“Bayeux Christmas Presents Early” (E37)

  • Originally printed: Life Magazine, December 1, 1927
  • First reprinted in: Chips Off the Old Benchley
  • Unable to Access Original Text at This Time – Benchley Data will analyze any excisions/amendments when Life 1927 enters the Public Domain (in 2023)
  • Original Byline: Not Available


True to its title – rooted in the Vicious Circle’s patented portmanteau patois – this festive bauble careens from concept to concept through a series of dissociative leaps. Given the announced subject matter, experienced Benchley readers would almost certainly have been expecting to encounter a little good-natured tugging at the tired threads of medieval mise en tapis, along with some anachronistic agonizing over the problem of what to buy the liege lord who has everything (including a rainy new realm). But the mysterious transatlantic transposition of a strip of this Old World wonder to the New Jersey suburbs (if Bayeux, NJ is, in fact, Bayonne) comes out of nowhere, like those Golden Plates unearthed by Joseph Smith in upstate New York. Then Benchley hefts that old oaken bucket (see passage quoted below) and we get a genuine splash of dementia praecox in our collective faces.

The second half of the piece proceeds along more conventional lines, with the author taking pot shots (or is that pot sherds?) at the astigmatic aesthetics of Pre-Renaissance Europe; but they’re fun pot shots, and well-deserved, in the bargain.

Favourite Moment:
’Going home for Christmas?’ must have been the question on all lips, framed in probably the worst Norman-English ever heard. ‘Noël’ they probably called it. The old oaken bucket that hung in Noël – to put it badly.

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