Hocktide Tutti Day (324 words)

Phyrebrat

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#1
Hi all,

I'm on the final stretch with my 1349 section of my WIP. This scene is set on the morning of Tutti Day which forms the backdrop to the action that will occur. Henry is back in his hometown and what I'm wanting to know is this:

1) With the terminology regarding Hocktide in the text, does it sound understandable? I.e what is happening? Hocktide has been mentioned before in the text but not explicitly explained. I don't want to go on about it in the text as it's just the backdrop so want to limit my expo on this.

2) Can you visualise the shape of the 3 staves lashed together?

3) Do I need to put how long the staves are? (around 4 yards)

Thanks

pH

Henry woke late on Tutti Day. He’d been awake all night - or so it felt - awaiting Ettie’s return from the Hocktide Girls’ ritual. Well into the night he was still unable to decide whether to leave and search for her. The thought of her returning in need of assistance - for that was the only reason she should not be home - was too painful and so instead he waited, standing by the two windows next to the apple tree, peering into the blackness of the common. Then he would run to the next wall and look over the goats’ paddock upriver, and finally to the back of the mill, over the water, before returning to the double windows to repeat it again.

He remembered sitting to drink ale from a large clay bottle, hoping it was from Eoffric’s own supply, and the next thing he knew, the drums and whistles of Tutti Day were calling the men to town, for today was their day to be kissed.

He struggled up, his joints screaming like the gears of Cranbowen’s mill, and he ran out to look over the common. He felt at once hot and cold, and a slick sheen of sweat covered his entire body, his stomach knotted, and his head spinning. Where was she?

Across the common, along the lanes, and at crossroads all over the town, the colourful Hocktide staves had been been lashed in threes to form the Three Legged Pendres for the celebrations. None of them had a man swinging below them but soon they would, one apiece.

Henry would have to avoid all the women of the Minster lest he be lashed upside down till the end of the day - and only then if he offered a kiss and some money for the Wimbowen Abbey. He had no time for that, but as the constable reminded him yesterday, to avoid his Hocktide duties was “at your own peril”.
 

TheDustyZebra

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#2
I'm good with the staves -- if they're going to have a man lashed under them, it's pretty clear they are tall enough for that, and they'd be in a tripod in order to not fall over.

I'm not sure I know exactly what's going on with the events. The women tie the men upside down under the staves, I can see that -- but is it to kiss them, or if they give a kiss they don't have to be hung upside down? And then he has other duties he needs to be doing instead. And apparently the girls are doing something else first.

I'm not sure it's strictly necessary to know everything, though. Is it relevant later?
 

HareBrain

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#5
I think you're OK with the level of explanation, but I'd go with "poles" instead of "staves" it you want to suggest them being longer.

I thought some of the rest of it was unclear, though. Details in the text:

Henry woke late on Tutti Day. He’d been awake all night - or so it felt - awaiting Ettie’s return from the Hocktide Girls’ ritual. Well into the night he was still unable to decide whether to leave and search for her. The thought of her returning in need of assistance - for that was the only reason she should not be home - was too painful [too painful to go in search of her? But this is what he does, with the "next wall" bit] and so instead he waited, standing by the two windows next to the apple tree, peering into the blackness of the common. Then he would run [See previous comment. Also, I wasn't at first sure if you meant "would" in the sense of what he planned to do, or what he did several times. It becomes clearer after a couple of reads] to the next wall and look over the goats’ paddock upriver, and finally to the back of the mill, over the water, before returning to the double windows to repeat it again.

He remembered [when is he remembering this? After he wakes, it turns out, but you haven't changed back from pluperfect to past tense ("he'd gone" to "he went") so it reads as though this is till his nighttime activities. I'd keep the whole previous paragraph in pluperfect to be clearer] sitting to drink ale from a large clay bottle, hoping it was from Eoffric’s own supply, and the next thing he knew [he'd known -- this needs to be pluperfect because he's thinking back on it; it's not happening right now because he's been thinking about the ale etc], the drums and whistles of Tutti Day were calling the men to town, for today was their day to be kissed.

He struggled up, his joints screaming like the gears of Cranbowen’s mill, and he ran out to look over the common. He felt at once hot and cold, and a slick sheen of sweat covered his entire body, his stomach knotted, and his head spinning. Where was she? [I'd specify Ettie here]

Across the common, along the lanes, and at crossroads all over the town, the colourful Hocktide staves had been been lashed in threes to form the Three Legged Pendres for the celebrations. None of them had a man swinging below them but soon they would, one apiece.

Henry would have to avoid all the women of the Minster lest he be lashed upside down till the end of the day - and only then [only then what? Only then would he be lashed upside down? That needs more clarity to me] if he offered a kiss and some money for the Wimbowen Abbey. He had no time for that, but as the constable reminded him yesterday, to avoid his Hocktide duties was “at your own peril”.
 

Phyrebrat

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#6
Thanks people for your comments. <3

As long as the staves bit is clear, then I'm happy that -as TDZ says- they're seen as a tripod arrangement. I was worried because I wasn't sure about using the terminology 'pyramid' or 'tripod' for an 'umble miller (which is what Henry is). (The correct term for them is 'staves' or staff so I'm reluctant to change that. There is an old English phrase; 'Three Legged Mare' which was a gallows that could hang three people at once. I kind of nicked that for the name and added the french verb to hang; "pendre" as the tarot card le pendu figures in the story later on in the 1800s and present day section.

Anyway, the festival ins and outs are loosely referred to earlier in the section so I think readers will be fine with that part. In the real Hocktide Festival (two weeks after Easter) men are tied to staves and girls kiss them and only release them if they pay some money which goes to the local church.

@HareBrain thanks so much for the tense stuff. I wonder if there is a resource in the Grammar forum about tenses because, quite frankly, I haven't a clue what the names of the tenses relate to beyond future, conditional, perfect (that's past, right?). Pluperfect, past historic and alladem are alchemy to me, although I think I understand your points.

What I find strange is that at school we were taught the grammar rules of French and German and I can conjugate those verbs in the right tenses - even reflexives :eek: !! - but when it comes to my own language, it was taught so erratically, I'm hopeless. Plus, I suppose English is such a beggardly old cuss of a language, it's hard to implement hard and fast rules sometimes.

Thanks again.
 

The Judge

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#7
Coming late to this, but despite your saying "staves" is the correct term, I think you're better off using something like "strong poles". "Stave" has a number of meanings, but although it's synonymous with staff, I'd argue it's nowadays more usually something that's a lot smaller than you need for an effective gallows height. Being tied to a stave might mean a solid post that's only about 5ft high; hanging from one, upside down, requires something nearer twice as high I'd say, particularly as they'd have to be solidly fixed and/or given a good long incline to avoid being toppled if the man starts thrashing as he's suspended. And it's one thing to have a couple of staves to which several men can be fixed at a time by means of chains and ropes, but you've got dozens of these tripods by the sound of it. All those long straight bits of timber cut for one day's entertainment? That is going to appall the medieval thrifty mind, surely. And it's one thing perhaps keeping a maypole from year to year, but all that wood, lying around? I'm not convinced.

I can see you're after your hanged man motif again, but for myself I can't suspend (ha!) belief in an upside down hanging for all day for the Hocktide offences. The idea of Lords of Misrule when the established order is upset for a particular day was commonplace, and that might include the male-female power divide being upset, but not, I think, to the extent that any man might suffer prolonged physical abuse at the hands of women. Mockery, yes; inconvenience, yes. More than that, I'm far from sure. So unless the whole-day upside-down thing is vital for the plot, I'd suggest you restrict it to something symbolic eg only a few minutes per man before they're chained somewhere else, and/or a monstrous guy (as in penny-for-the, not a synonym for bloke) dangling from one enormous pendre in the village square. The advantage of that is you can have mini-pendres all over the place which the women have been making for past weeks out of branches and the like, thus reducing the amount of timber needlessly cut down, plus creating a more female vibe to the lead-up to the celebrations, especially if they make the guy, too -- the big pendres would be more masculine affairs in the chopping down and construction.

One other thing that hit me was "Hocktide Girls' ritual". I don't believe adult and older adolescent women would be referred to collectively as girls, if that's what you mean, nor that female children would have any special event associated with Hocktide which is clearly a sexualised holiday (paedophilia undoubtedly happened, but I can't see them making a celebration of it) if that's what Ettie is somehow supervising. Plus I can't see any of them using the term "ritual" to describe something so manifestly non-church-like -- they might continue with superstitious practices to placate old pagan gods, for instance, but they wouldn't use religious terminology for them.

By the way, I'm not sure how there can be "women of the Minster" -- do you mean women of the town? Is there a Minster as well as the Abbey? (Unlikely I'd have thought.) All women would be seen as part of the church, of course, if that's what you mean, so "of the Minster" is otiose. And if the ostensible purpose of Hocktide is to collect money for charitable uses, it's surely not going to the abbey, which belongs to whatever monkish Order you've chosen. Even if the abbey doubles as the parish church, by allowing the public into the nave, they're very unlikely to help contribute to it in this way I'd have thought.

I know you can explain any possible oddities as being down to the character in the novel who is writing the historical episodes but I still think it's best to avoid them if you can


As for tenses, Ursa dealt with this briefly here The Toolbox Basically, you're writing in past tense about things that happened in the past (ie "Henry walked to and fro") but if you want to refer to something which pre-dates those past events -- ie you're writing about Henry as he's milling one morning and he's recollecting the events of the previous week -- you have to go into past perfect aka pluperfect which involves adding "had" before the verb ie "Henry had walked to and fro". If you're writing a long spiel by way of the previous past events, eg someone around a camp fire remembering the battle that morning, it's acceptable to start in pluperfect for a verb or two, slip into simple past for the bulk of the backstory to avoid all the clumsy "had"s, then revert back to the pluperfect for the final verb or two of the backstory. But if it's only a short piece of remembrance, or there's a chance of confusion, it's best to stay in pluperfect throughout.

Good to see you've nearly done the 1349 section! You're getting on well.
 

Phyrebrat

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#8
Cor, thanks for the advice; and here I was thinking I'd escaped your red pen ;)

The term staves is important to me because the thematic use of the tarot cards, particularly the Rider Waite pack which I use - wands are 'staves' and used later on. I think what I'll do is use interchangeable terms such as poles, long staves, etc which'll also get me round the repetition of 'staff' and 'staves'.

That is going to appall the medieval thrifty mind, surely. And it's one thing perhaps keeping a maypole from year to year, but all that wood, lying around? I'm not convinced
The poles ( ;) ) are reused, and are repainted each year; this is dealt with very early on in narrative and I believe it's acceptable 'enough'. There is a whole industry that is predicated on the yews around Cranbowen where there is a tension set up because they provide the longbows for the King as well as having to replace broken 'staves' (ha!).


I can see you're after your hanged man motif again, but for myself I can't suspend (ha!) belief in an upside down hanging for all day for the Hocktide offences. The idea of Lords of Misrule when the established order is upset for a particular day was commonplace, and that might include the male-female power divide being upset, but not, I think, to the extent that any man might suffer prolonged physical abuse at the hands of women. Mockery, yes; inconvenience, yes. More than that, I'm far from sure. So unless the whole-day upside-down thing is vital for the plot, I'd suggest you restrict it to something symbolic eg only a few minutes per man before they're chained somewhere else, and/or a monstrous guy (as in penny-for-the, not a synonym for bloke) dangling from one enormous pendre in the village square.
Henry is the only one who is hung upside down. The other men are lashed to the poles, feet on ground. Henry has been selected as one of the Hocktide Jurors and his (invented by yours truly) penalty is being suspended à le Pendu - but this happens at Cranbowen, not Wimbowen. Without going into the details, I believe this is credible (I mean, let's face it, in Cranbowen, North and South, East and West often switch places, lakes flood and evaporate overnight, and so on). As far as the motif goes, it comes from this. i.e Henry is the Hanged Man /Pendu (Henry à la Français :D ) and it's not something I'm really willing/able to change without a huge rewrite. (don't you dare!)

plus creating a more female vibe to the lead-up to the celebrations, especially if they make the guy, too -- the big pendres would be more masculine affairs in the chopping down and construction.
Yes, the first day of celebration is where the men ask the women for a kiss as per the official tradition, and on the second day it's the men who are blindfolded, lashed to a pole and have to be kissed (or 'enjoy' being kissed, I should say), and give up money. From the programme I saw, (this is going back yonks when I was first taken with the idea of Hocktide) athough the women were neither blindfolded nor tied up, the men were the next day; I don't think even they were tied up all day, either, I think it was until they coughed up some dough for the Church. In my version the women dance on the common and then are kissed; the men are lashed to the poles as above the next day.

BTW, Ettie is not even in the town. She's long gone...:sneaky:

As for tenses, Ursa dealt with this briefly here The Toolbox Basically, you're writing in past tense about things that happened in the past (ie "Henry walked to and fro") but if you want to refer to something which pre-dates those past events -- ie you're writing about Henry as he's milling one morning and he's recollecting the events of the previous week -- you have to go into past perfect aka pluperfect which involves adding "had" before the verb ie "Henry had walked to and fro".
This is soooo helpful, thanks. I now know what the pluperfect is; I'm going to rename it 'the nested past' :D

Good to see you've nearly done the 1349 section! You're getting on well.
You have no idea how hard this has been (well, actually of course you do). Oh my actual God, I am so relieved to have this nearly done. I'm hoping to have 1349 finished by Yule and start working on the Victorian era when I'm in New York from 28th-14th Dec. I'll have access to the NYC library (I'm hoping) and can research the period in the American Fort and slave auction. Lazaro will be introduced over there but I want the UK Main POV to be female (rather than Richard as-was). It's all very well writing male POVs in the Middle Ages because of the even-stronger Patriarchy of those times, but it gets very boring for me. It's nice to write a man whose actions are taken only because of his love for his wife and not vice-versa as in Hollywood but even so...

Anyway, I've rattled on enough. Thanks again for your counsel, Your Hon.

pH
 

AlexH

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#9
I'm fresh to this, having not seen any previous pieces.

1. To me it didn't matter that Hocktide wasn't explained. Even from the first mention, I can tell it's something important as it's capitalised and Henry is waiting for Ettie's return from it. Then you mention it a couple of times again - naturally feeding in more information. This feels like the right way to do it for me.

2&3. I wasn't sure what a stave was referring to at first - to me it's a musical term. I wanted to visualise what was going on a bit more e.g. they're colourful, but what colour? Are there any illustrations significant to the ritual or people, or is it just splashes of paint? Could you say "wooden staves" or are staves always wooden? What wood? As they seem important, maybe you could tell us more about the people and culture with more detail here.
 

sknox

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#10
How long is he hanging upside down? It doesn't take long before a human passes out in that position. He'd likely be okay for minutes, much less okay for hours. There's a documented case of a man dying after 28 hours. Much would depend on heart condition.
 

Phyrebrat

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How long is he hanging upside down? It doesn't take long before a human passes out in that position. He'd likely be okay for minutes, much less okay for hours. There's a documented case of a man dying after 28 hours. Much would depend on heart condition.
Thanks for the comment. I haven't decided how long to hang him upside down ;) but yes, he dies.

pH
 
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