England’s Dreaming

Film_213w_RichardIII_originalBy Gus Abrams

Leicester, it can be announced, is officially the home of Parody Britain. Plantagent Fever is gripping the city after they dug up a car park and found an old king, or someone anyway.

There’s a right Royal Fever going on with 2000 people booked in for a service at the cathedral and an ‘invite only’ service for ‘evening compline’ (whatever that is) and the Duke of Gloucester and the Countess of Wessex are coming (whoever they are).

Richard III was considered a ‘foul, hunch back’d toad’ and consigned to the bin of history marked ‘Baddie’ for about 500 years since he died at the Battle of Bosworth and somehow found himself under tar mac in the middle of Leicester.

Now he’s back, and all is forgiven.

A cortege the Kray’s would have been proud of carried his coffin (made we’re told of English oak), they fired cannons and a big procession of people wearing Tudor costumes led the way. ‘Knights’ rode on horseback. Actual ‘shiney-armour’ knights. Seriously. This is like a mashup of Its a Knockout, Wolf Hall and the bloody Jubilee.

You half expected Sid James and Hattie Jaques to appear, or David Starkey and Alan Rickman to co-star.

There hasn’t been a re-writing of history like this since the West Wing replaced dumbass George Bush with a much more palatable Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlett.

We all know a lot of the pageantry and ‘tradition’ of the Royals and the Heritage Industry is just made-up, but this seems like some new bawdy descent into Panto Land. It’s like the dregs of the morbid Diana Phenomena merged with Alton Towers.

Themepark England seems to be hurtling backwards into a Royal Fantasy, reinventing itself as a Mock Tudor and worshiping old bones.

They’re drinking mead and pottage pie at the Ye Old Red Lion pub in Market Bosworth reports the Times. Labradors are wearing royal colours. Crowds clutch white roses. David Priestland mourns: “Far from the country ‘walking tall’ as George Osborne boasted there is a danger we are limping, hunchbacked into the global future.”



Categories: Commentary

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46 replies

  1. An Arse,an Arse..my kingdom for an Arse!!!!!

  2. The article was a bit of a laugh but also unnecessarily sour. What’s so wrong with creating a bit of economic development through history – even of the cod variety? A lot of wee businesses probably did a roaring trade out of this.

    …and why do you take the Shakespearean Tudor spin on Dick No.3 as gospel? God knows, Wullie Shakespeare trashed Macbeth’s reputation!

    • On this occasion, I’m inclined to agree with you.

      Leave them alone, they’re just having a bit of fun, which at least is connected to something vaguely cerebral – history (whatever revisionism might be going on).

      The other day you were moaning Brit Pop, the Spice Girls, X-Factor and Reality TV.

      Would you ideal post-referendum punishment for ‘the English’ be that they must never leave their homes and have any fun ever again?

      • No Corporatist Hell. My ideal punishment would be that they could only leave their homes to take part in 24 hour non-stop Morris Dancing (to Brit Pop music) themed X-Factor programmes. Those staying at home would have to appear on Gogglebox type programmes commenting on the Morris Dancing X-Factor competitions.

    • Exactly, we know what spin and the creation of bogeymen for political purposes looks like here in Scotland. Shakespeare’s patrons included royals and no doubt he’d bend the facts of history in their favour. History repeats itself indeed!

  3. Was Black Rod a coal miner or was he a “foreigner” from warmer climes?
    Strange customs.

  4. The refusal to countenance the actuality of history underlies, in my opinion, what has been described as the break-up of Britain.

    With nowhere left to go, as a result of cultural arrogance/bankruptcy, a return to the “past” is the only available option for the British State.

  5. Good luck to those that made a phew bob! Jim Bennet,this is what they do best you know the flag waving drums beating sodjers marching,just look at the last parade for the returning heroes to honour the end of the Afghan debachle,solemn speeches and a few medals and circa 500 youngsters lives lost and many maimed,billions of pounds wasted no shortage of money it seems,not one voice raised as to why were they there.

    • Of course, if it were the sons and daughters of MPs and other key players in the Establishment who were in danger of being shipped out to wherever the Government decided to intervene next, these imperialist misadventures wouldn’t happen.

  6. I hear what you say Gus though I personally find it reasonably interesting on another front.
    There is a body of opinion that says Richard III was much maligned by Shakespeare and had his reputation traduced (sounding like GG there!) by the Tudor sponsored writer to discredit the Plantagenets. The Tudors and Plantagenets were enemies so it would be politically expedient to give them bad press and further legitimise the Tudor claim to the English throne. In fact, I seem to recall that there might be an issue around this regarding the legitimacy of the present royals.
    Old Shakey dished out similar treatment to MacBeth who by all accounts was one of Scotlands better kings.
    Im less upset about the folk lining the streets to see off a historic figure than by folk signing a petition to keep the self inflated balloon Clarkson ( who unfortunately exemplifies much of what sterotypes Englishness in the minds of many), on our TV’s.
    Im sure this has something to do with a percieved English identity crisis on some fronts and there may be a need to reconnect with something that has deeper roots than the shallow short-termism that the City of London inflicts upon the rest of us. Many of our brothers and sisters south of the border similarly suffer under the bankers puppets in Westminster who make a mockery of our democracy. Intersting times we live in. Even Shakespeare couldnae make it up.

    Aye,by the way, David Starkey is a prick.

    • I agree wholeheartedly ‘tammcgarvey’. My hat is off to you. Richard III (and MacBeth) was much maligned by Shakespeare acting as the spin doctor for the Tudors. Modern historians have unearthed a different picture. I am a Yes voting Indy Scot and have absolutely no problem with the events surrounding the reburial and you have summed up my thoughts perfectly to save me the trouble. I am also extremely interested in Richard as a King and I think that the story told by the Tudors.mirrors the lies that the British state tell us all the time.

      To Gus! The Richard III Society exists, both in Scotland and England, in order to establish the truth and put the record straight, much as we are trying to do in modern times. In my opinion, this post of yours was not needed. I believe you are venting your spleen in the wrong direction. You will find that the spite and hatred directed at Richard is commonplace in the Establishment in England. History is being re-written here because of the lies told in the past.

      When we get our Independence in Alba, then we will be able to access our own History, which has not been allowed thus far in our schools. IScottish History gets the same treatment as much of Scottish Literature.

      This is what has been happening in Leicester. The true story is unfolding and Rcardians are ensuring that Richard III gets a decent burial. For God’s sake, what is wrong with that? The fact that the British State and royalty (note the small r) have to be involved is expected.

      Let us concentrate on our own story.

      • agreed. What’s happening in Leicester is clearly a easy distraction piece for the news channels while the narrative of our “democracy” is being hammered out in dark corridors behind the scenes.

        Sadly, I’ll never get back the 2 minutes i spent reading this worthless snarky response.

      • “I believe you are venting your spleen in the wrong direction. You will find that the spite and hatred directed at Richard”

        “venting spleen” “hatred”. The piece is a cod of gentle banter directed at the English in a similar manner they do to us. Your life must be one helluva dark place.

      • The English do have a history to be proud of, right enough. And a culture to be proud of, as we also do.

  7. I would advise anyone wanting or hopeing to get a clearer picture of the real world that we inhabit go on to the VW.Veterans to-day site it paints a horrifying picture of what,s going on,if only a smidgin is true we should all be very worried.

  8. It really was very bizarre, the 5 mins I saw of it. There can’t be that many opportunities you get to wear your armour atop a white steed.

    I also thought of the Diana thing, because there were reports of people crying???

    I’m glad some south of the Border also find it bizarre. I suppose Leicester felt obliged to have the pomp, given there was a court case brought by York to try and get the bones!

    • Valarie, remember one thing; it’s Leicester, for God’s sake. There’s not a lot to celebrate or go to see in that town and it’s marginally only not as bad as Hull and Barnsley.

  9. I was brought up in Hawick in the Borders. Every year, as in most Border towns, a few hundred guys (all guys) dressed up and rode around on horses claiming that “Hawick” was ever independent. The particular celebration was about the defeat of a force of reivers by the local Callants following Flodden.

    The reality was that it was based on cod history, at odds with the political deference shown to the landed gentry and really an excuse for a piss-up/loss of virginity on massive community scale. So, anyone can knock this on a sociological basis as being a celebration of quasi-military misogyny but the reality is that the new “Reiver Festival”, the Bannockburn celebrations et al aren’t too different from the cod reburial of Dick No.3.

    Prestonpans recently retried the witches burned on the orders of Jamie the Saxt. It was cod history and a laugh which anyone could knock. However, it really did a great job in helping the town get an excuse for a bit of celebration and business. What’s the difference with Leicester?

    Afghanistan? Bugger all to do with this.

    David Starkey? Yes, a prick!

  10. Oh shite, let them have their own wee version of Disneyland, it has no effect on me to be honest. I would rather that we individually check our voter registration and make sure the correct message is sent to these role playing buffoons ! Remember check that you’re on the voters role. Don’t trust the establishment after their behavior during the referendum.

  11. We very seldom portray our so called heroes and historical figures as they actually were. If we did, we wouldn’t have any. Wallace, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Rob Roy Macgregor etc. are all romanticized to a larger or lesser degree.

    The article is actually quite amusing imo, but I don’t see what the author has against England inventing traditions. The history of the world is one of invented traditions. We are not known for the history we remember, but rather for the history we chose to forget (Or words to that effect).

    Someone somewhere high-up, has decided it’s time to start carving out a distinct national image for the English. Good luck to them as England also have a history.

    Imo it’s just another sign that the UK is finished as a political entity.

  12. Scots have their cringe factors too, as parodied by “badger handbags / check skirts, tartan short bread tins / bbc Scotland and Lulu / Alistair Darling accents”.

    That said, the English do too, in spades!

    But, on a more serious note, I detect a change in the English people. Never a truer saying than that the English have lost an empire and are looking for a role. It could be argued that whilst the English have been looking for a role, Scots have been looking for a new home.

    I believe the English to be a tolerant people, but recently we have seen the views of others, not “perceived” main stream English views being challenged, quashed or demonised. The attack against others values is led by ukip, tories, labour and bbc.

    In parallel there is a movement to promote English values, often using the synonym british. Richard the whatever is but one of these, you can imagine the waifs in the crowd clutching cloth caps muttering “gwad bless ya Richard”.

    I think this very important, as it would appear that the word from upon high is conformity to their expectations is a test of decency, patriotism and loyalty. The risk of deploying this strategy in defending a union is that it panders to prejudices the establishment have created to prevent Scotland leaving and the outcome is accelerated division, hence labour’s problems.

    Irony is that one best recruiting agent for independence are the unionist british establishment, ever were is so in days of empire too!

    Lachlan McLaren

  13. So we are sour then, well I take great umbrage at the trashing of the commemoration of Bannockburn. God knows we suffered more defeats than victories at the hands of our “Friends in the South” but last year took the cake.

    • We didn’t actually. If you look at a list of battles S v E you will find that the win/lose numbers are 50/50. But we won the most important one at Bannockburn.

  14. Is bizarre, the whole King Richard thing, but the post was a bit sour… still got to laugh at ourselves…

    Being a broad minded Scot, this always makes me piss myself..

  15. you stay calm…we’ll carry on.

  16. Rabbie Burns, Braveheart Wallace, Bannockburn, Flodden, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Mary Stuart, Jamie the Saxt, Culloden, Walter Scott’s oeuvre, R.L. Stevenson, etc., etc. Scotland is always bang up to date.

  17. Yes, I totally agree with you. I’m relatively easy going, but this reinvention of “England’s Past”, this obsession with recreating a time when a country was “great” just continues to emphasise the vacuum at the heart of modern England.

  18. “wearing Tudor costumes”

    Rubbing it in…

  19. If England wants to remember one of its Kings
    I have no objections.Why would BBC Scotland radio however have a continuing several days report on his grave and English celebrations?Just another poor choice from McQuarie, or more “pooling together”?
    Would you ever hear on EBC a similar story about a Scottish King?

  20. I find it all mildly amusing.For a wee while.And now it’s boring.

  21. On one level this is pretty harmless stuff, and as others have said there’s cod history aplenty the length and breadth of these isles. So on that basis, fair play to the good folk of Leicester and their burial of somebody’s bones.

    There is a semi-serious points here, though. If these bones have indeed been authenticated as Richard III, why is he not being given the full royal treatment as Westminster Abbey? The disgusting Windsors, I suspect, care about these things than most and their silence on the subject, plus the disdainful signal of sending two of their loathsome tribe’s most anonymous non-entities, is most telling. Plainly, they still believe in it all and you can see why; after all, if they stop believing what else is left?

    I for one hope their game is up sooner rather than later. I’ve high hopes for Charles – he’s such a todger he may yet bring about a republic!

    Prithee hasten the day of your ascension, sire.

    (And I’d like to third the motion that David Sharkey is a prick.)

  22. Dear olde England was never hurtling forward in the first place. RIP.

  23. This Richard III episode is just another part of the WM and MSM attempts to galvanise the English people against intrusion from the Scots. Osbornes ‘Renegade Scots’ remark was another example, uttered during the Agincourt celebration donation speech, despite the fact that the Scots did not fight alongside the French until later.

    They are searching for their English soul and seem to be having some trouble finding it, Instead they celebrate past glories for there are no more to come. They cannot understand what has happened in Scotland. We’ve woken up.

  24. I find it interesting and I support it. I think it is a good thing that people rediscover their history. Richard was the last English king to die in battle.

    I would like to know what happened to the remains of the last king of Scotland (and the British Isles) to die in battle – the great James IV, after Flodden.

    • I find it interesting too, and yes people should know about their own history, absolutely.

      I suppose I find it fascinating 1) this constant need to create pomp & new heritage 2) this obsession with royalty (the English can’t go more than a few weeks without a royal celebration) 3) the weird outpouring of ‘grief’, some bizarre hyper-sentimentalism 4) the sombre, super-serious tone of the thing 5) the mash-up of false histories.

  25. Some might read into all this Richard III nonsense, that the English are re-inventing themselves, or glorying in their history. I reckon it’s just news overkill.

    The way the Richard III Society and Leicester University worked on finding the grave and proving the skeleton was indeed Richard III was a great story – then “spin” took over.

    It might well be a celebration of “Englishness”; recalling the days when the King of England was indeed English, before all these immigrants – the Welsh Tudors, the Scottish Stewarts, the Dutch William and Mary and the current rulers, the Germans, took over.

    Poor England, they don’t even have their own national anthem – let them celebrate their last KIng if they want, then go back to being ruled by the Germans.

  26. I think it’s no exagerration to say that the past couple of weeks have been the most important period in world history since 9/11.

    Events in the world financial system (and hence geopolitics) that are far reaching in scope are rapidly taking place and not 1 in a 1000 in the UK know anything is afoot.

    Instead we’re concerned with this shite!

    No doubt these insular eejits think the “world’s eyes are on them”.

  27. Socrates, correct me if I’m wrong but, weren’t the Plantangenets Norman, like the Stuarts, not sure of the Tudors though perhaps they really were Welsh?

  28. Thank you, Jim, for your comments. I am not an expert on Richard III, but I know what I think about the reliability of the British establishment’s view of people like Arthur Scargill, Ares Velouchiotis and Alex Salmond. Not to mention Napoleon (Boney, Bogey) Bonaparte, who supposedly ate babies.

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