The Everyday Lore Project

11 July 2020 – St Benedict’s Day

11 July 2020 – St Benedict’s Day

It’s St Benedict’s Day today, and St Benedict was a stickler for rules. In fact he wrote a book about rules called The Rule of St Benedict. And despite the singularity of the title, he wrote a lot of them. For monks. But despite not being a monk, today I followed three of them. Well, sort of.

There are plenty of relatively easy non-monk dependent rules like sleeping in my clothes, not laughing, or going commando. But instead I chose having my breakfast at midday, not having a bath because I felt fine, and reading aloud when I ate. Now, I must confess, I didn’t read aloud for every meal, just my tea. And I while I didn’t read a religious text to improve myself, I did read Why Sailors Can’t Swim and Other Marvellous Maritime Curiosities by Nic Compton to improve my folklore. And of course, St Benedict was quite fussy about how the reading is supposed to go down, like someone else should be doing the reading while you’re doing the eating, which I ignored.

Reading out loud and eating at the same time is quite a trick. I waited until the end of most sentences before shovelling the next forkful in. But sometimes I got carried away by what I was finding out, like why sailors wear earrings (rounding Cape Horn, paying the Ferryman, fashion) or where I can buy an Atlantic Sea Burial Shroud. So I wanted to eat, but I also wanted to read, but my food was getting cold, but what about all those natural remedies for seasickness, and Janis Joplin’s ashes being buried at sea? Such a conflict of interest. 

Eventually, the food won out and I scarfed the rest down in silence. I did rather enjoy the experience, it was a little like being my own audio book and my food certainly lasted longer. Plus, maritime folklore is a favourite. 

So, just in case you’ve not had your tea, here’s something to listen to while you eat, me reading a section called Never on Frigg’s Day:

Extract from Why Sailors Can’t Swim and Other Marvellous Maritime Curiosities by Nic Compton

Although next time, I might go for some fiction, or a play. Something where I can do a tonne of different voices. Anyone care to join me?

I also made a new balloon jar barometer from a smaller jar today. Already seems to be working better.


Compton, N. (2013) Why Sailors Can’t Swim and Other Marvellous Maritime Curiosities, London, Adlard Coles Nautical

Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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