for reverence of his Sabot day

I downloaded a reader app for my iPhone and, browsing around Project Gutenberg for something public domain to read, I came across A Chronicle of London from 1089 to 1483, as transcribed and published by a couple of C19th antiquarians. There’s an awful lot of bureaucratic stuff about the mayor and sheriffs of London, and who’s in the Tower at the moment, which doesn’t have much interest for the casual reader. But there are enough little anecdotes like this one to hold the interest:

And in this yere, that is to seye the yere of our lord a mlcclviij, there fel a Jewe into a pryve at Teukesbury upon a Satirday, the whiche wolde nought suffre hym selfe to be drawe out of the preve that day for reverence of his Sabot day: and Sr. Richard of Clare, thanne erle of Gloucestre, herynge therof, wolde nought sufrre hym to be drawe out on the morwe after, that is to say the Soneday, for reverence of his holy day; and so the Jewe deyde in the preve.

This is in 1258, shortly after the death of Hugh of Lincoln and 30 years before England became the first country in Europe to expel its Jewish population.

The iPhone isn’t ideal for reading, but if you choose a fairly low-contrast combination of colours for the page and the text, it’s entirely manageable. I haven’t read anything very long yet, but if I was going on holiday I think I could do worse than take a dozen assorted books on my phone: a few Victorian novels, some poetry, who knows. Hell, if you’re willing to actually pay for the books, you can get ones which are still in copyright. The Chronicle actually works quite well because I can just dip into it from time to time and read a few pages without worrying about losing the thread.

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2009

My list for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch:

Blue tit 3
Great tit 2
Long-tailed tit 2

Chaffinch 2

Robin 2
Dunnock 1

Magpie 1
Carrion crow 4

Green woodpecker 1

Town pigeon 4
Woodpigeon 2

Sparrowhawk 1

Which is basically pretty rubbish — it was very quiet today — but is livened up by a couple of decent species: sparrowhawk, which is increasingly common around here but by no means something I see in the garden often, and green woodpecker, which it turns out I have seen once before on a BGBW, but was still pleasing.

Most ridiculous gap on that list: blackbird. I mean, come on. Almost as surprising, no ring-necked parakeet.

Lots of possibles that didn’t show: wren, goldcrest, goldfinch, nuthatch, coal tit, great-spotted woodpecker.  The garden has been weirdly short of birds for the past two or three years, though. We used to have lots of starlings: I’ve seen about two this year. Same with greenfinches. There used to be lots more chaffinches. I haven’t seen siskin this year.

I don’t know why this is true, but it’s faintly depressing. Ho-hum.

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