Kick to kill.

Tony's fascinating piece about the recent Arthurian film mentioned Y Gododdin, which of course reminded me of Test Department (possibly the best band you've never heard of unless of course you have heard of them, and perpetrators of possibly my all-time favourite song title) and therefore of the fact that I missed the Beltane meeting on Sunday. I was asleep at the time in preparation for Neon.


I've started reading a book of Fiona's about London which takes Monopoly as its organising theme - Do Not Pass Go by Tim Moore. It seems very good so far.
  • Current Music: Test Department - Efficiency
*smacks forehead* What do you take us for? Not heard of Test Dept? Whatever next (although I havn't heard that instrumental track to which you refer - just how much of the cover did the title take up?)
Not much. It was printed quite small. It was also entirely instrumental.
From the linked post:
There is an obscure reference to Arthur, saying that someone 'was no Arthur', in a Welsh poem Y Gododdin, which perhaps originally dates from c. AD 600. But this may be a tenth-century interpolation into the text.

When I was an undergrad, we read much of The Gododdin in Middle Welsh classes. I remember this line, ceni bei ef arthur. The interpretation of the word arthur in this context is itself contested - like a vast amount of the vocabulary of The Gododdin, it is of uncertain meaning, due to the mangled nature of the surviving text and the different linguistic strata underlying it (and our minimal knowledge of Old Welsh!). It may have meant the name Arthur (which would make it the earliest named reference to the chap, if we accept the dating of the underlying text to c.600 (which is only a wild guess anyway...) and the originality of this section) - but it may have just been an adjective meaning "bear-like" (arth is "bear") i.e. "although he was not bear-like" as a description of the random Catterick warrior. This might sound rather an odd description, but The Gododdin is full of odd descriptions! (The stanza in question goes on to compare the warrior to an alder-palisade.)

Certainly the belief amongst early Celtic historians, literary scholars and linguists in our department seemed to be that Arthur was a fiction, arising first in (Brittonic) Celtic myth, and later radically modified for political or other purposes by Geoffrey of Monmouth, Chretien de Troyes et al. There is a reasonably substantial collection of pre-Geoffrey Celtic sources for the Arthur myth. Actually, a friend of mine published an amusing little book which gathers them together, in the original languages with facing translations: Jon Coe & Simon Young, The Celtic Sources for the Arthurian Legend, 1995, Llanerch.

Incidentally, I'll look out for the Stephen Baxter book mentioned in that article - I'm a great fan of Baxter, and would like to see what he makes of this particular story.
I think I was talking to Jon Jarret about the dating of Y Gododdin when he was in Edinburgh. And possibly to childeric too, slightly later, if me memory serves me. I was very impressed by the amount of doubt over when it was set and written.
it may have just been an adjective meaning "bear-like"

Good point. I've updated my post appropriately.

the belief amongst early Celtic historians, literary scholars and linguists in our department seemed to be that Arthur was a fiction

That's certainly a view I can respect. The romantic in me would like to believe that there was a Dark Age British military leader called Arthur, perhaps even the leader at Badon, the only battle that he's associated with that we can be sure historically took place - once we disengage Ambrosius from that, as, on a proper reading of Gildas, I think we need to. But I'm not foolish enough to think that we can ever get close to any such individual, and the Arthur we have is certainly a fiction, made up of various historical and mythical sources.

I'm a great fan of Baxter, and would like to see what he makes of this particular story

Not much, it has to be said. Arthur is rather crowbarred into the story, and doesn't actually need to be there.
Och Aye remember Test Dept. Good olde John Peel.

Heard his voice again today as a work colleague transfered a Richard Thompson BBC doco (Solo Life) from vid to DVD for me.
Well, colour me impressed.

I've seen that site, yes. It's my usual stop when I want to knot The Really Long Title verbatim and I'm not at home.
Something useful, but without too much potential for ruining the whole evening.
Well, when I went along, there seemed to be quite a lot of new people, and every point was asking for performers and I don't think you're meant to be massively experienced.

The processional drummers said they didn't mind if you wanted to come along and *learn* to drum, so I chose them as they're pretty integral and would like to know how to drum, but I think the rest of the subgroups are all looking for people...
What I meant to SAY was...

Do you want me to try and find out telephone numbers and meeting places and e-mail list things? I'm sure they'd be only too pleased to have another hand.
Steve grabbed me by the throat last night and shook me until my teeth rattled. Apparently I'm torchbearing and have no choice in the matter.

Which is nice.