Well, as most people know the great crested peccadillo was a large flightless bird (only slightly smaller than the average Welsh canteen manageress) which lived on the island of Feebletrouzers in the Southern Pacific. Unfortunately, the 16th Century sailors who discovered the island of Feebletrouzers eventually hunted the great crested peccadillo to extinction. This was mainly because of the peccadillo’s method of evading predators, which was to engage in an elaborate mime where it pretended to be a door-to-door salesman. Obviously, this subterfuge was totally lost on the seamen, who in that day and age were of a more literal rather than romantic cast of mind. In short, the only thing that interested the sailors about anything was whether they could shag it or eat it. Since the peccadillo was covered in long dense feathers, this made the first option problematical to those of short attention span such as the average 16th Century sailor. This also accounted for the relatively scarce numbers of the great crested peccadillo [a fact that initially puzzled zoologists as they well knew that the peccadillo main predator - the feebletrouser python - is known as a rapt fan of any form of mime].
Anyway, few people beyond the cognoscenti now know of the distant relative of the greater crested peccadillo - the frankly not very well crested at all (or sexual) peccadillo.
This bird is much smaller than the greater crested peccadillo being, on average, the size of a settee cushion resting on a roller skate. It got its name - the sexual peccadillo - mainly because it was not very choosy over whom it mated with, at all. As it was not so well-feathered as its larger cousin, it was - of course - much more popular with 16th century sailors. Although, the legend that Francis Drake married a sexual peccadillo has been soundly disproved by recent historical scholarship.
So, unlike its unfortunate cousin, the sexual peccadillo thrived. In fact, many were bought back to this country by very happy sailors and the birds thrived here too, despite the very different climate to their natural habitat. Soon there were reports that the birds had begun breeding with the indigenous population and there were stories of crosses between sexual peccadilloes and chickens, peccadilloes and blackbirds, peccadilloes and sheep and - of course - peccadilloes and cost accountants.
Unfortunately, it was the overtly sexual nature of these beasts that - inevitably - brought them to the attention of the church. Although the church kept rather quiet about what its monks and nuns got up to with their own poultry flocks, the dalliances of the laity with their peccadilloes was roundly condemned from the pulpit.
Soon, in those times when the notion of witchcraft had taken such a powerful hold on the minds of the general populace, stories abounded about witches using peccadilloes as their familiars, and riding on their backs across the night sky. When some brave souls pointed out that the peccadillo was a notoriously flightless bird they were hung, drawn and hacked up into bite-sized portions as a precaution.
So, in those hectic and dangerous times - it is reported - that several thousand peccadilloes were burnt at the stake (and served with orange sauce later while the main attraction on the programme - the witches - were put to death in various entertainingly-painful ways).
Peccadilloes therefore became an endangered species. They were still kept - in the greatest secrecy - by travellers, itinerants, strolling players and - interestingly - musicians for those lonely times that all such solitary travellers suffer from every now and then. Of course, rumours abounded especially about those musicians widely regarded as the most accursed: 'The Playeres of the Base'. Stories were told about how the Guild of Base Playeres kept a secret flock of peccadilloes somewhere in the depths of Gloucestershire. These stories told of how, when a player had reached that special level of incompetence that is the jealously regarded preserve of the well-inebriated Bass player, he (or, on occasion, she) is presented with his (or her) own special flock of sexual peccadilloes. Hence all the stories about musicians – especially bass-players and their weird sexual peccadilloes.
(Another one of my earliest – see here for example)