Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The king who died on the toilet

I am aware that my blog is neglected. My current excuse is that I have been giving evidence in the long running inquest into the death of Ann Boleyn, now entering its four hundred and sixty second year. I have been demonstrating that the only logical explanation of her death is that she was running too fast down the corridor at Hampton Court, trying to escape from an over-eager portrait painter, when she ran into a pillar and her head fell off. It is ludicrous to suggest that King Henry had anything to do with her demise. What did he have to gain, apart from the expense of another wedding?

So, in order to make amends, I have made some sexist remarks on Pam and Ziggi’s blogs, been very rude about dear Dave (although Richard, bless him, claimed not to understand me) and am wondering whether that qualifies as my midweek quota.

This evening I watched the televisual entertainment “City of Vice”, I think it was on channel 4. It is based on the formation of London’s first, small, police force the Bow Street Runners. I am not familiar enough with the history of that time to comment on how accurate it is. Suffice it to say no-one said “We’re the Runners, and we haven’t had our breakfast” - there were no sedan chair chases, although there was the usual amount of police brutality. I know very little about George II, who was the monarch at this time, and I expect that the same is true of the non-historians (i.e. the whole fucking lot) among you. He was king for quite some time, but is less famous than his predecessor, famous for not speaking English, and his successor, famous for being mad, but not too mad to see the sense in getting shut of the most troublesome of the colonies. George II was even overshadowed by his utter cunt of a son, the duke of Cumberland, and Charles Edward Stuart, who was also an utter cunt, but not quite so utter as Cumberland. I suspect that, in consequence, the TV series will be dull. It would be nice to have a really top class cop show on TV again. Who remembers “Strangers”?

Apart from all that only the Pope is in the news. He has been upsetting the good folk of some place or other who don’t want him to visit because he once said that it was quite right for Galileo to be tried for heresy (you couldn’t make it up, could you? Unless you were a physicist or pontiff, then you could make any old shit up and there would be thousands dumb enough to believe you). He has also got some of his friends to condemn Harry Potter. Poor old Harry, got to 18 and never got his end away (or is that one of the chapters I missed?). The Torygraph is asking its readers whether they have been done harm by Harry Potter. I still have an itch from the last encounter, but am not sure whether that counts.

I bet the majority of comments are about underage sex, rather than my deep insights into history. See what I mean, Tom?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A break in transmission

Despite the title of this blog, and the usual tone, there are some human activities that do lift my spirits.

May I recommend to those of you able to take advantage:
The South Bank show with Kevin Spacey, about what he is doing at the Old Vic.
(No, the theatre, not me, you dull twat)
Cranford with Eileen Atkins. Orgasmically good.
Big Fat Quiz of the Year.
The Karelia Suite by Sibelius.
The books of James Lee Burke.
Mississippi John Hurt.

(That's enough cheerful things, Ed.)

Normal bile pouring will resume shortly.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

What I done at Christmas.

Many of you, (AMToNW) ask where my wacky sense of humour comes from. Well, when you can drag yourselves up by your elbows (your hands are still holding your aching sides) from roffling at my latest little essay, I should explain that I have traced a very zany streak up through my maternal grandfather’s line to the Sleath family of Gilmorton in Leicestershire.

These few days I have been adding several hundred people to my family tree, having at last discovered the precise identity of my 6x great grandfather. His name was Gabriel. Many of my family are angels. His kinfolk (and imagine the long cold winter evenings in rural Leicestershire in the 17th century) thought it would be a great way to pass the time to call about every 3rd male Sleath “Gabriel”. They could barely wait for one of the Sleath women to expel a male baby before they set about calling him “Gabriel”, the sound of their laughter could be heard from Wibtoft in the west to Upper Bruntingthorpe in the east. As the Sleaths (most of them Gabriels), banged their heads on the floor in mirth, earth tremors could be felt from Willoughby Waterleys in the north to Walton by Kimcote in the south (not very far south, you may think, but if you go much further south you get into Warwickshire, where people are too dull to have amusing place names). You can hardly imagine their delight should an outsider venture into the village looking for Gabriel Sleath. Their little jape postponed the establishment of the modern postal service by decades.

I don’t know much about my dear ancestor other than his name, (his grandfather was called Gabriel; his great grandfather was called Gabriel; he had an uncle Gabriel; uncle Gabriel called one of his sons Gabriel), except for the fact that the silly burghers of Gilmorton were equally flummoxed by the inhabitants all having the same name, and therefore added appellations to the various Sleaths so that they had some idea of about whom they were talking. Any vestige or pretence of knowing about what one is talking has long since disappeared in the family.

My ancestor’s uncle was known as “Gabriel Senior”, his uncle’s son “Gabriel Junior” (can you see the cunning application of logic there?). My ancestor was known as “Gabriel Medicus”. Yes indeed. I checked that it was not some Latin phrase meaning in the middle, but it does indeed relate to the ancient art of doctoring. I am not sure what a doctor did in the latter part of the 17th Century, nor do I know whether he had to have any qualifications. Perhaps he was just able to open up a surgery in his scullery, rescue a local witch from the bonfire and appoint her as his receptionist, and go about the business of mucking about with the corporeal section of the local humanity, having already messed with their heads by calling everyone the same name. Gabriel perhaps spent his time stitching up the split sides of his patients, having caused said injuries by telling them his name.

I am not comfortable with this. I have found no evidence of anyone of any wealth, talent or redeeming features in any of my ancestors so far, and don’t like to think that there were any of the bourgeoisie in my line. I hope that I can eventually trace my line back to Adam without finding anyone going to a grammar school (let alone a public school), or having a mortgage or being called Gerald.

So, when I get round to creating my real family history, Gabriel will be the local village hippy, burning incense, doing aromatherapy and Chinese massage. He would probably have been seen as the local loony. One day I might go to Gilmorton to find his diary. I will not be surprised to find that its style bears a remarkable resemblance to some other great work of art that I can almost, but not quite, identify.