mardi, octobre 31, 2006

Parlement Journale, Part the Seconde: A Vision!

God shilde us fro meschaunce! Whanne ich last had tyme and space to enditen of my aventures at parliament, ich hadde ben tricked by Griselda Mars yn to handynge ovir the talkinge poyntes of the kinges loyal men. Ich lerned this just as ich had to goon wyth the othir communes to the chaptir hous in the Abbeye of Wesminstre, the which ys the place allotted for the communes, for ower smell pleseth nat the lordes in the Palais.

Whanne ich entred the chaptir hous, ich sawe al the communes, the gode knightes and burgeses and men of wit and lerninge who had com to speke for their shires and citeez. And sum ich sawe ther were kinge richardes men who had ben at the benefit dinner the night bifor – mesemede thei suffred gret unese, for all ower talkinge poyntez had ben disclosid.

Vp roos thanne a knight that was helde wys, by leve and by conseil of othir that were ther, and seide: “May the Lord blesse vs all! Gentils, ye all haue heard how Chancellor de la Pole hath tolde vs a tale of the causes of this parliament, how he hath seyde that ower lord the King nedeth gret amountes of cash and taxacioun for his werres.”

“Yay!” ich roos vp thanne and spoke with noble steven, “For the Reaume mesemeth is in gret peril from the malicious Frensshe, in greter peril than evir bifor. For a Frensshe flete hath ygadrid to make invasioun vpon ower lande. Gret peril! We must all drede the peril! For the Frensshe shal turn al of our filmes in to non-linear meditaciouns vpon lyf and deeth both insouciant and melancolie. And eek thei shal destroyen...”

“Namoore of this, for Goddes dignitee,” quod the knight, “What maner doofus artow, that thou rehersest the talkinge poyntez of the kinge? For thei haue all been addressid and defeatid. Ay, the Frensshe do seeke to make werre vpon vs, but the moost freshe newes saith that their fleet is all kindes of disorganized and bad wedir hath y-messed-vp ther shippes. No attack loometh as yet. As for the threte thei pose to ower cinema, ich wolde thinke that ‘Love Actually’ doth prove that ower cinema is a threte vnto itself.”

And ther was muchel laughter. And the men of king richardes faction did glare me-vpon as if to seye ‘do nat make thinges worse for vs.’

And the knightes speche continued: “And thogh the threte from the Frensshe remaineth, even thogh ther flete cometh nat soon, yet ther is a greter threte: for we knowe that the houshold of the kinge is full of fooles and liares who take the money of taxacioun and spende it to ther owen avantage. Nat oon grot that is y-gadrid gooth to the defens the reaume, only to the vainglorie of the kinges false freendes. Michel de la Pole buyeth much land wyth money he hath from the king y-stole. And what man kan speke fully of the surquiderie and ill conduct of Robert de Vere, whom the king hath - in blindnesse of this mannes baseness - raysed to the ranke of Duk of Ireland. Ay, this fals de Vere who hath yiven up hys lawful wyf to gallivant about wyth Parys Launcecrona. And thuswise the hard-erned goodes of ower constituents go to buye mower bottles of Kristal for Launcerona and de Vere's table. The luxuries of thes false men do stryke the kingdom wyth horrible woundes. Certes, good sires, in no maner shal the Frensshe werre be broghte to good conclusion vntil the houshold of the kinge be broghte to good order. What say ye?”

And al assentid wyth oon voys.

Wel, almost al. The kinges faction did slip out stelthily lyk vnto the audience of a conference panel whan the wyne hour hath alreadye started. And yet ich moved nat to go wyth hem, for it semed that the knight spak trewthe, thogh it semed lyk tresoun.

And at that verye moment, ich felle doun in a swoon. (Ich haue been falling y-doun into swoones pretty much on a dailye basis evir syn ich haue been slepinge in William Langelandes gest-room and etinge hys food – methinketh the meales in his hous are full of pejote and valium. The man hymself ys basicallye a narcoleptique).


In my swoone thus, ich dremte that ich was yn a feelde wyth singinge briddes in the trees and a river cler as crystal. And ner my feete were V smal figures. Thei were made in the forme of liouns: and oon was azur, an othir was as grene as the feelde. The thridde was as red as blod, and the ferthe was yelwe lyk the blosmes of the dandelion. The Vthe smal figur of a lion was blakke as the night. And ich picked up the liouns, and niste what thei ment or who had mad them, or why thei were in the grasse in my allegorical landscape. Ther was also a smal perle next to the liouns, but ich ignored it by cause ich figured som oon els was lookinge for it.

And thus ich wandrid holding the smal figures of the liouns, vntil ich cam to a man who was clothed al in blak. And he seyde to me, “Gode sone, what cariestow in thy hondes?” And ich seyde, “Smal figures of liounes.” And he seyde, “How many?” And ich seyde, “Fyve.” And he seyde, “Trewelye, my son, thes fyve liounes signifien thy fyve senses, which sholde telle thee wher thy trewe path lieth. For by sight thou knowst sum thing of the matir at hand, and eek by thy heringe, and folowingly thurgh touch, smel, and tastinge. But thou hast nat putte hem al togedir.”

And thanne ich knewe, for ich put the liounes togedir and thei formed the figure of a mighti knight and a wise, lyk vnto the knight who spak.

“Behold! Put al thy senses togedir and thou getest the figure of Voult-Roune, which bitokeneth 'turne in secret.' For my sone, thou must joyne wyth thes ffolke as thy fyve senses say. For thou seest wyth thyn eyen the sory state of the reaume, and thou herest wyth thyn heringe the wordes of this knight, and thou touchest the matir wyth thy minde. And thus...”

“What about smel and tastinge?”

“Sum tymes the allegory worketh nat out completely. Just listen to me, felawe, go wyth thy felinge. Dostow trust this knight and wisshe to helpe the communes ayeinst de la Pole?”

“I do!”

“Thou must speke wyth greter felinge, for I heere thee nat.”

“I do!”


“I DO!”


At which I wook, and sawe the communes weren deep in debaat. And sum oon had at that moment asked the question, “Who will go wyth me to get the secret evidence ayeinst de la Pole?” And by cause ich had screamid “I do,” I was chosen for the job.

And thus ich was no lenger a trewe yes-man of the kinges faction, but a man who wolde folwe thes communes to remove de la Pole from offyce. And ich was scared that Tommy Vsk would at me be soore y-pissed.

Of what then happed, vpon the journey to fynde the evidence, ich shalle write soon.

And who was the man in blak, ye maye ask? Ich knowe nat, but it semed he stood within a burninge ringe of fyre.

samedi, octobre 28, 2006

this maketh me to seem ungentil and unkynde!

Geoffrey heere. Ich hope ye gentil ffolke take gret solaas from my new contributour, Sir John Mandeville. It is a greet honour to haue swich a renouned compositor writinge for myn litel blogge.

Mower newes of parliament shal coom soon, ich promise yow by Seynt Espedito! It ys a straunge tyme - ich haue been shot at with arwes. Fret nat, for ich do lyue and am unharmed. And right nowe ich am windinge down at Langlandes hous by takinge a litel quiz. The resultes plese me nat. Cursed be thes quizzes and memes! Ich am a man of feythful herte, and nat slydynge of corage.

Ich nam nat random, and brutal ys a thing ich shalle nevir be. And the only magister amoris is the swete-tonged and sharp-witted Ovid Naso of the romanes, may Christ pitie his hethen soul.

vendredi, octobre 20, 2006

Sir John Mandeville

Benedicitee, good readers all!

Allow me to introduce myne-self. I am Sir John Mandeville, knyght, though that I unworthy am. Yow myght have read myne best-sellyng travelogue, The Travels of Sir John Mandeville (that is I!), the which recounts mine aventures beyond the see, whych first I passed whan I had but xv winteres age. Yt is nat overweening to claim that myne travelogue ys y-flying off the shelves; oonly our holy writ hath y-sold more copies, but (and I mene no disrespecte to the evangelistes!) holy writ hath not the chilles and spilles of myne travel boke.

So yow may be wonderynge, what is Sir John Mandeville, raconteur par excellence, best-sellynge travel writer, and gentilman aventurer, doing on this blogge? Scholde he nat be elleswhere, preparynge another bestsellyng volume of the wonders he hath y-seen? Or scholde he nat be away in the service of t'emperour Prester John or the sultan of Egypte? Be there nat some actes of derring-do with which Sir John must concern himselfe?

Nay, nay, good readeres, mine dayes of travel in the easte, they are y-done. After xxv yeeres in the orient I have retourned to Engelonde, to serve myne owne kyng and native countree. I am an Englishmanne, born and bred of St Albans, and I am ryght glad to be home agayn. Besides, the food abroad is nat very goode, and the privees on the continent been right drasty —in Fraunce they ne have ne seats, and in Allemagne there be verray shelves in the privees upon which one relieves oneself. What the helle is thatte aboute? Anyway, yt is good to be home agayn.

Whan that I returned from beyond the see I presented myselfe to the king’s pleasure att his court, and in his graciousness he hath retained me in his service. Thus I am the kinges gofer, with specialle charge to traverse the lengthe and breadthe of Engelonde collecting informacioun about our liege lord the kynges greet-grandsire, Kyng Edward the Secounde, the same kynge whom our lord Kinge Richard is beseeching our hooly father the pope in Rome to canonize. I have been in the kynges employ for but three dayes, and I have already two reports of myracles that I must investigate. So must I away to Kent and to Yorkshire to investigate these marvells, the which I schal share with yow, the gode readers of Maister Geoffrey Chauceres mooste excellent blogge.

But how, you ask, Sir John, do yow knowe our maister Geoffrey Chaucer? We have made acquaintance this verray month, in London, the which greet citee ys all abuzz at the sytting of parlement. Herk ye, and I schall relate the tale of how I met the good Chaucer.


I was walkyng around the Kinges Cross one evening, lookyng for a good tyme, whan that I saw a poster uppon a walle. "2d. all-yow-can-drynk at the Bell Tavern" it said. Gracious me, I thought! I have two pence! I am parched, verily! And ys nat wyne good for myne heart? Yt is what the sultanes physician y-told me in Babylon. Thys is a ryght blessed finding! And so I walked yn-to the Bell Tavern.

O, the chaos! O, the wylde turbulence! There I was the oonly gentil who hath more than xvi yeeres of age! Gangs of yowths were all besmotered with ale, and broken crispes were uppon the flore so that I ne could nat walk withouten makynge crunchynge noises! Natheless, I strode towards the bar, t'inquire of the 2d. special, when one of the yowths, all red and slurred of speche for drynkyng, yelled at me, "Wot you doing 'ere, grampa?" I looked round mine-self, seekyng some olde man. Litle dyd I know that he spoke of me, Sir John Mandeville hym-selfe! Dyd he nat knowe to whome he spake? "Surely yow meene nat I," quoth I. "I am Sir John Mandeville, knyght of Sainte Albans, best-sellying author of The Travels of John Mandeville."

"I've 'eard a that," quoth one of the yowths. "It is bollocks the lot of it. Ain't nuffink true about no dog 'eaded men or Prester John." "Yeah," quoth another. "Far as you've ever travelled is the library!" "O fals churls," said I, "yow knowe nat of what yow speke, and I have a mynde to teche yow some courtesie!" Atte this I recched for myne swerd, but atte this the yowths began to throw at me--Sir John Mandeville!--pint glasses, crips packets, and sundry botles empty and half-full.

O wretched yobbes and chavvs! Oon of the accursed yowths hyt me ryght above mine lefte eye-browe with a bottle of J2O, leaving quite the gash, and I was y-pelted wyth all other manere of bottles and rubbyshhe. Discretioun is the better part of valour some-tymes, and I supposed yt nat terribly chivalrous to sley teenagers, so I yelled at the yowths that I wolde prey for their soules as I betoke myself from thatte pub with some haste.

So thar I was, reekynge of apple-mango J2O, bleedynge from myne foreheed, pryde verray much injured. I espyed a pub across thatte same street, a darke little taverene yclept The Winchester. I walked in and satte at the bar.

"A, good sire," said a lytle man seated uppon a stool neare me, whose elfysshe presence I had noticed nat. "Yow looke lyke yow have seen better dayes."

I looked at the man--a man knowne well to readers heere!--and studyed his visage. Yow knowe hym welle; I need nat describe hym here save to maken mencioun that his woolen hatte was drypping wette. "Whatte happeend to youre hatte, good sire?" asked I.

"The chavs across the streete poured beere upon myne heed and made funne of myne weight," said he. "And now, I have namoore monie for to spend at the pub. I hadde but two pence for the whole of the nyght, the whych I have used heere. Allas and welaway! I am sytting in Kinge Richardes parlement, and I have already y-spent this weekes allowance buying olde bokes on the Charing Cross Road."

"King Richardes parlement?" quod I. "I am ryght new retained by hys majestie on his privee busynesse! I am a kynges man also!" We thus fell ynto talkynge, he and I, and I was moost happy to keep the ale y-flowynge. We talked of many a murie thynge long ynto the nyght. What became of thys talkynge? Muchel of our discussioun touched uppon matteres of wrytynge--of whych I schal nat bore yow heere--but I learned also of thisse blogge, the which the goode Chaucer hath invited me to poste from tyme to tyme as travel editour and raconteur-atte-large.

Well, I must away to Dungeness in Kent, there to see yf Edward II's face has appeared in a breaded snakke of grilled cheese. Stay tuned for myne updates about thatte mattere! Also stay tuned for myne exposee about a notorious and filthy liar whose verray soule is polluted with falsenesse and who in lyf was given to wilde exageraccioun--I mene Marco Polo, that wankere. Any-way, more aboutte that when I retourn from Kent.

A bientot,

Sir John

jeudi, octobre 05, 2006

Parlement Journale, Parte the Firste: Decepcioun!

O straunge worlde, for the dayes are fulle of selcouthes and no thyng is as it semeth. Alwey in my fantasie syn ich was a yonge man, ich thoghte Parlement to be a grete and noble assemblee, wher the wisdam of the reaume was spoken in the presence of oure sovereyn kynge for the sake of the commun good. But al thing in this worlde adoun is lyk vnto a cake fulle of beares– on the outsyde, it appeareth delicious and plesaunte, but inside yt is crawlinge wyth beestes that wisshe to clawe thee to deeth. For nowe ich see that Parlement is fulle of thretes and secretes, and matirs derke.

On Sundaye night, the daye bifor the grete openinge of parlement, ther was a speciale recepcioun for folk lyk myself who had come to parlement to speke for the shires. Yt was held in the halle of the exchequer, wyth the tables of rekynynges laden wyth metes and drinke. Michel de la Pole, the Earl of Suffolk and Chancellor of the reaume, frende of Kyng Richard, was ther, and he did shake the handes of al who were presente, and callid vs by oure names and bad vs drinken depe of the ale and maken murye. He yaf vs alle small billes, the whiche contayned the poyntez which we were to speken of for the good of the reaume, and he avised vs to keep the smalle billes secure.

The small billes were covered wyth thys text:

Whanne a felawe comoner of parlement or a cronicler or othir member of the media doth aske yow of the business of parlement, ye shal saye the following

A. Frensshe flete has gadrid for to make invasion in ower lande
B. Frensshe shal turne alle of our filmes in to non-linear meditaciouns on lyf and deeth both insouciant and melancholie
C. Frensshe shal destroyen the Englisshe language and create a world maad only of voweles
D. Frensshe shal covir Engelonde wyth cafes wher yt costeth more to drinke coffee sittinge doun than standing up
E. If alle else faileth, repete “grete peril, grete peril” lyk vnto a psalme

And he shal do so for the followinge wyse and rightful causes:
A. We fare bettir to fighten the enemye acrosse the see than heere in owere owene lande
B. The kinge is mighti and fullye committede to the governement of his reaume and ys not a “wussy” as sum sclanderers haue seyde
C. Yt is right and proper to pursue the kynges clayme to the crowne of Fraunce
D. We muste winne honour
E. the werre has nat even lastede C yeres yet - it is too soon to throwe in the towele
F. If alle else faileth, repete “winne honour, winne honor” lyk vnto a psalme

A. that is, alle the cash we kan get from the contree

Thes thinges me semed good and ful of wisdam, and fayre to speken for the safetee of the reaume. And yet, ich sawe but fewe men of parlement ther in that halle. Ich trowe, ther mvste haue ben gadrid on that night but halfe the men that cam to Westminstre for parlement. For the communes aren manye, and this felaweshippe was smal. And manye of hem who stod ther wyth the Chancellor were knowen to me as frendes of the kinge and loyal servauntz to hys majestee.

And yet litel me thought of thes thinges, for the ale was good and moyst and fre of charge. Ich dranke depe and talkede wyth manye men, and we swalwed gret draughtes for the kinges helth. Tommy Vsk did come and we did talke of this and that. Ich askid Vsk whedir all the men of parlement had been called to this meetinge and he seyde, "Every liege at parlement loial to the Kyng hath ben callid heere tonight, but nat the foule churles who wolde arguen ayeinst the wyse counsels of the Kyng and the Chancellor."

The moon brightli shone, and ich was alle fordronken so that ich coud scarce feel my owen legges vndir me. Drink had me daswed. Ich knewe ich coud nat retourne to Langelondes hous, so ich took my reste at an inn that stood nere to the palais of Westminstre. Ich payde the keeper for a room and did climb the stayres to go to slepe. On the stayres, a fayre wenche cam me-towardes. She must haue ben but of XVIII yere of age, wyth heere as yelwe as flaxe ysponne, and body gent and smal. She was ful moore blisful on to see than is the newe pere-jonette tree.

“Hi, uh, were you at the meeting?”

“Fayre mayde, mene ye the meetinge at the exchequer wher the talkinge poyntez weren yiven vnto vs?”

“The, uh, talking points. Yeah, exactly. Good. I’m the handmaid for Quelquechose. He was at the meeting and he, uh, well, he got a little drunk.”

“Goddes curse on men who are dronkelewe and guzzleres of ale,” ich sayde, and then burpid in a maner uncouth and my face wexed reede wyth shame. And yet the fayre wenche spoke further.

“Well, so Sir Roland made like a frat boy with the beer and all, and he kind of lost his talking points. He's got me running around trying to find other men, uh, loyal to the king who might have them. Could I just borrow your talking points? I’ll make a fair copy for Sir Roland and you’ll have them back before you know it. I’ll just put them under your door. Pretty please? ”

“No thyng wolde greter plese me than to do courtesie to yow and to yower mayster the goode sire Quelquechose, o mayden swete and fayre,” quod ich, and bente me lowe to honour her and yaf hir the talkinge poyntez. And than ich stumbled to my slepe.

And yet whan I wook, no oon had putte the bille of talkinge poyntez backe vndir my door. Ich askede the inn keeper if a braue knight ycleped Quelquechose had taken his reste ther, and the inn keeper seyde he knew no swich name, but it semed to hym that it mente somethinge. And thanne ich asked of the fayre wenche, who she was and whider she had com, and the inn keeper tolde me that he knewe her nat but that she had come ther yesternight at the tyme of vespers and she had hunge around talkinge on a verye expensive celle phone and makinge snarky remarkes.

And as ich stod adased and wondired on what thes thinges coud mene, it cam to my memorie that it was Mondaye morne, and the daye of Parlement! Ich hoofed it to the halle of Westminstre, and entered it in last nightes clothes, stinkinge lyk vnto a beer-pong table.

O the pompe and majestee! Ther was a grete thronge of peple, gentils and menne of richesse fro the shyres, and grete lordes wyth her retinuez, alle assemblid in the Paynted Chamber of Westminstre. Ther were merchantz in liveree of manye coloures, and knightez sadde who had served in werres, professional politicians who shifty looked, and bifor hem alle sat Kyng Richard in hys splendor, and bifor hym was Michel de la Pole the chancellor.

The Chancellor bigan to speke, and he toold of the resons for the callinge of parlement, and he did in grete voys and loude, and wyth fayre speche. And yet noon of yt was newe to me, for it was alle the poyntez of talkinge that ich had rede of at the recepcioun yesternight: that the kinge was to make werre vpon the Frensshe, and that the communes should commit ther shires to yive moneye for the werre, and eek he gave the resons forwhy, et cetera et cete-

Ich sterted, for som oon clasped me by the shouldre. It was Tommy Vsk, and his eyen were fulle of ire.


“That looketh bad,” ich seyde.

“Bad in deed,” he sayde, “Sikerly, ther hath ben a leek.”

“That smelle ys juste my clothes from last nighte,” I seyde.

“Nay,” quod he, “Ich mene ther hath been a leek in ower securitee. Alle folke of Londoun haue thes billes, and thei aren posted on everye chirche-dore. How has this come to pass? Hastow yiven thy liste of talking poyntez to any oon?”

“Nay, to noon but the loial mayde of Sir Quelquechose.”

“Ther beth no knight of that name in the Kinges faction,” seyde Vsk, “What maner of mayde was she?”

“She lookid kynde of lyk Keira Knightly ycrossid with Sarah Michelle Gellar, but in a good way.”

“Geoffrey Chaucer, thou sely foole, thou hast discovered the kinges secretes to Griselda Mars!”

But we coud talke na moore, for the speche of de la Pole was finisshed, and alle the communes wente awey to the Chapter Hous of the abbey for to speke of the respons thei sholde make to the demaundes for moneye, and ich wente with hem in my capacitee as elected representative of Kent, and Vsk ranne off on busyness of his owene.

O, my rederes, ther ys much moore to telle of, but my handes are sore and my eyen are blered and my herte filled wyth doute. Soon ich shalle telle yow of what bifel in the Chapter Hous, and eek what ich lerned of the plottes and plannes of the factions. And yet ich tremble as I type, for ich scarce knowe wher my loyaltee stondeth.