Monday, November 26, 2012

panorama football pruning


The Grove in autumn.

I have known for a long time that one of the medieval kings of England banned the playing of football. But I couldn't remember who precisely and why.  Although I once played the game myself, I can understand how easily it comes into disrepute. But banning it always seemed a bit extreme. Today I  am reminded, while reading Simon Jenkins History of England, that the monarch in question was Edward III. Why did he presume to suppress the beautiful game? Because he banned all sport so that people could concentrate on archery and in particular the longbow, the most lethal weapon invented by man, some say, until the arrival of the Gatling gun. It explains the defeat by small English armies  of much larger French armies at Crecy and later at Agincourt. It is said that arrows released from the longbow could pierce armour at a range of 200 yards.

All morning a tree surgeon with an electric saw operates on the upper branches of the noble tulip tree opposite our bedroom  window.  The sight of the lopped branches is a sad one, but better than no tree at all.

3 comments:

Ellena said...

Just googled tulip tree because I had no idea what you were talking about.
I have admired Magnolias not knowing that they are also called tulip trees but have never seen any other kind.
I'd love to open my eyes to such a beautiful view each morning.

Roderick Robinson said...

Beautiful game, perhaps, but watched by unbeautiful people. TV coverage spreads into the News at Ten and it now seems obligatory that the views of "fans" are included. My revulsion at these brief clips has an underlying and far from elevated reason. To a man these pundits are all poorly educated and I too belong to that sector of society. I know I would do no better if waylaid by a camera on the threshold of some "posher" event. "Let me write you something," I'd plead, and the cameraman would pass on.

I am glad that the king didn't ban football for aesthetic reasons. Had I been in his position I might have and it would have been a night of the long knives after defeat at Crecy.

Joe Hyam said...

Elena The tulip tree of my long acquaintance is not a magnolia but Liriodendron tulipefera. Magnolia is shorter-lived and structurally less spectacular though it does have magnificent flowers. The tulip tree has fluttering white leaves like a poplar and tulip-like flowers which are greenish and less conspicuous than magnolia. It is much taller than a magnolia. The leaves are quite different. The North American Indians used to call the tulip tree 'canoe wood' because canoes to carry up to 20 people could be hollowed out of a single log.

RR I know your dislike of fans. I share it. Who could forget your sonnet? It was their behaviour which for a long time made me try to find chapter and verse for the royal ban. I am a little disappointed that the ban wasn't on acccount of the bad behaviour, based on absurd and irrational loyalties, which the game seems to generate today.

I think the king was delighted about Crecy - a decisive 1-0 defeat - but standards of behaviour were quite horrible in those days, particularly if you happened to be royal. What?