Wednesday Word Tangle: How not to be ravished by the Lord of the Manor.


To say the modern world is a confounding place is rather an understatement.

There just seems to be more ‘stuff’ than there used to be. I’m not necessarily saying more sophisticated – a scan of You Tube will show you that. There are  6,940,000 cat videos: 12,700,000 dog videos. You could spend several (pointless) lifetimes watching all that codswallop. There are 8,170,000 Justin Beiber clips. See what I mean about ‘more’ not necessarily equalling ‘sophisticated’.

Imagine the lives of our forefathers, cos let’s say if you’re ‘the middling sort’ now, chances are your forebears might’ve lived even lower down the social scale.

Unless you’re reading this and you are in fact the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry and staring down from your drawing walls are generations of stern faced, bewigged, be-laced, be-silked, primped and powdered distant family members. Or you’re the Queen, in which case, what are you doing reading this? Go away and open an art gallery or walk a corgi.

However, if you’re not the Duke of Buccleuch, the Queen or any other person with a wealthy family history, then you’ll be like me. Your relatives might’ve been farriers or carpenters, shop keepers or cordwainers* – if they were respectable. Then again, they might’ve been pick-pockets, village idiots, mercenaries, gong farmers**, pure gatherers*** or ladies of unreliable – if marketable – virtue. Everyone’s gotta make a living.

Way back, they may have been serfs.

A serf’s life under feudalism was not a happy one. I once thought feudalism meant people were fighting all the time and as it was at its height during the Middle Ages, they were.

But feudalism was really the pyramid on which Medieval society was built. At the top – the king (NOT a queen – no equal rights policies back then). Below him were lords, then knights and below them a complex structure of  freemen, villeins and cottagers****. At the bottom of the heap, it meant slavery.

So a large number of people had little more to look forward to than:

* A struggle to survive into adulthood and not be killed by something contagious that gave you pustules.

* Reaching maturity and working your backside off just to eat and keep a roof over your head.

* Trying to find enough energy and time between working and being ravaged by the local lord to pass your genes on.

* Dying before you found your first grey hair.

This is, of course, a huge exaggeration. But despite being awful and awfully short, life was simpler. And thank goodness it was too.

Can you imagine, having spent sixteen hours staring at the back end of an ox team ploughing, breaking your back as you break the soil, only to have to return to your hovel, boot up the internet and struggle to remember usernames, pin numbers and the surname of your primary school English teacher, just so you can buy a week’s worth of pottage or a nice pair of hose.

Our ancestors weren’t necessarily less intelligent or able (well, some of them were, obviously) but their lives were more straightforward. They weren’t expected to know much more than their place in the scheme of things (the bottom) and which bit to pull on a cow to make milk (hint here – the collection of pink dangly bits, not the single yellowy dangly bit. That way lies pain and premature death by goring).

Today, we’re expected to mull over the vastness of the universe, which politicians are least crooked, how to work a digibox, the Bank of England’s base rate, how much your pension will be worth when you retire (another hint – always less than you thought and definitely less than you’d like) and why Kim Kardashian has such a large and well-rounded bottom.

But then again, our life expectancy is much higher than it used to be, so maybe we need all of this nonsense to pad out our long lives and stop ourselves from going bonkers.

Therefore in the spirit of confused semi-ignorance, today’s Wednesday Word Tangle word of the day is –


When mulling over possible names for this blog, I had considered SCATTY-LOGICAL. As a rather clever pun (Ha! Ha!) on today’s word. I thought it summed me up – a bit scatty, with the thinest ribbon of logic running underneath.

Then I discovered the word ‘scatology’ refers to the study of faeces or coprology. I’ve seen ‘scatological’ used to mean random or illogical, but quite honestly, I talk so much rubbish, I thought the medical meaning would surface more readily in people’s minds and who wants to run ‘the poo writing site’.

So it became Word Shamble instead. And I rather like it.

And how do you avoid being ravished by the Lord of the Manor? By being born the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, of course.

* Shoemakers to you and me.

** Someone who dug out cesspits and removed their contents. Peugh!

*** Someone who collected dog faeces to use in the tanning process. Second peugh! of the day.

**** Villeins were tenant farmers. Cottagers … not what you think. Just an owner of a small holding and a cottage. Simple days.

Written in deference to her Ladyship Kittykat-bitsandbobs, the founder of W4W