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Observations on good court

Observations on Good Courts

Lady Lucia Littlefair

Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend Twelfth Night Coronation in Agaricus and my observation of the royal courts at this event is the inspiration for this article.

I am sure we have all attended/can identify what I simply term as "bad court". (Cough, Western King. Cough, Festival. Cough Hypothermia). This is not a character assassination article so please do not take offence yet.

In discussing this lengthy court, Lady Branwyn asserted that she did not leave as I confess I did. She had the fortitude to withstand the cold and do what was right. However, what of those of us who did not possess her strength of character and patience, were we justified in leaving before the court's conclusion?

To be fair, the court that I have alluded to was not a bad court to begin with but it regrettably became so and we must ask ourselves why. I believe there were four main unfavourable factors: the length, the cold, the timing and the haphazard agenda. However, the cold could not be controlled so let us focus on length, timing and agenda.

All the good courts that I have witnessed have been "snappy". Although they are not rushed, my toes have not had time to accrue pins and needles. The awards and announcements have been given due recognition but have not been laboured. As an audience member, I have greatly appreciated this aspect because there is nothing worse than sitting in court and having your mind wander back to the campsite where you can picture the broth boiling over and pooling on the kitchen floor.

Similarly, you do not want to be absentmindedly inspecting your cuticles when you are called up for court. Of course perhaps you would have heard your name being called the first three times, if the court had not dragged on for 45 minutes beforehand. You should not feel guilty; it was not your fault that a chipped nail seized your attention. Therefore, a good court is a brief court.

Another really memorable feature of good court is royalty who have thought about what they were going to say prior to donning the pointy hat and processing. I feel bad for Kings and Queens who stumble their way through court relying totally on their herald to get them through. It cannot be comfortable for them and my heart goes out to them. I do not assert that court should be a "performance" in which the audience must be moved to tears and laughter in one sitting but rather, a somewhat rehearsed and purposeful event.

In discussing the epic court I referred to earlier, I later learned that some of the gentles who were being elevated to peerages had not been notified that their ceremony was occurring. Consequently, the court was made even longer as others had to go and "hunt" for them. This is not the fault of the herald and indeed the herald at this particular court did an outstanding job in attempting to provide a consistent court that engendered a sense of continuity. Royalty have many onerous tasks to execute while being king or queen however, giving thought to their own court should not be overly taxing. Therefore, a good court is a considered court.

The timing of a court is also critical. In fact, I believe that components such as length and agenda can be forgiven if court is scheduled at a convenient time. Many people left the mammoth three hour long court at Festival not only because they were cold and uncomfortable but because they were hungry! When a court clashes with a meal time, the populace response (irrespective of how gracious they may normally be) will never be positive because people think with their stomachs. Therefore, a good court is a well timed court.

At the aforementioned Twelfth Night, the royal courts united all of the facets I have outlined such as timing, duration, and rehearsal to great effect. Indeed, the populace really enjoyed the dynamic between King Berengar and Queen Bethan and the great court they produced. They had evidently given much prior thought to their court and practiced the agenda of items whilst ensuring that the timing and duration were reasonable.

Upon its conclusion, I was delighted to discover that when I wiggled my toes to gauge the level of pin and needleage, it was negligible. These elements combined to produce a really enjoyable and engaging court for everyone looking on.

In closing, you may be wondering, "And what if these elements are unapparent?" Well my advice to you is just to remember to be aware of your surroundings enough to say "huzzah" when required. Nevertheless...Long live Queen Bethan, Long Live King Berengar.