It's time for Part Seven of my serialization of Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome - the latest in our series Tales for Our Time. An Australian member of The Mark Steyn Club, Segnes Schonken, writes:
I've thoroughly enjoyed all the tales to which I've listened, revisiting my childhood and adolescent reading, but I'm enthralled by Three Men in a Boat. I think it was prescribed as supplemental reading in my second-year English literature course and I didn't do it justice, but this rendition is a treat and a privilege. Thank you.
Thank you, SS. As to all those other tales he's enjoyed, you'll find over two years' worth archived here, in handy easy-to-access Netflix-style tile format. Oh, and we do poetry, too. And, if you've missed the beginning of Three Men in a Boat, you can start fresh with Part One and have a good old binge-listen.
Tonight's episode is fairly typical: trespassing, comic songs, great German art lost in non-translation - and, of course, what installment would be complete without a scold's bridle?
CĂ¦sar, of course, had a little place at Waltonâ€”a camp, or an entrenchment, or something of that sort. CĂ¦sar was a regular up-river man. Also Queen Elizabeth, she was there, too. You can never get away from that woman, go where you will. Cromwell and Bradshaw (not the guide man, but the King Charles's head man) likewise sojourned here. They must have been quite a pleasant little party, altogether.
There is an iron "scold's bridle" in Walton Church. They used these things in ancient days for curbing women's tongues. They have given up the attempt now. I suppose iron was getting scarce, and nothing else would be strong enough.
As for that scold's bridle in Walton-on-Thames, it dates from 1633 and you can see it in the church vestry. A local chap called Chester lost all his money due to a loose-tongued woman and so presented the "branks" (as they call it up north and in Scotland) to Walton with the following inscription:
Chester presents Walton with a bridle
To curb women's tongues that talk too idle.
Oddly enough the same people who think Trump is planning to re-introduce the scold's bridle as part of his Handmaid's Tale master plan are perfectly cool with the niqab and the burqa, neither of which has a mouth aperture because their purpose is exactly the same as the branks of old - to silence women.
If you'd like to know more about The Mark Steyn Club, well, we'd love to have you along for our third season. So please click here for more info - and don't forget, for fellow fans of classic fiction and/or poetry, our Steyn Club Gift Membership.
Do join me back here tomorrow for Part Eight of Three Men in a Boat.