Sir Willian Nettleton, fathered a string of bastards over the course of his fifteen years of being ‘lost’ on safari before he finally returned to Cape Town when the gin ran out. He went on to die of consumption in 1837 on the journey back to Teesside…
He was however not the first Sir William Nettleton, the first served in the court of Queen Elizabeth the first, and rose to the distinguished rank of as lord warden of the water closest, but never advanced beyond his post of holder of the royal wet cloth on a stick. Sir William also managed to explored no where, didn’t discover a vegetable, was crap at bowls and when the Spanish armada was spotted off Plymouth hoe he was in bed with a lady of negotiable pleasure in Plymouth, so ironically at the time of the attempted invasion he was spotted on a Plymouth… We will leave that there.
The current Willam Nettleton who can trace his roots back to Devon in January 1589, though for some reason he shortens his professional name to appear cooler and writes as Will Nett… Occasionally Will Nett sends me blog posts , they tend to be entertaining, well received, deceptively intelligent reads… He normally does this when he has a new book coming out. If he has a new one out this time however he hasn’t bothered to tell me.
Please note I made most of the above up… Most of it.
Now That’s What I Call Rubric: by Will Nett
I do NOT want to hear about your writer’s block; not anymore, you lazy pack of shirkers. Not now I’ve seen what’s capable when you throw on your cassock, moisten your quill tip, and settle in for an evening of furious penmanship. This is precisely what a largely-unknown Bohemian monk- possibly the appropriately named Herman the Recluse- did, around 1000 years ago when he sat down to write the book that appears before me now. The Codex Gigas is a 620-page behemoth that weighs approximately as much as my first car; a Ford Escort Ghia with fully-retractable aerial. It’s stored deep beneath the streets of Stockholm in Sweden’s National Library in Humlegarden Park, Ostermalm. The book, that is; not the car. The three-floor descent to access it seems apt as, notwithstanding the gargantuan effort involved in writing it, the work is probably best-known for its seemingly tenuous inclusion of the Devil, who gurns madly from page 290 like a loin cloth-clad Ftumch. (Google him if you’re under 40).
He’s squatting in his underwear with arms raised after a night of prodding and bullying our heroic author into finishing the 3-foot high tome, much the same way that modern day blog editors do now. Apparently written entirely in one evening, the author was of course largely undistracted by Love Island, social media and the goings on across the road at no. 91. Aside from the romantic ideal of an isolated monk hounded into action by a belligerent sprite such as Satan, are the facts of the matter. Specifically, that to have produced such an undertaking would have required the author to write continuously for 6 hours a day, for 6 days a week, for 5 years, which is only a slightly-less intense work rate than that of peak-era Stephen King. Given that the Codex author was a monk, he would likely have been occupied concurrently with his monastical duties; administering bowl haircuts; washing his arse in a stream; eating pebbles etc, and therefore it would have taken even longer to complete. All this considered, experts believe it may have taken anything up to 30 years to finish. Again, this is a rate of endeavor that most current authors, and certainly this one, could only dream of. The Codex went through the usual historical upheaval of various war-fuelled disasters, being fought over by the Hussites and Catholics, and was then sold on to various monasteries. It found it’s way into the private collection of Emperor Rudolf II in the late 15th century, where it remained until 1648 before being claimed as war booty by the Swedish army. It was thereafter kept in Stockholm for a largely uneventful 375 years, but for one comedic episode in 1697 when a fire at Tre Konor Royal cCastle saw the book thrown from a window to preserve it, which it duly did, but not before it crushed a member of the public who happened to be passing by.
The contents, all in Latin, are a smorgasbord of religious texts, from sections of the Vulgate Bible to Chronica Boermorum (Google that if you’re under 900 years old), and everything in-between; spell-casting tips; recipes; the Hebrew alphabet. Think of it as a medieval compilation album; Now That’s What I Call Rubric, if you will. Despite the legends surrounding the Codex, one of the most curious things about its author, effectively a ghost writer, is largely forgotten, and instead we’re still talking about the Devil after all this time.
The Codex is kept at the Swedish National Library (King’s Library), in Ostermalm, Stockholm.
Now get back to work.
Will Nett’s first book, My Only Boro: A Walk Through Red & White, is currently the subject of a treasure hunt that has captured the imagination of shovel-wielding sleuths from all over Teesside. Part of the detective work required is finding the specific tweets involved because the link Will sent Mark to put on this blog post doesn’t work…