Apropos of nothing. Back in the day when teachers didn’t have to fill in a twenty page risk assessment, we used to be taken out on School Trips. Bundled onto a coach twice a term and taken to somewhere ‘educational’ where a teacher would try and engage our interest. The poor benighted fools.
One day we were taken to Worcester in England to see the then-famous Royal Worcester china works and the cloister of Worcester Cathedral where, at the foot of a staircase, lies a tombstone bearing the simple legend ‘Miserrimus’. Our History Teacher, eyes glittering with the historical romance of her story, enthusiastically regaled us with the Wordsworth inspired tale of a medieval monk who took on the sins of the world and was buried as a reminder to all the other monks that he was the biggest sinner amongst them, and that just to remind them of how naughty they were, they had to walk over his grave for the rest of time. That learned ’em, right?
The truth though, is a little more prosaic. The tomb of ‘Miserrimus’ is that of a Parish Priest defrocked in the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688 for his loyalty to King James II and who spent the rest of his long life as an outcast until his death in 1748. Still, there was enough money to give him quite a fancy funeral and bury him outside the Church where his tombstone could continue to make his embittered point. Where it did for a while until the ex-reverend passed from living memory. Then along came some ‘romantic’ writers and poets who saw the stone and made some stuff up. Which is what they do.
Seriously. The guy spent fifty plus years carrying his political grudge instead of realising nothing was going to change unless he made it do so. Then he decided to be buried under a pseudonym, the reason for which was mostly forgotten. As was anything good or bad that he may have achieved in his life. Which is a shame, because he was not an unpopular man and was described as a caring and good looking chap who could have made a far larger impact on the world than his pseudonymous tombstone ever could.
There’s a life lesson in there somewhere.