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It's been a good week for gifts
SSar's Beast

Noteworthy events since my last post:

-Our flat's meterboard caught fire.
-Paul and Ellen returned to New Zealand.
-We went without hot water for a week. To get at and repair our hot water cylinder, the various tradesmen who were enlisted to the cause had to open up a boarded up room in our house which we had never previously investigated.
-Christine and Robert had their retirement party.
-Joel and I had a movie night.
-The All Whites beat Bahrain to make it to the world football championship finals.

The retirement party followed up a yearly tradition of Christine and Robert, who were until recently the Vic English department's medievalists, and have been in the habit of having a medieval-style party for their friends and students around this time each year. Medieval recipes, lighting by candle only, music and poetry recitals by guests, etc.

It has been a less established tradition that there is a dramatic performance, often by the Old Icelandic class. Either last year or two years ago, Christine's class did Thrymskvitha, a comic poem about the gods with quite a lot of cross-dressing. They did it brilliantly, with all the lines in Old Norse, supplemented by captions on sticks. It was really funny. This year, our class decided to perform the story of Audun and the Bear.

We didn't really expect to carry off a performance as entertaining as the Thrymskvitha class. The clever part of our play came into the ending. You don't need to know much about the story of Audun and the bear - Audun is an intrepid Icelander who buys a bear in Greenland and takes it to King Svein in Denmark. And at the end of the story, there is a touching bit in which he repays a debt to King Harald of Norway by giving him a gift.

The bulk of our play was pretty funny too, if I say so myself. Edward was an extremely, extremely camp King Svein, Miriam was a very straight-faced and stubborn Audun, and the bear was Christabel, who kept trying to eat me (I was Svein's corrupt steward Aki). Towards the end of the play, Christine had moved to sit in the front row of the audience, and was totally caught up in the final scene with Audun and King Harald.

Then Miriam said to Harald (played by Brian), "And King Svein told me that I was to keep this armband, and only give it away if there was a noble person to whom I owed a very great debt. And I have found that person," and walked straight to Christine, with all the rest of the class (the five people who made it to the party, anyway) charging after her. We hauled Christine to her feet, absolutely dumbfounded, and protesting, "This isn't how the story ends!" and gave her all of the gifts that Audun has in the story - an arm-band, a sack of silver, a bear, a ship. With varying degrees of symbolic representation.

It had started off as my idea. I was particularly proud of the arm-band; it was actually a pearlescent spiral circlet from New Caledonia, but Audun's arm-band in the story is gold, so I had wrapped it in shiny gold paper so that it looked like an obvious prop. Gold paper to make it appropriate, and conceal the real value of the gift underneath. Then there was the obvious bag of chocolate coins, though Ed and I had gone to a chocolatier and mixed in some discs of high-quality chocolate. I had found a small white teddybear while out in town with Ellen and Meredith the day before, and Ed and I bought a cat-collar to put around its neck. Our last item was a real find - a toy ship made out of a nautilus shell with sails of cloth and a metal mast. It was gorgeous.

I think she was really pleased. She was certainly utterly surprised, and I was so proud of that. We had had a really hard time thinking of suitable gifts to give her, from our whole class, and I think that this was the best we could do. If it's the thought that counts, in gift-giving, we showed thought.

I also got to enjoy the results of giving Alex C a ticket to the Guillermo del Toro Q&A session on Wednesday. She squeed a LOT. It made me happy.