Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Dick the Bad

Willie, Willie, Harry, Stee-
Harry, Dick, John, Harry three,
One, two, three Neds, Richard two,
Harries four, five, six, then who?
Edwards four, five, Dick the Bad,
Harries twain, Ned the lad,
Mary, Bessie, James the Vain,
Charlie, Charlie, James again,
Bill and Mary, Anna Gloria,
Four Georges, William, then Victoria.
            Victorian Schoolboy’s Mnemonic

The above is a rhyme school children in the 1800s learned to remember, in order, the names of the kings and queens of England from William the Conqueror to Victoria.  I came across it somewhere while trying to study English history, leaped upon it with a glad cry, and used it to help keep the reigns in order.  Perhaps because he wasn’t a king, Oliver Cromwell doesn’t make the list (he was between the two Charlies).

I think I’m getting a glimmer of an idea for the next book.  One of the two subplots has leaped up shouting, and gives meaning to the title, but the murder part is still amorphous and seen only in glimpses.  The title is clear:  Knot On Your Life.  It refers to MacNamaa’s Lace, a kind of knotwork done by seamen to protect, pad, and ornament things on board ships.  The “lace” itself is made from unlaid canvas – pull the horizontal threads from the bottom of a length of old canvas, whitened and made soft by many washings, then tie the resulting threads in patterns that resemble heavy lace.  It’s hung over important doorways.  I have a small piece of it, given to me by a sailor boyfriend many years ago.  He taught me how to make it, and other pieces of whitework, such as lanyards and turk’s heads.  I’ve forgotten most of it, but am going to relearn it for this book.  I’m not sure it’s needlework by strict definition, but it’s pretty and I’m hoping my editor will approve.  Wikipedia has an article on turk’s heads.


Christine Thresh said...

Well, Betsy has a cream-colored shawl with McNamara lace that Margot gave her (see Crewel World, page 32), so that's a good beginning.

Anonymous said...

Since it's Navy-connected, does it have anything to do with somebody from Betsy's past as a Navy person? Namely, her first husband? I've always been curious about him.

Betty Hechtman said...

It sounds like an interesting needlework project and something different.

Helen C said...

re. the rhyme, you may like this one for remembering the stuart kings in order:- James was nearly blown sky-high/ Charles his son knelt down to die/ Charles the next hid in an oak/ James the next was a bigoted bloke