Tuesday, September 29, 2009

..and then they all come at once!

Things never seem to occur singly: within the space of one month I found a £20 note fluttering down the street (hooray), was informed that, as I had reached 50 years of age, I could take my pension as a lump sum (double hooray - it paid off my student account overdraft), and that I had been awarded funding for the remainder of my PhD (triple hooray....still can't quite believe it). On the down-side my Ma AND Pa-in-law both had accidents that necessitated hospitalisation (the latter's being a lot more serious than the former's)...we're awaiting a third occurrence. And today chez nous we have a broken kitchen hot tap (very difficult to rinse grease off plates), a dishwasher whose heater element has given up heating (so HOW do we do the washing-up?) and the Husband's rear bike tyre exploded whilst he was riding to work! All the last three can fortunately be coped with thanks to the fact that I am now in receipt of my 'stipend', but it's not exactly what I envisaged spending it on! And looking grey-faced at the latest credit card bill my other half voiced his gratitude that I was 'now in a position to help out'. Fan-flaming-tastic.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Perfect Wedding

The wedding could not have been better: the day dawned bright and cloudless, the preparations on the day ran smoothly (bar a little crying session from the Bouncing Baby), the traffic was minimal and everyone arrived at the registry office in plenty of time. The groom was immaculately turned out, as were the groomsmen who soothed his understandable nervousness; the bride positively glowing, looking beautiful in her empire-line pearl-trimmed dress, clutching a small bouquet of cream roses, purple lizzianthus twined with pearls and trailing ivy. Daughter #3 (a bridesmaid) stood tall in her pretty purple dress, with a posy that matched the bride's flowers. The Bright-Eyed Boy was smart in his co-ordinated mave-striped shirt and purple tie. Indeed, we were all smart - and happy. The ceremony was brief, as was the photography session, and then the wedding party made its way on foot through the Museum Gardens (pausing for more photos on the way) to the restaurant where the reception was being held. The champagne flowed freely, the food was delicious, the company excellent. The guests went their separate ways and later reunited in the newly-weds garden to continue celebrating with cake and more sparkly stuff until the sun went down. What a perfect day: may it be the first of many.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Boring Blogs

Where O where are some interesting blogs? The blogosphere is quite arid at the moment! Just a load of dull lists and cross-postings that could have been generated by an info-bot. You're all very boring and I'm going to delete my favourites list unless someone posts something interesting that has a bit of personal investment in it. Let me know what you THINK, not who's been doing what: I can find that out by myself , thank you!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

An Intriguing Discovery

Actually I already knew he was there, only I thought that he was a she.....

In the Catalan-Gothic cathedral of Santa Maria Immacolata in Alghero, Sardinia, is a modest chapel to the rear right of the main altar. It is plain and undecorated, unremarkable in every way save that under the altar (whose tabernacle is in a sorry state of disrepair) is a glass-fronted sarcophagus. And within this lies what appears to be a body, lying supine, dressed in silk robes, the shoulders and slightly lolling head supported on a pillow. The face is pale but attractive, the eyes and mouth are half-closed in what may almost appear to be ecstasy - but there is a sizeable gash that running across the base of the neck. The expression is reminiscent of Bernini's St Teresa in Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome.

This wax-covered effigy contains the bones of St Donaziano, an early Roman-Christian martyr whose remains (from the catacombs of Rome) were gifted to the wealthy Algherese Garibaldi-Piccinelli family in 1845 by Cardinal Costantino Patrizi . After passing through various members of the family's hands, it was eventually donated to the cathedral and installed in its Chapel of the Holy Spirit, where it lies to this day.
The relics were received into the cathedral on October 25th 1913 with great solemnity, an occasion recorded in local dialect in the archives of the Bishop of Alghero. There also seems to have been an authentication of the remains:
È tosto accertata l’identificazione del corpo del santo martire per i caratteri di esatta corrispondenza che presenta col rescritto rilasciato ai maggiori della donatrice dal card. Patrizi, vicario di S. Santità in Roma nel 1845.
A conferma e chiarezza maggiore si aggiunge che il corpo del santo, formato dal suo scheletro rivestito di cera e vestito in abito romano, presenta una larga ferita al collo, e giace (la testa sopra tre cuscini di seta) in un’urna di legna esternamente da tre parti dorata e chiusa da tre vetri. Dentro l’urna è pure l’ampolla di sangue ritrovata nel suo loculo. All’urna è annessa una piccola lapide marmorea colla iscrizione «Donatiano Te in pace». Dai lati esterni, verso il capo e i piedi del santo, si notano quattro impressioni di ceralacca con timbro poco leggibile. L’urna è riposta in una cassa di legno, aperta da tre lati, sormontata da mensa con pietra sacra, per la celebrazione della Santa Messa.

And it was in the cathedral that I first noted him on our first visit to Sardinia, although I have to admit that for six years I did think that he was a female, and it was only on finally discovering his name that I realised that I had been wrong all along! The mode of death appears to be typically Roman - a short sword is either thrust into the neck or driven down adjacent the collar bone skewering the thorassic organs and severing major blood vessels. Death would be, if not instantaneous, then certainly rapid (see below).
Very little is actually known about this St Donaziano: even his name - which might be translated as 'St Donation' or 'Gift' - is suspicious for one whose bones were given as a present, and the trade in 'relics' was traditionally notorious for fraudulent claims. There are at least 18 saints known by variants of this name, including the female Roman martyr St Donata, whose relics, along with those of her companions Hilaria, Nomiflanda, Paulina, Rustica, and Serotina are enshrined in the Via Salaria Catacombs, in Rome.
But I'm not sure that that is important. These wax-covered bones have been the focus of pious Algherese prayers for many years. And if one were to ask for saintly intercession, who better to invoke than one currently not too overburdened with requests?

Pruttetor sés declarat
San Donaziano a l’Alghé
un màrtir que glòria té
del pòpul sempra alabat.
Un eroica virtut
a l’Alghé estem gozant
gràcia de l’Espírit Sant
que aquest Sant avem tengut
gran relíquia y ha vengut
singular y de plajé.
Protector ec. ec.
Un àngel de puritat
en l’Alghé avui tenim
en devoció nul pranim
que serà nostru avvucat
vergin martirizzat
prova que és mort per la fé.
Protector sés declarat
San Donaziano a l’Alghé.
Prova santa y giusta ha dat
deffenent la religió
essent ancara mignó
a los devuit ayns en poca etat
per Gesús sacrificat
avui quanta glòria té.
Protector ec. ec.
Giaquè goza eterna glòria
amba devoció sa miri
Déu ly ha rendit lo glyri
y la palma de la victòria
del pòpul fassi memòria
que na tenim manasté.
Protector ec. ec.
Decimosesto Gregori
de l’Alghé gia s’és dignat
aquest papa lu Sant ha dat
amba devoció s’adori
gràcia en general emplori
que axí és lo nostru prajé.
Protector ec. ec. ec.
Per medi de un algueresa
s’és dignat a cumpació
amba fe y religió
tota a egl s’és emprumisa
un señora cortesa
aquest tesor avuy té.
Protector ec. ec.
Gràcia emplori en general
en plúvia y serenitat
de pesta y calamitat
nus deffenghi en lu temporal
féu que al espiritual
cadaú pensi al maggior bé.
Protector ec. ec.
De un tesor tant preciosíssim
na forma un gran santuari
amba un begl reliquiari
de la sang sua puríssima
o màrtyr gloriosíssim
biada la casa que lo té.
[Protector ec. ec.]
Per diura del sou flagellu
suffrinnu amba tot amor
flagello de gran dulor
lu que ha soffrit poverello
Aquell tyranno ribello
de escannarlu ly dighé.
Protector ec. ec.
Un cop murtal en lu cap ly han dat
y al bras un altra ferida
la que ly ha troncat la vida
era quant l’han escannat
la que lu cor ly ha trapassat
y és mort amba gran prajé.
Protector s’és declarat ec. ec.
La sua vida és accabada
y Déu la glòria ly dóna
una celeste curona
y la palma duplicada
de àngels és adornada
la sua ànima també.
Protector ec. ec.
A Roma l’han enterrat
amba occulta diligència
per divina providència
a l’Alghé l’han trasportat
l’ayn mill vuitcentz és estat
y quaranta sys dyuré.
Protector ec. ec.
Que nos miri a totz quantz sem
adorannu en cumpagnia
que y pughi veni’ un dia
que en la glòria nus vaggiem
amba egl totz que sighiem
a gozar l’eternu Bé.
Protector ec. ec.
Totas las súplicas nostras
syghin per las vostras penas
abbundantas soaves venas
que han ubert las glòrias vostras
féu que sighin prepostas
las ànimas ha fer bé.
Protector ec. ec. ec.
Un màrtyr que glòria té
del pòpul sempra alabat
protector s’és declarat
San Donaziano a l’Alghé

All Over Bar the Shopping

Nearly there.......the Bright Eyed Boy dons his shiny new uniform tomorrow and heads off to the start of his last year of primary education. Daughter #3 is making the most of the last few weekday morning sessions of rowing training before her return to school next Monday. The weather is distinctly on the turn now, the sun at a lower angle in the sky, the nights that bit longer, dawn that bit later.... I can get quite melancholic with the shortening of the days: I need a goodly amount of warm sunshine to keep me chipper. This year however I'm not going to get much time to brood as I start my full-time doctoral studies in less than a month's time! To tell the truth, I haven't given it a great deal of thought just recently - there was a flurry of admin to complete just before we went away (only a fortnight ago in reality), and since we arrived back I have been absorbed by general mucking-out, uniform buying, hospital duty (visiting Pa-in-law after his DIY tumble) and wedding hysteria. Daughter #2 is drumming her fingers waiting for her 'big day' to dawn. I haven't actually bought anything to wear to it yet, so that delight is for next week when I have a bit of peace and quiet - although it won't be either peaceful or quiet as the wedding excitement will have reached fever-pitch by then, and no doubt there'll be unforseen crises to attend to along the way. So you can see that anything academic has been severely backstaged. Looking at the blogs that I read on a fairly regular basis, I have to chuckle at the beard-stroking earnestness that allows some chaps (chapesses are conspicuous by their absence in certain circles: I guess they're 'surrendered' or what have you) to spend their summers reading tomes of epic proportions then critiquing them online. I wonder if anyone really cares.....
Although to a certain extent I am envious of those scholars who can devote swathes of time to their subjects, I am so glad that I have a life external to my studies. Real life - family life - tends to sort out the wheat from the chaff.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

You Got to.....Ac-centuate the Positive...

It's a beautiful morning...the sky is clear blue, the sun is shining, the hedgerows are burgeoning with glistening purplish blackberries.....The whole world has a distinct feeling of new beginnings and promise about it today. I'm glad to feel perky again, particularly after a rather fraught few days which saw my poor old Pa-in-law take a nasty tumble off his garage roof (DIY incident) and sustain three broken ribs. Rushed to hospital in an ambulance (the extent of the damage wasn't immediately clear) he's been kept in on account of the pain and being unable to bend in the middle - a prerequisite for a car-journey home. A nasty shock for all concerned and possibly a foreshadowing of years to come, with increasingly frail dependents tripping over their slippers, choking on their glacier mints etc. Hopefully he'll be home soon and improve rapidly. But it could have been SO much worse: he fell onto concrete, full onto one side, so the potential for a fractured skull, hip or leg was there. Three ribs seems not too bad in the circumstances really.