Anyone for Whimsicality


The resolution to write in a serious fashion was a responsible and mature one, which truth be known is not usually my outlook when it comes to writing, but nonetheless one must with all due steadfastness forge on, irrespective of the effort this will involve.

But I still wanna do comic turns!!

And don’t we all? I mean to say, there are times when you just have to embrace the quirkiness that resides within us all and give flight to that aspect of your imagination.

So I have this humble suggestion as to one way to let off the literary steam.

Write a mangled account of a period of history just for the sheer fun of it. This exercise is also useful for giving your imagination and invention a chance to run riot. In fact something of a work out.

Firstly all due credit and acknowledgements must be given to first Sellar & Yateman who wrote 1066 and All That in 1929/30 and then to the incomparable Richard Armour who between 1955 and 1962 (approx.) took up the torch and produced the ‘It All Started With….’series. Sellar & Yateman ‘s style was to poke fun at the pervious century’s imperially and bombastic minded way of looking at things. Armour while acknowledging their inspiration added a screwball humour peppered with the type of errors as a professor he had often encountered from students.

To make the project work the writer should interpret facts incorrectly, reach ludicrous conclusions, sprinkle the text with awful puns and where suitable insert a wry observation on current life by referencing the events. Of course history can be raw and emotional so choosing an era and an incident does require a mixture of tact and probably chosing one not in living memory. These are two examples from the masters…

From 1066 and All That….”One day when George III was insane he heard that Americans had never had afternoon tea. This made him very obstinate and he invited them all to a compulsory tea-party at Boston….”

In ‘It All Started With Columbus’ Armour’s account of the same event is as follows “the colonists, who were now called Americans, which was only fair in view of what the British were being called, tried to avoid stamp tax by writing fewer and fewer letters. They became Bad Correspondents. This made the king mad, so mad that he thought up a diabolical scheme of forcing Americans to drink tea instead of coffee…”

My own endeavour came from a combination of being Catholic (by choice), recent readings of the Reformation/ Counter-Reformation period and while taking time out from such tomes reading some of the above. It is also owes something to some posts I encountered on what was apparently an on-line religious forum but tended to be a cyber-screeching match (I quit that by the way)

So in the spirit of only mangling facts and with no intention of offend anyone’s beliefs I humbly submit:

The Reformation and Counter-Reformation:

One day while walking in a field, a student Martin Luther, was struck by lightning, but survived. He soon became weary of people inferring there were many other reasons why a student would be lying confused in a field and also not wishing to risk a repeat experience he became a monk. At this time the Church had become very indulgent by making a rule which said you could do what you liked as long as you said you were sorry and paid a large amount of money to the Church. Luther thought this unfair upon the poor people and showed his displeasure by writing a version of the Bible in a very common language called The Vernacular while also by nailing nine-five pastries to the door of a church. The Church authorities summoned him to a court. Here, despite being trained as a lawyer he adopted the strange defence of standing and saying nothing. The Church lawyers naturally proved him to be an hysteric and he was sentenced to the terrible punishment of living on a diet of worms. The poor people were so outraged by this cruel treatment that they rose in rebellion. Luther confused the issue by telling them they should not rise but sit down to read his bible and do as their prince told them, while anyone who didn’t could be hung. This caused many princes to become Lutherans without asking Luther himself.

Meanwhile some peasants being very confused asked a man called John Calvin for advice, he said it didn’t matter as God knew what was going to happen, but that everyone should go to his church, just in case. Other peasants decided it would be best to listen to the Church, and to save up their money so they could indulge, which meant they had to count it a lot and this naturally led to the Counter Reformation, headed by the Church which now called itself The Catholic Church to avoid payments going to the wrong source.

Luther, probably suffering from the effects of an excess of worms decided to smuggle nuns in herring barrels. The Church (Catholic) thought there was something fishy going on but shrewdly deduced such scheme could only land him in a pickle. The Church (Catholic) was proven correct when Luther married one of the nuns, and thus was constrained by domesticity which was more effective than anything The Church (Catholic) could think of. Strangely enough these latter events have not formed the basis for a rom-com film, for as most historians agree it would be a barrel of laughs.

The questions raised by Luther have never been settled, but being modern times, these days people prefer to argue over them as Economic Issues and thus avoiding Moral Stances and subsequent cricks in the neck.

So there you go. Have fun with your own notions of how history should be read. Even post it up on your own blog.



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