Saturday 24 December 2011: Taking a gander
Goosey Goosey Gander whither shall I wander?
Upstairs, downstairs and in my lady's chamber.
There I met an old man who wouldn't say his prayers,
I took him by the left leg and threw him down the stairs.
These geese (or ganders - how do you tell?) are resident at the old harbour, where the river runs into the sea and they do seem confident in their privileged status.
However, they were four and now they're three (or 2 and a half even) - has someone been helping themselves?
By the way, the nursery rhyme, like so many others, has a hidden meaning. It harks back the period of English history when the Reformation of the church by Henry VIII meant that Catholicism was outlawed and replaced by Protestantism. Many families clung to the old religion and offered protection and sanctuary to Catholic priests, sometimes concealing them in so-called 'priest holes' to escape detection and risking severe penalties in so doing. So the old man who was discovered hiding in a lady's chamber was a recusant priest who suffered summary justice according to the prevailing law. Established religion is a strange business.
Here endeth my lesson for the day. And my thanks to all who bother to read and comment on my usual information overload - may you have peace and contentment over the midwinter break, whatever form it takes for you.