? Five minutes either way and it might never have happened.</div>
    <div>More like helping the Doctor in Spice and Thyme.</div>
    <div>Sorry *grins*</div>

    Missy @missy

    @thane16 @missrori @winston</div>

    Thank you so much for your kind wishes, it’s great to be back. My OH and I are more or less back to normal, I think the worst part was the thought of what might have been. *shudder*

    The one thing I did remember was Puro’s Birthday, hope she had a good one thane16.

    Did Peter live up to your expectations @missrori?


    Missy @missy


    I’ve done this again, don’t know what happened above?

    How about that for a coincidence? Five minutes either way and it might never have happened.
    More like helping the Doctor in Spice and Thyme.
    Sorry *grins*
    So sorry to hear about your job.  Are you looking for another?


    Missy @missy

    @pedant¬† My apologies for this delay, which I’ve explained.

    We will never agree and¬† I haven’t the energy to argue with you, life is too short. You keep your opinions and I (along with many others) will keep mine.


    Mudlark @mudlark


    Moving the conversation here, since it long ago wandered off topic for Spoilers.

    I sure hope those frogs are thankful!

    While I was putting the finishing touches to the pond – arranging pebbles on the shelving shallow end to enable hedgehogs and other small creatures to come down and drink, or pond life to climb in and out – they kept bobbing up to investigate with what looked like broad grins on their faces, but it’s hard to tell with frogs, really.¬† At least they are behaving as if less stressed now.

    As for working in 35C temperatures, I think that I became inured to that back in the notoriously hot summer of 1976 in England, when I was conducting an excavation on an exposed hillside and the daytime temperatures remained at that kind of level for over a week at a time. The situation wasn’t improved by the fact that the ploughsoil had been removed over an area of over hectare, exposing the subsoil of sandy clay and ironstone rubble, baked to something resembling the surface of Mars, from which the heat radiated like an oven. Understandably, I became quite lax in the matter of long lunch breaks.

    Thank you for posting the Hippopotamus song – always a favourite of mine among the Flanders and Swann oeuvre, but then I don’t think that I have ever outgrown the allure of mud pies ūüôā



    @thane16 @missy

    More likely a fluke of the angle of impact. A 1998 car isn’t significantly heavier than a modern car and things like impact absorbance zones were in common use by then. You didn’t mention whiplash, which suggests they worked as designed.

    PTSD’s a fucker. Keep an eye on that. It’s sneaky. Just when you think its gone, it bites back.


    There was a vintage and veteran car show in Olney a couple of months back (pix : here ).

    I spent some time talking to a lovely chap who owned a 1960 Morris Minor 1000 that was as close to factory condition as he could get it.

    Its front seats tipped forward, even though it was a four door car, because Morris didn’t bother to re-engineer from the two-door. But these seats did not lock down, so anything other than gentle braking causes them to tip.

    It had no seat belts, of course, so that tipping would pitch you out through the windscreen.

    It also had a shelf with a bar that gave the car lateral rigidity but which was placed perfectly to sever your legs at the knees when you were tipped out (you can see it in one of the pics).

    It is a thing of beauty, but it weighs probably 30% more than my Mini, it’s ancestral descendant, and on modern roads is a death trap in all but the most cautious and knowledgable hands.

    I trust that your new car has side-impact airbags and nice modern crumple-zones!



    Since you mentioned 1976:

    1976 and 2018 compared on a global scale:

    Mudlark @mudlark


    There could scarcely be a more graphic demonstration of the difference between the local and the global in terms of climate trends,¬† but none so blind as those who refuse to see – or who allow themselves to be convinced by cod ‘science’!

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord


    Sorry to hear of your troubles. Hope your OH is on the mend. Good to have you back with us.


    Also sorry to hear of your employment woes. Hope it’s all going OK and that there’s new things on the horizon. I too have pretty much been having a jobless year. Needless to say, don’t worry about the site until you get yourself on an even keel (and if there’s anything I can be doing, don’t hesitate to give me a shout.)

    On the brighter side, at least you’re catching up with your movie watchlist…. ūüôā

    Missy @missy


    Yes, you could be right. Another thing which probably saved him was speed – or the lack of it. The accident happened in a side road, so the driver of the other car wasn’t going fast. Thanks for your warning about whiplash, but my OH seems to be all right and it’s been over a month. We’ll still be vigilant though.

    I trust that your new car has side-impact airbags and nice modern crumple-zones!

    Nope! None of the above. It’s a 2002 Toyota Echo hatchback and we were fortunate to buy it from an In-Law for $1,300. Only 100 thousand Kilometres on the clock and apart from a few little scrapes on the chassis, in excellent condition.

    They had two cars, but the old chap couldn’t drive anymore so their second car was rarely used.

    Oddly enough, the last car a Daewoo hatchback, we bought from our daughter-in-law and it did us proud.

    Talk about keep it in the family.

    Ta muchly for advice.


    Missy @missy


    My point exactly.


    Many thanks. It could have been much worse.


    Mudlark @mudlark


    Not your point at all, I’m afraid. My fault you misunderstood, because I realised after I had hit ‘submit’, but too late to edit, that what I had written was ambiguous and could be taken the wrong way.

    By ‘cod science’ I meant the kind of specious reasoning peddled by the hirelings of oil companies and their like who have a vested interest in persuading people that if global warming and climate change is happening at all, the release of increasing amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as a result of the burning of fossil fuels is not a primary cause. Or the by writers of denialist blogs and their followers – like some of the responders to Simon Lee’s tweet which¬† @pedant¬† posted above – who parrot the same arguments, and with some highly selective facts and a smattering of jargon think they can disprove the conclusions of the overwhelming majority of climate scientists, whose work is based on an ever increasing body of observational data and constantly refined and updated systems of computer modelling, and which has undergone extensive peer review and been published in reputable scientific journals.

    Don’t count me among the doubters

    Mudlark @mudlark


    I meant to add to the above how sorry I was to read about the accident and to add my commiserations, but had to break off and run when I realised I was about to be late for an appointment.

    Thank goodness your OH was not too seriously hurt, but even when there are no serious injuries that kind of thing tends to leave one badly shaken up; and then, as you say, everything is compounded by all the ensuing hassle of insurance etc. etc.

    I do hope that now the hassle is over there will be no further repercussions.


    Mudlark @mudlark


    Your talk of vintage cars prompted a memory of the most glamourous car my family ever owned, back around 1950/51 when I was a mere sprout. It was an  MG WA 2.6 litre sports saloon, of which less than 400 were produced between 1938 and 1939 and, to cap it all, the registration was MG 6277.  It was going cheap Рmaybe because, if I remember correctly, petrol was still rationed Рand my father was persuaded by a neighbour to buy it, against his better judgement, to replace our first car, a Morris 10. I loved it, although my youngest brother, then about 4 years old, has less than happy memories of having to sit on the drive shaft casing when there were additional elders to transport. Trouble was, it needed a lot of maintenance and cost a packet to run, and even if he had had the time to tinker with it, my father was not mechanically minded, so after about 18 months, and to my everlasting regret, it was traded in for a boring Hillman Minx.

    I confess to having something of a soft spot for moggy minors although, having never driven one – as opposed to being driven – I wasn’t aware of their defects

    winston @winston

    @mudlark¬†¬† I love the sound of your pond with hedgehogs coming for a drink. I think they are one of the cutest creatures and I would love to have them in my garden. We have red and grey squirrels and birds drink at ours and raccoons come to try and get my goldfish. Anyway the last 2 called Jim the Fish and The Incredible Mr Limpet (now safe under wire) seem to maybe be going to have little fish. It seems that Mr Limpet is actually Mrs Limpet and she is full of eggs. I am very excited and really hope it happens. We have a very swampy creek in our back yard and yet frogs seem to like the ornamental fishpond in the front garden. Another thing about my frogs: they disappear when it rains and I tell my OH that they don’t like getting wet.

    Mudlark @mudlark


    I haven’t yet seen the hedgehog – they tend to be nocturnal – but there has been plenty of visible evidence around in the form of droppings, and one of my next-door neighbours confirmed that she had seen one sleeping under her garden shed. It is a fair few years since we last had one in the neighbourhood and is very welcome, not least because they eat slugs, but this summer they have been suffering greatly because of the long drought in this region which has meant a scarcity of food. Now that we have had some rain at last they should do better.

    I also have squirrels – cheeky buggers who are rather less welcome, because they are North American greys which have become something of a pest, at least as far as farmers, foresters and conservationists are concerned.¬† Some misguided person introduced them to Britain in the 19th century and in the past five or six decades they have all but driven out the native red squirrels –¬† smaller and prettier, with tufted ears. Not only are the greys larger and more aggressive,¬† they carry a disease to which they are immune but the reds are not.¬† When my family first came to Norfolk we lived in a small house with woods and a field with a shelter belt of Scots Pines at the back and red squirrels were a common sight and used to come into the garden, where we fed them with nuts. Some became quite tame. But not long after that they disappeared locally and now survive in only a few enclaves, mainly in Scotland and a few areas of northern England.

    My frogs certainly don’t disappear in the rain. As soon as the rain starts I see them hopping out of the pond and across the lawn in search of the juicy slugs which also emerge when it is wet. Like the hedgehogs, they have suffered in the drought, both from lack of food and heat stress, which has left them vulnerable to disease, but I am relieved to see that at least some have survived.

    There were originally fish in the pond; in fact I dug it originally to house five fish from my mother’s garden pond after she died. For many years they thrived and proliferated until they numbered about 24, but then the pond was discovered by a heron, and in a series of dawn raids over a period of about a year it gobbled the lot. I used to see it perched on the top of a conifer in the garden, or on the ridge of a neighbour’s roof, bold as brass, but never discovered any way of deterring it.

    We have also had foxes, though not in the last two or three years, and a wide variety of birds.  In fact there is a surprising amount of wildlife considering that this has been a heavily built-up area since the 1930s, with closely spaced houses and blocks of flats, not far from the city centre. On the other hand there is a disused railway track, now a footpath/cycle path bordered by trees and scrub, which forms a corridor from the surrounding countryside.

    Mudlark @mudlark


    (moving the conversation here, since it doesn’t really belong on Spoilers)

    I had the pleasure of working with teams of volunteers from Earthwatch over several seasons during the 1980s. The excavation was one in which, as a glutton for punishment, I took part in during my annual leave from my official paying job. It began in 1974 when I was lured into it by the promise of a fun two weeks with a small party of friends, almost all professional archaeologists or architectural historians, conducting a dig next to a Saxon church in Derbyshire, with the object of determining the date of construction and the ground level at the time of construction – both a matter of heated debate. It seemed like an opportunity to pretend, for a brief while, that we were just happy, carefree diggers again, getting down and dirty with our trowels.

    The fortnight’s work resolved the matters under debate, but revealed further intriguing questions, including evidence of Viking occupation; so back we came the following year for another two weeks of excavation, and then another, and another, with the area of investigation,¬† the problems to be solved, and the length of the season ever increasing, and more and more volunteers needed – hence Earthwatch; and muggins ended up in charge of a large area and a band of up to 20 volunteers, many of whom needed training from scratch. So not a lot different from the day job except that I wasn’t in overall control; and still in my free time and unpaid.¬† Not that I have any regrets.

    One or two of the Earthwatch people were disgruntled at the fact that they were actually expected to work long hours in all weathers and that the accommodation provided was less than luxurious, but most pitched in very happily in both the work and the after-work social life, and there were some who returned year after year.

    Switching to the topic of cats and walks, my family did have one – a Siamese – who loved going for walks. Although very much a free-range cat and a might hunter, she took readily to walking on a harness and lead. Normally the lead was only used in towns and built-up areas, when usually she would ride on my father’s shoulder, quite unperturbed by traffic and the crowds. In the countryside she would happily trot in front or behind like a dog, and after my brothers and I had flown the nest she would often go on holiday with my parents, walking in Snowdonia, or the Cotswolds, or Exmoor.¬† When my parents eventually bought a small touring caravan she loved that, and if my mother even went out to it to fetch something she would jump in looking expectant, as if to say, ‘When are we off, then?’¬† Normally she took everything in her stride, but there were occasional incidents – as when, on Exmoor, she stopped to investigate an interestingly scented woolly mound beside the track. When the sheep got to its feet, she shot about 2 feet in the air and streaked for the horizon. It took my parents half an hour to track her down, perched high in the only tree for miles.


    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    @mudlark, @winston,

    the wildlife in your gardens sounds delightful. Round here at Chez Blenkinsop we have begun to share the garden with some neighbours I wasn’t really expecting–deer.

    yes, it is a leafy suburb, but they have drifted in from further up the island because of urban expansion and dryer summers.

    For the most part, humans and deer co-exist, and human adaptation is to plant flowers and shrubs that the deer tend to shun. Occasionally, a bunch of vibrant yellow will bloom on a Wednesday, only to disappear by Thursday. But as the owner of our local  garden shop noted, we should as unexpected pruning.

    The first time I noticed the deer after moving here was when walking through a historic cemetery close by, to be confronted by the sight of an enormous buck with huge antlers, quietly resting between the headstones. And this was across the road from the local supermarket, and adjacent to the sea. So I think they are here to stay.



    Missy @missy

    @mudlark  Don’t count me among the doubters

    Fair comment. It took them a while to see that the Earth wasn’t flat too. Evidence can always be found to disprove¬† or prove anything. Nuff said.

    Thank you for your good wishes, and so far so good. I have always preferred small cars, The Mini have played a large part in our lives.

    Really enjoyed reading all stories about wild life and in particular the tale (excuse the pun) of your adventurous cat, We had a cat like that, we would send him for a holiday with friends in Queensland – why?- because he and their Seal point Siamese were firm friends and missed each other. Jason (black moggy) would patrol the outside of the house, whilst Caruso patrolled the inside by way of window sills. When the local canine population had the temerity to venture anywhere near the house, Jason would see them off with zeal. Tragedy struck one day however. Whilst out for a stroll, a dog chased Caruso up a tree, where he became wedged in a fork and died. If Jason bad been there, it would never have happened. We still sent him over to spend a week with our friends now and then, where he would sit for hours on the spot where Caruso was buried.




    ichabod @ichabod

    Damn, but I love cat stories. ¬†They are our court jesters — entertaining us with silliness, showing us up, reminding us of Nature’s indifference, mystifying us, making us love them, and leaving too soon. ¬†No wonder they’ve taken over the world; just like us, in that respect, and just as destructive in their own ways. ¬†Of course we fall for them. ¬†If only we could put a stop to nine-to-a-litter! ¬†Reproductively, they’re as maladaptive as we are ourselves, though not, in their case, by choice.

    Naps with cats; one of the great, deep pleasures of life on the physical plane. ¬†Funny; my psychic friend tells me that her sources tell her that throughout the universe, all “creatures of reason” (those that live by choices more than by instincts) have “companion animals”. ¬† Good. ¬†We need them.

    @mudlark  The fortnight’s work resolved the matters under debate, but revealed further intriguing questions, including evidence of Viking occupation

    Those Vikings were *everywhere*. ¬†What a mob! ¬†I loved being a “carefree digger”, myself, there and at Newcastle, and in SW Ireland — wish I could do more of it. ¬†Finding that infant skeleton (“Roman Fort on Tyne”) hooked me but good. ¬†All that deep time. ¬†Loved it. ¬†The sense of it, literally materialized underfoot, felt like such strong support ¬†somehow: “Yes, you are real, because we were real, and we all still are.” ¬†Something like that.

    Oof. ¬†Wine talking. ¬†G’night, all.

    Mudlark @mudlark


    Those Vikings were *everywhere*.  What a mob!

    Indeed they were.  What we had stumbled on was in fact the winter camp of the Viking Great Army, documented in the Anglo-Saxon chronicle in 1873/4.

    The Saxon church was adjacent to a monastery, a double house of both men and women, ruled by an Abbess. The Vikings sacked the monastery and built an earthwork fort around it, using the church as a strong point and gatehouse. We found ample evidence of their looting, as well as the burials of a number of them who had died over the winter, complete with weapons and, in one case, a Thor’s hammer pendant.



    Mudlark @mudlark

    Oops!¬† I’m not sure how that extra millennium crept in.¬† The date was, of course,¬† winter 873/874.

    ichabod @ichabod

    @mudlark  The Saxon church was adjacent to a monastery, a double house of both men and women, ruled by an Abbess.

    Woah — an Abbess, in charge of monks? ¬†Do we know who she was? ¬†Was that configuration found elsewhere? ¬†She’d have still needed to be confessed by a priest, though, right? ¬†Just as all the nuns did, and the monks as well, as I recall.




    Mudlark @mudlark


    Woah ‚ÄĒ an Abbess, in charge of monks?

    Yup.¬† There were a number of such double houses founded in the 7th century in England; exactly how many is uncertain, because the records are relatively sparse.¬† The majority were in the northern half of England, which may reflect the influence of the Celtic/British church and associated traditions of monasticism, spreading back from Ireland to the mainland well before Pope Gregory sent his missionaries to convert the Saxons in the kingdoms of southern England. Double houses were also known in the regions of Gaul where missionaries from the Celtic/North British church had also been very active, though I’m not sure that a causative link has been established.

    All of those in England seem to have been under the rule of Abbesses, the most famous of whom was St Hilda, who founded a double house at Whitby and before that had been Abbess of another double house at Hartlepool.¬† According to Bede she was a highly capable administrator, noted for her learning and wisdom, whose advice was sought by both kings and church dignitaries. Bede’s account also suggests that she was much admired and loved by the community she ruled. She is perhaps best known for her part in the Synod of Whitby (664 CE), in which liturgical differences between the British/Celtic church and practices established elsewhere in the West were thrashed out.

    These abbesses seem to have had the same independence, powers and authority as abbots, including the power to hear confession and give absolution, though I think that he latter may have applied only to the female members of the community. In the communities they ruled the men and women were presumably housed in separate accommodation, but shared the work and worshipped together in the same church. The male members of the community would have included ordained priests who could preside at the Mass. Most, if not all of the abbesses would have been from noble, often royal families, and were well educated; in fact all the other women of the communities and many of the men were likely to have been from a similar background.

    As for the abbesses of the monastery on the site I was involved in excavating, the first recorded was St Werberga. Another, recorded in 697, was Alfthritha, whose chief claim to fame is that it was to her that St Guthlac came to be received into the monastic order.  As far as I am aware, the name of the Abbess at the time the Viking Great Army arrived is not known.

    A decree of the 2nd Council of Niceiea (787) forbade such double houses, but it took a very long time for this to take effect, and in England it was probably only the incursion of the Viking Great Army and the establishment of the Danelaw in the 9th century that finally put an end to them.

    The thing to remember about this period of the early church in Britain and Western Europe is that things were far less centralised and standardised than they later became, and there was a good deal of fluidity and variation in practice. The conversion of incomers such as the Franks and Anglo Saxons involved a certain amount of judicious adjustment to local custom, and underlying that were the surviving elements of the late Roman church, which provided an administrative structure as well as a core of belief and tradition.  The schism between  Eastern Orthodoxy and Western Romanism still lay well in the future, but Byzantium was a long way off, and the Bishops of Rome did not yet have the authority and power that they later acquired, though they were working on it.





    ichabod @ichabod

    @mudlark ¬†Thanks; that’s fascinating. ¬†Als0 depressing. ¬†Christianity started off better (at least about this kind of thing) and just got — worse? ¬†*More* restrictive, *more* misogynistic, *more* about power, control, fear, and status, as time went on and the institutional structure solidified, centralized, and then began to fracture again. ¬†Wasn’t it a kind of free-for-all back in the early days? ¬†Hence the increasing urge to codify, prune away diverging ideas and opinions, and crush dissent to powder.

    I hear very little about religions of any kind that softens my feelings about them. ¬†I hope more of us are finally starting to grow out of the need for the things. ¬†Of course, there’s no telling what will take their place . . . Just covering my bets here, on the “be careful what you wish for” theory of stuff.

    syzygy @thane16


    Ah, I didn’t clicky on your Olney car show & only now realised my error. Loved the MGBs etc…


    I was suggesting we had proper cold weather -but it was barely a day of it. And if it’s 25c during the day it’s summer to me and even 16 degrees¬† maximum is bikini weather to many tourists.

    Since you were last paying bills here, rates & water have separated out: we pay for the water we use & despite the 3 person household, we use 15% more than our local average. Now that electricity companies are deregulating, & in spite of the spam from various fledgling companies, I dropped a lot of dosh on 20 solar terminals so that within 12 months I should buy back a few measly dollars. Next stop: water tanks. Or, child of ours will shower with a 10 litre bucket a day¬† ūüôā


    St Werberga  reminds me a lot of the castle at Wartburg & the German settlers who moved to Aus & settled north  in lovely mosquito ridden places as Gin Gin, Scallywag Creek, Good Night town, Ban Ban & even our own Moffatdale.


    Mudlark @mudlark


    There is also a St Sexburga, cause of much sniggering among young adolescents, who was abbess of another double house at Ely. The -burg, or -berg element derives from the word meaning ‘protection’, ‘stronghold’ or ‘defended settlement; ‘wer’, I think, is as in wergild or werewolf, meaning ‘man’ in the inclusive sense of ‘human being’; and the ‘sex‘ in Sexburga presumably derives from the same¬† root as Saxon, or seax,¬†which was a weapon like a long, single-edged knife – I will have to investigate further.


    The role of women in the early church is an interesting study, and the evidence in the New Testament is discussed by Bart Ehrman in, for example. Misquoting Jesus , published also in Britain under the title Whose Word Is It?  There seems from the very first to have been a divergence of opinion in the matter

    The letters of Paul, which are the earliest documents in the NT, are quite revealing, although it is important to distinguish between those which are accepted as having been written by Paul himself and those which are attributed to him but which are either debateable or commonly agreed by biblical scholars to be by other hands. In the letter to the Romans Paul concludes with greetings to a long list of people including Phoebe, who is described as a minister, or deacon of the local church, and Junia, who is named as an apostle, no less; plus six women who are distinguished as prominent and active workers and missionaries in their local communities and beyond.¬† The terms in which he addresses them imply a high degree of respect and confidence. One of them, Prisca, also appears under the name Priscilla, along with her husband Aquila, as one of Paul’s companions in Acts.

    This contrasts with the notorious passage in I Corinthians 14 which enjoins women to be silent and subservient, which is often quoted as evidence of Paul’s misogyny. The problem with this passage is, as Ehrman points out, that it is not consistent with what Paul wrote earlier in the letter, where he refers quite happily to women speaking and prophesying in the community, stipulating only that they cover their heads in acknowledgement of a higher authority*.¬† Nor does it fit thematically in context,¬† and it is suspiciously similar to a passage in I Timothy, a letter which most textual analysts have concluded was written by a later follower of Paul. In fact there is good reason to doubt that it was in the original letter, and may well have originated as a marginal annotation by a later commentator and subsequently been slotted in: in some early copies it does not even appear in the same place in the letter.

    Some copiers seem to have made a deliberate editorial attempt to airbrush women out, or downplay their significance. So, for example, Junia the apostle, becomes the male Junius in some later versions; or women who in the presumed earlier versions are named before the men, are demoted to secondary status.

    The fact that so many relatively early copies of the books of the NT are now available for study, that approximate chronologies and ‘family trees’ of the copies can be worked out and discrepancies compared, has opened a whole can of worms for those who want to cite scripture as an authority for keeping women ‘in their place’.¬† But the people who do that are not those likely to respect¬† the conclusions of those who examine the texts analytically and historically.

    * In the context of the 1st and 2nd century Roman and Hellenistic world it was the social norm for women to cover their heads with a stola or veil in public, so this wasn’t solely a religious injunction. And even as late as my youth, as no doubt in yours, it was usual for women to wear hats or some kind of head covering when going out, and not just in church!




    Mudlark @mudlark


    Talking of Aussie place names; one of my great grandmother’s brothers* emigrated to Queensland in the 1880s and named the place where he settled Delamere, after the township where he had lived in Cheshire. I’ve no idea where exactly this was or if the name survives.

    * i.e. a maternal great uncle of my mother. I have a cream jug from a tea set belonging originally to his parents,  the rest of which he is said to have taken out with him.

    Missy @missy


    I do agree about cats, by far my animal of choice. When a cat has been fed, had a wash and decides to jump on your lap, they like you.

    Also agree with you about religions of any kind.

    Thank you for the history posts everyone really, really interesting.



    ichabod @ichabod

    @mudlark ¬† I remember the hats and gloves thing very well. ¬†My maternal grandmother became a milliner in her adopted country, making hats and corsets right up into her sixties, when women came from other boroughs of New York City to be fitted in her living room — she was working from her apartment on 107th St. by then. ¬†She used to joke about it, even while she was making her living at it.

    The Old Days are creeping up on me lately, though I wonder how much of those memories I’ve made up to fill in the blanks.

    Missy @missy


    Hmm, perhaps I do that do the same thing – but not often.



    Move t’pub

    @bluesqueakpip @thane16 @missy

    some small minded racism, try following Tracy Ann Oberman on Twitter. She was Yvonne Hartman in both Torchwood and Doctor Who.

    I have followed this. There is nothing small-minded about it; it is ideological and hate-fuelled with a massive does of sexism.

    A world of a difference from getting uppity when expected to use more courteous language that is rooted in the modern era rather than an imagined rose-tinted time-of-yore that never really existed anyway.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @bluesqueakpip @missy @pedant

    Interesting convo

    Mark Gattis, writer of Empress of Mars, has said in interview how his first instinct was to object to the casting of Bayo Gbadamosi ‚Äď on the pretty much the exact same grounds as¬†@missy¬†objecting to David Copperfield; there were no black soldiers at that time and in that place.

    Fortunately, before he emailed, he checked. And discovered that he was wrong; that there had been at least one black soldier on the British side and in a regular regiment. It had been the right decision to cast ‚Äėrace-blind‚Äô.

    Yeah, I saw that and thought Gattiss was kind of missing the point. Personally I’m not sure a slavish adherence to verisimilitude is the way to go anyway (which is often misinformed, as in this case, and far more in Thin Ice.) Seems to me that Gattiss is writing for a different audience than, say, Kipling or Conan Doyle would have. Similarly Iannucci is writing for a different audience than Dickens would have been. And these audiences are going to be much more diverse — and not so much because of a particularly different demographic make-up and more because of relative standards of literacy.

    Besides which, it just makes for better drama. If the casting had followed Gattiss’s instinct then the relationship between Vincey and sarge (was it?) would have been little more than a ropey piece of Kipling pastiche. The casting of¬†Gbadamosi¬† gave that dynamic fresh texture and interest and I would actually argue became the best thing in what’s at best a so-so episode.

    Same with Thin Ice. I seem to remember a lot of voices on the Graun moaning about all the brown faces in the Frost Fair crowd. Leaving aside that this was more accurate than people suppose, it actually had a dramatic point in the episode, making Sutcliffe’s later racism to Bill not merely reprehensible but illogical and ridiculous to boot.


    @jimthefish et all

    Yeah, I saw that and thought Gattiss was kind of missing the point.

    Indeed – sometimes it is more positive than mere pedantic adherence to form, as posted by pal a few hours after the JW reveal:

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    more courteous language

    Where is pedant and what have you done with him?? ūüėĮ

    I certainly think the casting director was making a better decision than Gattis. But I’d argue that he’s making the point that what he thought he knew about the past was wrong; the argument for race-blind casting is not just representation, important as that is. It’s that our pictures of a rosy past, or a sweet little modern Welsh/English/Scottish village are almost certainly wrong. And if we’re not careful, we’ll ‘whitewash’ good actors out of the castings because of that wrong picture. And we’ll then pass that wrong picture on to our children, and to our audience.

    And, all questions of drama aside, what we’re doing then is lying to them.

    I don’t know if Iannucci is going to simply ignore his David’s race, or whether he’s going to use it to make a point – but the important thing to me is that there were Dev Patel’s in mid nineteenth century England. They were there, and we should demonstrate this to audiences. Because I have, in my study of history, come across far too many occasions when the history books damn well lied to me.

    But there’s also a broader point, which is that Dickens, Shakespeare, Austen, the entire canon of ‘English Literature’ is the rightful inheritance of everyone who lives in any English speaking country. I don’t give a damn if you learnt your English after you arrived, whether you have a different skin colour to me, or what. It is the rightful inheritance of everyone who can speak English – and whenever we tell people that actors of colour shouldn’t be performing in Dickens, Shakespeare, Austen, we are telling them that this isn’t their inheritance. Just ours. Because Shakespeare/Dickens and Austen were white, doncha know. I’m sure there’s some nice stuff by Maya Angelou you can be reading?

    Well, bugger that.

    Mudlark @mudlark


    Well, bugger that.



    Moving the conversation to the pub where it more properly belongs.

    I was teasing, really, because the story isn’t all that riveting and others are invited to skip over this post. But since you asked:-

    A group of us had tickets en bloc for both productions on successive days, purchased on our behalf by one of our number who happened to have no lectures or tutorials on the day the box office opened and volunteered selflessly to queue for what turned out to be hours.

    On the first day, the day of the Othello, everything went without a hitch and we all duly met at the theatre.¬† The morning and afternoon of the second day I spent in the National Museum of Scotland, working my way through tray after tray of flint arrowheads in their collection, compiling preliminary data for my undergraduate dissertation*. The museum is a 19th century pile with little accommodation for students, so a desk had been set up for me in one of the public galleries. My basket containing notebooks and files was on the floor beside me, and when I left from time to time to go to the loo or collect another tray of flints, it didn’t occur to me to take it with me. My purse was well hidden below all the other contents, and in any case there were rarely any other people in the gallery.

    But by now you should be able to guess where this is heading ūüėČ

    Come the end of the afternoon I returned home to dump my files etc. and grab something to eat before I headed to the theatre, but when I emptied the basket the purse was missing. I checked all the contents again, but there was no doubt about it. Panic!¬† At that time there were no credit or debit cards and there hadn’t been very much money in the purse – though to a student on a maintenance grant every little mattered. It did, however, contain various other vital items such as my library cards and, oh woe! my theatre ticket.

    My flat mate wasn’t in, probably because she had a late lecture and was going straight to the theatre, so all I could do was to follow, in the hope of encountering others of the party who might be able to vouch for me in the foyer. Unfortunately the delay entailed in my reporting the theft meant that by the time I got there they had all arrived and gone in, so the best I could do was to try to explain my plight to the man in the ticket office. He gave me an old fashioned look but called the manager, to whom I repeated the story. I couldn’t remember the row or seat number, but explained¬† that I knew approximately where the seat was, and that all I needed to do to find it was to spot the others of the party.¬† I pleaded and all but wept over him – not that I would ever resort to that, even in extremis, and whether I convinced him of my honesty and sincerity, or whether he simply had a weakness for small blonde damsels in distress, he gave me a chit which authorised my admission. By that time, though, the lights were going down in the auditorium and the curtain was going up, and there was no possibility of locating my friends. So I watched the whole of the first act sitting on a step at the top of the gangway.


    *I don’t know how it is now, but for Honours Archaeology students in Edinburgh in those days there were was very little¬† formal teaching in the fourth year of the course other than a few seminars, and we were supposed to devote our time to further reading and to original research for the dissertation which formed a major element in our finals assessment. It was then that I discovered that research was my forte; I was never entirely at ease working from secondary sources.




    Where is pedant and what have you done with him??

    He’s doing what he always does – grasping the distinction between manners and courtesy and why there is no such thing as a Comedy of Courtesy.

    syzygy @thane16

    Whoa, “How’s everybody doin?”¬† We need to be aware, constantly, of colour-blind casting issues &, as Thane would point out, in both History & English, sources must be combed, fine tooth ‘n’ all for “representativeness” which I think is interesting for him (they started this in year 6 -so at age 11) considering all our points @pedant @bluesqueakpip @mudlark @jimthefish¬† @blenkinsopthebrave .¬† At that age, I would have known nothing about this -not til a “coloured” lad arrived at school & everyone started whispering. Some said bad things, others said “he’ll sing really well & move well in drama.” Hmm. Bad in a different way.

    Also music is a thing….

    I didn’t get into rap much but then I ‘met’ (in my head & gut) Eminem.

    A very good artist. In fact, superb.

    His more recent album, which I may point out on the Music thread, is quite something…

    But I thought about this for reasons of representativeness, colour blind issues, age, gender, sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll:


    syzygy @thane16


    jeepers, sorry about that: I forgot to thank you. That’s a terrific story -at least you sat on the stairs. And yes, now, wallets & purses contain whole lives.

    In most 4th -5th yrs here there’s few group lectures. Generally tutorials where people get together to ‘bounce’ ideas off one another.


    Missy @missy


    There is nothing like being late to a story!

    I can well imagine how you must have felt, that awful sinking feeling. Thank goodness it happened before plastic.

    My outcome to something similar happened when we went back to England for a visit. We’d set it up so that money could be drawn from an ATM over there. We were visiting my cousin in Nottingham but were unsure how to get there from the motorway. I rang him from one of those shopping centres which are dotted all along the motorways in Britain. Receiving instructions we went on our way. Deciding to stop for lunch first, I discovered that my purse was missing!!! I’d left it in the telephone box – with my visa card inside! We headed for Lloyd’s Bank, told them the problem and gave as much information as we could. All the turn offs have a number and fortunately I remembered which number led to the Centre. The young woman at Lloyd’s rang the centre, described my purse and what was in it, including¬† ¬†a card with My bosses address and number (he was a Vet.) Happy day, a woman had handed it in, Visa in tact. What were the odds of that happening? We couldn’t contact the woman to thank her as she didn’t leave a name.

    However, we were able to return the courtesy later at Liverpool Street station. Heading for a platform to catch a train, a man ran past us to catch his, which was about to leave. As he ran, he dropped his wallet without realising it. My OH yelled “OI” the chap turned round and my OH threw it to him. Favour returned in spades.



    Missy @missy

    I have to smile and roll my eyes  at the latest.

    Eating dairy food, especially butter, cheese and full cream milk is very bad for the heart – said the “experts!”

    Now, one should eat butter and cheese and drink full cream milk – it’s GOOD for the heart – say the¬† “experts!

    Half or on Aspirin a day, can keep your blood thinner and prevent blood clots – according to the ‘experts.’

    Now, one shouldn’t do this as it can cause internal bleeding – say the ‘experts.’

    Is it any wonder that I take no notice of any so called ‘experts?’


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