24 January, 2007

Five Facts meme

Constance tagged me to do the ‘Five Crazy Facts About Me’ meme. I’m not big on memes, as I can never think of anything interesting to say about me (certainly can’t match Sarah J, Susan, Gabriele and Constance on this one). However, Alianore had the idea of doing the meme for someone interesting from history (Edward II, in her case), which is a lot more promising. So, here are five Very Boring Facts about me, followed by Five Facts about someone much more interesting.

Five Very Boring Facts about me

1. I’m a scientist who’s equally interested in history. This seems quite normal to me, but apparently they are supposed to be mutually exclusive.

2. I love moors and mountains, but live in one of the flattest regions of Britain.

3. I wear my hair in the same style as a woman buried in 590 AD on the Isle of Man. She had a single plait lying over her right shoulder. I wonder if whoever buried her placed it there, or if her plait always lay over that shoulder because she was right-handed?

4. I like ironing. Provided there’s something interesting to listen to on the radio.

5. I write fiction (actually, that probably counts as crazy)

(That should teach you all never to bother tagging me again!)

Five Facts about someone from history

1. He’s the patron saint of tramps

2. He owed his life on at least one occasion to a woman’s powers of persuasion

3. His reign was such a byword for good government that a century after his death it was said that under his rule a woman could carry her newborn babe across the island from sea to sea without the least fear of harm

4. At least four different stories are recorded about his conversion to Christianity, which is rather a lot.

5. The Pope sent his wife a present of a silver mirror and a gold and ivory comb. (One hopes that this wasn’t a comment on the lady’s appearance or grooming, or her vanity)


Daphne said...

I think the ironing counts as crazy too!! I don't iron unless it is absolutely, positively necessary and even then, I complain about it.

As for the famous person from history, I remember reading somewhere about fact number 3 but can't for the life of me remember who it was in reference to.

Kathryn Warner said...

Ironing?? The horror! For me, that's the Worst Chore Ever. Completely agree about the mountains though, and I come from the Lake District, so that fits quite well. ;)

Rick said...

The easy cheat would be to google up patron saints, but I rise above it.

Alas, safely carrying a baby (or bag of gold) across the kingdom is a trope that has been applied to many rulers remembered as good kings, so that doesn't narrow it down very much!

I'm puzzled, though, by your remark that One hopes that this wasn’t a comment on the lady’s appearance or grooming. I suspect that a mirror and hairbrush were standard gifts to a lady, precisely because they imply she is good looking and has nice hair. A stylized mirror, in fact, is the symbol of Venus, and hardly connotes that her face will break it!

(Perhaps a slightly odd gift for the Pope to send, though!)

Susan Higginbotham said...

Have to agree with Daphne and Alianore about the ironing. I can't remember the last time I've ironed--my family all affects the fashionably rumpled look (or, at least, the rumpled look).

Eager to learn the identity of the mystery man . . .

Carla said...

Daphne, Alianore, Susan - okay, you can chalk up ironing as crazy, if you like :-) But when else am I going to get the chance to listen to In Our Time?

Quite right that No. 3 has been applied to any number of Good Kings, probably including King Arthur for all I know. In this case it's Edwin of Deira and Northumbria, 617-633, and the line comes from Bede Book II Ch. XVI (scroll down).

Rick - The mirror comment was merely a flippant remark :-)
Clearly an expensive mirror and comb was a prestige diplomatic gift in the 630s. I was thinking of an archaeology report I read recently that interpreted a comb on top of a coffin in a grave as a sign that one of the mourners remembered the deceased as unkempt, and of Bilbo's parting gift of a mirror to a vain great-niece in Lord of the Rings. On such random tangents does my mind wander. Sorry.
It did strike me as slightly odd for a gift from a Pope, because one normally expects the Church to disapprove of anything resembling vanity, but maybe that came in later with the sort of medieval piety that revered St Thomas Becket's lice-ridden underpants.

I was looking up mirror and comb symbols in another context a few days ago, and although plenty of places say the mirror and/or comb were symbols of Venus/Aphrodite, a quick search only turned up one classical statue showing her holding them. Now, five minutes on Google doesn't count as research, but that made me wonder if the symbol is actually later, medieval alchemy and all that. Does anyone happen to know of a good source for symbols associated with the Greco-Roman gods in classical times?

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

My other half does the ironing because he enjoys it. In fact he'll do any housework (if prompted first!)except for cooking. He doesn't 'do' cooking, but since I enjoy that as much as I dislike ironing, it's a fair exchange. My mother loves ironing - even does sheets, pants and towels. Perish the thought!
As to the famous person from history...I have to admit I didn't have a clue. Henry I's reign was a byword for good government, but he didn't have to be converted to Christianity. Why is he the patron saint of tramps?

Carla said...

Elizabeth - because he was chased out of his kingdom by a rival (actually his brother-in-law) as a young man and "wandered as an unknown fugitive through many lands and kingdoms" as Bede puts it. My reading of the sources is that he was exiled for 12 years; the leading alternative chronology would make it 24. Either way it was a long time. At least, I assume that's why he got tramps when the patronage was being handed out. I rather think it would have amused him.
I'm not surprised you hadn't a clue, BTW, it's a decidedly minority-interest period of history!

Constance Brewer said...

Carla, it rolls downhill, as they say. Don't blame me, blame the source - Scott!

To me, science and history go hand in hand. I'm puzzled by those who think they are totally seperate entities.
I haven't ironed a thing since I got out of the Army. I wasn't even tempted until I made a linen tunic for reenactment. *g*
I live on the plains between two mountain ranges and wouldn't have it any other way. Height is highly overrated.

The combination of patron saint, reign, and wife is throwing me. how about a time range hint??

Scott Oden said...

Hey, it wasn't my fault ;) I got tagged by Beth Ciotta. As I felt the urge to share the love, I had to tag Constance (with Gabriele and my friend Kris, who never responded). Memes: the gift that keeps on giving ;)

I would say we spread the whole 5 things historical meme across the 'net, but the Guardians of All Things Historical have revoked my Historical license -- something about perverting the Crusades for personal gain . . .

Carla said...

Sorry, typo in last night's comment, it should have been 29 not 24.

Constance - bear in mind that British mountains are very old and consequently rather low in altitude. The highest, Ben Nevis, is 4000+ feet above sea level. I might feel different about big, young, high mountains.
I didn't really mean it as a guessing game, because as I said to Elizabeth above it's an obscure period of history. If you want a clue, the date is the first half of the seventh century AD and the location is Britain. (Answer in one of my comments above, for when you get tired of guessing).

Scott - a good many of the participants used the Crusades for personal gain, so aren't you carrying on the tradition? Tell that to the Guardians and ask for your license back :-)

Alex Bordessa said...

I like ironing too, with either the tv or the radio on. Not crazy.

I'm afraid I knew who the mystery man was, though didn't know he was patron saint of tramps.

Bernita said...

I iron, on average, once every five years.
Had the impression popes were a lot more secular and very political even unto much later periods, so the gift does not surprise me.

Gabriele Campbell said...

The only thing that reconciles me with ironing is that my father invites me to our favourite Italian restaurant afterwards. Because it's one of the few household things he can't do well. ;)

c'me on. You wrote some historical fiction books and that counts. Heck, I got a selkie in Rome plotbunny a few days ago and don't think anyone will remove my license. They better don't, or I'll send Arminius after them with that big sword of his. If I don't borrow a rifle and to it myself.

Carla said...

Alex - not quite a minority of one, then, that's a comfort! As I said, it wasn't really intended to be a guessing game, though I thought you might recognise him anyway as you write in the same period.

Bernita - I'm impressed that you have such detailed statistics :-)

Gabriele - neat idea! Wish I'd thought of that.
Do I get the impression that whatever you and Scott are talking about is over my head?

Constance Brewer said...

But... but... we LIKE guessing games! *g*

(Scott, it's always your fault. Get used to it.)

I'm working on a really simple meme. The Two Word Meme. If you cant answer in two words, then you're thinking too hard. Also known as the Lazy Person's Meme. Coming soon to a blog near you...

Carla, what's with your word verification calling me a "ynghypy"
I am NOT a hypy. Nor am I yng. :P

Carla said...

Constance - you can guess if you want, just don't look at the answer first! I thought it would be very unfair to set a question that only about 3 people on the planet might know the answer to (though I had a college tutor once who liked that sort of question).
The word verification is a law unto itself - don't ask me what it's thinking :-)

Rick said...

Carla - belated reply, but an interesting question about the use of a mirror or comb as symbols. Who knows what some of the now arm-less statues of Aphrodite were holding, but I wouldn't be surprised if the familiar symbols such as the stylized mirror for Venus are post-classical.

The astrological symbol for Virgo, at least, (an M with a squiggle) is almost certainly post-classical. I just learned a few days ago that this symbol is an abbreviation of "Maria," i.e. the Virgin Mary. I suppose it might conceivably go back to the very end of antiquity, but that sort of usage seems far more likely to be medieval, even perhaps Renaissance.

Carla said...

Rick - it's never too late to comment! I didn't know that about the symbol for Virgo, but it makes perfect sense. If the Virgin Mary had a central role in early Christianity (as we discussed here earlier) it might go back to Late Antiquity/Early Medieval. Middle Ages or Renaissance seem equally (if not more) likely, though. Maybe Renaissance scholars, getting interested in the pagan gods of the classical past again, developed symbols for them. Or how about the Arabic scholars of the Middle Ages? I have a vague recollection that an awful lot of astrology/astronomy, mathematics and science came to medieval Europe via the Arab world. Isn't alchemy itself an Arabic word? Maybe some of the astrological symbols come from there.

Kaye for Zing Pictures said...

Isn't it interesting that everyone comments on the ironing? As a former R4 producer I can reveal that ironing is why radio was invented.
On the history/science divide, I'm right in the middle of Lisa Jardine's Ingenious Pursuits. Perhaps not be be read through all in one go, but a treat, nonetheless.

Carla said...

Hello Kaye and thanks for dropping by. It is curious, isn't it? I had no idea domestic chores were so interesting :-)
I've noticed Lisa Jardine's book but not yet got around to reading it. What's it like? It ought to be fascinating.