Berrima, callipyge, camelids, Deborah Robson, Edward III, Emmerdale, House of Lords, Lord Chancellor, New Zealand rugby team, riggwelter, Six Nations, The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, The Merchant of Venice, The Speaker, vicunas, Woolsack, World Alternative games
Off to lunch with Brassica and the two husbands. Decided on The
Woolpack. It is fairly local and therefore the males can free
themselves from their jesses, to adopt a falconry metaphor, and
can escape early in the afternoon, to watch both Six Nations rugby
The Woolpack. Hmmm. Isn’t that the stuffed seat in The House of
Lords which the speaker sits on? In the fourteenth century,
Edward III thought that if his Lord Chancellor sat on it in council,
then it would remind everyone of the importance of the wool
The joke is that, in 1938, it was found to be padded with
horsehair. So, our present equine scam is not the first.
But, as Brassie informed me, we were not going to The Woolsack.
There is a difference between sacks and packs? And padding/
Being a convert to the revived craft of knitting, she told me about
The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Dorothy Robson, which
features more than 200 animals and their fibers.
(Don’t you just hate American spelling? I mean over here.)
Fleece and Fiber -the title sounds a bit like that breakfast cereal
that I eat to prevent bowel cancer. It’s quite edible with
supplementary prunes, but I digress.
All this spinning and toiling; it’s not Brassie’s usual
bent. Well, apparently fibres can be removed and spun from
camelids and vicunas, whatever they are. She will probably knit
me a scratchy scarf for my birthday. Lucky me. I suppose I can tell
her that I’m allergic to lanolin.
We were going to have to rush back to the telly for the Wales/ Italy
Game, indigestion or not.
For this was serious. No, it wasn’t a competition to trial
individuals, to see them showcase their personal
fitness, by rushing up and down 1:4 gradients with a stuffed sack
on their backs, as is an annual tradition in Gemau Byd
Arallddewisol – World Alternative Games.
But, look you, the Italians might as well have been bulky bales, as
evidenced by their subsequent complete trouncing. Maybe the weird
Celtic training has come in handy.
You know, I said. I always get mixed up between woolpacks and
woolsacks. Wasn’t The Woolpack a fictional pub on Emmerdale?
Yes, replied a Husband, but I don’t think the one we are going to
today is run by anyone called Chastity.
Husband 2, emboldened by the sarcasm of Numero Uno, and slightly
edgy in case he missed the first few minutes of the match, added:
Yes, you wouldn’t want to patronise that particular hostelry, as in
1993 there was a plane crash which destroyed its wine bar and
killed off trapped punters.
Warming to the theme of carnage, the other offered more dramatic
detail than was probably in the original series, which wasn’t too
Yes, in 2003 it was struck by lightning and a chimney fell down and
killed Tricia Dingle.
(These chaps seem to have retained a lot of televisual, nay, soap
operatic facts. Maybe it is because they have slouched around for
decades, watching everything and anything that pops up on the
Should we be going to a pub with the same name? asked Brassie
Don’t be superstitious, I interjected. There are thousands of pubs
called The Woolsack -I mean Woolpack.
Brassie was worried that her GPS might be confused. Her
navigational skills are somewhat challenged, revealing her lack
of an inner compass.
Cosmo, her husband, laughed. Well, even you can’t drive to The
Woolpack in the Berrima district of Australia.
Why are you mentioning that one? I asked.
Oh, the barmaid identified a serial axe murderer- a bushranger,
who drank there.
Cosmo! You are putting me off my lunch! implored Brassie, driving
a little erratically, even for her.
But it didn’t put me off mine. Afterwards I kept thinking about
sheep terminology and Shakespearean quotations, such as wooly
breeders and eanlings and tainted wethers of the flock. Good old
Merchant of Venice- maybe my favourite play.
When the guys were watching the matches-plural!-I looked up
some sheep terminology, just to have something useful to do.
I discovered and immediately liked the graphic New Zealand
expression, Rattle your dags! which basically is a rude way of
inviting someone to be less dilatory.
(Dags are the bits of unmentionable which attach themselves to
the fluffy hindquarters of sheep.) Probably the New Zealand rugby
team are familiar with this exhortation.
Brassie was less enthusiastic.
And, having over-eaten at The Woolpack, I could imagine being
described as callipyge: apparently this refers to a natural genetic
mutation which produces over-developed hindquarters.
Alternatively, or additionally, maybe I was falling into the category
of a riggwelter. This is a sheep that has fallen on its back with its
feet stuck in the air, demonstrating an inability to right itself
owing to its heavy fleece.
I knew that I shouldn’t have shared a muffin the other day and
now I have consumed a bowl of handcut chips. So, if I don’t want
to resemble a bulging woolsack, perhaps I should desist from
stuffing myself any further.