(Holidailies Day #3)
Sometimes, you wake up in the morning with the theme song to ‘Degrassi Junior High’ (not this ‘Next Generation’ rubbish) running through your head and worry why your brain retains this so completely, but can only recall about .025% of three years’ worth of high school German classes. That shouldn’t be. But it is. Humans are weird.
Speaking of weird humans, more remarkable than most, today’s fact is about Samuel Pepys. Don’t know who that is? That’s fine. I knew, and continue to know, very little about him, so don’t expect a thorough biography here. Especially since I have a hair appointment in an hour and should be de-sleeping rather than writing.
Samuel Pepys (pronounced ‘Peeps’, which is quite pleasing) was a 17th century MP, naval administrator (who may have never actually been on a ship at sea?), and, perhaps most importantly, a diarist for 10 essential years of history. His writings have been touted as some of the most important of the age because they provided personal accounts of events like the Great Fire of London (during which he buried Parmesan in his garden because it was very expensive (imagine bringing cheese from Italy to England in the 1660s) and he wanted to save it from burning/melting) and the late Great Plague epidemic in London. He had surgery for bladder stones, very dangerous at the time, which may have made him sterile, but didn’t stop him from womanizing. As a teenager, he attended Charles II beheading.
And I’m out.
Well, I was. Until I was listening to Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast and learned something new.
How I learned today’s fact: In between asking about time-travelling fingers, dating six-foot penises, and wishing he could be on television more, Mr Herring started talking about a routine in his (presently touring) show ‘Lord of the Dance Settee’ about how he was kissed on the lips by a 90-year-old great aunt when he was five years old, and how if he lived to 90 and kissed a descendent/relative of his who was 5, two kisses would have three centuries. Or is it two? Anyway, he also brought up that, in pondering this, he found out that he had already been outdone in the centuries-of-kisses stakes.
Samuel Pepys kissed Catherine de Valois, Henry V’s wife, so that he could say he kissed a queen.
She had died 230 years earlier and her disinterred, ‘accidentally’ opened coffin was a bit of a tourist attraction at the time.
On Shrove Tuesday 1669, I to the Abbey went, and by favour did see the body of Queen Catherine of Valois, and had the upper part of the body in my hands, and I did kiss her mouth, reflecting upon it I did kiss a Queen: and this my birthday and I thirty-six years old and I did kiss a Queen.
The awful thing is that I SAW Richard Herring’s ‘Lord of the Dance Settee’ in Edinburgh, but don’t remember the Samuel Pepys thing, although the intergenerational smooches was definitely in it. Maybe it had been cut for time? Or maybe I shouldn’t see five shows in a day?
Anyway, I know now. And kinda maybe wish I didn’t.