Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bertie Wooster on human sacrifice

Bertie Wooster steps up to the podium and orates:

Hallo, old beans and sausages. My old pal Auberon 'Ruggles' Rafferty asked me to stand in his place here for the sake of old Balliol, and all that, while he settlesa few, ah, business transactions. He may be away for a while - and I don't mind saying, just between you and me, that he's in a spot of bother.

So now you've got me, Bertie Wooster. I'll be presenting the lecture today on - now let me see, where are those paper - AH! - no - no - here it is - "Hum-an Sacri... HUMAN SACRIFICE!" Gor blimey! Er, that is to say, in the words of the poet, YAWP! I never knew that Ruggles went into this sort of business!

Ahem. Anyway, as I was saying, human sacrifice is an old English tradition - so old that it goes back to at least the time of that blighter - what's his name? - yes, Nelson, that's right. If not before.

It's not an easy thing to do, as a chappie, go up to another chappie, shake their hands and look them in the eye, and say, "Look here, old bean. We're going to have to take you down to the sacrificial temple and take your life, for the sake of the Celtic Twilight or the Great Saxon Breed, or some such tommyrot." So why did our primitive Irish ancestors do it? Eh, don't ask me. I'm not an expert. Anyway, one imagines such laudable sentiments as Love of Country or Commitment to Progress would have had something to do with it. Also, that Irish poteen is something else, what? But the answer to the question is, fundamentally, lost in the histories of mystery. Er, that is to say, lost in the mysteries of hist. I mean, the hists of time... oh, dash it all!

And now, we come to one of my favourite parts of the lecture. Every time I give a lecture (and this is the first time) I look forward to this part: the practical! Now, do I have any volunteers from the audience to be a human sacrifice? How about you, young Blandish? No? Anyone else want to offer their blood upon this sacred podium as a meet sacrifice for the pagan Gods? So, see what I mean? Practically nobody wants to do it. Which I'd say is a pretty good demonstration of how much we've moved on since then.

You have to wonder how these chappies did it. Well, being ancients, they would have run one another through with lances or donged one another over the head with hauberks, or some such. Maces might have had something to do with it, or swords coming into contact with jugular veins. Maybe consult your local GP about it. There would have been a bit of blood and what-not, but the blighters that performed these sacrifical duties were hard, flint-eyed types who would later turn into the sorts of chaps that are bookies at the races, or those whey-faced semi-criminal types at the Internal Revenue Service. So the blood wouldn't have bothered them a bit.

Human sacrifice was inapplicably linked - eh? - inextricably linked, I should say, with the history of Celtic Britain. So once they had performed a sacrifice for the week and caught the blood in a golden cup or whatever, they'd go down to the Irish club and play a bagpipe and tell rousing tales about Cuchulain and read poems by Yeats until the cows came home. (Though some of them were already there.)

However, nowadays, human sacrifice is as rare as bagpipes at your local Vicarage Musical Evening, and a good deal less popular, though I prefer the cinema myself. And a jolly good thing, too. Except for, of course, the occasional throwbacks, such as my Aunt Agatha who eats broken glass and likes to sacrifice a servant each morn before tea.

And that is all about human sacrifice you bally-well ever need know.

NEXT WEEK: Bertie Wooster orates on the Tropic of Cancer, and the summer resort town of Ebola!


Mitzi G Burger said...

Humpty Timty, this sort of satire borders on the sacriligeous (to some) and I dare say some of the king's horses and men would like to see you pushed off the wall for sketching an accurate picture of the truth ( as glimpsed by the truth-seeking mote in your mind's eye.)

TimT said...

My Irish bagpipe-playing poteen-quaffing ancestors may never forgive me!

TimT said...

And heaven knows what Nottlesby would say...

Mitzi G Burger said...

Nottlesby's not saying much at the moment. (Ahem. Pipe up old boy!)

alexis said...

I am reminded of Tennyson's "The Lady of Garotte". Do not axe me why.

TimT said...

"The hearse is come upon me!" cried
The Lady of Garotte.

kiki said...

i'm reminded of Hamlet's second soliloquy.

"Death, the undiscovered country. From who's bourne no traveler returns"

maybe that's why nobody is into that shit anymore?
cause everyone wants to return home at the end of the day
nobody likes being out of their comfort zone too long these days you know.

they might miss the BB highlights show or some-such.

TimT said...

True, though lots of people did it! It would kinda make sense if it was somebody in Tribe A killing somebody in Tribe B (calls to mind Mel Brooks' version of a national anthem in the time of cavemen: "Let them all go to hell except cave 76!"), since tribal loyalties trumped most other things back then. But I'm not so sure it was always that way, or even that way very often: Wikipedia doesn't really specify on this point -

Mitzi G Burger said...

For eight years I was part of a Jewish youth movement named after an Israeli soldier who, rather than let his kibbutz be invaded, ran to shut the gates in the direct line of enemy fire and copped it. The movement's theme song goes "to die or to conquer the hill" (the latter being the hill - Tel Chai, "Hill of Life", on which that particular kibbutz sat); and the anthem glorifies the self-sacrifice of the bunch of Jews stranded on top of Mount Massada in defiance of iminent slavery and conversion under the Romans. So I took my grief lessons early on. I'm sympathetic to sacrifice but not too active a participant, mind you.

TimT said...

True, it's not something you can do too many times. Though that's not to put down people who are brave enough and generous enough to lay down their lives for others.

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