The Things You Learn in the Bar

Not long ago I was having an after badminton beer in Bushwakkers and wondering what group was providing the music the following evening, I asked Eric if he could read the notice pasted on the wall some metres away as I was having some trouble focusing. It was quite noisy in the bar and I thought he said it is The Regina Male Boys Choir, the redundancy in the name not quite sinking in.
Coming into the bar the next night I was therefore surprised to see a choir of well dressed gentlemen, some of whom must have been in their late 70’s at the very least. The “old boys” choir I thought.
It turns out the Regina Male Voice Choir was there to entertain us with Christmas music.
A beer or two later and just at the start of one of their numbers we were surprised to see a couple of the kitchen staff coming out carrying a large boar’s head, on a tray which they carried around the room during the singing of the piece.  “Oh, that was the Boar’s Head Carol” we were told.”  Who knew?
It turns out that this little known carol – at least little know amongst beer drinking badminton players – dates back to the fifteenth century.
The story is that an Oxford scholar named Capcot - no first name provided -  who was studying at Queen’s College   was walking over the common on his way to church in Horspath village when he was attacked by a wild boar.  Capcot, obviously a very tough guy, is said to have grabbed the boar by the scruff of the neck and to have jammed a copy of Aristotle which he had been reading down its throat.
The scholar then is reported to have cut off the boar’s head and stuck it on his staff leaving it outside the church during the service. He subsequently brought it back to his pals at Oxford for dinner.
The Horspath parish church has a window celebrating this event.
This event is still celebrated in Oxford at an annual dinner during which the carol is sung and during the singing three chefs carry a boar’s head  decorated with a garland of bay leaves and rosemary around the hall.
The things you learn in bars these days.
Ok everyone, all together now.

The Boar’s Head Carol
The boar's head in hand bear I,
Bedecked with bays and rosemary;
And I pray you my masters be merry,
Quot estis in convivio
Caput apri defero
Reddens laudes Domino
Laudes Domino, Laudes Domino, Laudes Domino
The boar's head, as I understand,
Is the bravest dish in all the land
When thus bedecked with a gay garland
Let us servire cantico.
Our steward hath provided this
In honour of the King of Bliss,
Which on this day to be served is
In Reginensi atrio

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