Monday, January 02, 2006

Medieval jobs

Lost your axe or can't afford one? Here's your chance to earn some Christmas dosh to buy that shiny new double-headed tree-feller at the local axe emporium that you've been gazing at longingly. Yes, you too can make logs the hard way. By collecting sticks from far and wide in the forest and then carefully binding them together into tightly compacted bundles, you can create ersatz logs to your heart's content. Of course, this poor man's firewood doesn't really go a bundle with the rich folk, so you'll mostly be selling your faggots for a pittance to the other untouchables in your neighbourhood.
Endless mind-numbing work for little reward? Yes, but it does mean that, over the season, you don't have to spend time with your relatives, who most probably are as poor as you. Imagine your delight when you take Christmas morning off and unwrap a lovely 'stick faggot' from Aunty Maud: 'Oh, just what I wanted, thanks!' And who knows? If you are anywhere near Bohemia, this just might be the night that you are spied by good King Wenceslas and get invited in to dine!
Boar hunter
Are you fearless in the face of death or a bit of a thrill seeker? The wild boar is the most deadly monster of the woods. It can outrun the fastest man and jump over a five-bar gate, has six-inch tusks that can rip and maim, and, at 40 stone, can exert hundreds of pounds of pressure – easily enough to crush a skull and making an impact like being run down by a horse.
Still interested? Your job will be to sneak up on the unsuspecting boar and give it a good hard kick up the backside. As it turns to stare at you with a look that changes from downright anger to one that threatens instant violence, you've gotta run. Race as fast as you can towards your master who will be waiting, armed with a crossbow. Run like you've never run before and pray that the posh bloke with the weapon is a good shot. Your reward for such a stupid, death-defying feat will be a nice boar bacon sarnie on Christmas morning.
Cook's assistant
Don't mind getting your hands dirty? Great! Then this is the ideal seasonal job for you.
A very out-of-puff boar hunter has just delivered his prize to you, along with a grumble about how he never gets any credit. As you listen to your liege lord toasting his success in the chambers above, you get to work on the beast, burning off its dense coat of hair. After gagging on the fumes, you then have to use a bit of elbow grease to hack through the animal's fat neck and remove its head. Experience in home surgery would come in handy here as you need to remove the boar's face and scalp from its skull and then restuff the flabby death mask with boar's meat to recreate a perfect model of the once proud king of the forest.
Next you can get going on the numble, or 'umble, pie. For this, you need all the bits of offal that nobody wants. You chop them into nice bite-size pieces, or gobbets, and then boil them up in a bucket with a bit of bread and wine. Mmmmm, bet you'll be starving after all that work!


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