I borrowed Oh Lucky Man! from a library recently. It's flawed, in particular it's too long, but it's also utterly wonderful with images that have stayed in my mind from the first time I saw it 30+ years ago. It's one reason why I was never tempted by medical research money – the reveal of the delicious Professor Millar's work is more chilling than anything Hammer ever did. Plus there's Alan Price's songs, the chocolate sandwich party, the British-to-the-core scene of a tea-lady coming in during a torture session, how to get a job as an assistant to a businessman with no morals, and what happens when you do…
Today's Pepys diary entry contains a reference to something not unlike the latter. As the notes explain using someone else's telling of the story, in the reign of Edward VI, a seditious outbreak at Bodmin was put down but not everyone who had taken part wanted to suffer the consequences:
At the same time, and neare the same place [Bodmin], dwelled a miller, that had beene a greate dooer in that rebellion, for whom also Sir Anthonie Kingston sought: but the miller being thereof warned, called a good tall fellow that he had to his servant, and said unto him, 'I have business to go from home; if anie therefore come to ask for me, saie thou art the owner of the mill, and the man for whom they shall so aske, and that thou hast kept this mill for the space of three yeares; but in no wise name me.' The servant promised his maister so to doo. And shortlie after, came Sir Anthonie Kingston to the miller's house, and calling for the miller, the servant came forth, and answered that he was the miller. 'How long,' quoth Sir Anthonie, 'hast thou kept this mill?' He answered, 'Three years.' — 'Well, then,' said he, 'come on: thou must go with me;' and caused his men to laie hands on him, and to bring him to the next tree, saieing to him, 'Thou hast been a busie knave, and therefore here shalt thou hang.' Then cried the fellow out, and saide that he was not the miller, but the miller's man. 'Well, then,' said Sir Anthonie, 'thou art a false knave to be in two tales: therefore,' said he, 'hang him up;' and so incontinentlie hanged he was indeed. After he was dead, one that was present told Sir Anthonie, 'Surelie, sir, this was but the miller's man.' — `What then!' said he, 'could he ever have done his maister better service than to hang for him?'"
If I were a theatrical producer – and every time I see the Producers, I am tempted – then I'd put on Sir Martin Mar-all, or The Feign'd Innocence, John Dryden's adaptation of a Molière play, and have this as a quote on the posters:
It is the most entire piece of mirth, a complete farce from one end to the other, that certainly was ever writ. I never laughed so in all my life. I laughed till my head [ached] all the evening and night with the laughing – Samuel Pepys