Grand Seneschal of the Holy Accoutrements

Not wanting to consider on this fine morning all the writing and reading and blog post drafts, not to mention job hunting, that I have not much positive to report on, and yet, today entering my fifth (5th) day in a row of not feeling like crap, we instead offer this brief interlude for your possible amusement.

My best, highest use these day is evidently providing conversation and amusement to my 80-year old mother in law, who has been living with us for the past year or so. She has weathered a number of health issues and is really doing quite well, she’s just having to deal with no more driving and not being able to live on her own. So I, spending most of these past 4 months at home, have had more time to spend with here. I’m not really kidding about this being my best, highest use. Sometimes, it’s what falls unbidden into your lap that is what needs to be done.

My base mode of human interaction is to avoid it, but where that’s not possible or desirable, I default to joshing kidder mode. I can only hope other people take this well. They do tend to smile a lot, while backing slowly toward the door…

So: whenever we take grandma out (she’s grandma to the kids, mom to Mrs. Yardsale, and Helen to me. This can get confusing), we have to round up 1.) her sunglasses; 2) her reading glasses; and 3) her rosary. Can’t leave home without them.They usually reside on the table next to the recliner she often occupies in the living room, where she has spent many hours viewing British murder mysteries on Netflix.  We do something, usually daily Mass, just about every day, and then there’s doctor’s appointments and physical therapy, so she’s out and about quite a bit, which suits her fine.

Once Helen was feeling better and we fell into this routine, we also fell into the practice of assigning someone to wrangle the three items mentioned above every time we head out the door with her. A while ago, I both assumed this duty and decided that grandma’s stuff needed a name less cumbersome and more evocative than “grandma’s sunglasses, reading glasses and rosary.” Thus, the Holy Accoutrements. As we head out the door, one would hear “I’ve got the Holy Accoutrements!” or “Anybody seen the Holy Accoutrements?” This amuses me and Helen.

Grand Seneschal of the Royal Accoutrements, per original specifications

Holy Accoutrements cannot be entrusted to just *anyone*. So, after some consideration, I granted myself the title of Grand Seneschal of the Holy Accoutrements. This also seemed to amuse Helen. It certainly amuses me. I’m in the process of deciding on the exact title for official designate who is to handle the Holy Accoutrements if I for whatever reason are indisposed to the duty. Sub Grand Seneschal is the uncomfortable front-runner. There’s got to be something a little more delicious. I want to be able to say things like: “David, discharge your duties as Sub Grand Seneschal of the Holy Accoutrements!” Few are the households whose general tenor would not be improved with such florid verbal ornaments!

(Update: 14 year old son just suggested Seneschal Inferior of the Holy Accoutrements. Raising that boy right, I tells ya!)

The other running joke has to do with a Brit murder mystery series that evidently has been in production since the Clinton Administration: Midsomer Murders. 19 seasons are on Netflix, and another 2-3 have been produced. Each visually beautiful 90 minute episode involves at least one, and usually several murders. Why  anyone would continue to live in the blood-soaked

Related image
As delivered. More or less.

insanity that is Midsomer is a question the show does not address. Sure, attractive, well dressed people talk in charming accents amidst the gorgeous English countryside – but they seem unable to stop KILLING EACH OTHER.  This leads to routine exchanges such as “Good morning Helen. Anybody still alive in Midsomer?”  We’ve made it to the end of the available episodes, and so are now exploring other shows featuring attractive English people with charming accents galavanting around beautiful setting while they engage in KILLING EACH OTHER. It’s like its own genre, a need the BBC has gone all in to fulfill. There are variations, such as a gritter drama set in Wales where slightly less attractive people with somewhat more colorful accents spend time in less charming labs and libraries doing research into why the people in the area KEEP KILLING EACH OTHER. There’s even one where an attractive, well-dressed British detective with a charming accent is sent to the Caribbean, a different but no less visually stunning setting just dripping with yet more attractive people with yet more charming accents KILLING EACH OTHER. The twist seems to be that the detective, the nominal lead, get bumped off himself, I think twice now in like 3 seasons? I’m fuzzy on the details, since I never actually watch the shows.

I spent some time reviewing the shows Netflix suggests (“Because you watched Midsomer Murders…”), trying to pick out ones grandma would like. The cable/Nintendo/Netflix/TV interface is barely within my competence, and not something she’s going to figure out, so I am her research arm. She likes her gruesome murders largely off camera. and well-dressed characters who spend more time in manor houses and on fox hunts than in labs and libraries. I thought I’d found a winner, one with Kenneth Branagh as the attractive, well-dressed detective with a charming accent, who in the little sample I saw was driving through gorgeous English farm country and meeting with a craggy old farmer about a young woman who was wandering about his fields. Sir Kenneth plays it as an English Phillip Marlowe, world-weary and little bleary eyed. He tries to talk to the young woman out in the field, who then douses herself with gasoline and sets herself on fire…

That would be a ‘no’.

Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

14 thoughts on “Grand Seneschal of the Holy Accoutrements”

  1. Coincidentally, I recently finished a couple sets of British murder mystery DVDs given to me by an aunt, which I enjoyed very much. They’re Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, made in the ’70s, with Lord Peter played by Ian Carmichael. I don’t know if they’re on Netflix though.

    1. That’s a good idea. Sir Peter Wimsey would be just about right.

      We started out months ago with BBC Fr. Brown Mysteries, which, apart from the occasional bits of dialogue coming out of Fr. Brown’s mouth that would make any Chesterton geek’s head explode, were pretty good (again, I don’t actually watch the shows, just they’re on in the background. But the family members who do seemed to like them.) Midsomer Murders were just something that came up on the Netflix “Because you watched Fr. Brown Mysteries…” list.

      1. Josephone,

        Not sure if Inspector Morse and later inspector Lewis (his sidekick after the actor who played Morse died) passes muster but it’s a suggestion.
        There’s the David Suchet Hercule Poirot series. Absolutely fabulous.
        The Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett again awesome.
        There’s another British dectective show Foley’s war. Rather enjoyable.
        Tommy and Tuppence is another fun one.


      2. I’ll see if they’re on Netflix. Grandma is a binge watcher because she has 3-4 hours a day to kill, and can knit while watching (when she doesn’t fall asleep).


  2. I have watched many of the Fr. Brown mysteries after having read all of them years ago. They can be charming but bear little resemblance to the originals. I cannot recommend Foyel’s War highly enough. Great writing and amazing acting. I think it was pulled from Netflix though, a pity.

    1. Thanks, Maypo. I only watched a few minutes of Fr. Brown, and was not sucked in (I was the hated little kid who would sit in the back and say things like ‘when did Mr. Weasley get ordained?’ until I was tossed from the room.)

      Foyle’s War looks good.

  3. Doctor Blake is Australian, not English. Then there is also Endeavour on PBS, a prequel to Inspector Morse, set in Oxford and environs. Not to be outdone, Cambridgeshire features in Grantchester, with an Anglican clergyman for sleuth. On the grittier side, we have Hinterland, set in the not-so-charming hills of Wales and Shetland, set in the Scottish Isles of, guess where. The first episode features a festival held each year in the Shetlands called Up Helly Aa in which folks dress up as vikings burn a longboat they have spent all year building.

    1. Glad to see you’re among the living. That you might be commenting from the Choir Celestial would make a good short story but would suck as reality. Our prayers are with you.

      So, you catching up on TV mysteries while laid up? We did Doctor Blake, grandma liked it. Not sure about Inspector Morse or Endeavour or Grandchester. Grandma didn’t like Hinterlands – too dark and procedural, not enough soirees out on immaculate lawns. Shetlands I saw go by but have not checked out.


      1. Shetland was a lot like Hinterland but without the jolly fun. There was also Broadchurch. The three were similar in moodiness.

      2. I kind of liked Shetland, mostly because I kept wondering how many Americans would come up with a reasonable explanation for a Scotsman’s being tagged with the surname “Perez”. Not many, I would guess.

        Too much gritty realism in Broadchurch, my wife and I slogged through season 1 but just can’t muster up the endurance for the next season. We’re more the Death in Paradise sort, much more light-hearted. For murder. Agatha Christie’s hand lies heavy upon that series though; there are always a small set (four or five) of plausible, whom the inspector always gathers together at the end of the show to explain to them, and to us, the audience, who did it, and why and how.

        Didn’t watch more than three episodes of Father Brown because they’ve made him into a modern (even though set in the ‘Fifties) priest unduly indulgent of the sexual proclivities of his flock.

        My wife and I enjoyed Longmire, which is set in Wyoming, so it has the beautiful scenery but lacks the charming accents, at least to this Midwestern ear. The first episode starts with the title character’s running for re-election as sheriff, and the end of season five has him not running for re-election, which is probably a good idea given that the demographics of his county are probably similar to Midsomer and that many really odd murders in four years would make for a tough campaign. I always longed for a last episode of Big Valley where the sheriff of Stockton rides up and says, “You know, Mrs. Barkley, your boys have killed an awful lot of men in this county the last few years.”

  4. Hamish MacBeth is decent, but the books are much better. Might your mother enjoy listening to these stories being read to her? The readers they get for Recorded Books, Listening Library et al. usually have lovely plummy accents. Your Public Library likely has them for checkout, and if you like, I’d be happy to recommend likely titles as our mum’s seem to have have similar tastes.

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