Misericordisplaining

Ripon Cathedral Misericord, taken by me in 2005

At a party the other night, I was chatting with another medievalist, on her way–among other places–to Yorkshire for a walking tour. I highly recommended the misericordia at Beverley Cathedral.

By “highly recommended,” I mean I gushed; I gesticulated; I may have mimed crawling about on my hands and knees when I promised her that, if she explained to the cathedral staff that she was a medievalist, they’d let her, yes, crawl about on hands and knees to take close-up pictures of the misericordia.

I may have asked her to hold my beer while I did all this.  That, at least, I can assure you I didn’t do, but because God takes special care of his fools. But everything else, yes, in thunder.

Misinterpreting her impassive but polite attentiveness as incomprehension, I explained misercordia to this specialist in fifteenth-century Middle English. “It’s a bunch of pigs playing bagpipes, mostly, but it’s totally relevant to your work!”

Imagine explaining cider to a Norman or pickup trucks to Toby Keith. Imagine doing that if, in in fact, the pickup truck is really, actually a motorized banana, because the misericordia (if you’re not hypercorrecting, misericords!) I meant aren’t at Beverley, but at Ripon (pictured here, on line, and above; Beverley’s are here). Ass!

Let all this be a lesson to you, because lord knows I won’t heed it.

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