Coming very soon. We’re due some rain in the next couple of days, so I shall be writing about hoods then.
It is now raining, rather heavily. So it is time to make a start On Hoods.
I used to be an umbrella person, until I rediscovered the joys of the hood quite recently. I had flirted with the hood, as part of a general urban survival disguise when living and moving around in certain of the more Interesting Parts of Manchester. They do enable the carriage of many bags of shopping; as well as all the myriad implications of a head-down trudging gait. Peasant-ish. Shambling. Age- and gender-neutral. Facial invisibility, and an air of ambiguity: poetic? threatening? thrilling? Full of potential and promise, and mystery. The hood must be one of the best clothing inventions ever. It’s also highly Medieval, and indeed of course older still (many of the finest specimens of European Bog Body have them, for instance).
But here’s the question: what came first, in the natural evolution of two of the three best clothing inventions ever (the third being shoes): the hood – or the bag?
(And I am more interested in this kind of hood – and, indeed, the Greenwood Men as early hoodies – than any of these shocking and harrowing things at Abu Graib, or other abuses of the hood of that ilk:)
I am slightly behind the times, as witness the following piece from The Telegraph‘s blog, of the 9th inst.:
I am indebted to Laura Clout’s piece for introducing me to a new concept: that of the medieval hoodie.
They are the symbol of today’s disaffected youth but a historian has revealed that the hoodie-wearing yob is not just a modern problem.
Professor Robert Bartlett, who is an expert on the Middle Ages, said hooded tops were also the garment of choice for 12th-century juvenile delinquents.
The teenage apprentice boys of London were lawless, violent and the scourge of the capital.
“They were away from home for seven years with no parental control and they would riot regularly for political and religious reasons,” he told the Radio Times.
Hooded tops were worn by most citizens during medieval winters, he said, and they also served to hide the identity of young miscreants.
Prof Bartlett, of the University of St Andrews, said the life of the period resonated with today in other ways.
The English, who are now among the worst binge-drinkers in Europe, were also renowned as drunks in the Middle Ages.
“A surviving 12th-century Latin manuscript refers disapprovingly to ‘Potatrix Anglia’ – ‘England the drunken’,” said Prof Bartlett, who is presenting the series Inside the Medieval Mind on BBC4, starting next Thursday.
He will reveal the opening of the North-South divide, with the first recorded case – in 1120 – of a southerner complaining that he is unable to understand the speech of a northerner.
I love the idea of the 12th century youth giving each other respec’.
Is that a monk or a medieval hoodie?
But it does make you wonder whether anti-social behaviour orders, acceptable behaviour contracts and the myriad other interventions the government have introduced to deal with feral youths have a chance against centuries of badly behaved Brits. Is it in our genes?
Clout quotes Prof Robert Bartlett [ … it’s all above there].
Prof Bartlett who is presenting a new programme next week called Inside the Medieval Mind, produced by the Open University and BBC Four, also goes on to reveal that the apprentices (when they weren’t rioting) were part of a city thriving on binge drinking (something that an exhibition at the Museum of London also examined a couple of years ago when they pointed out that at that time London had one alehouse for every 50 people).
In fact, as Prof Bartlett points out one manuscript refers to Potatrix Anglia – “England the drunken”. Another writer of the time referred to London’s many drinking dens containing “immoderate quaffing by fools”.
The fact that water quality being what it was most Londoners got through up to four and half litres of ale a day starting at breakfast makes today’s 24 hour drinkers seem rather sedate in comparison. But with a national history like that, what chance do we have of stopping the alcopops bingers?
[Obrienatrix was particularly amused by the “Related articles.” Not being, shall we say, a regular Telegraph reader; also, I do love the way blogging software – and Google and others – chooses the most curious connections; but that’s for another post, once I’ve found my Craziest Connection selection over, say, the next few months:]