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Friday, 04 August 2017


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I'll try to introduce it into casual conversation but to avoid looking daft (sorry, of course I mean even dafter) could you let me know how to pronounce this wonderful new word? Is the "ow" sounded as in "row, row, row your boat" or is it more like "how now brown cow"?

You could have gone on about Agincourt and Crecy and how the long bow was most fearsome weapon of the age in the hands of English and Welsh bowman. That archery practice was compulsory. Also that Archers developed humps on their shoulder because the power needed to fire one developed extra muscles there. Had a greater range and rate of fire than cross bows and so much more. Such as 6000 bowman defeated 40000 heavily armoured French knights at the battle of Argincourt

There are Bowyers as a surname but I have never made the connection before, unlike Fletchers.

Frank seeing that it is the making of a bow as in bow and arrow I would suggest it is as in row your boat rather than bow as in the usually sharp end of a ship/boat.



Lawrence, are you quite sure that Bodkin is not a diminutive of Botolph? I realize that Botolph is not a name adopted by every other pole dancer, any more, but it is a legit name.

David, I knew once you mastered that 'Aussie accent', it would only be a matter of time before you took on difficult words. Over here, there is a NASCAR driver and related family by the name of Bowyer. They seem normal.

SoD, for a change your contribution was brief and to the point but equally as mysterious as your other efforts. So, "bodkin" ... ?

Epikouros, you are an education and I am grateful to you for it. The bowmen at Agincourt were assisted by the fact that the battlefield narrowed thus crowding the French horsemen into a packed target area. Er, 'quelle domage' and all that sort of thing . . .

David, one possible explanation: "A bodkin is a small tool for piecing holes in leather etc. This term borrows the early bodikin version of that word, not for its meaning but just because of the alliteration with body, to make a euphemistic version of the oath God's body. This would otherwise have been unacceptable to a pious audience. That is, odds bodkins is a minced oath.

Shakespeare ignored the impropriety in Henry IV Part II, 1597:

First Carrier:
God's body! the turkeys in my pannier are quite starved."

A set of Wars of the Roses wargames rules I've used asks you to select bodkin or broadpoint when firing your longbowmen. Broadly you use bodkin point against the Ruperts in their armour because it was slightly more armour piercing, and broadhead against the oiks like you on the other side with their leather (if they were lucky) and rags.

I don't know why, it's just what came into my head, alright?


In my despatch days, I used to have a friend and colleague called Curtis Johnson. Curt (like me in those days) was incredibly fit, however he was also incredibly strong. He was twice as broad as me, and all of it was muscle. He was an archery expert, and like Hardy, he specialised in the longbow. In fact, Curt was one of the few people in the country who was strong enough to draw one of the damn things. This is because medieval archery in England required the archer to develop a level of strength that is surplus to requirements in modern Britain.

Curt had some interesting stories to tell. One concerned the longbows that were salvaged when the wreck of the Mary Rose was recovered. These were in such good condition that they put a string on one, and the damn thing still worked perfectly!!

Sometimes, truth can be stranger than fiction...

Speaking of arrows, this one seems to be descending rapidly:

He was such a promising young boy.

Further to my last, and in amplification of what Curt told me. This is nothing short of incredible. Enjoy!

My Mom was infatuated with the French actor Charles Boyer.

Great vid Richard.

The French are such whingers, aren't they? Even 450 years ago they were whining about the copper glue in the Brit arrow heads being toxic.

I wonder what Henry VIII had to say when he heard about that? Something spicier than "cheese eating surrender monkeys" and probably followed up with a v-for-victory sign, I suspect.

The Mary Rose is one of, if not the, best museum in the country, imho. The poor fellas on board couldn't get off the ship because of the netting all around it when it went down, if I remember it was there to assist the crew climbing about, but under the circs of sinking it turned the thing into a death trap. So they were drowned with their kit all around them.

In the museum they've used computer modelling from the skeletons to reconstruct the faces, dressed them in the kit they had with them in their trunks or kit bags, and put them on display with their tools going about their business at work. All the different trades at sea were on display. Gets the hairs on the back of your neck up.


Bob, thank you, in the end almost everything harks back to 'old Will'!

Richard, thanks, a fascinating film.

Whiters, almost a repeat of what The Spectator printed the week before:

TBH, those damned Frogs always get off with the prettiest gals!

Yeah, David; he had my Mom swooning, that's fer shur.

it was there to assist the crew climbing about,

SoD the netting would probably have been to prevent boarders. Only the standing rigging and some running rigging was used for moving around above deck level. Running rigging was rarely used as just as the name suggests it was liable to move for a number of reasons.

Netting to prevent boarders getting in is also good at stopping ship's crew getting out.

The museum is certainly worth the visit. I was lucky enough to see it while still in HM's service.

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