I read Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett back in 1989, back when I was newly out of college and making up for years of reading textbooks and no fiction. I am a medieval history geek buff, so I loved this book.
As I look back, I never really thought much about the living conditions of the people in the book. So typical of the young, I was just interested in the drama and human interest stories that Follett penned. I didn’t consider the disease, difficulties, untimely deaths, and violence that people of that age dealt with on a daily basis. I didn’t really care about all that stuff – I just liked the pretty buildings.
So, when my Dear Husband told me that Pillars of the Earth was turned into a mini-series, I was excited. I couldn’t wait to relive the book that enjoyed so much in my 20’s.
Except, there was one problem. I don’t think the way that a 20-year-old thinks anymore. I think in hygienic terms.
Let me give some examples:
Scene showing knights riding on horseback into town:
Me at 20 years old: Oooo – aren’t they brave? Chivalry was wonderful!
Me at 40+: Look at they mess those horses make – all that mud. Aren’t those knights hotter than hades in that chain mail armor?
Scene where townspeople are walking around during a wool fair:
Me at 20: Wow! Isn’t it fascinating to learn about daily life in a medieval village?
Me at 40+: Why didn’t the women pin up their skirts? They’re dragging them in the dung! Those people are sweating so much carrying those bundles. The whole place must have been rank.
Gratuitous sex scene:
Me at 20: How romantic! True love!
Me at 40+: Ick. I wouldn’t let him in my bed until he visited the village bath house and brushed his teeth.
Me at 20: What an adorable baby. The mother looks so happy.
Me at 40+: The mother looks happy because she actually lived through the process. It’s a wonder anyone lived through childbirth.
Scene in cathedral during mass:
Me at 20: Oh how beautiful! To be able to visit such a beautiful structure! Amazing!
Me at 40+: Ah ha. That’s why they call them the “unwashed masses.” I get it…
Although I’m not kidding about my obsession with bathing, I am indeed enjoying this series. It’s got great actors and actresses, very realistic looking scenery (right down to all that mud) and beautiful costumes. I highly recommend it.
I just wash my hands after each episode and I feel better. Yes, I know there’s medication for that…