The Lord of Misrule – Prepare! ( part one )

I thought it was time we wended our way back into the mists of the past to re-visit our old friends from the 17th century.

And one or two from the 18th too.

And since it is Twelfth Night shall we see what they are up to at the end of the Christmas festivities?

Yes…it is Twelfth Night and no…it’s not just a play of that name by one William  Shakespeare. Twelfth Night marks the end of the Winter celebrations which began with the ceremonies of All Hallows Eve…Halloween to you.

A person would be appointed to be the overseer of the festivities and this person would be The Lord Of Misrule.

The Lord of Misrule symbolizes the world turning upside down. On this day, even the King and Queen and all those who were highly placed would become the servants and the servants and the peasantry got a chance to see what it was like to GIVE the orders! To a point of course.

Special cakes were baked and eaten. Other food was prepared ( remember this is a lean time of the year… not a lot of food about) and for many, it was a chance to eat drink and make merry, for you never quite knew where your next meal was coming from. Winter was still biting hard.

SO who is to be our Lord of Misrule?

Let’s eavesdrop on the household of the 17th century dummy board, V&A Gentleman with Cane otherwise known as Sir Bumptious Grandly!

Ah poor thing!

Ah yes…here he is….and Oh dear… I think he has been overdoing the port a bit over Christmas… maybe he has gout….he seems to have a gammy leg!

” Gammy leg indeed” we hear him cry…” Nothin’ to do with the port. Damned icy steps.. I’ll crack the head of the servant , if I ever find him, who failed to sweep the step properly and lay down salt.”

( Actually we happen to know that Sir Bumptious is rather mean and he forbade his poor servants to use up the rather expensive salt rations, on the outside steps. Hmmmmm)

” Goin’ about my lawful business at the coffee house and th’exchange was Hellish labyrinthine I can tell you. Me Sedan men were slippin’ and slidin’ all over. And it was Mortal cold …I can tell you.

The sedan chair with a lighter load than Sir Bumptious

( Sir Bumptious is not known for his plain speaking.

Shall we translate. ) ( See I like Coffee, I like Tea )

” Going to work at the Coffee House…no he doesn’t wait on tables but sits around drinking the stuff till it sends him dizzy, talking to his friends, playing cards and speculating on stocks and shares..oh and pinching the bottom of the (only) lady who is allowed in, The Coffee Drawer or maker of the drinks. The Exchange of course is where he goes to actually fiddle about with his money.Labrynthine? He just means it took him a long time to get there and that his Sedan chair men, those poor unfortunates who are engaged to lift him up in a covered seat and ferry him to and fro, were rather uncertain of their foothold on the ice.

The servants are all standing in a row in front of him.

The life sized Brighton Man as one of the servants

He points his stick at them.

” Now….in this season I want no daffing about, no darraigning and any man I see deboshed will go straight in the ice house! ”

Ah- this means that anyone who fools around too much, who sets the place in disarray whilst drunk, will go straight in the cold pantry.

” Who have you chosen to be the Lord tonight then? ”

The French Chef steps forward.This is the much celebrated Monsieur Yves Grosseteste. ( IN English he would be Ivor BigHead…but you don’t tell him that!)

” T’is Moi Sir….I ‘ave all thee fud orgeenized. Zere ees little to do now. I go and put on my corstume.”

This is the only member of staff Sir Grandly cannot intimidate. Something to do with the large French meat cleaver he likes to stuff into his belt. His Hachoir…mmm sounds scary doesn’t it?

Anyway off goes Ivor to get ready for his role as Master of the revels. The others disperse and Sir Grandly goes back to his bottle of claret.

Ivor is to wear a special outfit for the Lord of Misrule.

He has a small hat for his head with a peak and a feather. He wears a many coloured striped doublet, which just about fits around his skinny middle, pantaloon breeches for his rather large bottom and an enormous ruff. He carries a staff with ribbons and bells on. He looks frankly, quite a sight. He will give the orders and the rest must obey. Oh and he still has his meat cleaver in his ( straining) belt, along with his gentlemanly sword. Remember, he is no longer a servant. ( If he ever though he was !)

Monsieur Yves Grosseteste as Lord of Misrule.

We can hear him singing in his kitchen!

To the tune of Lilibulero ( a very famous 17th c. tune )

” Champs Elysees, et La Tour Eiffel

I’m going to geeve zem all merry ‘ell!

Feexing a meal to fill zem all up

Somesing quite naughty in ze wine cup.

Drinkit, stinkit, I am so clever

Zey will be running all night to ze pot

Zey never will guess it,  zey never no never

Zey never can blame me, never can not!”

Oh dear it looks like Sir Grandly’s household is in for a bit of a shock! Of course he is quite right….. they can’t blame him. He’s the BOSS! He can do what he likes.

I think we will go down the road and see what is happening in the house of our other friend, Sir Filthy Looks and his wife, Lady Bonnie Looks.

The young Sir Filthy Looks.

Lady Bon in her garden

Here it’s a little more decorous it seems. There is quite a bit of partying going on but no one is drunk yet and the chef isn’t threatening them with a meat cleaver, ( or with a nasty potion in the wine).

Ah…our little maidservant, the one we met doing the shopping in A Messy Business, I think her name is Iris Kalot, she is putting the finishing touches to the Twelfth Night Pie. She is a maid of all work and so she has to do some of the cooking as well.

The Chertsey Maid as the Maid of all work, Iris Kalot.

She too is singing. It’s a nice sweet, three four melody… ah that’s better….

“Ha ha ha, he he he, how I love little fish, love to buy and to serve little fish!

First I cut off their heads, then I pull out their bones,

However they are -they’re delish!

Ha Ha Ha He He He they are all food to me,

With a  cleaver I hack them in two

Then I pull out what’s inside and I serve it up fried

‘Cos I love little fishes don’t you?

Oh dear…can’t we get away from cleavers in this street?

“Here is something for tempting the palate

Prepared in the classic technique.

First you pound the fish flat with a mallett

Then you slash through the skin, give the belly a slice,

The you rub some salt in, ‘cos that

m a k e s  i t  t a s t e  n i c e.”

Ah…I think she has been having lessons from Monsieur Grosseteste….

Deary Me, don’t forget, that we must keep you wet

Ah… I think she means moist but of course it doesn’t rhyme. Ivor…sorry, Yves, doesn’t know that word.

Then we stuff you with bread, it don’t ‘urt ‘ cos yer dead

And yer certainly lucky you are.

‘Cos it’s goin’ to be ‘ot in my big boiling pot,

Tooda loo, little fishy, au revoir!”

Oh dear… I think we know what is being served up in the Looks household this evening.

Sounds a fishy business to me.

😉 pie! They're lookin' at you...


7 Responses to “The Lord of Misrule – Prepare! ( part one )”

  1. bonsmots Says:

    Oh that silly girl, Iris. I told her I wanted FRESH pie, not fish pie! Sir Fil is going to be SO angry and will give her more than just a filthy look, you can be sure of that.

    And why is she singing about preparing fish properly and then simply plunking the whole fish, eyes and all, into a crust? And are those EELS? That is MOST unappetizing.

    Hrmph! As soon as we can afford a proper cook, back she goes to the scullery! I tell you, it’s so hard to get good help these days.

    With barely concealed impatience,
    Lady Bon

    • pastmastery Says:

      Sirrah…Maam…did you say fresh?
      But then Twelfth DAY doth fall on a Friday Maam and you KNOW we NEVER eat meat on a Friday…and eels is considered to be meat..

      Please don’t send me back to the scullery!

      Old Sir Filthy won’t like it Maam….and where else would you get a maid as pretty as me?
      Your affectionate servant
      Iris Kalot.
      ( and I DO)

  2. bonsmots Says:

    Why you little minx! Are you suggesting that Sir Fil may be exhibiting a somewhat more than a purely employerly interest in the likes of you? That is unthinkable, and I am quite sure you are prevaricating. After all, I am the acknowledged beauty in Filthy Manor and you are but a cipher. Mildly attractive, I suppose, if you care for that sort.

    Where would I get a maid as pretty as you? Well, you little tart, many a homely young country girl would be happy to have a position of relative leisure, as you do. If you would spend more time on your duties and less on singing little fishy ditties, your position here at Filthy Manor might be more secure.

    And keep your fishy little fingers off my beloved Sir Fil, vixen, or it will be worse than the scullery for you. Lady Bon has keen eyes and a long memory.

    Enough of your impudence, girl. I must attend to my toilette, because Sir Fil and I will be dining out this evening. None of your silly fish-and-eel pies, any day of the week.

    Lady Bon

    • pastmastery Says:

      I can see this running and running!
      Can I just say for the perhaps,puzzled onlooker…Lady Bon actually EXISTS in the personage of the friend for whom the likeness of a Gainsborough lady was painted, slightly less than life sized and her own inestimable countenance inserted.

      She has every right to berate her ungrateful servant!


  3. pastmastery Says:

    Mistress…what the eye don’t see the heart don’t worry about.

    After all…he’s quite a young man.

    Now if you’ve quite finished…I’ll go and prepare your bath shall I?

    Remember I am a maid of all works. You don’t wanna annoy me…

    Iris Kalot

    • bonsmots Says:

      I don’t like your tone, missy! Nor the implied threat(s). I shall have to consult with Sir Fil, because I am quite at a loss as to how to manage such a recalcitrant servant. You see, despite my veneer of elegance, grace, and sophistication, I must confess I am not to the manner born. Or Manor, as it were. No, it’s true! Hard to believe, isn’t it?

      Sadly, I too am of humble origins and was for a time a governess in the home of Sir Filthy’s German uncle, Baron Sidelong Luchs. Oh, I know it sounds trite, but my employer cast many a sidelong look in my direction (who could blame him?), and were it not for my unimpeachable virtue (and his rather unappealing looks), my story might resemble yours.

      So now that we understand each other, please do draw my bath. I would like the lilac bath salts, please. And I think I shall wear the blue satin gown, you know – the one in my portrait. It’s Sir Fil’s favourite, if you take my meaning…

      Lady Bon

  4. pastmastery Says:

    We should do this more often…Sidelong Luchs indeed.


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