Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding

Still have goosebumps...  How absolutely beautiful.  Best of luck to those two regal and charismatic individuals!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century - Barbara Tuchman

In England coroners' rolls showed manslaughter far ahead of accident as cause of death, and more often than not the offender escaped punishment by obtaining benefit of clergy through bribes or the right connections.  If life was filled with bodily harm, literature reflected it.  One of La Tour Landry's cautionary tales for his daughters tells of a lady who ran off with a monk and, upon being found in bed with him by her brothers, they 'took a knife and cut away the monk's stones and threw them in the lady's face and made her eat them and afterwards tied both monk and lady in a sack with heavy rocks and cast them into a river and drowned them.'  Another tale is of a husband to fetched his wife back from her parents' house, where she had fled after a marital quarrel.  While lodged overnight in a town on the way home, the lady was attacked by 'a great number of young people wild and infect with lechery' who 'ravished her villainously,' causing her to die of shame and sorrow.  The husband cut her body into twelve pieces, each of which he sent with a letter to certain of her friends that they might be made ashamed of her running away of her husband and also be moved to take vengeance on her ravishers.  The friends at once assembled with all their retainers and descended upon the town where the rape had occurred and slew all its inhabitants.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

BBC World Service

My father and I travelled a lot when I was younger.  We still do, though the responsibilities of adulthood has lessened that considerably.  When my younger brother and I each turned ten he took us on an "around the world" trip that lasted all summer.  We started on the east coast and quite literally flew around the world at a leisurely pace, stopping at predetermined locations on the way.  My brother spent more time in Asia and the southern hemisphere, while I spent more time in Northern Europe and the northern hemisphere.

Whenever I hear the BBC on the radio or the international broadcast on any television, I am immediately reminded of early mornings in lonely and distant hotels.  My father would turn on the BBC to wake up every morning.  At times the memories and melancholy nostalgia are suffocatingly affecting.  How I long to sit in bed as a wide-eyed youngster listening to the happenings of this great big world before we head off to the hotel restaurant for an early morning breakfast.  I miss Copenhagen as it was, and Cairo and Bali and everywhere else.  But most of all I miss those times with my father. 

He is still around but I am no longer a child.  The everyday obligation of life tend to get in the way of times like those, and it is bitter to be reminded that one can never return to the freedom of childhood.  But I can always tune into the BBC world service, and remember.