Sunday, 17 August 2008

Injuries bravely born

I see that last weekend yet another footballing big girl's blouse received a bit of a knock and collapsed writhing in pain until he was comforted and put on his feet again.

Back in the fifteenth century sportsmen were made of sterner stuff. There are several versions of a ballad called Chevy Chase (i.e. a hunt in the Cheviots) celebrating a dispute over hunting rights which led to a mighty battle. After a careful start....

The bowmen mustered on the hills,
Well able to endure;
Their backsides all with special care
That day were guarded sure.

....the fighting was fierce and long, and at close of play only 108 had survived out of the 3,500 huntsmen and warriors involved. Both team captains were slain, the Scottish Earl Douglas by an arrow and the English Earl Percy by a spear.

I doubt if there were any among all the grievously wounded who collapsed in petulant tears like footballers; typical of those who didn't was one English squire who was perhaps the inspiration for an incident in Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

For Witherington needs must I wail
As one in doleful dumps.
For when his legs were smitten off,
He fought upon his stumps.

[Or, in an earlier and more elegant version:
For Wetharryngton my harte was wo,
that euer he slayne shulde be;
For when both his leggis wear hewyne in to,
yet he knyled and fought on hys kny.]

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