Ladydale Diary

St. Narcissus 2020

I awoke this morning to the astonishing sight of an ent moot taking place outside the bedroom window. Those who have seen the Peter Jackson film rendition of The Two Towers will know what I mean. Evangeline and I watched this together last weekend and the image of Treebeard and the other ents swaying from side to side as they debated amongst themselves in old entish was emblazoned in my mind as I saw the trees on the edge of Ladydale swaying wildly and dramatically in gale-force winds.

Another allusion that sprung to mind this morning was the incongruity of the name of today’s saint, St. Narcissus, a bishop of the early church who could not have lived up to his name, in the sense that the mythical Narcissus gave us the adjective, narcissistic, which encapsulates the very antithesis of the qualities necessary for sanctity.

And speaking of narcissism, I had the great pleasure yesterday evening of teaching Chaucer’s delightfully raunchy and rambunctious “Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale”, one of the most brilliant exposés of narcissism ever written, to the students in my class on Imaginative Literature for Memoria College. Having spent the entirety of her interminably long “Prologue” speaking about herself in a pompous and self-righteous manner, the Wife of Bath then tells a tale in which she fantasizes about herself and her desire to be young and virile again, giving herself the happy fictional ending which the narcissism of her real life had always prevented and frustrated.

In last week’s diary I mentioned the desire to get to the gym on the following (Saturday) morning prior to meeting some friends at a local bar to watch the Chelsea-Manchester United game. This desire duly came to satisfactory fruition, though the goalless game did not quite live up to hopes and expectations.

The weekend having proved sufficiently restful, this week was also less frenetically busy than the previous week. There was no travelling to far-flung places, the furthest I’ve travelled being to church and the gym.

On Monday evening I taught the penultimate class on Shakespeare for Albertus Magnus Academy, beginning our discussion of King Lear.

On Tuesday morning, I recorded a brief promotional video for Homeschool Connections and, in the evening, I gave an online talk on “How Beauty can Heal the Culture” for the interns of the Manalive Media Group. In between, I managed to write 3,500 words of the book on the history of Catholic England. We’re now in the midst of the reign of James I in a chapter provisionally titles “Prelude to War”, the war in question being the English Civil War.

Yesterday evening I taught on Chaucer, as already mentioned, taking time out in the afternoon to go to the gym and to watch the Chelsea-Krasnodar game, which ended very happily, from my perspective, with a handsome four-nil victory for the Blues against the team from Russia.

Today, after the second largely restless night in a row, yesterday due to Leo’s waking up at 2:30 and today due to pure and simple insomnia, I’ve put in a couple of “night-shifts”, which helps to get things done, though there is of course a price to pay with respect to overarching tiredness.

Having written my essay for the Imaginative Conservative, on “The Final Days of Bloody Bess”, during the dark and quiet pre-dawn hours, I have spent this morning recording the three podcasts for this week’s Inner Sanctum, in which I discuss and recite three poems by St. John Henry Newman connected to the forthcoming feast of All Souls, and in which I discuss questions related to Virgil’s Aeneid, and finally in which I continue our reading and discussion of Belloc’s The Path to Rome. Check them out.

That brings us to the present moment and so, for the present, I wish you a hearty adieu!