WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Apple-Pye Bed

I am not getting sick.
I am not getting sick.
I am not getting sick.

I hope.

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds ¦ WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Apple-Pye Bed. Pictured, Hugh Laurie as Prince George in Blackadder the Third.

As I lay here half puny, half slug-a-bed, I feel the need to be amused by great British television. The program I selected, Blackadder the Third, put me in mind of a diverting term for this week, and also provided a few graphic illustrations. The term is an oldie-but-a-goodie prank still around today. The illustrations aren’t necessarily germane to the Word of the Week, but they are period-ish.

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds ¦ WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Apple-Pye Bed. Pictured, Hugh Laurie as Prince George in Blackadder the Third.

Apple-Pye Bed (noun)

A bed made apple-pye fashion, like what is called a turnover apple-pye, where the sheets are so doubled as to prevent any one from getting at his length between them: a common trick played by frolicsome country lasses on their sweethearts, male relations, or visitors.

Perhaps Prince George's bed hath been apple-pyed.

Perhaps Prince George’s bed hath been apple-pyed.

Just for chuckles and, again, because it’s barely apropos to the Word of the Week posts yet still entertaining, may I present a clip from the Blackadder the Third episode “Ink and Incapability,” followed by the episode in its entirety for those who have extra time on their hands. What could be more fitting to share on a blog about words than an episode of Rowan Atkinson, Hugh Laurie, and Robbie Coltrane – Blackadder, Prince George, and Samuel Johnson – scheming about just that: words.

For your delectation.

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WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Cat Call

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Cat Call

I’ve finally watched episode one of Series Two of Poldark – no spoilers! – and the audience in the court scene made me think of a word for this week whose meaning has stayed essentially same through the years…except that it is no longer acceptable for use in the theatre, but rather everywhere else. Especially in broad daylight on busy sidewalks in metropolitan areas.

Sadlers Wells Theatre by Thomas Rowlandson, published by Rudolph Ackermann 1 June 1809, National Portrait Gallery.

Sadlers Wells Theatre by Thomas Rowlandson, published by Rudolph Ackermann 1 June 1809, National Portrait Gallery.

Cat Call (noun)

A kind of whistle, chiefly used at theatres, to interrupt the actors, and damn a new piece. It derives its name from one of its sounds, which greatly resembles the modulation of an intriguing boar cat. 1650s, a type of noisemaker (Johnson describes it as a “squeaking instrument”) used to express dissatisfaction in play-houses, from cat (n.) + call (n.); presumably because it sounded like an angry cat. As a verb, attested from 1734.

Covent Garden Theatre by Thomas Rowlandson, published by Henry Brookes 20 July 1786, National Portrait Gallery.

Covent Garden Theatre by Thomas Rowlandson, published by Henry Brookes 20 July 1786, National Portrait Gallery.

A diary entry concerning cat calling:

Dr. Adams was present the first night of the representation of IRENE, and gave me the following account:

“Before the curtain drew up, there were catcalls whistling, which alarmed Johnson’s friends. The Prologue, which was written by himself in a manly strain, soothed the audience 2, and the play went off tolerably till it came to the conclusion, when Mrs. Pritchard, the heroine of the piece, was to be strangled upon the stage, and was to speak two lines with the bow-string round her neck. The audience cried out “Murder, murder.” She several times attempted to speak, but in vain. At last she was obliged to go off the stage alive.” ~From The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell

I found an interesting take on the contemporary cat call, to see how far it’s evolved, for lack of a better descriptor. It’s interesting to hear the audience response and how it hearkens back to the original definition of a cat call – the interruption of the actor – minus the intent to damn. The audience clearly appreciates the effort of this modern balladeer: its snaps and hoots are accolades of a most affirming nature.