I was at Ludlow Castle in Shropshire this weekend, donning the codpiece and giving it some hey nonny no at their Medieval Fayre. We were spared last year's sub-zero temperatures though there was a bitter wind blowing through my liripipe.
It was while warming ourselves in the green room that conversation turned to the role of bagpipers in history.
It seems that right up until the Early Modern period, every village would hold regular Church Ales, big communal piss ups with all money raised going to help the local poor. Entertainment was, naturally, provided by pipers who, unlike most people, had free license to travel beyond the parish boundaries. There was, in other words, a good living to be made as a bagpiper - their services were in demand, even if they were often disreputable folk.
And in that moment, I had it. I put a name to a feeling I've had all my life, the feeling of being born in the wrong era. We're familiar with gender dysphoria, being born in the wrong body. Perhaps we could talk about temporal dysphoria too?
Freudians would no doubt remind me that life was pretty grim back then and say it's all projection, wish-fulfilment, a neurotic's fantasy.
Jungians would view things more positively and suggest that I need to integrate the archetypal force bubbling up from my unconscious. For medieval minstrel, read trickster. Let him in or find he'll trip you up.
But parsimony has led me to conclude that the transmigration of souls is really the only viable explanation.
When first I picked up a set of pipes I didn't do it because I wanted to be a medieval minstrel. No, I did it because I already knew that's what I was. It's taken twenty years to get over the shock of finding that the world thinks otherwise.