Sunday, 9 September 2007

Small minded

It's the Fun Day at our local medieval site. A middle-aged woman with dyed black hair and polyester trousers is charged with taking us round to see the pilgrim chapel, opened a few times each year to the public.

The tour starts off alright, when she's giving us some local history about the medieval relationships between priory and abbey. Then she says the monks became greedy and the abbey split away.

Well that doesn't sound like a very thorough answer based on any analysis of medieval politics. So Grit starts to ask questions which begin with the word 'Why'. I know Dig's told me off before for doing this, but I just can't help myself. What I wish for is for the person I'm speaking to either to give me a good analysis in response, or just politely get rid of me by saying something like 'I don't know', or 'That would be an interesting area for research' and leave it there.

But no. Polyester woman says that's how medieval people were. Greedy. Now Grit gets into a heated discussion with polyester woman about whether medieval people were greedy or not. Everyone else gets bored, and wishes we would both shut up,

After ten minutes of to-ing and fro-ing I start making showy-off comments about medieval politics thanks to a book I'm reading on life in the 14th century, and add how I think medieval peasants might be just like us, and not just greedy but affected by events out of their immediate surroundings.

At this point polyester woman gets fed up with me making smart-arsed comments about the medieval marketplace in the reign of Richard II and tells me outright that I'm wrong. Then it gets personal.

Polyester woman asks me where I live. She says that's not good enough for me to be able to form an opinion because I haven't seen a proper medieval village like hers. Looking down her nose at me, polyester woman says she lives in village smaller than Smalltown and she should know just how insular, in-bred and narrow-minded people are, because the man down the road married his cousin and has never been out the village for the last 20 years. So there. And she should know what small-minded people do, she says, because the man over the road puts marrows on her doorstep and doesn't even wait for a thank you. That's how people are. Peasants may be pig ignorant and narrow minded and never go out their own village but they stick together in times of marrow harvest. So there.

And we don't need to go far either to wonder why we home educate.

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