Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Busy Doing Nothing

o Saint today! Instead, let us celebrate World Sauntering Day. I am not sure if this really is an ‘official’ day – I believe it was set up by an American hotel owner or manager in the 1970s. But it sounds such a nice idea I think we should adopt it. Sauntering, according to my dictionary, means walking about in idle or leisurely manner. 

So take life easy, relax and unwind, enjoy the weather (whether it is nice or not), go for a gentle stroll and admire the view, follow a different route to usual and see where it takes you, feed the ducks or make a daisy chain. And think about the things that make you happy. After all, as WH Davies says in his poem Leisure, What is this life if full if full of care, We have no time to stand and stare?

I was going to stroll along the canal (the Coventry Canal runs nearby) and the weather turned out glorious, but I still don't feel well - I seem to have picked up a cold, and my head aches, my throat is sore, and my sinuses are painful, so I've mooched aimlessly around the house, doing very little, which is kind of sauntering, even if it's not outside in the sunshine.
So, since I didn't get to take my walk, I've posted these photos I took a couple of weeks back, on the towpath near the boatyard. These two mallard drakes made me laugh, because they looked and sounded as if they were having a conversation. I think they were having an aimless sort of day, hanging around on the path and not doing anything very much at all, which is pretty much how I spent the day... Busy Doing Nothing!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Who Remembers Stingray?

Today is the Feast of St Marina the Monk, an 8th century cross dresser who wore monk's robes and lived as a man for many years. After the death of her mother her father cared for her (obviously a man who accepted his responsibilities and loved his child, unlike yesterday's dysfunctional family). But as she grew older he wanted to live in a monastery and devote his life to God,  so he found a suitable man for her to marry.

Marina, however, had other ideas: she didn't want a husband - she wanted to live in the monastery with her father, and worship God. Now this obviously posed a problem, since she was a woman and the monks were men, but showing great ingenuity she cut her hair off, donned monkish robes, and off they went. There, according to the Catholic Online site, she served God with great fervour. Personally, I’m all in favour of fervour. We all need more fervour into our lives.
St Marina the Monk
Anyway, she was humble and meek and patient and all went well until she and some of the other brethren were sent out into the world on monastery business. Along the way they stopped at an inn, where another traveller forced his attentions upon the landlord's daughter, and told her to say Marina the Monk was responsible... 

The angry inn-keeper complained to the abbot, who chastised her - but although she wept and begged forgiveness she never explained she could not have done it because she was a woman, and she was cast out of the religious community.  The inn-keeper's daughter's son was handed to her, and she gave him to some shepherds because they had milk for the baby. Years later the abbot relented and Marina was allowed back to the monastery, where the boy eventually became a monk, and she did the cooking and cleaning and other household tasks (by the way, at this point everyone still thought she was a man). It was only when she died and the monks came to change her clothes ready for the funeral that they finally discovered she a was woman, and she was buried with honour. 

I must admit, I'm not sure how accurate any of this information is, since accounts of her life vary, and there are other Saints called Marina (who all seem to be referred to by several different names). At any rate, this particular Marina lived in the area we now now refer to as Turkey. Or possibly the Lebanon, Or north of Lebanon. Or even Syria. See what I mean? The Catholic Online site talks about her dressing as a monk, and mentions a red cloak - and most images seem to show her wearing this type of garment. But there are no details about the way she lived, or the landlord's daughter, or the child. On the other hand it explains how her relics were moved to Venice in the 13th century, where her fast is celebrated on July 17th, or maybe the 18th, which may go some way towards accounting for discrepancies in the date of her feast day (I've come across it listed as June and July). 

Basically, she is my choice for the day because as soon as I saw her name the Stingray theme tune 'Aqua Marina' popped into my head and has been rattling around ever since, and I wanted to listen again. For those of you who have never come across Stingray (in which case you are either much older or much younger than me) it was an amazing TV puppet series in the mid-60s. Stingray was the most important submarine in a fleet of underwater craft operated by the World Aquanaut Security Control(WASP for short). The craft ass piloted by Captain Troy Tempest, who was besotted by Marina, a mute slave girl who could breathe underwater and was, allegedly, modelled on screen sex goddess Brigitte Bardot. She joined the crew after saving them from danger, but her master, the tyrannical ruler Triton, vows vengeance on her and Stingray...

It all sounds very silly, but you have no idea how enjoyable it was, with tales of adventure as the forces of good battle to overcome evil, in a futuristic underwater world. The series was created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, who were also responsible for Capain Scarlett, and the icononic Thunderbirds.   By modern standards I guess the programmes are all a bit creaky and clunky, but at the time they broke new ground, and for many of us they still retain an indefinable magical quality which turns them into enduring classics. 

So here’s a link to YouTube, as a tribute to St Marina the Monk, and to Marina the slavegirl, and the cew of Stingray, and Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, who created the most amazing TV puppet shows. The song was sung by Gary Miller,

Monday, 17 June 2013

Saint who Tamed a Wolf

ontinuing my quest for a daily celebration, today's offering is Hervé, a Welshman who, according to my book, is a Patron Saint in Brittany, where he lived and built an abbey at Lanhourneau, way back in the 6th century - so you can honour his life with a feast of French food and wine.
An effigy of St Hervé at the parish church in the
Breton town of Guimiliau.
Apparently he was born blind and consequently people used to pray to him for help if they had problems with their eyes (I must stress that while this may once have been a popular course of action, it is not to be recommended if you value your sight, and is no substitute for an appointment with a good optician). 

He was brought up by his uncles because his mother was a hermit - I dare say raising a family isn’t listed in a hermit’s job description, but I would like to know if she took up a life of solitude before he was born, or after. Somehow, having a child doesn't fit in with my ideas about hermithood. And where was the poor lad's father is all is? According to legend Hervé was the son of Hyvamion, a famous bard,  so why didn't he do something to help?

Anyway the boy, who might just as well have been be an orphan for all the interest his parents took in him, grew up to lead a simple life. But one day a wicked wolf ate the donkey (or an ox – it depends which story you read) pulling his plough, so Hervé prayed and the wolf  was tamed and did the ploughing for him (actually, I'm sure I've come across similar tales for other saints, but right now I can't remember who they were). 

I guess you could mark his day by persuading your nearest and dearest to join you in a very silly  game of What’s the Time Mr Wolf, which will make you laugh, or you could listen to Prokofiev's 'Peter and the Wolf', which is a wonderful piece of music, although the outcome for the wolf is less happy, as he ends up in a zoo.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

A Quest for Words!

ell, I'm back, still musing on Life, the Universe and everything, with a brief post to mark the fact that today’s Saint is Quiricus, who was only three years old when he was beaten to death by the Romans while his mother Julitta was forced to watch. Then she too was killed for being a Christian. Alas, I can tell you nothing more, since facts about this sad little tale are few and far between. I only chose him because there are not many saints whose names start with the letter Q. Come to that, how many people do you know whose names begin with Q? 

Anyway, let us remember him by looking at the Q page from Mike Wilks’ The Ultimate Alphabet, and see how many Q words we can find. You will, of course,  note that everything is quadrupled. And I've tried to keep the theme going with a decorative initial letter composed of quadrilateral shapes (thanks to