This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Saturday Rave: A Few Crusted Characters by Thomas Hardy.

There's no heating at all up in the church gallery where the village musicians play for services. So on one very chilly day they get in a gallon of brandy-and-beer to keep them warm.

'Twas a very dark afternoon....The sermon being ended at last, the pa'son gi'ed out the Evening Hymn. But no quire set about sounding up the tune, and the people began turning their heads to learn the reason why, and finally Levi Limpet, a boy who sat in the gallery, nudged Timothy and Nicholas, and said, "Begin! begin!"

"Hey? What?" says Nicholas, starting up; and the church being so dark and his head so muddled he thought he was at the party they had played at the night before, and away he went, bow and fiddle, at "The Devil among the Tailors", the favourite jig of our neighbourhood at that time.


Those village musicians were foolish, wicked, greedy and wrong.

Oh, but I do wish I'd been there when it all happened.

Illustration by Charles Green
Illustration by Charles Green.

Word To Use Today: sermon. This word probably comes from the Latin serere, which means to join together.


  1. Oh, I would have loved being there too!
    You do mean in the gallery itself, don't you?!! :)

    1. That's a really interesting question, Jingles, because I now realise that what I really meant was 'I wish I'd written it myself' because I was imagining watching something like a film: the pa'son trying to remain dignified; the congregation becoming bewildered, and then restive, and then delighted or outraged; and the gradual horror seeping through the befuddlement of the musicians.
      Yes, I wish I'd written it!

  2. Fantastic. Thanks for giving me the incentive to read Hardy again. This might sound stupid (why flirt with inconsistency?) but I'd forgotten about him. I found his concluding paragraphs to The Mayor of Casterbridge absolutely astounding.


    1. Yes - and the final paragraph of THE TRUMPET MAJOR is devastating, too.
      And as for TESS...

    2. In my teens, I couldn't finish Tess. I found it just too depressing.

    3. If you found the beginning depressing then giving up on it was a good call, Eddie.
      Hardy's poetry is wonderful, though.