The Complete Dregs of History – now available as an e-book

Yes – after putting it off for months, maybe even years, the revised and Complete Dregs of History is available as an EBook for your eyes to feast upon – all 90 characters from http://www.dregsofhistory.blogspot.com  are there. – Enjoy it here  Complete Dregs of History

Effluvia of the Rivers (478 – 534) – one of the dregs of history

Oswyn and Beatrice of the Rivers were two status-oriented river traders who plied their wares on what are now the Trent and Humber Rivers. Being upwardly mobile and relatively wealthy, they spent much of their time working out how they could show their superiority over other villagers.

They spent their time trading silks from the orient and anything else they could get their hands on. This included a burgeoning business in antique Roman pottery that was becoming popular with the more wealthy members of the populace. They worked tirelessly trying to ingratiate themselves with such people. This led to an interest in all things Latin, and when they had their first child, they searched around for a suitable name. It was unfortunate that they spoke no Latin, for they settled on what sounded like a perfect name for their little girl – Effluvia; it had a ring to it that just rolled off the tongue.

Effluvia of the Rivers was christened by a jovial monk named Offa. He had a very good knowledge of Latin and went bright purple with the effort of keeping a straight face during the ceremony. He was seen to be sweating profusely and afterwards was heard to comment that he thought he was going to burst a blood vessel. He settled for retreating to a quiet spot by the river after the christening and laughing hysterically for twenty minutes before having a good lie down to compose himself.

Poor Effluvia grew up without any knowledge of what her name really meant, but it was ingrained in her, by her parents, that she was a cut above all the ‘common people’. She soon realised her parents were snobs and did everything she could to annoy them; she was the ultimate misbehaving rich girl who was never satisfied. After a rudimentary education she joined her parents in river trading. They thought this would keep her grounded, but the only thing that became grounded was one of their boats.

By the time she was a teenager, some loose words from the clergy meant that she had acquired the nickname Shit Creek. As she grew older and much to the growing unease of the parents, she discovered boys. It was then that she found ways of misbehaving even more. She used to take boys them out onto the river in one of her custom-made coracles and just drift down the river with the current getting up to no-good. Because of her apparent friendliness, there was a line of boys queuing up to see if they could have their way with her, and then they would brag about it afterwards. It is rumoured that the phrase ‘up Shit Creek without a paddle’ is a reference to that time spent with Effluvia drifting on the river.

As she matured Effluvia, took over the river-trading business from her deceased parents, and set about building an empire. She married one of the many suitors that found her (and her affluent business) attractive. She and Gawain (her husband) had three children – Offa, Osric and Oswyn, all boys. They were all big and brawny and, as they grew up, were used to settle disputes with unruly customers. These people were put on Effluvia’s blacklist, often called the shitlist, but only out of earshot.

Effluvia eventually controlled trade on the Trent, Penk, Sow, and Humber Rivers, and built up quite a fortune. At age 50 she passed the business on to her sons, who in the true tradition of such brawny offspring, proceeded to send it broke within two years. In their efforts to extract money out of unwilling customers they all ended up drifting face-down in the Trent.

This didn’t bother Effluvia or Gawain, as they had long since moved to the South Coast and settled at Fishbourne, an old Roman town. It was in her 54th year that she found out what her name really meant and it caused her quite a shock; however, true to form, she passed it off as a bad joke and made sure that anybody who laughed too loudly woke up the next morning to find a pile of steaming cow manure on their doorstep as a gift, with a bill for her services, of course. Ironically, this became quite a thriving business, and Effluvia the Manure Merchant was born. Unfortunately she died before she could expand her empire along the coast and the world was robbed of a colourful and feisty character.

 

This is an extract from The Complete Dregs of History Available here

The dregs of history – General Diligence Dumphuk (1769 – 1809)

Diligence Dumphuk was a born follower who was thrust into a leadership role because of his aristocratic breeding. He came from a long line of Dumphuks who had, for centuries, provided fodder for cannons, arrows, spears and swords. His father, Admiral Sir Teddington Dumphuk, died during the American War of Independence when Diligence was only six years old.

The family legend is that Sir Teddington died heroically when fighting an action in Chesapeake Bay, when he was struck down by enemy grapeshot. Other sources, particularly his fellow admirals, suggest that he forced his crew on a joyride one night in an unsurveyed part of the bay and ran his ship, HMS Doubtful, onto rocks. The next day his crew could not find him and assumed he had fallen overboard. The fact that there were bloodstains on his cabin wall and his hat was found (with a bullet hole through it) some days later on a nearby beach, was not considered significant by the Admirals. They promoted second-in-command, First Lieutenant Horatio Hopkins, to Captain and he took control of the boat once it was repaired.

After attempting to keep Diligence out of harm’s way, the British High Command found themselves unable to prevent his promotion to a General once the aristocracy insisted that it was his right by birth. In 1809 he was posted to Asia Minor to fight the Ottoman Empire and found himself leading a rapidly diminishing number of soldiers.

His contribution to the literary world was, perhaps, the least motivational speech in history prior to what he thought would be his most glorious action. It turned out that he had already fought his last action. After some robust discussion with his senior officers group, all of whom suggested that there were some significant holes in his battle plans, he found that there were significant holes in himself. He then relinquished his grip on command and also his grip on life. His regiment retreated to safety.

Resolute Dumphuk, Diligence’s son, upon hearing about his father’s demise and then reading about his long line of ancestors who had suffered similar fates, changed his name by deed pole to Ronald Smith, sold the family estate for a fortune and emigrated to Australia. He was never heard from again.

Below is a reproduction of General Diligence Dumphuk’s final speech. In brackets are the muffled comments from Captain John Jones, his second in command at the time.

The Speech
Tomorrow we go into battle once more; our task is to take Slaughter Hill. It is defended by two hundred canons, elite cavalry units and two thousand infantry. We will attack from the front, directly uphill. It won’t be easy, but I know you won’t let me down. (It’s suicide you idiot).This is our last chance to regain some regimental pride. A chance to honour your fallen comrades from yesterday’s attack, all five thousand of them. Some may say that retreat would be wise, but I say onwards to glory! (Who the hell made you a general?)

It’s time to show valour and courage in the face of difficult odds. My family has never been found wanting in such circumstances. There has always been a Dumphuk ready to lead the charge into battle. So I will lead you with fearless resolve, from the front. (You’re mad. Did your mother ever drop you on your head?).

Onwards towards glory! Onwards towards immortality! (Does anybody else believe this drivel?)

Onwards towards grapeshot, red-hot cannonballs and razor sharp bayonets! Let them cower and run from the feel of our cold steel! (You’ll feel my cold steel if you’re not careful) Get some sleep. I’ll see you at dawn tomorrow. (No, you won’t).

 

Ths is an extract from The Complete Dregs of History is available here

Corporal Ebenezer Scumme (1628 – 1677)

Ebenezer Scumme was in military service for thirty years. He never rose above the rank of Corporal. He joined the army in 1642 at the age of fourteen and served in many different regiments.

His years of experience prompted him to put down on paper (actually he couldn’t write but got Private Scrape Moulds to write it for him on pain of pain if he didn’t) how a soldier could have successful and safe career. He was once heard to say, ‘It’s only fair that I give something back in return and, truthfully, I’ll never be able to give back anywhere near as much as I took.’

Scumme was a quick learner; he was often a couple of steps ahead of the officers and sergeants in thought and cunning. By the age of twenty he was a corporal and had settled into his long and undistinguished career. He never asked for promotion to Sergeant, believing that the responsibility was too much and would cramp his activities.

Scumme was never cited for courage or bravery in action and was unrecognized by his superiors (due to his ability to be where they were not). This was a talent that he prized above all else as he felt it was essential to his ongoing successful and mostly hazard-free career. His specialised area of logistics enabled him to remain well supplied and well away from the front line.

Corporal Scumme started his career in the English Civil War. It is unclear for which side he fought, there being reports of him being seen in either uniform at one time or another. After that he mainly fought the Dutch, but also served with the navy in Jamaica during conflicts with Spain. His ship, The Founder, had problems with the rum barrels being mysteriously empty after each stop in port. Corporal Scumme denied any involvement.

While in Holland he was in charge of rations and often reported thefts of food and clothing. He always denied any involvement himself.

Ebenezer Scumme retired at age 44. He was, much to nobody’s surprise, suddenly found to be mysteriously wealthy with a mansion in rural Hampshire. He also travelled often to Jamaica where he had ‘business interests’. In 1675 he eventually moved permanently to Jamaica to live next to his large warehouse full of rum. He set up a distillery and promptly drank himself to death within two years.

The following extracts are all that remains of Corporal Scumme’s Rules of Engagement.

• Those who are first to arrive on the battlefield are insane! Those who are last to the battlefield get to pick valuables off the corpses.

• When an army is travelling, if there is hilly territory with streams and ponds or depressions overgrown with reeds, or wild forests with a luxuriant growth of plants and trees, it is imperative to search them carefully and thoroughly. These are the places you can hide when the sergeant discovers you have stolen his money.

• Those who use the military skillfully are never on the front line and do not volunteer

• By stealing equipment from your own army, you always have something to sell if the battle goes badly and you need to leave in a hurry.

• A sharp bayonet, a devious mind, and a stupid sergeant; these are the makings of a successful corporal’s career.

Crappogus (347 – 381)

Crappogus has often been touted as the first geek. From an unnaturally early age he shunned physical activity and spent his time doing unhealthy things like learning and exercising his mind. His parents despaired, but were powerless to change his ways. They were often heard lamenting that their son seemed destined for sad career of invention, innovation, and service to his fellow man. Why couldn’t he be normal and go out hunting animals, throwing spears at barbarians, or raping and pillaging. This was the near the start of the Dark Ages and the respect for science was starting to dwindle.

His crowning moment was the invention of the craptogon, although the details of this invention are hard to find. Little is known about the craptogon other than it was said to have had between 13 & 22 sides, and be three-dimensional. After much thought Crappogus suggested that his new shape would be a strong design for forts and castles. Unfortunately, the three-dimensional nature of the shape left it open to being undermined. A measure of its success, or rather, lack of success, is that there are no surviving, or even ruined, examples of castles built in the shape of a craptogon. It is said he was responsible for the ruin of at least 13 kingdoms – all of which would have put a price on his head, if only they had had enough able-bodied men with enough wits left about them (and heads) to think logically.

Crappogus kept on looking for the great invention. Without exception all of his inventions were for uses of the craptogon, and all were said to be useless. This cannot be proven because it is said they were so useless that there is no record left of any of them. This sadly under-recognised man only managed to reinforce the growing distrust of science with his constant failed attempts to improve life.

Crappogus died when he decided that, even though the craptogon was seemingly unsuited to being a defensive structure, or anything else that he’d tried for that matter, there still might be other uses. He became fixated on the building of boats. He was last seen launching an experimental craft off the coast of Fishbourne on the south coast. It was made up exclusively of interlocking craptogons.

There is strong evidence that the word ‘crap’ is a reference to the inventions of Crappogus although opinion is divided on the matter (I believe it is, and all other historians think that it relates to a combination of the Dutch krappen (to cut off) and the old French crappe (waste)). Some people mistakenly believe it is a reference to Thomas Crapper’s company that built flush toilets in the 1880s. It seems clear to me, however, that Crappogus must take credit for this word.

Eric the Depressor (1005 – 1042)

Back in the days when Edward the Confessor was governing what was England, few people knew that he had a bastard half-brother. Eric the Depressor was born to a lowly servant girl who just happened to be one of King Ethelred the Unready’s favourites. At an early age his mother, Beatrice, told him of his heritage and warned him to be careful in life so as not to offend the noble classes. He had a robust upbringing in rural England near Rochester. It was here that he developed a manure-coated view of the world fuelled by the knowledge that he wasn’t going to get the benefits that his brother would.

When asked how he was, he would often respond with, ‘Mustn’t grumble, but…’ and then list all of his ailments, both real and imagined. He was often heard to comment, ‘Mark my words, things can only get worse’ and ‘Nothing good will come of this’ when commenting on current events. And when the time came for maintenance of the village farm tools he would court disaster by commenting that, ‘If it isn’t broke, it soon will be.’ On the brightest of summer’s days he would invariably find an opportunity to say, ‘Looks like it’s going to rain to me’ or ‘There’s bound to a plague this summer – I can feel it in my water.’

If there had been a couple of years without war, there was bound to be one just around the corner; if the summer had been good, there was bound to be a harsh winter on the way; and if there had been a bumper harvest, there would surely be an infestation of rats that would eat the stockpiles. He was undoubtedly one of the most pessimistic people that have ever lived, if not the most pessimistic. People took to the bottle at the first sight of Eric as this was commonly thought to be the best of dealing with his conversation.

Edward the Confessor eventually became King when his predecessor, Hardicanute, died after a drinking party – allegedly caused when Eric was asked directions by a group of passing nobles including the King. Edward immediately seized on the opportunity to imprison his half-brother on the grounds that he was a threat to the stability of the country and may have caused Hardicanute’s death. As he was being led to his cell, he commented to his Edward, ‘You’d better watch those Norman buggers you’re trading with, mate. From what I’ve heard they’ll soon be over here looking for kingdom to conquer.’ Unfortunately for everybody, nobody took him seriously. Edward’s mother, Emma, was a Norman and everybody thought they were friends!

After five years of incarceration most people thought that Eric would be running out of things to be miserable about, but they were wrong. From early on he was complaining about the poor quality of workmanship in his cell, and for once he was right when a wall and the stone ceiling gave way and severely depressed him for the last time. On the day he died, his last words to the prison guard were:

‘That bloody sun is shining through the window too early in the morning. Did I tell you that the crops will fail this year, there’s bound to a pestilence of some sort, and I reckon the end of the world is nigh…but mustn’t grumble eh!’

The guard admitted that if the wall had not fallen on Eric, it was most likely that he would have been in significant danger of being executed, just to stop the severe onset of depression sweeping the prison.

Cynan the Mapmaker (613 – 651)

Cynan the Map-maker was born in Dyfed. He was the nephew of Prince Malgo and had a privileged life. He developed an interest in drawing and, as he grew older, became quite an accomplished map-maker. He was very close to the king and took the opportunity to learn how to read and write, giving him the ability to annotate his maps. He soon found himself travelling extensively outside of left Dyfed as various kingdoms clamoured for his services – he really was very good.

Cynan wandered through the country for a period of fifteen years, all the time drawing maps and keeping himself gainfully employed. While drawing came easy to Cynan, he rarely returned to Dyfed and he soon found that the life of the travelling artisan was not to his liking. He often had to stay in lodgings and villages that were not up to his regal standard. During this time he kept a diary and came up with the idea of writing a review of all of the villages he visited. This led to him writing his best known work – A Guide to Villages for the Discerning Traveller, which he published in 644. There are no surviving copies of the full manuscript and it is considered unlikely that there were many people who were able to read it. Literacy was uncommon in 7th Century Britain. He distributed it for free and it is said to have been considered an excellent fire starter on cold nights.

While most of his reviews have long since disappeared from the historical record, there are some that remain. The best example details one of his trips through the Kingdom of Mercia. This resulted in a particularly interesting chapter that has survived in tact to this day. He was not one to write a great deal about each village, but what he wrote made his point in a succinct manner. What follows is an example of his style (updated for the modern english language).

Extract

The village of Belche was not stimulating. It was full of backward people who, in all probability, should not be allowed to breed, judging by the result of the obvious in-breeding currently underway. I prefer my ale to be served by a barmaid with only five fingers, not six, and without a face so lopsided that it makes me feel dizzy.

The people of Lansing Boyle are unjustifiably proud of their hovels. This village is a wasteful use of wood, good farming land, and people.

After visiting Phestering, I realised that I have been to more interesting and attractive piles of human faeces than that place. It sits in the landscape like an abscess on the face of an otherwise fair maiden.

Glummeley Rogerring has no redeeming features. The inn served what can only be described as recycled vomit, and the lodgings were akin to sleeping in pig swill. The populace were among the most stupid I have ever come across.

Pocks-in-the-Nethers is easily the most attractive village in the region. This is not difficult, but I must give credit where credit is due. There are a refreshingly small number of dullards and oafs wandering the street, the ale made me feel only mildly unwell, not as if I was dying, and there was a steadfast adherence to mediocrity among all people. Shame about the food poisoning and rank smell that pervades the whole village.

As word spread about Cynan, he found that he found an icy welcome in most of the villages he visited. This was his own fault, as he would recite his review of one village in the neighbouring village; often after drinking copious amounts of ale. The fact that he was working for the local kings kept him from serious harm, but his life became a bit harder. His appalling memory meant that he sometimes returned to villages he’d slandered and found himself sleeping on the hardest bed, and served left-overs rather than freshly-cooked meals. This happened on a return visit to Pocks-in-the-Nethers, where he also contracted a pox in his nethers.

He eventually died a few years later, in 651, on his way to the funeral of Aiden of Lindisfarne. The soon to become Saint Aiden had died after, allegedly, saving the town of Bamburgh from fire (and from King Penda of Mercia, who had set fire to it) by getting God to change the wind direction through the power of prayer. Cynan’s fate was reportedly due to the effects of a serious case of foot-in-mouth disease. He suggested, within earshot of some very drunk local farmers with sharp scythes, that he’d seen weeping sores more attractive than their village of Fetid-on-the-Gnose.

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