Posts Tagged ‘Robespierre’

Real men do knit.

August 20, 2020
IMG_0900 knitting

There used to be a popular show on TV featuring men wrestling. It wasn’t real wrestling but more a show made especially for those that seem to get satisfaction watching glistening muscled men beating the s..t out of each other,  extolling cruelty to the point of whereby the audience at home, in the comfort of their armchairs, would ask themselves if the intention was to kill each other. The oiled wrestlers would end standing high on the ring wires and hurl themselves on each other with such force one expected entrails to fly about. But no, not a single death ever shown on TV. In the life audience there would be almighty booing and egging on the wrestlers to even greater heights of murderous intent.

The odd thing was the surveys showing that it were women who seemed to get the most joy out of this pantomime wrestling. My friend’s mother was proof of it. Of all the shows I found her watching on TV, it was the wrestling that she would not miss out for all the money in the world. Perhaps there is contained within this TV cruelty, watched by some women a nefarious delight that men get what they deserved all along; are men not the war mongers, the wife beaters, the unfaithful animals often ruled by their one eyed, hooded but rampant genital? Perhaps men beating up men added an extra poignancy for the lady watchers seeing they did not have to do it.

As the days of the Covid-19 keep on passing, the demand on relationship counselling is at a peak. Hundreds of callers are queueing up on the Beyond Blue mental health line, suicides are up. Many women live in fear what will come next. Husbands are out of work, cooped up with families, unable to relieve their anxiety, hopelessness seeps in and with their often superior muscles, lash out. But it are the women, many of whom are rearing children doing the domestic work, spending most of their lives being ‘cooped’ up willingly and often happily. What is that men so easily let fly? Is it proof that women are stronger and much more resilient?

The picture below shows the period in France during the reign of Maximillian Robespierre with his penchant for executing hundreds of fellow citizens during the Reign of Terror 1793/1794. His excuse was to free France of its monarchy but in doing so he had to take drastic measures and heads would roll in the cane baskets. In those days there was no TV but that did not stop keen viewers from watching the procedures.

Une Exécution capitale, place de la Révolution, painting by Pierre-Antoine Demachy

History tells us, often in gory details, that Robespierre fought for the common man against the iron fisted monarchy whose Kings enlisted men for armies and wars. It were the women that Robespierre really wanted to liberate from this Royal tyranny. He did become the favourite leader who would take France to freedom and a republic. During the revolution, it was no wonder that during the beheadings of Robespierre’s enemies, the women were lining up in front rows watching the rolling of heads into the baskets. Many would queue early to get the best seats and take the knitting with them. At the height of the guillotine’s work it was rumoured a head would roll for every 6 rows of straight knitting. ( 50 stitches on the 5 mill needle)

The French word for a female knitter is tricoteuse. It is often used as a historical nickname for women knitters sitting beside the executioner working the guillotine  flat out separating heads from the prisoners, supposedly knitting during public executions in the French revolution.

We all know that Robespierre himself would fall victim to the guillotine the year after. So, is there a link between the tricoteuses of the 1790’s in France and preferences of females watching male wrestling on TV?

As an aside, I have taken the decision to start up my knitting again. The last time I did it was when about 12 years of age. I find it surprisingly interesting and very soothing. I just straight knit, so no pearling yet, but that might still come. I use 4 millimetres needles and a mixture of yarn 50/50 nylon to wool. The lockdown does force one to come up with solutions to pass time, and I suppose the knitting is one pastime that is fairly easy to do and one makes something at the same time.

I intend to make a throw rug.


A severed Head in good Word order

January 16, 2013


Writing words in a reasonable order.

The first thing in writing is to start with a word which you follow up with another word. Usually the first word suggests the next one. It is best not to start off with a word plan that would prevent the freedom to change as you go along. It mustn’t be too preconceived. That would stifle the creativity of things that words are capable off. You wouldn’t know how words behave once they have been put in view. I mean, you can have certain words in mind but on reading those words it might just not always work out. It’s a bit of a mystery, but that’s the power of words for you.

“Head,” here is a first word. “Head found”, might be the next. Was it yesterday I read someone found a head in a plastic bag? The horror of an eleven year old girl finding a severed head in a plastic bag will be a difficult memory to overcome. Can you imagine? Poor girl. Why is it that lately we seem to read so many of those strange stories of murder and mayhem? I mean, a severed head accidentally could be possible, but a head in a plastic bag seems to have something deliberate about it. I mean man-made deliberation. I can’t really get to ‘woman made’, I really can’t imagine a woman capable of doing something like that, even though packing things in plastic bags might be more the domain belonging to the female sex.

Heaven knows how long the head had been in the plastic bag but police, after staring at it for a long time, seemed to have recognized something familiar about it. Something about the glint of those eyes perhaps?  At first they couldn’t put their finger to it, but there was something, just something about it. You wonder how they viewed the head. Did they put it on a desk wedged in between a couple of weights preventing it from rolling around? Perhaps it was adorned with ear-rings. How did they determine the sex of the head?  So many questions, so many answers, all related to this gruesome object of a body-less head. For me it seems difficult to imagine a head without a body. Sure, I have seen paintings of heads being held, usually triumphantly aloft, but curiously mainly in biblical scenes. The power of the sword, because those scenes, if I remember correctly, usually showed a man with the dripping head in one hand and a cutting implement in the other.  Is there also not a famous scene of a head presented on a serving platter?

As a child it held enormous fascination and I was captivated by the scene for many years. I would contemplate if it was possible to be still alive, even for just a split second, after the head was cut off. What exactly was the precise point of death? Could the eyes still see, just for a short second afterwards, or did everything look black? I vividly remember at history lessons and the French Robespierre being led, oh so deliciously and so finally, to the guillotine with the women in the audience, comfortably seated, cheering on, while some were knitting booties for their babies.

Can you imagine?