I am reading some Medieval Mystery plays at the moment for a little, possibly leading to biggish, project that might happen in the future. I am doing ‘research.’
This makes me sound like a sensible woman (possibly who wears a lot of beige clothing) who sits with her nose pressed up against a computer screen, pushing her glasses onto the bridge of her nose every five minutes, whilst inputting data and extrapolating ‘facts’.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Mostly I look like an old carpet at the moment.
It is so cold I am in that phase where I take umbrage at the mere thought of having to get dressed and undressed. In fact any point at which my bare flesh is encouraged to come face to face with the icy elements is shunned with a firm hand.
I am big on layering. I am big on sock wearing. I am all about ponchos today. And scarves. I trail lumps of material. I really need some large, saggy cat to follow me about moulting clumps of ginger fur, while I stick pencils in my hair. That’s where I’m at sartorially.
I am Alan Bennett’s ‘Lady in the Van’. I am the lady in VW Polo.
Today I nearly wasn’t. Today I nearly froze myself out of my own car. I managed to get all my stuff for school in the boot, which was a feat of de icing par excellence. Then, when I went to get it all out of the boot, the lock had frozen shut and I had no de icer/heat source to hand.
In the end I had to drape myself over the back seat, squeezed between two head rests, bum hanging out of car (and trousers, much to my icy dismay), while I hauled all my gubbins out over the back seat.
That is not a euphemism.
I then straggled to school with three bags in varying stages of decrepitude, thus completing my bag lady ensemble perfectly.
I feel I am limbering up for old age nicely, and judging by how much my hips creak now that I’ve been to another Pilates session, they do not disagree with me.
Getting back to my Mystery plays. It has been a long time since I’ve had to read old English texts, and I’ve really had to work hard at it to make some sense of things.
I have found it is much easier to read the plays to myself under my breath, as your natural attention to punctuation, rhyme schemes etc, often helps you with figuring out meaning.
By doing this I have also realised that many of the Medieval authors were writing phonetically, and that if we do not stop putting such a huge emphasis on phonics as the only true way to learn to read, and by extension, to write, we will all end up as Medieval peasants, fighting over mangel wurzels in a ditch while picking at our open sores.
Take this for example, from the York Cycle of plays. This is from the Moses play:
Ther-fore als Kyng I commaunde pees
To all the pepill of this Empire,
That noman putte hym fourthe in prees,
But that will do als we desire.
Oscar would definitely write something like ‘pees’ for ‘peace’ and ‘pepill’ for ‘people’.
It’s quite uncanny.
It has made me think that Michael Gove might actually be cleverer than I think, forsooth. He may have designs on taking us back to our roots and the whole Merrye Englande again.
I shall be the first to embrace ye olde tucke shoppe, when it finally opens.
Who shall daunce abouten his maypole though?
That is the question.