With Chalice Aforethought

How invalids stole the Welsh Holy Grail, one bite at a time

Legend has it that believers used to nibble the edges off of the so-called Welsh Holy Grail in Aberystwyth in order to obtain their very own souvenir of the allegedly health-giving goblet. (Talk about bad form!) This, they say, is the reason why Grail-owner Mrs Powell made a copy of the goblet, so that her invalid guests could henceforth graze to their heart's content on a phony Grail without destroying her priceless original.

(Don't know who's worse, by the way, guests for chewing on the real Grail, or Mrs Powell for replacing it with a fake one. Bait-and-switch tactics are bad enough, but the crime is surely aggravated when the item in question contains metaphysical properties not to be found in any man-made duplicate. It's like Powell was offering her suppliants penicillin capsules without any penicillin inside them.)

Well, I suppose that an onslaught of peckish invalids is one way to account for the shabby condition of the so-called Nanteos Cup after two thousand years of veneration (granting that the object in question isn't really the medieval mazer that doubters claim it to be). But, with apologies to Mrs Powell, I can think of a few more plausible reasons for the relic's run-in with entropy.

Still, suppose that we were to swallow the owner's story hook, line and grail, so to speak? Imagine the improbable farce that must have played out every time that an invalid knocked on Mrs. Powell's door.

Better yet, allow me to imagine it for you:

Mrs Powell: Oh, Gwendolyn, you poor dear. I'll be blessed if you haven't got the scarlet fever!

Gwendolyn: Too true, Mrs Powell. Too true.

Mrs Powell: I suppose then that you've popped by for a restorative swig from my Holy Grail.

Gwendolyn: Well, I didn't want to impose, but--

Mrs Powell: Nonsense. The goblet is right there on the coffee table, already filled with local spring water. Do have a swig, and much good may it do you!

Gwendolyn: Why, you're too kind.

Mrs Powell: That's it, down the hatch!

[gulp gulp crunch crunch crunch]

Mrs Powell: Is everything all right, darling?

Gwendolyn, mumbling (her mouth full of Grail fragments): Everything's fine. Say, is that a masked wagtail in that yew tree over there?

Mrs Powell: Where? Where?

[As Mrs Powell turns to look out the window for the native Iranian bird, Gwendolyn spits shards of Grail into her hand and deposits them, presumably, "where the sun don't shine," as the saying goes.]

Mrs Powell: I don't see any bird, let alone a masked wagtail.

Gwendolyn, no longer mumbling: Don't mind me. It was probably just a common pippit anyway. I'm positively seeing things with this scarlet fever of mine.

Mrs Powell: Oh.

Gwendolyn: Well, I feel better already. Thanks again, Mrs Powell. You've saved me a passel of doctor's bills, let me tell you.

Mrs Powell: Not at all dear.

[Then, after Gwendolyn sashays out of the room with her hidden booty of Grail fragments...]

Mrs Powell to herself: Just as I feared: That old biddy has chewed off another half inch of my Holy Grail. Of all the ingratitude! You'd think an invalid would be grateful enough for a cure and call it a day, but no! They have to take a piece of the miracle with them or they scarcely think that the trip next-door was worth it!

Yesterday, I showed you lot how to become a member of the Illuminati. (Hey, it was a pleasure, OK?) But if being a puppet master doesn't entirely satisfy your grasping ego, how about adding this real-live Holy Grail to your psycho-social armory? My suppliers assure me that it's hand-cast with real crushed stone and that each piece is hand-fitted by an artisan. Mind you, it's for display use only. But then if you intended to swig beer from such a piece of artistry, you're obviously reading the wrong website in any case. [sigh] No, I rather fancy that we'd sip a Veuve Clicquot Brut "Yellow Label" Champagne... Er, but not from the Grail, of course! Who do you think we are (speaking here collectively for all lovable aesthetes of my stamp)... brutes?!

Well, what are you waiting for, pal? This Holy Grail is not going to buy itself!!!

welsh holy grail, aberystwyth, powell, nanteos cup

Copyright 2017, Brian Quass quass@quass.com (follow on Twitter)