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I've got it -- it was Sir Peter Maxwell Davies in Orkney with a power line!
March 18, 2005 6:43 PM   Subscribe

"I had to give a statement. I offered them coffee and asked them if they would like to try some swan terrine but I think they were rather horrified. That was a mistake, wasn't it?" The Queen's composer wonders whether he should rethink his thrifty attitude towards accidentally acquired food.
posted by maudlin (28 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Mmmmm swan
posted by yodelingisfun at 6:53 PM on March 18, 2005


"I might yet be in Inverness Prison but I suspect, being Master of the Queen's Music, I might have to do porridge* with a ball and chain in the Tower of London."

Heheh. He's just gone up in my book.

*british slang for doing time in prison - that other genius Ronnie Barker had a classic sitcom titled Porridge in the 70's, though I doubt most Mefites heard of it.
posted by dash_slot- at 6:56 PM on March 18, 2005


Wow. Not living in the UK, I forget about the vestiges of monarchy still present there and throughout much of Europe. While it may seem self-evident, can someone explain what exactly the queen's composer does?

And that Udal law thing? Jesus. How interesting.
posted by deafmute at 8:01 PM on March 18, 2005


This is good. There was an excellent, little noticed post on his birthday last September. It's here.
posted by putzface_dickman at 8:09 PM on March 18, 2005


He composes music for the queen.
posted by Vulpyne at 8:11 PM on March 18, 2005


I thought all swans in the realm were property of the crown.
posted by orthogonality at 8:14 PM on March 18, 2005


There does seem to be a technicality with this Udal Law, though it's generally considered defunct.
posted by dhartung at 8:29 PM on March 18, 2005


deafmute: probably the same thing a state poet does.
posted by mischief at 8:41 PM on March 18, 2005


At least he wasn't swan upping however Udal Law has been used in the past to justify swan offing

One interesting anomaly is the Mute Swan. About 1910 a Kirkwall lawyer was determined to prove that Udal Law still had force, and accompanied by his friend, the Procurator Fiscal, went out to Harray Loch and shot a swan. The case went to the High Court and the Crown lost. Everywhere else in UK the Crown owned the Swans - in Orkney they were, and still are, the property of the people as the Norwegian Crown never claimed such ownership. Nowadays we do not shoot swans, but the principles of the old Norse Udal Law still stand.

I'm sure the Queen would be delighted to sample his swan terrine though.
posted by Flitcraft at 9:12 PM on March 18, 2005


How... odd.
posted by blacklite at 10:04 PM on March 18, 2005


"you take out the breast meat and the good leg meat, you give the rest to the cat"

Priceless. So British...
posted by Deepspace at 10:39 PM on March 18, 2005


Hehehe. Love that he's so generous with his terrine. ;) Oh and thanks for the legal blurb Flitcraft.
posted by dabitch at 10:42 PM on March 18, 2005


There may be some scientific reason to require people to preserve a portion of a dead "endangered" animal, I guess, but otherwise this fetishism about how outrageous it is to eat a certain kind of animal versus the one the next species over seems like classic guilt displacement. What the hell, after all, does the swan care?

I sure wouldn't eat it, of course, but if PMD is eating birds anyway (and didn't set up his own powerlines as a trap - hey, he's eccentric, who knows), what's the big deal with making a terrine out of one?
posted by soyjoy at 10:50 PM on March 18, 2005


Great link, thanks. Gave me a good laugh. The Queen's composer sounds like a cool d00d, against expectation. (dash_slot-: I know Porridge, even though I wasn't born until 1977.)
posted by Onanist at 11:13 PM on March 18, 2005


.
posted by orange swan at 12:12 AM on March 19, 2005 [4 favorites]


Sounds like one of The New Yorker's "There'll Always Be an England..." bits.
posted by paddbear at 1:12 AM on March 19, 2005


They interviewed him on the today programme yesterday - made me proud to be British. This seems an appropriate if anachronistic place to link to mamagotchi (bless her soul) - keep her alive by feeding her swans and gin.
posted by chrispy at 2:34 AM on March 19, 2005


He'll probably be on the yesterday program today
posted by winston at 3:46 AM on March 19, 2005


I did search in the archive, but they only had the day before the day before yesterday's today programme ;-) I'm sure it'll be there soon.
posted by chrispy at 4:43 AM on March 19, 2005


The idea of eating Royal swans has an added frisson here as one of the tabloid urban myths cooked up against asylum seekers.
posted by raygirvan at 5:10 AM on March 19, 2005


*laughing at orange swan*
posted by mrplab at 5:49 AM on March 19, 2005


I wonder if his music is influenced by Carl Orf. In particular the Roast Swan section of Carmina Burana. O Fortuna, indeed.
posted by Duck_Lips at 6:23 AM on March 19, 2005


soyjoy
his fetishism about how outrageous it is to eat a certain kind of animal versus the one the next species over seems like classic guilt displacement.

Not so much with the "classic guilt displacement". Not even so much with ol' faithful "projection" nor even that hoary old standby, "closure". Sorry, I got a bunch of old psychobabble keywords in a close-out sale and wanted to use some of them up.

The "outrage", such as it is here, is, as others have pointed out, is only because all swans in the realm (ie the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Outlying Islands) are the property of the crown (ie Liz Windsor aka Liz Saxe-Coburg-Gotha).

And now, I'm afraid, our hour is up ...
posted by kcds at 7:45 AM on March 19, 2005


orange swan wins.
posted by 40 Watt at 9:13 AM on March 19, 2005


that other genius Ronnie Barker had a classic sitcom titled Porridge in the 70's, though I doubt most Mefites heard of it.

I love that show! They play it now on the Dallas area PBS station.

This is an interesting article.
posted by First Post at 10:32 AM on March 19, 2005


What the hell? Is it bad to eat swans? I live in Michigan (not Ohio) and have eaten swan. The damn thing tried to kill my uncle once when he was canoeing. It was pretty good, like a big mallard. So, there you go. Same for giant snapper turtle, canadian geese, whatever.

I suppose I wouldn't go out and "hunt" for swan. Ducks are much tastier and plentiful. Besides, a swan can kill you.

Is this a british thing that I'm missing here? Or are the rest of you of the general consensus that we're only supposed to eat certain types of waterfowl?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:15 PM on March 19, 2005


Is this a british thing that I'm missing here?

Yes! As has already been said several times, this is all about the status of British swans: in long-standing law (confirmed in the Wild Creatures and Forest Laws Act 1971) "all wild and unmarked swans on open water" belong to the Crown. This isn't just about fetishisation of their Royal status; because they count as property, hunting and killing them comes under theft and criminal damage as well as general wildlife protection laws.
posted by raygirvan at 2:57 PM on March 19, 2005


And now, I'm afraid, our hour is up ...

Yes, unfortunately, it is. Maybe you'll make more progress next time.
posted by soyjoy at 10:20 PM on March 19, 2005


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