22 Dec


MEDIEVAL BABY photo: baby untitled.jpg
Isn’t education a good thing?

It’s what stops every new generation having to reinvent the wheel or rediscover fire. It’s how progress marches on through the centuries, and how the discovery of throwing stones leads to nuclear bombs. And how a simple line drawing on a cave wall has led, inexorably and pixel by pixel, to 3D colour television.

Janie Cobweb, aged three, would have appreciated a bit more education, but her village had no school, no teacher and only a celibate priest who kept on wanting to feel her bottom. She could deal with the priest – she did, regularly, and left him scarred for life – but the lack of teacher and school was something else.

She had spent all but the first day of her life (the day her mother had been burned at the stake for failing to feed her placenta to the Lord of the Manor’s pigs) being cared for by Susie Swashbottom. She had selected this excellent surrogate mother from lines of nuns cheering and whooping at the burning. Yes – nuns can get as excited as regular folk, and these most certainly were. A good burning, with all the excitement and roasting fragrances of the occasion, contrasted favourably with their usual tasks of praying and providing unusual services to the monks from a nearby monastery. They found domestic chores to be enjoyable, but other activities involving mutual nakedness and artistic dancing they were less keen on even though they had been assured it was what the Good Lord wanted of them.

Susie Swashbottom, once selected by the day old Janie, had little say in the matter. The child had strange powers and few could gainsay her when she had made her infant mind up. So Susie cast aside her nun’s raiment and set to caring for the child. She fed her, somehow contriving to squeeze milk from her own breasts, she clothed her using material from the aforementioned cast-off raiment, and she even educated her.

This was the important bit.

She taught the child all manner of things and managed to impress herself with the range of her own knowledge.

“The Lord made the world and everything in it in six days, and on the seventh he rested,” she said assuredly.

“Poppycock,” retorted the child. “Haven’t you given any thought to evolution and the possibility there might have been a big bang to launch the Universe?” she added.

And Susie thought for a moment before admitting that it was possible, and moving on to another lesson.

“The Lord sent an angel to a virgin, and the virgin ended up with child,” she said, sensing all the love of the occasion in her emotional mind, and shedding a virtuous tear.

The child thought for a time and then shook her head. “I have heard of angels,” she said, “and they don’t seem to be the sort of guys going around shagging young virgins, and it’s only through a thoroughly intense sexual union that a woman can be with child,” she told Susie, who was shocked at her own ignorance and proceeded to ask the Priest the truth of the matter. The lesson provided by the Priest was a thorough one, and in well under a year Janie had a brother as a consequence of a particularly delightful practical demonstration.

That brother, though, charming as he was, had to go. Janie wanted no competition, at least, not while she was still an infant, so there was a mysterious cot death in the Swashbottom household and Susie cried every night for a week until Janie pointed out that the dead baby would have been an urchin and sadly the world’s already got enough urchins in it. A girl, she informed the surrogate mother, especially a Janie Cobweb girl, can only bring happiness and joy, and to prove the point she sweetly cracked half a dozen smutty jokes in quick succession. Never was so much laughter and joy heard in any cottage in what amounted to a backward medieval village! And Susie Swashbottom cheered up.

And then Janie was three, and in desperate need of a proper education. Not the biblical sort beloved by her surrogate mother, not the fantasy tales from an ancient Jewish book but real knowledge.

“What I need,” she pronounced to Susie Swashbottom, “is a really knowledgeable teacher, and it’s your job to seek one out for me. But I realise I’m asking a lot, so I’ll give you a clue.

“Go forth into the world and search out Mr Google.

“He knows everything, and I’ve a feeling in my waters that he’ll help me.”

© Peter Rogerson 22.12.14


2 Responses to “EDUCATING JANIE”

  1. pambrittain January 4, 2015 at 7:01 pm #

    I love this story and have a lot of catching up to do.

    • Peter Rogerson January 4, 2015 at 7:33 pm #

      I wondered where you’d been, Pam. Anyway, I hope my outpourings continue to please.

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