Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

The Past Is Another Country

Our  niece is getting married at the end of the month and she had invited ten of her female friends and relations to a hen night in Manchester. Ailz was picking up Ruth and Jenny so I went with her and sat in Ruth's sitting room for the duration so Ailz would have company on the way home.

While I was waiting I watched the old Brit caper comedy the League of Gentlemen and three hours of back to back documentaries on British castles.

It's amazing how cosmopolitan the Middle Ages were. Travel may have been tiresome and dangerous but it didn't stop people getting about. For instance, Edward I's great Welsh castles were built for him by a Savoyard architect he picked up on the way home from the crusades. Savoy is now divvied up between France, Italy and Switzerland, but used to be a state in its own right. I'm delighted to learn that the picturesque, lakeside Castle of Chinon in Switzerland (made famous by Byron) is by the same firm that built Conwy and Caernavon.

On a related note, the late medieval Scottish Highlanders (the clan MacDonald basically) looked down on the Lowland Scots for drinking whiskey. They themselves drank red wine imported from France and Portugal- countries with which the Lord of the Isles had formed strategic alliances. Wine was for real men; whiskey for sissies.

Customs and social conventions change. People don't.

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