Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Thursday, 3 June 2010


No - I'm not sad. Sad means unhappy or feeling weary or down; dark-hued or sombre. I made a cake the other day which was 'sad' in the middle - I don't know how widely this term is used now but when I was little, my granny used to make 'sad cake' (on purpose, I hasten to add, unlike the one I made!) which meant that it was heavy and a bit uncooked in the middle - often you'll see a cake that is unrisen at the centre - I can guarantee it will be a bit 'sad'.  If you know the term, you may find it a bit strange that when I went to University in London, this use of the word was completely unknown. I didn't find this out by baking cakes or eating other people's cakes.
No, I found this out by reading 'Beowulf', an epic Anglo-Saxon tale written some time between the 8th and 11th Century. I was studying Anglo-Saxon as part of my English Lit. degree - which I did really badly in but that's another story - and as a result, I have vague memories only of the story and what happened. Very briefly, the King of the Danes and his 'warrior-princes'  (who spend their time drinking and raising a bit of havoc around - putting me in mind of a programme I saw last night called 'When Boris met Dave') take it badly when a monster creature called Grendel starts attacking them. Beowulf is called in to help and he has a fight with Grendel, during which Grendel loses an arm. Grendel then runs home to his mum complaining bitterly and his mum rolls up her sleeves and sets off to the castle to take issue with Beowulf and the Danish court.  After that, I'm afraid I don't remember... but I liked the concept of the Anglo-Saxon monster having to call in his mum to help.
Now - where was I with 'sad'. During our discussions - probably in seminars - it came up that the warriors had suffered so many attacks from Grendel before Beowulf came on the scene because they always had dreadful hangovers from too much wine and revelry - and the description used in the text was 'win-sad' - meaning 'wine-sated'; heavy with wine; sodden with wine - you get the picture. And at that point, as one of the few Northerners in the group, I was able to provide an example of where a word has continued in its old usage for many a century at a local rather than national level via my Granny's sad cake.
However, I will have to work at my cake because it was not meant to be sad - it just was!

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