Day 322: Filching

Not far from Lewes is a hamlet also in East Sussex called Filching. It is a small community with a tea garden, chalk quarry, a few homes, and a large fifteenth-century country house called Filching Manor. Filching has the distinction of being listed in Rude UK, indicating that the name has one or more rude meanings.

Laetitia and her group visited the Filching Manor Motor Museum, which houses the Bluebird boat that Sir Malcolm Campbell drove to take the world water speed record. A K3 Rolls Royce engine powers the Bluebird speedboat. The museum also has a Bluebird electric vehicle on display. They went from the museum to the Red Lion Inn in nearby Willingdon, which is the setting for George Orwell’s Animal Farm. They had dinner there, and Laetitia presented the two-verse limerick of the day.

‘Tis said in the dark Middle Ages
That filching was fair but not wages
For soldiers on duty
Who got paid in booty
And could commit other outrages.

But today Filching is a quaint village
Where errant knights no longer pillage
So do folks there still filch
Or is filching there zilch
With the village in a pillage-nil age?

Day 321: Scouts in Bondage

Every so often, Laetitia contemplated that there was something odd about her employment situation. Each day when she walked into the kitchen, there was a packet of freshly roasted coffee beans waiting to be ground and brewed. It was as though the powers that be at Mind’s Eye Limerick Tours thought that freshly brewed coffee was essential for bringing out one’s muse. She had never been invited to visit the headquarters of Mind’s Eye Limerick Tours—wherever that was—but each day after she submitted the vignette and limerick, a payment appeared in her bank account. At first she had found it hard to understand how the company stayed afloat. They didn’t charge anything for the imaginary tours she conducted. However she soon became aware that her limericks and scenes from her tours began to appear on t-shirts, cups, and book bags in shops and catalogs and on people she met.

On this morning, when she climbed the wooden porch steps of the Emerald Victorian, Laetitia was ready for something different. She enjoyed the places with rude names from the Bailey and Hurst books, and would do many others before she left the UK, but she needed a change of pace. Since she was looking for something new, she browsed the collection in the library. The librarian, if such there was, seemed to have quirky tastes, since the book titles seemed eclectic and odd. Before she finished her first cup of coffee, she found what she wanted.

The book was entitled Scouts in Bondage and Other Violations of Literary Propriety. Essentially, the book is a collection of title pages of books that were mostly written during the first half of the twentieth century. The authors, for the most part, seemed unaware of the alternative slang meanings of their titles. The Resistance of Piles to Penetration is one such example. Michael Bell, the compiler and editor of the book, had an antiquarian bookshop in Lewes (pronounced “lewis”).

Lewes, which is located in East Sussex, has the distinction of celebrating every November 5 with a bonfire and fireworks. The event dates back to the time when Guy Fawkes Day became a national holiday commemorating the foiled gunpowder plot. From time to time, the rowdiness of the celebration got out of hand. It was banned by Cromwell and then brought back by Charles II.

Laetitia decided to meet in Lewes, do a few ordinary tourist activities, and then convene the group in front of the window of Mr. Bell’s shop on High Street, where the books are displayed. In the preface, Mr. Bell explains that he decided to compile the book because the crowds in front of his shop window often disrupted traffic. Ever since Simon and Schuster published his book, interested parties can enjoy the titles at home rather than being obliged to go to Lewes.

Laetitia met her group as planned and went first to the Anne of Cleaves House, one of the properties Anne acquired when her marriage to Henry VIII was annulled. Of all of Henry’s wives, Anne fared better than most; at least she managed to keep her head. Afterward the group visited Lewes Castle and the Harvey Brewery before going to the bookstore. That evening at dinner she presented a multiple-verse limerick to the group.

There’s a bookstore located in Lewes
With a window display that will shew us
Book titles naïve
That didn’t perceive
Slang meanings now apt to amuse us.

For how can a person be bored
When reading about How Nell Scored
Or have any quarrels
About Muffs and Morals
A title most likely adored.

‘Tis said that some girls walk the halls
In their search to find Memorable Balls
And men who may bargain
For Christie’s Old Organ
Say Invisible Dick just appalls.

And some folks won’t be quite the same
Since they read The Day Amanda Came
Or enjoyed, through and through
The book The Corpse Came Too
For a different twist on love’s game.

Last, The Art of Taking a Wife
May please those with marital strife
And some may well look
At the Little Organ Book
If they aren’t well endowed in real life.

Day 320: Cocking

Laetitia and her group visited Portsmouth before moving on to West Sussex. The city is on an island and has been an important port and naval base for several centuries. Nelson’s flagship from Trafalgar, H.M.S. Victory, is located there and was one of the sites Laetitia visited with her group. Cocking is a West Sussex village of about 450 inhabitants. It is a historic community with a twelfth-century church. During the walkabout with her group, Laetitia had a conversation with a Mrs. Parker, who was visiting her son, Algernon. Algernon had recently left the nest, and Mrs. Parker seemed to automatically disapprove of all the choices he made as an independent young adult.

When Algernon said he chose Cocking
His mother thought it quite shocking
She would have preferred
That he’d bought a bird
Or taken up cricket or rocking.

Day 319: Husseys Lane

Laetitia’s destination today was Husseys Lane, a street in Lower Froyle, Hampshire. It is number 65 in Rude UK. Before going there, they hiked part of the Pilgrim’s Way. This well-worn path was so named because of it was the route pilgrims took from Winchester in Hampshire to Canterbury in Kent to visit the shrine of Thomas Becket after he was canonized in 1173. The route is much older than that. Archaeological evidence suggests that the path existed as far back as 500 BC and may have been a route to Avebury henge or Stonehenge.

In Old English, hussey referred to the woman of the house. The meaning of the word has evolved considerably since then and now often means a brazen or immoral woman. Laetitia wondered whether the modern meaning of the word was what attracted the large number of young single males that joined this day’s tour. If they hoped to find hussies on the street they were disappointed. It is an attractive, tree-lined residential street and not the type where hussies are likely to hang out. It mattered not to Laetitia. She had the limerick of the day.

It soon was abundantly plain
Lewd women don’t trod Husseys Lane
Though the men were not fussy
As they searched for a hussy
Their search was completely in vain.