We all know a variation of the old English rhyme, that usually goes like this:
Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub,
And who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker,
And all put out to sea.
But according to most academics, the original rhyme dates back to the 14th century, and referred to three "maids" in a tub:
Hey! rub-a-dub, ho! rub-a-dub, three maids in a tub,
And who do you think were there?
The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker,
And all of them gone to the fair.
This version makes sense historically because evidently, in medieval times, the fairs sometimes had "peep shows" where men could view naked women in a tub! The inclusion of the three varied professions of these men suggests that everyone and his brother was partaking of such entertainment.
Nicolas was a real person who lived roughly between the years 270 to 343. He must have had a very strong and holy presence, as many miracles were attributed to him, and for centuries after his death, people were squabbling over his bones, moving them from one city to another.
An early Christian bishop from an area (Myra) that is now part of modern-day Turkey, Nicolas came from a well-to-do family, but gave away his wealth. One possibly true story about him was that he surreptitiously provided three purses of gold to an impoverished merchant by dropping them into his window (not the chimney!) over three successive nights. He did this to provide dowries for the man's three daughters, so that they did not have to become prostitutes.
A second story that is likely true is that bishop Nicolas once intervened to prevent the execution of three innocent men. That incident appears to have been retold throughout the Middle Ages, but enhanced many times over through drama and exaggeration. The most popular version of this story tells of a conniving butcher who killed three boys and put their remains in a pickling tub. St. Nicolas was said to have demanded the contents of the tub, and to have brought the three boys back to life!
So impressive and vivid was this tale of a miracle, and so well-travelled, that apparently there are representations of St. Nicolas and the boys in the tub to be found all over Europe in tapestries, paintings, sculptures - and in stained glass. So now you know.
From the "Grandes Heures d'Anne de Bretagne" (created between 1503 and 1508).
Now, let's go back into the abbey at Lonlay
Though the head on the outside of the abbey wall has teeth, I don't think it is meant to be a "tarasque," the medieval monster who devoured people, as most of the heads inside the abbey are benign.
But enough of the abbey, let's move on to the village fête!
Our good friend Ashami (Pipkin's favorite person) came down from Paris specifically to enjoy the fair with us and the next day's vide-grenier. We all had a great time!
The vide-grenier is like a huge rummage sale. There were hundreds of people selling items and hundreds, maybe thousands more strolling among the tables, bargaining and buying in the village green, the square in front of our house, the field behind the abbey, a parking lot across from the market, and in every corner that was not already taken by the fairground equipment.
Meanwhile, back at our house, we were pleased as punch with some of the improvements that had been made while we had been away...