The Origins of Romneyesque

– Rubí Donkey writes her Rubí Tuesday blogue

Well it’s nearly the end of the year. The Peasant has done his annual Christmas donkey Santa hats photo shoot, so hopefully that’s the last awful thing that will happen to us in 2020.

This mornin we had an interestin donkey discussion about Romneyesque art, wot I said in my last blogue I didn’t much care for. But I changed my mind today and I writtied to the BBC with my idea for a six-part series explainin my theory of art-history.

It all began when Aitana looked up from her breakfast to ask the Peasant, “Don’t we get any alfalfa with this today?”

The Peasant patiently explained to Aitana that alfalfa was now a special treat due to the high sugar content, and we haven’t had it mixed in with weekday breakfast straw for a long time. Christmas alfalfa was a treat and that will be repeated for New Year’s Day.

So Aitana – who gets easily bored with straw – began askin everyone what they were doin today. She started with Matilde. “What are you going to do today, Big Mummy Donk?”

“Shut up, I’m eating my straw,” replied Matilde. “Just eat your straw.”

Aitana walked around and came to me. “What are you doing today, Rubí?”

I said I was goin to writ my blogue, as it was Tuesday. She told me she was still tryin to work out how anyone knew the difference between Tuesday and Thursday. Silly horse! Then she carried on round to see Morris.

“What are you going to do today Morris, my big strong rood donkey boyfriend?” asked Aitana.

“I’m going to make a harp,” he replied.

I am quite used to Morris talkin about his projects and nothin comin of them – a bit like the Peasant really – so I didn’t take this harp-buildin project seriously. Aitana was immediately filled with admiration. “You are clever Morris!” she said. “I wouldn’t know where to begin making a harp. I don’t even know what a harp is!”

Silly horse! How does Morris fall for her dumb-donk charms? I really don’t understand it! Then Morris launched into a most surprisin dissertation on the subject of harp-playin donkeys in the Romneyesque art of France and Spain. Morris donkey is one of the few readers of the Peasant’s Walkin Out of the World blogue who bothers to follow the linked pages – and see that it’s a programme of linked themes and ideas. So Morris donkey has been studyin the Romneyesque Compostela website of Georges Meisner (who has given permission to the Peasant to use his images on and today Morris astonished us with his remarks over breakfast.

“We can see in the Peasant’s journey a gradual awakening to the place of the donkey in the economy of redemption,” said Morris. “He was already aware of Balaam’s ass from his time as a Franciscan brother in the Balaam Street friary in East London, and he even preached on that theme once in a Sunday parish service in Essex. Later, while studying liturgy, he became concerned about the distractions of the empty donkey in Palm Sunday processions and convinced that it was the wrong way to use a donkey.”

Winchester Palm Sunday “donkey parade”

“When challenged by another friar during a heated discussion over the dinner table in Hilfield Friary, ‘So, brother: what is your right way to use a donkey on Palm Sunday?!’ the Peasant had replied, ‘The way Jesus did it, but that happened just once and cannot be repeated by an empty donkey. It may work symbolically in Germany where they seat a child on the donkey to represent Jesus, but an empty donkey in a procession just distracts from the point of Palm Sunday. If you send out an empty donkey to lead a procession, you simply don’t understand liturgy!”

Example: “Donkey is star of show in Winchester Palm Sunday parade.” (!)

“But our Peasant,” continued Morris, “having argued about liturgical donkeys, only met a real donkey for the first time on this pilgrimage. Our great pilgrim sister Dalie donkey opened our Peasant’s eyes.”

I finished breakfast and writtied my blogue and went back to eatin straw. I said to Morris, “You realize – don’t you – that an ass playin a harp is a symbol of ignorance in Romneyesque art? It’s the opposite of King David playin the harp, as a symbol of wisdom.”

“Yes, everyone knows that,” said Morris. “Maybe I won’t make a harp. I was just stringing you along. Ha ha…”

“You silly donkey,” I said. “Why is it called Romneyesque art?”

“I do know the answer to that,” said Morris, very importantly, “but I’ll need to check with my Facebook donkey friend Fred in Thanet.”

I carried on with chewin straw while Morris got distracted for half an hour with memes on his donkey Facebook group about secret carrot conspiracies instigated by Bill Gates. I asked if he’d found the answer.

“OK,” said Morris. “So Fred donkey in Thanet says Romneyesque art started in Romney marsh in the seventh century, much earlier than art-historians think. The people there are all inbred, just like in Faversham. They started making funny mud-art with characters resembling an early Simpson’s cartoon. Slowly the style spread through the monastic art of Europe; so Charlemagne, a fan of the Simpsons, not knowing it had started with inbreds in Romney marsh, made it the official art of the Holy Roman Empire.”

“And that’s correct, is it Morris; not just more Facebook nonsense?” He nodded and I continued chewin my straw.

Fromista: Camino Francés, Spain

The big mystery then, it seemed to me, is why Romneyesque art didn’t start in Faversham instead? It was the ideal topic for one of those low-budget BBC2 arts series usually fronted by an unknown Oxbridge graduate friend of the producer with family connections to Sotheby’s. But this time it would be my big breakthrough! My own six-part Rubí Tuesday art-history TV series: The Origins of Romneyesque.

The openin scene would have me standin on a grassy bank in the middle of Romney marsh, sayin:

“Can we trace the beginnin of the great art of the age of Charlemagne to some illiterate grinnin inbred sittin by a straw hut, mouldin a silly face out of mud, right here in a bog in Romney marsh in Kent?”

Cross-fade and zoom to inbred Romneyesque Old Testament prophets in Poitiers…

Simpson’s cartoon art in Poitiers showing the influence of Romney marsh

I received a surprisinly swift reply from the BBC.

Dear Rubí Donkey,

We are grateful for your offer of a major documentary art-history series called The Origins of Romneyesque, but after considering it for three minutes we regret to inform you we no longer have the kind of arts budget to build a straw hut in a bog in Kent.

If you have any other ideas, more related to celebrity baking, celebrity dancing, or a combination of these, please get back to us.

Yours truly,
Accounts Department, BBC Television, Strictly Baking Division, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex.

One thought on “The Origins of Romneyesque

  1. Thank you, Rubí. I will find it hard to better your art-historical analysis when I reach Melle and Aulnay, but I will do my best.

    You have a great audience, Roobs, but since hardly anyone clicked on your link to George Meisner’s wonderful page about the lyre-playing donkeys and their connection deep into the Babylonian past, I shall continue my policy of keeping commenting closed on my own blog posts.

    Until the audience is with the programme, there is little point in having any comments from them!

    Well done, Rubí. 🙂


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