Monday, December 20, 2010

Carrying on

I am happy to report that I have discovered another opportunity to use the word recusant. You may recall I learned the word doing research for the unfortunate Guy Fawkes incident. I feel if one doesn't use new words, one quickly forgets them. Unfortunately, recusant isn't a word often used in my country, since people here could care less about someone's religion. Couldn't care less, I mean. Unless they are Muslim, I guess, but that is quite another story.

Recusant, I'm sure you remember, means Roman Catholic. Well, actually it means refusing to be Church of England, but Catholic is the main alternate choice that used to piss off Henry VIII, good queen Bess, James six-one (or is it one-six?), et al. Et tu. Et eggs.

"What did you have for breakfast, Tommy?"

"Teacher, I et six eggs for breakfast."


"Maybe it WAS eight I et."


It all started when I was doing research on the Order of the Garter. I think that part started when I Googled the Princess Royal by mistake, and I'm not sure the connection. I am even less sure how that led to another opportunity to use recusant. Wait... now I remember. That Parker-Bowes fellow was Anne's first boyfriend.

It's all rather circular: sir Humphrey de Trafford, millionaire multimillionaire racehorse owner, who came by his fortune through sacrifice and hard work and not through being connected to the right people, had a daughter who was the mother of the aforementioned Andrew Parker-Bowes, the guy who had the brief "relationship" with the Princess Royal whose brother quite liked one Camilla Rosemary Shand (whom I refuse to call Rosie) who later became the Dutchess of Cornwall (unless you are of the Scottish persuasion, then she's the Dutchess of Rothesay.) Well, Andrew didn't marry Anne, whom he was dating, and neither did her brother marry Camilla, whom he was more than infatuated with, so the sordid story goes. No, indeed. Andrew married Camilla right out from under him. In a manner of speaking. Then, though Andrew did marry Camilla, he, Andrew, took up with one Rosemary Pitman, descendent of the famous inventor of the Pitman system of shorthand writing, Andrew seemingly having a weakness for women named Rosemary, while the aforementioned brother of the Princess Royal never really let his affection for the Andrew-wife Camilla stay what you would call unrequited, if you get my drift. Now, if this slippery hole is still not quite deep enough for you, let me mention also that the aforementioned inventor of the famous shorthand system was a brother-in-law to an uncle of Diana, Princess of Wales. My GOD do these people have no shame!

And yet, I find I have drifted somewhat off the point in my righteous indignation. The de Traffords (racehorse guy, and so forth) are notable historical RECUSANTS. That means Andrew, who actually presumably TOUCHED the Princess Royal, was a gol-derned Catholic, same as Guy Fawkes. So was Camilla. JesusJosephandMary. And Diana? Who knows. She learned shorthand and took up with a Muslim, but she wasn't reCUsant by a long shot.

Just don't get me wound up about Camilla's ancestor, a mistress of Edward VII. Circular indeed. I know you won't.


  1. The 'in breeding' among the English hoi poloi surprises no-one. Chavs in suits the lot of them!

  2. Like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind, it's impossible not to be wound up.

  3. I don't quite understand myself. Though I'm often interested in the comings and goings and intricacies of the monarchy in days gone by, I've really lost interest in what's happening today, perhaps because so much of the news today is caught up in (royal and non-royal) celebrity shenanigans.

    The more gossip flies, the less interest I have in it. Perhaps that's why older gossip does interest me - only a subset of the nonsense ever gets to me.

  4. Who?
    No, I'm not really interested in any of them, except Pitman, Sir Isaac Pitman, who appears only fleetingly.
    I became interested in him, when at about the age of eight, having proudly presented my father with a story I'd written at school, in which the pirates (i think, I don't recall the details) communicated in a secret code..
    My dad said "Do you want to see a real secret code?" And of course I did.
    Pitman Shorthand. I couldn't believe it was really language. Yet my dad could write it as fast as anyone spoke.
    And then he could read it back. And he had whole notebooks of the stuff, and a big green was the day I realised my dad was a pirate. or a spy.

  5. Great post. Do people even learn shorthand any more? What with dicta-phones in the 80's and all the technology now, I can't imagine a need for it.
    Oh and re the in-breeding etc. - when Diana's mother left her and her siblings, she married someone and became Frances SHAND-Kydd. Probably related to Camilla's lot.

  6. @Adullamite - You sound so resigned to it. Someday they may change their ways. :)

    @A. - What? Is that some sort of Zen you are trying to burn me with? Won't work. :)

    @Stephanie Barr - Well, you know. You would care more if they were yours. :)

    @Soubriquet - I knew I should have devoted more time to the shorthand and less time to the shenanigans. Or do only the Irish engage in shenanigans?

    I was a pirate once. Perhaps I still am. No secret codes though. I had to learn Morse Code in the military. Does that count? I thought not. I never fully recovered.

    @Expat Mum- No, sadly, not more shorthand. In fact it is only legal anymore in northern Idaho. In fact, only 11 Americans can still write the regular way. (2010 census.) A vanishing breed.

    Why is everyone talking about shorthand here in the comments? Were you all taken in with the picture at the top of the post? Please don't fall for that.

    The post is about recusants, damn it, though I've heard Camilla does have short hands.

  7. well, with respect, recusants just aren't all that interesting, whereas shorthand is fascinating, just not quite fascinating enough to make me want to learn it though.

    Morse code. I had to learn it back when I was being a schoolboy soldier. I only joined the signals section because signals had an old ex-army wooden hut tucked under the trees off the edge of the schoolyard, and if you were in Signals, you could sit in a battered armchair, near a roasting-hot cast iron stove, whils other kids froze their nuts off outside.
    The downside was you had to wander around muttering "Dit-dit-dah, dah-dit-dit..." I think at one time I was able to converse that way. Slowly. That's the problem. Then you'd tune up one of the many radios, put the headset on, and try transcribe what some pro-operator was sending.
    No chance. Real radio ops send faster than I can even think.
    Now, having just tested myself, i can no longer read morse code. It's gone! maybe I bumped my head and shook the morse loose?

    I can still remember a lot of radio protocol from back then, remember crawling around in the woods encumbered by an 88 set.. "All stations, Romeo-sierra, net now."

    All that stuff we used to do, rigging antennae into the trees, setting up our base-stations, lugging radios, generators, batteries, (except they weren't referred to as batteries, of course, "accumulator pack, 38-set for the use of..."
    And now? I have a tiny little gadget in my pocket. I can easily, and clearly converse with anyone anywhere in the world. Without trying to pick out voice in the howl of solar activity and elecrtical storms. Just clear and simple.

    Hard to imagine a time when we'd roll out a mile or so of field-telephone cabling, to connect field hq with the ambush party.



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