Godalming's Unfamous Residents
Brie Gram-cneow 'The Naïve' (His true name is unclear; this is a very rough translation)
Godalming's least successful Saxon warrior and supporter of religious reconciliation.
Born: sometime in the early ninth century
Died: sometime later in the ninth century
We know nothing about Brie's early life (that's not our fault, it was the dark ages and very little was written around then - okay? And by the way, the 'early ninth century' means from the year 800 to 850 – give or take). We do know he had nothing to do with a well-known French cheese. In fact, we don't really know his name. The name we've assigned him is a rough translation of some blobby (and poorly illustrated) texts written on very old monastic manuscripts describing his life (and probably written by a very frightened trainee scribe as an after-hours punishment of some kind). As the earliest tales seem to have been recorded some twenty years after his disappearance, we are pretty certain that the details may not be accurate. (But if it's good enough for billion-dollar bible-based religions then it's good enough for us.)
Brie Gram-cneow (No, we aren't sure how to pronounce it either) was a young man living in or around the hamlet of Godelminge (Pron: Goh-del-minger). We do not believe this place is where the original 'Mingers' originated. That hamlet was probably much further west in a place known as 'Heerbeallede Mingers' which is one of the very few places in the British Isles where Vikings invaded, plundered, and pillaged - but for some unclear reason, never raped. Despite this (or perhaps for the same reason) the population of that village didn't survive more than a couple of generations.
Brie was intrigued by the idea of religion and soon reasoned that the people around him were very impressed by inexplicable natural events such as the weather, the seasons, nighttime and what the heck was snow anyway? For reasons unclear to him, they always attributed these events to the actions of their deities. In a nearby hamlet called Tiwesle (pron: Tiu-wess-leh … we think. We weren't there so we're really guessing, okay? But we get paid 'to know' so take our word for it. It's not as if anyone else is more qualified to argue, is it?) the locals believed in a God called Tiw (so much so they'd named their manor after him. It's now called Tuesley, a quite pleasant name derived from the Saxon for 'Tiw's Clearing' - or the less romantic: 'Tiw's Place Where He Pooed Once and All the Trees Died'). Tiw (Also Tyr, son of Odin) was a God of Law and War. Brie believed this one to be incompetent at managing the weather, which in his mind explained a lot.
However, the ruling Danes held to Christianity (in those days 'Kings' were basically thugs running a regional protection racket. Think 'Royal', think 'Mafia'). The local Saxons had different deities, despite what they claimed. Celts who occasionally passed by held yet other beliefs and the still pagan Vikings who came partying through the land (i.e. pillaging, plundering and raping) seemed to be having the most fun.
Britain at this time was ostensibly Christian but a lot of the locals paid only lip service to this confusing religion because, unlike Brie, they had some sense of self-preservation. Thus births, deaths and marriages were pretty darned expensive, requiring at least two ceremonies each.
One day, while passing through the area, a priest described Christianity to Brie - somewhat confusingly – as: (1) a monotheistic religion (i.e. one God) but of three parts (The Father, The Son, and the Holy Ghost). This God had had a son who: (2) was a liberator - but wasn't a warrior and didn't actually liberate anything; (3) was a king - and yet clearly wasn't; (4) wasn't a God either, but nonetheless should be worshipped as one because he kind-of is. Finally, (5) he could perform miracles whenever he wanted but was nevertheless nailed to a wooden cross and died – but then again, he didn't.
The reason for his death, as explained to Brie, was that 'The Son' had been crucified. He'd cried out to his father for help, didn't get it and subsequently died. But that was good because God, who probably wasn't paying attention before, later resurrected 'The Son' who was now living in an alcohol-free Valhalla up above the rain clouds. (Clearly this didn't sound appealing to either the Vikings or the Saxons and caused many to wonder why their brethren, the Danes, had bought into all this. The reason, they figured, must have been financial – it certainly had little else to do with logic). At the same time, this Son was everywhere else watching everybody all the time while, at the same time, remaining invisible. Furthermore, there was also the third element, the 'Holy Spirit' (neither male nor female, but apparently an 'It'). This entity was also in Heaven while at the same time everywhere around us and it shouldn't be ignored either - but was anyway.
This confused Brie who knew in his heart that there could only be one single truth. So, he decided that what was needed was a grand unified theory of all religions; a natural consensus of opinion to be made by the experts. This would reduce misunderstandings and therefore the fighting amongst the different ethnic groups. Consequently, and with great optimism, he approached each group in turn and explained his logic eloquently. He invited the various religious representatives to participate in his grand unification project. However, each time he did this he got beaten to a bloody pulp. It is from this period he was given the title 'The Naïve' (or it may have been something like 'The Twit'; sources differ).
We believe he even encountered a wandering Pict during this period as one tale clearly describes him encountering a naked man painted blue (or it may have just been a very cold day, we're not sure). This naked man greeted Brie with the phrase (roughly translated as) "What you looking at, Jimmeh!?!" And once again, Brie was beaten to a bloody pulp.
At this point, Brie had had enough and decided that the only way to convince people of the reasonableness of his arguments was to take up the sword. He reasoned that whoever the real god was, he'd support Brie 'The Warrior of Reason' in his mission to uncover 'The One Real Truth'. Shortly thereafter he encountered a wandering gang of Vikings (who were probably looking to 'party' - but Viking style).
From the top of Frith Hill, Brie, in a rare moment of unrestrained Saxon savagery, ran down at the gang screaming and waving his sword. Knowing he would be unable to slow down the bemused (and clearly far more experienced) Vikings stood to one side and watched him as he charged past. They then wandered down the hill to find him laying exhausted face down in the dirt. The ensuing struggle was brief, but we understand that the Vikings did have a party that night.
The following day, now without his sword and his trousers, and with a very sore bottom, Brie decided that a different approach was needed. With self-preservation finally in his thoughts, he decided to create his own religion based upon peace, love and equality. After all, he reasoned, no one need beat up a man who eschewed all forms of violence.
Brie made his first visit to a monastery, where he knew the monks were quiet, unarmed, and charitable. This was quite possibly 'Wokingas Monastery' (Woking Monastery, founded circa 690 and which lasted to circa 871 when the Danes - i.e. the regional Mafia - paid it a 'visit'). There he was beaten to a bloody pulp for not being a Christian.
The record stops there, but there is a strong hypothesis that Brie, now convinced by the monk's non-verbal arguments and having 'seen the light' (probably a near-death experience) converted to Christianity and remained at the monastery. He never quite got to grips with the logic behind his adopted religion and may well have become the very scribe that wrote the very same original, blobby and poorly illustrated texts which we have studied.