Saturday, 15 September 2012

'Now is the Summer of Our Discontent...'

So it’s possible that they may have found Richard III’s skeleton? Gosh.

I had the chance to visit the place where the Battle of Bosworth Field apparently didn’t actually happen (as recounted here) and as stated, just by the canal is a rather sweet little memorial at the spot where, tradition has it, Richard died. If memory serves, the small monument had an inscription to ‘the last English king’ which was odd as the Plantagenets were French. As the peerless 1066 & All That points out, the last English king of England was Edward the Confessor as after that we have Harold (Danish), the Normans and then Plantagenets (French) then the Tudors (Welsh) and the Stuarts (Scottish) and finally the Hanovers/Windsors (German). And people say that the English are insular.
It is thought that the skeleton might be Richard because it has signs of curvature of the spine. I had thought that version of him was Tudor propaganda (x-rays have shown that the famous portrait of him was later altered) and wonder what this will do for those people who believe him to be a highly maligned figure.

I’m sure you’ve heard about this, Richard was a good king who didn’t murder the Princes in the Tower (though I side with George MacDonald Fraser who, like Cicero, asked cui bono) and was an all-round good egg unlike the untrustworthy wife-executing and altogether a bit too Celtic Tudors. It’s one of those things that people get surprisingly wound up about to the surprise to outsiders. Other instances I’ve recently come across on the net include the behaviour of George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars films, the behaviour of the Doctor in the most recent episode of Dr Who and the incidental music in the last couple of seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation which apparently spoilt one poor chap’s childhood.

The observant amongst you, ie all of you, will notice that all these examples above come from the world of science fiction film and television. I do paddle in the shallows of that particular fandom and one of the attractions is the high emotions that it produces in a few unhappy souls. ‘But what about the pain Jackson caused me!’ wailed one commentator on a forum about the Lord of the Rings films in response to the moderator complaining that his increasingly vicious comments were causing pain to others. You get it with Sherlock Holmes fans as well where liking the recent Robert Downey characterisation is a sin beyond forgiveness or redemption. I know connoisseurs of horror cinema who still hold Barry Norman in open contempt for his many slights on their preferred genre.

In the meantime, here’s the excellent Horrible Histories programme doing old King Dick with full admiration and open worship to whoever came up with rhyming ‘can you imagine it’ with ‘Plantagenet’.

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