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Oui, Je Regrette Tout, Oui, Tout De Tout, Oui Je Me Regrette Tout On:2009-02-27 04:25:52

Pancake Day has just passed, or rather (and bearing in mind that England hasn't been Catholic for centuries) let's give, it as we should, its more official name of Shrove Tuesday, but whatever we call it, it has still just passed, and since I haven't been shriven (not in a gescrifens age) I am now riven (which of course is almost a given)---Oh! Um! Sorry! You do know what the shriving that may well lead to Shrove Tuesday means, don't you??

Well as my act of contrition I should now wail, as Coleridge writes in, and indeed of, the Ancient Mariner "O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy man!" ( woman or listener) for omitting (as usual) to explain and contexturalize myself and my subject.

I am so sorry, and I won't do it again.

Though of of course the real question is just what that little bugger of a word 'Shrove' was up to for all the centuries before it suddenly poked its head up, in the compound 'Shrovetide1', on or about the year 1425.

Oh! Damn! Sorry I am still doing it.

Right: stopping now. Really. No, Really!
You see Shrove is related to the Old English word 'scrífan' which, according to the OED, means "To impose penance upon (a person); hence, to administer absolution to; to hear the confession of" and (as the OED warms up and waxes and says) the unattested "OE. *scráf; shriving, confession, f[rom] scrífan to SHRIVE, would account phonologically for shrove-, but, if the form actually existed, the absence of evidence for this group of words until the 15th c. is remarkable'.
So, to put it in a nutshell, Shrove has something to do with confessing, though God only knows what, and it's Tuesday just passed. And I for one wasn't shriven. Indeed I haven't been shriven at all recently, or indeed at all at all, and now you know the full and awful import of all that that entails, and how, unfortunately, and so unlike Edith Piaf, those of us who are in need of a good shriving DO regret---preferably everything.

So, on a personal note of what we might call 'incipient shivescence', let me tell you how I remember way back at the beginning of ...well some decade or another when I was still in high school and in England (where we aren't anywhere near as touchy as you are about letting Religion enter our schools)---so that, on a time, we had a Roman Catholic priest come to talk to us (not to convert us, mind---after all this was in England), and by the fell hand of co-incidence this was just after the Vatican had forbidden discussion of something or other---birth control or sex or something equally of no import to teenage schoolboys (after all this was a long time ago and in monosexual-schooled England).
He talked his talk, and the Head (whom, for reasons irrelevant to this story, so why I'm butting it in is anybody's guess, we called 'Slump') asked for questions.
I immediately leapt to my hand and before I could be stopped blurted "Well I did have a question, but the Pope seems to have got to hear of it..." to the extreme merriment of everyone with a mental age under eighteen-and-a-half and the equally extreme aghastlyment of those above that demarcation. And that bugger Slump made me write an apology.

The only other thing in my whole life that I need to be shriven of is the sin of once coming up with the false admission that:
'I’m lactose intolerant---I can’t abide people with no toes'2
but even more than the shame of having come up with it, I regret and need absolution for the fact that I never ever managed to come up with a good reason to get it into an essay...

Cheerio for now
Richard Howland-Bolton


I regret that the title may remind some of you of Edith Piaf and her wonderful song, in which she doesn't.

1 Shrove-tide [Of obscure origin.
  The first element is undoubtedly related to SHRIVE and refers to the custom of being shriven in preparation for Lent.
  An OE. *scráf shriving, confession, f. scrífan to SHRIVE, would account phonologically for shrove-, but, if the form actually existed, the absence of evidence for this group of words until the 15th c. is remarkable. (Other early names for the season were FASTENS-EEN, FAST-GONG, FASTINGONG.)] 

    The period comprising Quinquagesima Sunday and the two following days, ‘Shrove’ Monday and Tuesday.

c1425 Orolog. Sapient. vii. in Anglia X. 386/39 Þe sondaye In Quinquagesime, with Þe tweyne dayes folowynge, Þat is clepyd Schroftyde. c1512 Regul. Northumbld. Househ. (1770) 377 From Alhallowtid to Shraftide. 1544 Star Chamber Cases (Selden Soc.) II. 250 Frome all halouday vntyll Shrostyde. 1597 SHAKES. 2 Hen. IV. V. iii. 38 'Tis merry in Hall, when Beards wagge all; And welcome merry Shrouetide. c1618 MORYSON Itin. IV. 488 Paying their tribute to the Pope at Shrostyde, when they are allowed to shewe publike games. 1670 R. LASSELS Voy. Italy I. 214 Having spunn out thus the time till near Carnavale or shroftide. 1795 SOUTHEY Joan of Arc x. 434 He could sing Carols for Shrove-tide, or for Candlemas. 1853 ROCK Ch. Fathers III. II. 61 Shrove-tide, or the week before Lent.
1544 in Sel. Cases Crt. Requests (Selden Soc.) 96 The tenauntes..shall befor Shrosty the rerages of the same. 1573 in Feuillerat Revels Q. Eliz. (1908) 212 To know..his pleasure for preparacions to be made against Shrovety.

    b. fig. A time of merriment.

1840 LONGFELLOW Span. Stud. III. i, Enjoy the merry shrove~tide of thy youth!

    c. attrib., as Shrovetide even, -fool; {dag}Shrovetide cock, a cock tied up and pelted with sticks on Shrove Tuesday; {dag}Shrovetide hen, a hen sent as a present on Shrove Tuesday.

1598 BP. HALL Sat. IV. v, A Shroftide Hen, Which bought to giue, he takes to sell agen. c1640 H. BELL Luther's Colloq. Mens. (1652) 283 The world cannot live without such Vizards and Shrovetide-Fools. 1700 DRYDEN Fables, Cock & Fox 106 Never was Shrovetide-Cock in such a Fear. 1768 J. TRUSLER Hogarth Moralized 180 Throwing at a cock, the universal shrove-tide amusement. 1789 WOLCOTT (P. Pindar) Subj. for Painters 7 Martyr beat like Shrovetide cocks with bats. 1820 SCOTT Monast. xxxiv, As ever cock fought on Shrove-tide-even.

2 as someone at work said, that joke's really corny if not actually buniony.

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