28th October St Simon and St Jude’s Day

A day when it is ‘certain to rain heavily’. But it didn’t really did it? I experienced it as a nice warm sunny day.

Image by Christian Wöhrl from Pixabay

On this day you, supposing you are someone who wants to find out who your true lover is, must:

Carefully peel an apple in one piece.
Turn round three times with the peel in your right hand
The peel will fall in the shape of your the first letter of your true love’s name.
Drop the peel over your left shoulder
See what shape letter it forms on the ground and this will be the first letter of your true love’s name.

And if it breaks into pieces you are doomed, probably, to never finding your true love.
To make this work you have to repeat:

St Simon and St Jude, on your I intrude
By this paring I hold to discover
Without any delay, to tell me this day
The first letter of my own true love.

Jude is the Saint of:

Lost Causes
Desperate causes
Hopeless causes
The Hopeless and the Despaired.

So maybe the apple peel isn’t going to work for you (although he is also the Patron Saint of the Impossible).

Simon the Zealous was martyred by being sawn in half, and is, of course, the patron saint of woodcutters and lumberjacks. Jude aka Thaddeus was martyred with an axe. They are linked by the same Saint’s day because they went to Syria together to preach where they were met their fates.

WikipediaBy Bruce Andersen – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1855844

There are at least four Judes who may or may not be different people. One of them, who may have been Jesus’ brother, wrote the Epistle of St. Jude. This letter, on slim foundations, is a possible explanation of why he is the Saint of Lost Causes because he warns of the dangers of the wicked working against salvation. But if this is true than the Lost Cause is Christianity so I think not. His real name was Judas and the identification with Judas Iscariot is given as another reason for the Lost Causes association but why?

More on St Simon and St Jude

Why do you think Cutty Sark has been popular as a name for whiskey and sailing ships?

Is the question that Terry Cook asked me, and this is my answer.

Image of the Cutty Sark (from Facebook)

So the Cutty Sark is twice famous.

Her name comes from Tam O’Shanter, one of Robert Burns’ greatest poems. written in 1791. And everyone knows of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet. Burns night has become world famous for anyone interested in Scotland.

Figureheads on the prow of ships are very often  of a semi naked women with her torso breasting the water.  The sexy young witch, Nannie Dee, in Tam O’Shanter is identified as the one who is very ‘Vauntie’ and with a short shift that she wore as a child and so is now short and revealing. The poem names this garment as her ‘Cutty Sark. Sark is her shift. Cutty is dialect for short. The Cutty Sark’s figurehead shows Nannie in her shift holding the tail of Tam’s horse.

Her cutty sark, o’ Paisley harn,
That while a lassie she had worn,
In longitude tho’ sorely scanty,
It was her best, and she was vauntie.—
Ah! little kend thy reverend grannie,
That sark she coft for her wee Nannie,
Wi’ twa pund Scots, (’twas a’ her riches),
Wad ever grac’d a dance of witches!

The story is that the drunken Tam on his steady horse Maggie is travelling home when he seems a devilish dance taking place in a graveyard, presided over by the devil himself. Tam is so excited when he sees the young beautiful witch that he bellows his approval and all of a sudden the merriment ends, and in deadly silence the witches turn on Tam and race to catch him.

Tam tint his reason a’ thegither,
And roars out, ‘Weel done, Cutty-sark!’
And in an instant all was dark:
And scarcely had he Maggie rallied.
When out the hellish legion sallied.

As bees bizz out wi’ angry fyke,
When plundering herds assail their byke;
As open pussie’s mortal foes,
When, pop! she starts before their nose;
As eager runs the market-crowd,
When ‘Catch the thief!’ resounds aloud;
So Maggie runs, the witches follow,
Wi’ mony an eldritch skreech and hollow.

They have to get across a brook before the witches because the witches cannot cross the water. The witches must get him before the brook or face burning at the stake. All depends on Maggie (Meg). The young witch in the Cutty Sark is catching up as they approach the brook. Maggie makes a magnificent leap, the witch makes a despairing grab and only can reach Maggie’s tail but Tam and his horse make it to safety leaving the witch the tail.

Cutty Sark Figurehead

Ah, Tam! Ah, Tam! thou’ll get thy fairin!
In hell they’ll roast thee like a herrin!
In vain thy Kate awaits thy comin!
Kate soon will be a woefu’ woman!
Now, do thy speedy utmost, Meg,
And win the key-stane of the brig;
There at them thou thy tail may toss,
A running stream they dare na cross.
But ere the key-stane she could make,
The fient a tail she had to shake!
For Nannie, far before the rest,
Hard upon noble Maggie prest,
And flew at Tam wi’ furious ettle;
But little wist she Maggie’s mettle—
Ae spring brought off her master hale,
But left behind her ain gray tail:
The carlin claught her by the rump,
And left poor Maggie scarce a stump.

Now, follow the link below and read the whole poem but read it out loud, standing up and with gusto. Don’t worry about the pronunciation just enjoy it.

Making my own Cog Almanac for my Halloween Walk

Making a Cog Almanac

So, my Halloween walks depend heavily on almanacs for at least some of their content. I explain almanacs on another page, but they were a way of helping people keep track of the year, both reviewing past events, and looking forward to future ones.

One third of books published in London in the Stuart period were almanacs, but if you could not read or did not have the money you could buy or make a cog almanac.

So, I was printing out some images to show my walkers and thought why not make one? So I did.

Home made Clog Almanac (not yet finished!)

Bit of wood, saw off 35cms. Each edge needs to represent a quarter of the year, so each centimetre mark represents 3 days, and one day extra 30 * 3 +! = 91 days per quarter. Use bread knife or hacksaw to mark the days off. Buy wooden drawer knob and double ended screw, fit to end of the piece of wood, stain or vanish the wood.

Then I need to find out what all the symbols mean, but they represent notable days like Saint’s Days (Michaelmas, Martinmas, Candlemas etc. , equinoxes, solstices, Christmas, Easter etc. etc..

You count the days off as the year passes.


Walks coming up this Weekend!


Reconstruction View of Roman Riverside Wall being built
Reconstruction View of Roman Riverside Wall being built

Saturday 30 October 20/22 11.30 am Monument Underground Station

This is a walking tour features the amazing archaeological discoveries of Roman London, and looks at life in the provincial Roman capital of Londinium.

To book

Myths, Legends & Halloween Walk

Druids at All Hallows, by the Tower
Druids at All Hallows, by the Tower

Sunday 30th October 2022 2.30pm Tower Hill Tube

The walk tells the story of London’s myths and legends and the celtic origins of Halloween

To book

Myths, Legends & Halloween Virtual Tour

MONDAY 31st October 2022 7.30pm

The tour tells the story of London’s myths and legends and the celtic origins of Halloween

To book

Dame Leonora Bennet (d. 1636), Uxbridge

Dame Leonora Bennet d.1636

Love this monument in St Margaret’s Uxbridge to Dame Leonora Bennet.

She lies there resting on her arm with an insouciant air. She had three husbands before spending the rest of her life on good works. And the sculptors John and Matthew Christmas seem to me portray her as an attractive woman.

Love the contrast with the glimpse into the Charnel House below with the jumbled bones almost fighting to get out.

The Tomb of Leonora Benet. St Margaret’s Church, Uxbridge.
The scene from the charnel house at the bottom of the tomb of Leonora Benet. St Margaret’s Church, Uxbridge.