Monthly Archives: February 2015

A Pop Tribute to George, Duke of Clarence

In his recent book The Third Plantagenet, Dr. John Ashdown-Hill, the leading scholar on the House of York, proved beyond dispute that George, Duke of Clarence, was a short man. Indeed, as Dr. Ashdown-Hill brilliantly explained, Clarence’s small stature did much to mould his character.

George, Duke of Clarence, trying a bit too hard to compensate
George, Duke of Clarence, trying a bit too hard to compensate

Yet sometimes theories germinate in popular culture or in fiction before they find their way into the pages of academic history, and it appears that Clarence’s shortness is one of these theories. In making note of this, I do not mean at all to take away from Dr. Ashdown-Hill’s stellar achievement, for indeed, his theory is solidly based on the historical fact, while the source I am about to mention below relied, no doubt, on mere guesswork and instinct. Still, it is fascinating to note that two very different men, coming at the question from entirely different milieus and working in different genres, should arrive at the same conclusion: George, Duke of Clarence, was a runt.

The source I am referring to, of course, is Randy Newman’s popular song, ‘Short People’. Few who hummed along with this song in the 1970’s would have recognized it for what is is: a mocking tribute to the Duke of Clarence. But when one reads the lyrics in light of Dr. Ashdown-Hill’s book, all becomes clear.

Let us examine the lyrics. In his opening sequence, Newman warns us of the fate in store for Clarence: his execution at the hands of his brother Edward IV.

Short People got no reason
Short People got no reason
Short People got no reason
To live

The rest of the song explains the reasons leading up to this decision. We hear first of Clarence’s (false) protestations of loyalty:

They got little hands
Little eyes
They walk around
Tellin’ great big lies

The next lines, with their reference to ‘platform shoes’, likely allude to Clarence’s fleeing abroad to foppish France:

They got little noses
And tiny little teeth
They wear platform shoes
On their nasty little feet

Edward’s imprisonment of Clarence in the Tower is clearly the subject of the next lines:

Well, I don’t want no Short People
Don’t want no Short People
Don’t want no Short People
`Round here

The next verse is a poignant allusion to Richard, Duke of Gloucester’s desperate attempt to intervene with his brother Edward for the life of Clarence in order to spare the feelings of their mother, Cecily, Duchess of York.

Short People are just the same
As you and I
(A Fool Such As I)
All men are brothers
Until the day they die
(It’s A Wonderful World)

These following lines tell of Clarence’s immense selfishness, which prevented him from ever being a loyal brother (unlike his brother Richard) or a loving husband (unlike his brother Richard).

Short People got nobody
Short People got nobody
Short People got nobody
To love

Although the meaning of the following lines is somewhat obscure, I believe they likely refer not to Clarence himself, but to his almost obsessive anger at the low-born Wydevilles being raised to a high place at court:

They got little baby legs
That stand so low
You got to pick ’em up
Just to say hello

The reference to ‘cars’ below, of course, is not to an automobile, but to the carriage in which Clarence rode in conspicuous splendour between his estates. ‘Little voices going peep, peep, peep’ likely adverts to Clarence’s status as the middle brother and his desperate attempt to distinguish himself from his charming older brother, Edward, and his deeply loyal, serious-minded younger brother, Richard.

They got little cars
That go beep, beep, beep
They got little voices
Goin’ peep, peep, peep

I posit that the ‘grubby little fingers’ alludes to Clarence’s hands being soiled with blood from the innocents, Ankarette Twynho and John Thursby, whom he caused to be executed. ‘Dirty little minds’, of course, is a rather obvious reference to George’s spreading rumours of Edward IV’s illegitimacy.

They got grubby little fingers
And dirty little minds

In the closing lines, we see that Edward IV has at last realized that his brother, unlike Richard, Duke of Gloucester, would never be loyal to him. His decision to put him to death finds a voice in the song’s conclusion:

They’re gonna get you every time
Well, I don’t want no Short People
Don’t want no Short People
Don’t want no Short People
Round here

So here we have it–an early and hitherto tribute to the most overlooked of the brothers of York. Thanks to Dr. Ashdown-Hill’s work, Clarence–and the true meaning of the song ‘Short People’–is emerging from the shadows.


Short People lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Some great ‘shrooms I had in the 1970’s.

The Third Plantagenet by John Ashdown-Hill

Jeff Borden stands a manly, but not excessive, five feet eleven inches tall. 


10 Ways to Identify a Saint or a Sinner in the 15th Century

Religion was very important to people of the 15th Century. In many ways, it controlled their lives; told them what to eat and when they could eat it, who they could marry and when, who could get into heaven and who couldn’t.

Okay, perhaps religion should have a big say on that last one, at least.

Religious piety was given great prominence as a way of deciding who was ‘good’ and who was ‘bad’, especially on the stage that was the Wars of the Roses. So here are 10 ways to identify which is which.

220px-Cecily_neville1. You may have been involved in the highest level of politics in your younger years; such as being married to the country’s Lord Protector, being mother of 2 kings, and related to most of the protagonists in the Wars of the Roses, but following strict religious observance in your later years, will make you saintly. Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, springs to mind.

2. Being a Yorkist, of course, makes it easier to be saintly.  You could be mistaken for thinking that this is because, for the majority of the Wars of the Roses, they were on the winning side. However they were, eventually, the losers and yet still are considered highly pious, which highlights how incredibly remarkable a family they must have been.

3. You would have thought that being young and ‘disappeared’ may automatically make you saintly. However, Edward V and Richard Duke of York have a lot to overcome in order to make the saintly list. Yes, they were only children, imprisoned in the Tower of London and declared bastards by their uncle. However, they were a threat to that wonderful Uncle, who they would have had killed as soon as they reached adulthood. I have also heard say that they were ‘snivelling brprincessats’. And the fact we don’t actually know, for certain, that they are, as yet, in fact, well, DEAD makes it difficult to conclusively declare them saints. Plus, they were part of the despicable Woodville – or Wydeville – clan, which, unfortunately, is an instant disbarment from sainthood.

4. A way to become saintly is to die young in battle. Edmund Earl of Rutland was only 17 and killed by Clifford at – or after – the Battle of Wakefield and his head put on a spike above Micklegate Bar in York. Apparently Clifford justified this ‘murder’ as Edmund’s father – the Duke of York – had, apparently, killed Clifford’s father at the 1st Battle of St Albans. Of course it helps if you’re also a member of the York family as

5. Dying young is no defence against you being a sinner. Edward, Prince of Wales was only 17 when he was killed in battle at Tewkesbury. Of course, it doesn’t help that he was a Lancastrian, that his father was catatonic when he was born, that – at 7 years old – he ordered the beheadings of 2 of Warwick’s men after the 2nd Battle of St Albans, that he was married to Anne Neville first, nor that he fought to reclaim his father’s crown from the Yorkists.

III6. Founding religious houses and colleges almost automatically make you a saint. Richard III funded religious colleges at Middleham, and was in the process of setting one up at York Minster on his death. He was noted for his piety, so much so that his usurping of his nephew’s throne, the execution-without-trial of his brother’s friend, William Hastings, the subsequent disappearance – and possible murder – of his 2 nephews and the summary executions of his brother’s stepson and brother-in-law after a sham trial, doesn’t even put a dent in his piety. Of course, it does help if you are killed in an all-or-nothing battle for your life and crown.

DH17. Founding religious houses and colleges is not nearly enough to make you a saint if you are the Lancastrian mother of Henry VII. Margaret Beaufort had the gall to call herself ‘My Lady the King’s Mother’ when she was in fact – well – the king’s mother. She founded Christ’s College Cambridge and funded the restoration of churches. However, she helped to organise the royal household, supported her daughter-in-law’s sister when she fell out of favour with the king and supported her daughter-in-law, Elizabeth of York, in arguing against sending her granddaughter to a marriage in Scotland whilst still a child. Of course, it doesn’t help that Margaret Beaufort was a woman, a Lancastrian, adored by her son, the miserly Henry VII and loved by her grandson – the monstrous Henry VIII.

8. Of course, being a Lancastrian who married into the Yorkist, or a Yorkist who joined the Lancastrians, automatically prevents you from ever becoming a saint. To betray the Yorkists and fight for the Lancastrians in the last battle makes you the greatest traitor in history and a sinner beyond redemption – just ask the Stanleys. Conversely, having being married to a Lancastrian – who was killed in battle against the Yorkists – and then marrying the Yorkist king, and providing a male heir, automatically makes you the greatest traitor in history and a sinner beyond redemption – just ask Elizabeth Wydeville or Elizabeth Woodville (either should be able to confirm my point).

henry7bust9. Being an adult king murdered by your ‘replacement’ king automatically makes you saintly. Henry VI, alone, defies the rules. He failed at everything except being highly religious. His piety was so impressive that calls for his canonisation were made as soon as he was dead. And yet he was a Lancastrian.

10.  The final, most irredeemable example of a sinner in the 15th Century is, of course, Henry VII. That he was exiled from your home, and separated from his mother, from an early age. That he was Lancastrian heir following the deaths of – well – everyone else. That he was an able king who brought stability to a war-ravaged country. That he was a family man who loved his wife dearly and grieved for her deeply. All this is nothing compared to the fact he defeated Richard III and won the Wars of the Roses for the Lancastrians. What bigger sinner could there be in the 15th Century?

Jeff R Sun is continuously attempting to give clarity to the confusing parts of the Wars of the Roses. If you are still in doubt, please follow this basic premise: York, good; Lancaster, bad. Sticking with this simple rule, you won’t go far wrong, nor get shouted at, or be accused of trolling, on Facebook.

Sources: Wikipedia; Facebook groups galore; the Nile, which I live near; The Sunne in Splendour; The White Queen; The Red Queen; Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody; the Queen of Hearts; The Daughter of Time; Kind Hearts and Coronets.

Proving the Precontract

Shortly after the death of Edward IV in May 1483, someone told his brother, Richard duke of Gloucester, some truly startling, life changing, kingdom shattering, sit-me-down-and-fan-me-with-a-newspaper news… Prior to his secret marriage to Elizabeth Woodville (mother of Edward V), Edward IV (then a young man and not a king at all) had married someone else! Secretly, with no witnesses, no clergy, no ceremony and no actual wedding. All he did was say to the poor unsuspecting meek and pliable (yet clearly beautiful, desirable and widowed) woman: “Come back to my place for some late night hanky-panky. If you’re worried about your reputation, you can pretend we just got married. Secretly. With no witnesses. No clergy. No ceremony. And no actual wedding.” To which the doe-eyed, spellbound and helpless widow replied, “Ok.”

Now, some years down the track, after the late night hanky-panky was long forgotten and the putty-in-his-hands-I-mean-have-you-seen-the-size-of-his-codpiece? innocent was long forgotten, lost amidst a battalion of similar conquests, Edward IV tried the same thing again with Elizabeth Woodville. (Also meek, pliable yet clearly beautiful, desirable, widowed and doe-eyed (but Lancastrian.)) Only this time, he made the mistake of omitting the condition ‘with no witnesses’ and she brought some along

Devastated by his mistake, fearing for his future and desperate to get rid of this clinging Lancastrian, who shrieked and howled and threatened to send in the lawyers if he didn’t bally well keep to his word and bally well get her crowned, Edward went to see a chap called Stillington who was a very clever clergyman well known for putting things right. On several previous occasions post-late night hanky panky, Stillington had sent some men round to the various homes of the various fallen flowers to knock on the door and say things like “Nice house you’ve got here. Pity if it burned dahn, know what I mean” and calling people ‘muppets’. This was attempted in the case of Elizabeth Woodville, but the door was opened by her mother, a Dowager Duchess, who’d have no truck with that kind of nonsense and sent the men away with several fleas in their newly transformed ears. (Because she was a witch.)

A bishop. Probably not Stillington.
A bishop. Probably not Stillington.

Stillington looked through a whole bunch of books and couldn’t find anything that would help Edward out of this ill-considered, feverish, I-just-want-to-get-her-into-bed marriage. So he was stuck with it. Except Stillington had overlooked one thing, as had Edward in his ill-considered feverish state, and that was the presence of a small boy hiding behind a wall-hanging who heard the words ‘you can pretend we just got married’ which, according to some sources, in canon law constituted an ironclad, legally binding marriage. Sadly, the boy forgot this in the business of growing up and becoming, first, a larger boy then, later, a man. So he didn’t, at that time, come forward. So Edward was stuck with the Lancastrian he’d wed on the spur of the moment, despite his concerns at the presence of two witnesses.

Consoling himself with a string of mistresses, who were carefully handpicked and pre-tested by his good friend William Hastings to ensure they were, in fact, floozies and not doe-eyed anythings, Edward got on with life. This included getting squiffy from time to time, taping a naked picture of his latest mistress to the inside of a blindfold, blindfolding himself and dropping in to call on his ‘wife’, now the ‘queen’ and mother of the ‘heir to the throne’. (I’m cutting out the boring in-between bits. I hope no-one minds. Only there’s one in-between bit that’s quite important, so I shall include it below.)

In 1469, the Wicked Kingmaker decided it was time he made another King, seeing as how long it had been since he made the last one. He paced the deck of his ship, scratching his head to come up with some way of getting rid of Edward IV. Just then, he heard the voice of one of his grizzled weatherbeaten sailors raised in song (or, more correctly, sea shanty) and this stopped him in his tracks.

“Oh we shall pretend we are married, sweet wench
So that I might take thee to my bed
No-one will know for no witness there’ll be
We can just pretend to be wed.
O, El-e-a-nor, you are proud and you’re sweet
And I, your Ed-ward, am so tall
One day I’ll be king and forget you, it’s true,
In the meantime please squeeze my left…”

As he watched, the sailor took a marlin spike, the pointy end of which looked like nothing more than an arrow… A pointy arrow as shot by archers from bows…

And this got him thinking, the glimmerings of an idea forming in his devious, greedy, wicked and ambitious mind. There were archers everywhere and everyone knew just how utterly sexy and rampant they were – the mediaeval equivalent of the Rock Star. What if…. What if…. What if the Duchess of York had been seduced by an archer? What if it was when her husband was a long way away? And what if the archer was the father of one of her children?

But… which one? That was the crucial point and he just had to nut it out. Clearly not George, for he’d just married Warwick the Wicked Kingmaker’s daughter, Isabelle. And not Richard, for Warwick the Greedy and Grasping Earl had plans for him to marry his daughter Anne. And not any of the girls, for they were (as were all girls, except his own two dearly beloved pawns) utterly unimportant and not worth wasting his braincells on. Which left Edmund… but he was dead, so rather pointless, really… and Edward…

Edward! Of course! Edward IV, King of England (courtesy of his own personal Kingmaker) was the illegitimate son of an archer! How perfectly fitting. How deliciously evil! Warwick immediately set about writing a manifesto, at which he was particularly adept, and, thus, the scurrilous rumours about the Duchess of York’s infidelity, her husband’s post facto stupidity and Edward IV’s illegitimacy were born.

In the meantime, Edward IV got on with being king, after dispatching the Despicable Warwick at Barnet, then dying, leaving behind an unbeknownst-to-anyone illegitimate ‘heir to the throne’.

Now, this is where it gets both complicated and interesting.

When Edward IV died unexpectedly, and possibly by being poisoned, his younger brother Dickon set off from Middleham to meet up with the new ‘king’ (only no-one knew about the inverted commas yet) and his jolly good friend, Anthony Earl Rivers, brother of the ‘queen’ (likewise) and uncle to the ‘Prince of Wales’ (ibid). Just as he was about to leave, his wife (Anne, the only surviving Kingmakerette) ran out of the house, waving a piece of paper.

“Dickon!” she shrieked. “Dickon! I was just going through some of Isabelle’s things and I found this!”

Arriving, her chest heaving very prettily, red-faced and quite charmingly out of breath, by his charger’s side, Anne gave the piece of paper into her husband’s hand, blew him a kiss then skipped back into the house where she immediately collapsed, coughing and wheezing, because (being frail, pale and Doomed) she’d overdone things rather.

Dickon stuffed the paper into his doublet and rode away.

It wasn’t until some time later, just as he was about to enter Stony Stratford, that Dickon (hereinafter ‘Gloucester’ (except without the inverted commas)) read the letter. He’d pulled out a kerchief to wipe his brow and the letter fluttered down to the ground. Sending for a minion to pick it up for him, Gloucester thought about the task ahead. All he had to do was spend the next nine years, until the ‘king’ came of age, working with his pals Rivers, Hastings and maybe some others, running England and making sure everything was shipshape and tickety-boo. He could manage that! It would all be jolly good chaps together and a hey nonny no! for England and St George. Hence, both his heart (despite his grief at his beloved brother’s death) and his step (metaphorically, because he was on horseback) were light as he made his way south to London, stopping at Stony Stratford to say hello to the ‘king’ and his uncle on the way, and maybe stop for a spot of lunch.

Resting awhile in the shade of a tree, he read the letter. Many many times over the ensuing months, he woke up in the night in a cold sweat wishing he hadn’t. Wishing he hadn’t even noticed it fall to the ground, wishing it had been trampled into the mud. Wishing his meddling wife – who was, one day, jolly well going to pay the price for all this! – hadn’t given him the ruddy thing in the first place.

“Dear Isabelle” (the letter read) “I am writing this to you from London where I am and you are not. I’m having a good time, lots of carousing and what not, and think maybe you shouldn’t join me next week as planned because I have a night of drinking pencilled in for Tuesday and you know how I get when I’ve been drinking! lol Anyway, the curiousest thing happened the other night. I was in the Seven Swans, not paying much attention to what was going on around me because Hastings had sent me a most tasty gift in the form of a floozy he deemed to be not quite good enough for my brother’s bed. (I really don’t mind, you know. Second rate floozies personally tested by Hastings aren’t as bad as they sound!) And my mind wasn’t really on the conversation. There was this chap, an old sailor, something close to five and twenty! (how he’d survived so long is anyone’s guess) who was mumbling something about having been lurking behind a wall hanging and overhearing two people pledging pretend marriage before going off for some late night hanky-panky. And, would you believe, one of those people was Eleanor Butler nee Talbot (or maybe it’s the other way around… Sorry, sweetie, but I’m a little hungover) and the other one was no other than my brother, Edward! I was stunned, I can tell you. The second-rate floozy somehow ended up on the floor, where she was immediately scooped up by several lackeys (and is now, subsequently, a third rate floozy) and I sat there, my mouth open wondering how the hell I could make capital out of this shocking news. (Which sobered me up, quick smart, I can tell you!) So, I went off to see old Stillington. And he made me promise not to tell anyone… ever… because it would be such a pity if Warwick Castle burned down, did I know what he meant? So I swore I wouldn’t and tried to forget about it. Only, the other day, when Ned was yelling at me about something (didn’t quite catch it, cottonwool in the head, you know?) I just blurted it out. So now I’m in the Tower (oh, yes, that was the other reason you probably shouldn’t come to London) awaiting trial for treason! Me?! Treason! Anyway, got to go, they’ve just come in with my supper. Lots of love. George. PS, kiss the little ones for me.”

Gloucester was stunned! He stuffed the letter back into his pocket, rode into Stony Stratford, arrested Rivers, took custody of the ‘king’, went to London, had a most fruitful chat with Stillington, had Rivers and some of his chums executed, stuck the ‘king’ and his brother in the Tower of London, executed Hastings, made himself king (with not an inverted comma to be seen) and poisoned his wife for causing all the trouble in the first place.

Sadly, George’s original letter to Isabelle has been lost, as has the original hand-written copy and the hand-written copy of that. Its contents were cleverly reconstructed by my ancestress, Lady Golightly Brackets-Dingle, using some of the several thousand clues left scattered throughout the 1460s and 70s. I have collected many such letters together and am planning to publish them some time in the future under the title “Reconstructed 15th Century Letters”. I imagine this will become something of a valuable resource for ‘historians’ and Historians alike.


Weir, York and Lancaster
Ashdown-Hill, Eleanor, the Secret Queen
Hicks, False, Fleeting, Perjur’d Clarence
Several books saying Richard III was a nice chap.
Several books saying Richard III wasn’t a nice chap at all.
A mediaeval archery re-enactor who has asked me not to use his real name. (Quite sexy and bad-boyish but not, alas, as much as he believes. I mean… Rock Star? Really?) (personal communication)
Letter (lost, mislaid or destroyed) George Duke of Clarence to Isabelle Duchess of Clarence.
Copy of letter (lost, mislaid or destroyed) George Duke of Clarence to Isabelle Duchess of Clarence.
Copy of copy of letter (lost, mislaid or destroyed) George Duke of Clarence to Isabelle Duchess of Clarence.
Brackets-Dingle, Reconstructed 15th Century Letters (forthcoming)
Horniman & Platt, The Grizzled Old Sailor’s Treasury of Sea Shanties.
Several conversations about canon law with people who claim they know all about canon law (personal communication).
The Hon Rowena Jenkins-Carter, I Was a Second-Rate Floozy Dropped onto a Tavern Floor by the Duke of Clarence and Turned into a Third Rate Floozy by a Common Lackey, Among Others, in A Past Life (unpublished ms)
Baker, Walton, King, Edwards, Riley, Harper-Long, Fredericks, Martin, Jones, Jones, Jones, Turner, Watt, Finlay et al, I was Queen Anne Neville in a Past Life (unpublished mss)

JEF Dingle Bell would like to thank all her many wellwishers over the past few days for their kind words, gifts of chocolate and midori and well wishes. She is recovering well and will soon (I’m sure) regain the use of her left leg. She states here and now, categorically and irrevocably, that she doesn’t hold any members of the non-existent Cult of Anne of Lancaster liable for injuries received during the course of a conversation with Mad Mick and Charles ‘The Razor’ Montagu under the bridge at Deptford. And she does, without reservation, fully accept that she is a muppet.

10 Ways to Spot a Descendant of Anne of Lancaster

  1. She* will be close to spheres of power and authority, though not necessarily openly working within those spheres. [This rules out anyone who is not close to a sphere of power or authority.]
  1. She will be of slim build and probably thought of as ‘frail’. [This rules out any woman over 5’ 2” who weighs more than an average greyhound. This further rules out Queen Anne.]
  1. Her name will include at least one of the letters found in the name ANNE. [This rules out anyone whose name doesn’t include the letters ‘A’, ‘N’, ‘N’ or ‘E’.]
  1. She is likely to gravitate towards public life – either as an actor, singer, dancer, newsreader, vaguely pointless celebrity, interior decorator or fashion model. [This rules out anyone who isn’t a member of any of these professions and fashion models over 5’ 2”.]
  1. There is a slim possibility she will be involved in politics, though not in a free democracy as her Right to the Crown will have been instilled in her for generations. Anne of Lancaster Descendants do not put themselves through the humiliation of elections. [This rules out any female politician who has ever asked anyone to vote for her.]
Neither an Anne of Lancaster descendant nor Anne of Lancaster herself but a depiction of someone Anne of Lancaster (and all her Descendants) descended from. ie, her Mother. (All hail the Mother of Anne of Lancaster, Chief Forebear of All Her Descendants.)
  1. She will have a pale complexion, whatever ethnic blending has led to her existence. [This rules out anyone who has ever played hockey.]
  1. She will be of advanced intellect and exquisite taste. [This rules out anyone who has ever read a Dan Brown novel or worn pink.]
  1. She will have a dog, possibly a labrador. [This rules out anyone who has a cat – whatever their status vis a vis labradors.]
  1. If a member of a club, she will have rolled the President weeks before her first AGM, brought in her own people and changed the constitution, possibly even set up her own breakaway organisation. [This is a more difficult criterion to pin down, as even Non-Anne of Lancaster Descendants sometimes launch coups. DO NOT rely on this criterion unless at least three others also apply.]
  1. Though she will do her best to mask it, she will have a giant chip on her shoulder. [While this rules no-one out, specifically, it does suggest women aged between 13 and 19 should be closely watched.]
  1. She will own a horse.

I do hope this helps your collective Search for the Rightful Queen of England✢  If you DO spot a potential Anne of Lancaster Descendant, please place a recent photo and complete dossier in a plain brown envelope and leave it on a seat in your local park. If you don’t live near a park, the table at the back of any coffee shop will do. It will find its way to the right people.


*While there are male Anne of Lancaster Descendants, they perform secondary supportive – or ‘auxilliary’ – roles. You may find them making tea, collecting tickets at the door or putting up bunting, though you will more likely find them out the back, gathered around the barbecue, charring various lumps of meat. They are insignificant** except for breeding purposes.

**Apart from the one who, by some fluke chance, managed to get himself crowned King of England and Maybe Some Other Places (but definitely not Empress of India***). But that is another story for another time.

***Despite meeting several of the Essential Selection Criteria, Queen Victoria was NOT an Anne of Lancaster Descendant.****

****Some of her descendants, on the other hand, may well be.

Though not Scotland, as that is an entirely different kettle of fish


A dream I had the other night where I met a pale, short, thin woman in a tutu riding a horse with a dog (possibly a labrador) trotting by her side who told me she was descended from Anne of Lancaster.

The Secret Archives of the Cult of Anne of Lancaster.

The Chalet School books.

Lotz, A Handbook for Spies.

Foote, Handbook for Spies.

Angelina Jolie.

Edward Woodward


JEF Dingle-Bell is not in hiding, she’s just on a long holiday. She may (or may not) send postcards.

William Wallace and Brave Heart (with a peep at Quantum Mechanics)


Since Mrs JJ flounced off at the end of last year and went to stay with her mother, I have found something wonderful. I have complete and absolute unilateral control of the television remote control and no longer have to be subjected to hour after hour of repeats of repeats of repeats of QI or never ending programmes about women giving birth.

I sat down one night with a glass of homemade Elderflower Cordial that Mrs JJ had left in

thriftyliving. net
Home madeelderflower cordial: thriftyliving. net

the pantry and despite this cordial being maybe 110% proof (how did she do that?) I flicked through the channels on the TV, finding a film called Braveheart was just starting.

It is a film that I have never seen, to the incredulous amazement of my fellow Jeffs, but after fetching a plate of cheese and pickled gherkins I sat down to watch with enjoyment as Mel Gibson, cast as a fictitious character called William Wallace, swash buckled his way through the scenes.

Feeling mellow I reflected how similar this film was to the life of real person in history with a similar name and wondered why this should be.

Mel Gibson wearing makeup that is meant to look like woad.
Mel Gibson wearing makeup that meant to look like woad.

For days I hunted through articles and journals and even took a trip to Rome to hunt for clues to this strange matter. It was in Rome, most glorious and historic of cities, that I found the answer, an answer so strange as to defy belief but believe it I must. I have seen the evidence. I have the photo copies and now you will have the story.

Braveheart is a 1995 epic historic fantasy film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. Gibson plays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England. Except for the actual existence of a king of that name and regnal number and a war of that name, the whole of the plot is made up. (Scots are not made up of course and did exist in Mediaeval times and still exist today. My cousin Jeff’s wife is a Scot.)

Uilliam Uallas, however, was a mild mannered, scholarly land owner in Scotland who was born about 1270. As a child he liked pressing wild flowers and catching butterflies with his mother’s hessian hair net, but he longed to be more manly and masculine to attract the attention of the sweetest girl he had ever seen. This was not to be however, as after his father’s death he was sent to live with his uncle and continued his education in Rome.

It was while in Rome that Uilliam met the Medici family through a contact of his Uncle and lodged with them until his return to Scotland around 1291. He stayed mostly at their estate at Mugello, just 37 km from Florence and a day’s jaunt away from their town house in Rome. By road now the journey takes about four and a half hours but in baking summer sun it seems longer than a day and certainly no jaunt, particularly when undertaken with a car sick Mrs JJ and two small people in the back seat.

Uilliam’s greatest friend there was Salvestro de’ Medici, son of Averardo, who interestingly are cited as being the possible 18th and 19th great grandfathers of Princess Di. Salvestro was a young man fascinated in what we today would describe as physics or physical science but then was described as natural philosophy.

The Medici’s were up an up and coming yuppy family, famous for pickling gherkins, and although they were initially considered very nouveau riche and crass, their patronizing of artists and natural philosophers made them more acceptable among the old money; it also kept them abreast of the latest in ‘scientific’ experiments and gadgets. Among the papers in the family archives are Salvestro’s designs for what we would later describe as a helicopter and scuba diving equipment, designs that later would be reworked and credited to Leonardo da Vinci.

Also among the family papers are pages and pages of equations and one is amazing.

E = mc²

along with margin notes in Salvestro’s writing saying in Mediaeval Italian: time travel is possible, at least in one direction.

Physics is not my strong point so I Googled time travel and came up up this page

The page claims conclusively that Time Travel in both directions is possible, not only possible but probable! and consistent with the theory of relativity.

And Salvestro knew this and would have told his friend Uilliam who was desperate to be a manly man to woo the girl he loved (manly men were in big demand then*) and didn’t know how to go about it.

A third page article that I found online in the Cornish Guardian dated December 1995 gives the rest of the story.

Double History. Cornish guardian spoof.

So piecing together all of this evidence, it is clear that Uilliam time travelled forward to 1995, watched a fantasy film, thought ‘I can do that’, went back to Rome and spent hours weight training until he resembled the swash buckling hero of the movie, grew his hair long and didn’t shave too often and then journeyed back to his lands in Scotland….and the rest, as they say, is history.

Uilliam Uallas is better known of course by the modern spelling of William Wallace and is commemorated in Blind Harry’s epic poem The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace.

The opening lines of The Wallace

Our antecessowris that we suld of reide, And hald in mynde thar nobille worthi deid, We lat ourslide throu verray sleuthfulnes, And castis us ever till uther besynes. Till honour ennymyis is our haile entent, It has beyne seyne in thir tymys bywent. Our ald ennemys cummyn of Saxonys blud, That nevyr yeit to Scotland wald do gud, But ever on fors and contrar haile thar will, Quhow gret kyndnes thar has beyne kyth thaim till. It is weyle knawyne on mony divers syde, How they haff wrocht in to thar mychty pryde, To hald Scotland at undyr evermar, Bot God abuff has maid thar mycht to par. Yhit we suld thynk one our bearis befor, Of that parablys as now I say no mor. We reide of ane rycht famous of renowne, Of worthi blude that ryngis in this regioune, And hensfurth I will my proces hald, Of Wilyham Wallas yhe haf hard beyne tald.

(Auto correct went slightly insane whilst typing that. Auto correct is currently under sedation in a darkened room and ‘hops two bee buck son’)

And that is the end of my tale, until Wallace comes again from the past, or will it be the future, or can he indeed do that at all now he has been hung, drawn and quartered not to mention castrated?

No! I said NOT to mention castrated!

Watch this space.

* Jeff Jefferty Jeff considers himself manly man, though maybe a little inclined to chubbiness. He is currently separated and looking for a suitable woman for friendship and to share his interests. Knowledge of how to use a tin opener and microwave is essential.


Cornish Guardian newspaper online

Brave heart- film

Microwave cookery for one: Belinda Bellend

The Medicis: Scrap of old paper I found in Aunt Rose’s trunk

Nat West bank Statement (from the personal collection of Jeff Jefferty Jeff)

How to get a quicky divorce from a flouncing wife: public interest article, the Guardian.







© Jeff Jefferty Jeff February 2015






Thomas Cromwell’s Bloody Valentine

Thomas Cromwell has been enjoying  popularity lately, due to a series of novels, plays, and televisions series. Dare I name it? “Wolf Hall”. So it seems apt, on this day that celebrates love, that we examine Master Secretary’s secret love life. Did he pine for the company of anyone? Was his heart filled with an ardent desire? Was his love fueled by lust or ambition?

thomas_cromwell (1)

Thomas Cromwell was married to Elizabeth Wykes, and she bore him three children. By all accounts, theirs was a merry household and the marriage was sound if not a love match. Sadly Cromwell lost his wife and two daughters to the sweating sickness in 1528/29. He would never remarry. This does not necessarily mean that Cromwell never fancied another woman. Born the son of a blacksmith,  Cromwell had gained not only a position of high favor, but he had also amassed a great deal of wealth. There were widows and daughters of guildsmen who were available, but Cromwell, a romantic at heart, set his cap at another lady love.

holbein_henry_viii (1)

Cromwell’s position as Master Secretary to Henry VIII allowed and required correspondence with many people. One of these people was the king’s own daughter, the Lady Mary. Mary petitioned Cromwell for help with her situation with her father, which was dire to say the very least. Could the blacksmith’s son have now become a knight errant in service to this damsel in distress? Could a lonely princess whose social calendar was a bit sparse have grown fond of the man in black?


Apparently so. Rumors began to swirl that Cromwell intended to wed his monarch’s bastard daughter, but first he had to be sure that the maiden would survive until the nuptials. In one of the strangest collaborations of the times, Cromwell paired himself with the Imperial ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, and the old Catholic nobility, men such as Carew, Montague, and Courtenay. Between them, they brought down Anne Boleyn and her faction. But Henry, implacable, continued in his harsh treatment of his daughter, despite overtures by his new queen, Jane Seymour.


At this point, Cromwell began to exchange letters with Mary in earnest, through his man, Thomas Wriothesley. Notes of Cromwell’s from this time in his meticulous records refer to Mary as Valentine. He began to send purses of coin to her, along with the occasional Hallmark card, and huge stuffed animal he crafted himself at “Thou Buildest A Bear”. Wriothesley, a rather more handsome man than Cromwell, who carried these trinkets to the forlorn maid said,”For my Lord, who is her Valentine.” Could Wriothesley have been acting as a Cyrano de Bergerac for the less than comely Cromwell?


Now there were men in this time who most certainly would not stand for not only Cromwell’s son Gregory, having married Jane Seymour’s sister, being the king’s brother in law, but now Cromwell was poised to become a prince in all but blood, by becoming the king’s son in law. Norfolk shouted, “It is not to be born!”.  And Cromwell’s former allies such as Carew were not supportive of the Putney boy marrying the princess who was not a princess anymore, but still a princess anyway. Or something like that

. black_rose____broken_heart.gif_480_480_0_64000_0_1_0

Cromwell and Chapuys convinced Mary to submit to her father and Jane Seymour encouraged Henry to welcome her back into the fold. Cromwell’s unrequited love left him a vulnerable man, and shortly thereafter his own meteoric fall from grace left him missing not only his Valentine, but his head as well.


Jeff “the wiz” Berlin

Sources: Build-a-Bear workshop- a history

Hallmark- they really DO have a card for everything

Reviews of a Cromwell Biography

“The Tudors” -James Frain, you rock Dude!

“Thomas Cromwell- the untold story of Henry VIII most faithful servant” by Tracy Borman. – If you have not read this, you should, seriously.

“Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel

Author’s notes: Hello dear reader! I hope you are enjoying this special day, and showering those you love with baubles and trinkets galore! If not, feel free to shower me, as I have not a trinket nor a bauble on this day. I blame the Friday the 13th preceding this Valentine’s Day. Still it is nice to think of Bloody Mary receiving little gifts. Maybe I will just go have a drink or two in her name. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Who was Bloody Mary’s Secret Friend.*


1553 was a year or turbulence: three monarchs, untimely death, executions, religious change and uprising. From the death of the fifteen year old King to the succession of his sister, the summer months proved to be unpredictable and bloody. Yet Mary I may have had some help recovering what she felt was her rightful claim to the throne. And that help might have come from a very unlikely source indeed.

As Edward lay dying at Greenwich Palace, his religious reforms, ushered through by his “Protectors” Somerset and Northumberland, were in danger of being undone. Having taken England further down the path of Reformation, Edward’s changes threatened to prove as fragile as his life, because the next in line to the throne was a devout Catholic. Edward’s elder half-sister, Mary, was determined to return England to the faith of her mother, of her childhood and of the Pope and undo all the council’s recent hard work. As she awaited news of Edward’s decline, his right-hand-man worked hard to ensure his own legacy, as well as that of the new faith.

In an unprecedented move, Northumberland decided to ignore the will of Henry VIII. By this document of 1547, the throne would pass from Edward to Mary and then Elizabeth, although Henry and others had hoped that Edward would father children through whom the claim would pass. With a younger brother on the throne, the two women’s chances seemed fairly slim. With Edward’s blessing, Northumberland married his son, Guildford, to the King’s cousin, Lady Jane Grey, and had her crowned as England’s next Queen. Yet only nine days later, their friends had deserted, she had been deposed and Mary was restored to the succession. How did it all go wrong so quickly? It is almost as if some external force was turning the wheel of fortune so quickly that everyone on board became sea-sick.


Framlingham Castle, Suffolk.

A document kept in the archives at Ely Cathedral contains a strange reference that might hold a clue to the rapid turn-around. Written in the form of an anonymous pamphlet, it describes Mary’s restoration from the standpoint of a witness in Suffolk.  Mary had barricaded herself into Framlingham Castle, perhaps as a convenient point to reach the coast and flee the country, except her fortunes changed. This pamphlet, Against Popery, is the only survivor of five copies made in July 1553, which Mary ordered to be destroyed immediately after she had regained power. Written by an eye-witness, it makes the extraordinary claim that Mary used witchcraft to raise an army in the small Suffolk market town. It claims she acted “with the help of the doctor” to raise a storm that “caste down a grete shadowe upon the erthe… a great rent was torn in the skyes… from whiche fell to erthe the miraculous cupboard.”

What can be made of this odd description, which Mary was so keen to destroy? There may well have been a storm at the time, although this was the middle of summer, and Mary may have enlisted the help of various doctors; perhaps of medicine, perhaps of divinity. What seems strange though, is that the tract clearly refers to the doctor and a “miraculous cupboard,” which is later described as being blue, “painted like a coffyn” and “the size of a riche manne’s bed.” It also “rent” the skies and caused a “howling in the heavens” but later could be found “by no man.” Was this strange apparition linked to Mary’s friend the Doctor? Who could he have been and what should we make of this? In all my years researching the Tudor period, from the dusty annals of the cloisters of my youth, I have never come across a reference like this before. All suggestions and possible interpretations would be gratefully received. Thank you, kind friends, in advance for your help.


Woods outside Framlingham


Ely Cathedral Archives, with thanks to Jolyon Dalrymple-Smythe

Vile Bodies Evelyn Waugh

Suffolk Haunts Loada Cobblers

Jeff R Vescent loves you. And you. And them. And even those who might be over there.

*No, it doesn’t need a question mark. Geddit?

The inadequacies of Tudor picture tagging – new research using Adobe Photoshop filters

The shortest of Henry VIII’s marriages was to the unfortunate Anne of Cleves, a German princess reputedly chosen as a match for diplomatic reasons. Popular legend has it that Henry sent his German court painter, Hans Holbein, to Kleve-Burg to capture a likeness of Anne for his approval – the sixteenth century equivalent of ‘photo appreciated’ on a dating ad. Popular legend would have us believe that Holbein – an artist so accurate that his paintings have recently led to a whole slew of disguised historical figures being belatedly recognised – managed to paint Anne looking decidedly hot, but that Henry VIII then found her markedly unattractive and failed to consummate the union. Like many men, I have always regarded the story with considerable scepticism, since the Anne of Holbein’s portrait is not someone you would ever kick out of bed.

What if, however, the ‘Anne’ portrait was of someone else entirely? Had Holbein got mixed up? Was he attempting to deceive the king? Or had Anne or one of her family arranged for a ‘ringer’ to site for the portrait?

Double Historry for Tim.

My research has focussed on two pictures – one long attributed to the Flemish artist Quentin Massys but which I have now proved was the work of Holbein due to similarities in the handwriting of the hidden messages, and the other the ‘hot’ portrait long believed to be the real Anne. It seems from the revealed secret messages that Holbein was moonlighting on his German trip by working on portraits for a glamour calendar (whether this project was ever completed or not is unclear; no copies have survived).

Holbein – poignantly – seems to have known how much Henry would dislike Anne, as the secret text reads – in sixteenth century German – “HnRch [ie Heinrich, ie Henry] is going to kill me”. It seems that the two paintings were to be sent back in the same shipment, since the painting everyone assumes is Anne is marked “Miss August – HnRch must not see this painting!” Holbein, who must have known the king very well, seems to have been aware which of the two paintings would appeal to his master, and taken pains in his invisible secret messages to have avoided getting the two mixed up (we can infer that the ‘Anne’ painting was required by an English copyist or customer, hence Holbein saving on postage charges by sending the two works together).Double Historry for Tim 2

Tragically, the courier must have been either illiterate or unable to speak German (or both), leading to his failure to act on the invisible secret messages and thus mixing up the works. (This scenario may also explain why the calendar project was cancelled and remained unfinished!)

The rest, as they say, is history – Henry picked ‘Miss August’ as his prospective bride and was horrified when the real Anne turned up. Another historical mystery solved by photoshop!

The complete works of Holbein (magazine collection in weekly instalments, missing issues 3,7, 11, 27-92 and the free binder)
That leaflet showing the way round the National Gallery
Hot German Historical Babes, June 1542 (slightly foxed)
The Pirelli Calendar, various years (for secondary research, honest)

Jeff de Cuisine is currently researching the fifteenth-century Swiss Chronicles of Diebold Schilling, in weekly instalments from Patel’s newsagents on the corner; missing issues 2, 5, 12, 31-33 and the free binder)

© Jeff de Cuisine February 8th 2015.

Jacquetta, The White Queen and a look at Witchcraft

Much has been said in popular fiction about the claims that Jacquetta of Luxembourg was a witch and did witchy things, engendering a whole generation of believers in the magical power of this feisty woman. A TV series exploited these claims and took her spell making to a whole new level. Was Jacquetta capable of ‘blowing up a storm’ or ‘ensnaring Edward IV’’ for her daughter Elizabeth? Who was Jacquetta and why were these claims taken so seriously – claims still believed in some quarters and discussed today?

Jacquetta of Luxembourg was born in 1415 or 1416 and was the eldest daughter of Peter I of Luxembourg and his wife Margaret of Baux. The Luxembourgs claimed to be descended from the water deity Melusine through their ancestor Siegfried of Luxembourg (922-998).

Raymond rides off on a slope backed camel-horse cross breed when he finds Melusine  in magic water that does not pour out when the door is opened. Illustration from the Jean d'Arras work, Le livre de Mélusine (The Book of Melusine), 1478
Raymond rides off on a slope backed camel-horse cross breed when he finds Melusine in magic water that does not pour out when the door is opened. Illustration from the Jean d’Arras work, Le livre de Mélusine (The Book of Melusine), 1478

At the age of 17, Jacquetta was married to the much older John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford, at Therouenne. The Duke, died in 1435, worn out after only two or three years of marriage to his beautiful young wife. He was the third son of King Henry IV of England.

Sir Richard Wydeville was commissioned by Henry VI of England to bring Bedford’s young widow to England. During the journey, the couple married in secret without seeking the king’s permission. Despite the king’s ire and the large fine they were made to pay, the marriage was long and very fruitful. Jacquetta and Richard had fourteen children, including the future wife of Edward IV, Elizabeth Wydeville. Richard was so exhausted by begetting children that in 1469 that he voluntarily threw his neck against the blade of one of the Kingmaker’s men severing his own head, ensuring that Warwick would get the blame for his decapitation.

Through her daughter Elizabeth, Jacquetta was the maternal grandmother of Elizabeth of York, wife and queen of Henry VII. She is, consequently, an ancestress of all subsequent English and British monarchs, including Elizabeth II, and seven other present-day European monarchs. It is unknown whether the present day descendants have inherited Jacquetta’s insatiable desire to ‘procreate children’ although the more tawdry of tabloids do speculate on the subject frequently. Shortly after her husband’s aforementioned suicide, Thomas Wake, a follower of Warwick’s, accused Jacquetta of witchcraft. Wake brought to Warwick Castle a lead image “made like a man of arms . . . broken in the middle and made fast with a wire,“ and alleged that Jacquetta had made it to use for witchy things and sourcery (sic). He claimed that John Daunger, a parish clerk in Northampton, could attest that Jacquetta had made two other images, one for the king and one for the queen. The case fell apart when Warwick released Edward IV from custody, and Jacquetta was cleared by the king’s great council of the charges on February 21, 1470.

In 1484, Richard III in the act known as Titulus Regius, brought the allegations of witchcraft against Jacquetta up again and claimed that she and Elizabeth had procured Elizabeth’s marriage to Edward IV through witchcraft. No proof or evidence was ever supplied by Richard to support these claims. The methods for them so doing were explored at length in a novel and popular TV series, which also claimed the witchy pair were able to blow up winds and storms.

''It was a dark and stormy night..."
”It was a dark and stormy night…”

Witchcraft in the Middle Ages was a controversial crime that in the eyes of the law was bad as poisoning, though given the choice of a belly full of arsenic or a few herbs and mystic words, I would go with the herbs and spells any day but that may be because I live in the 21st century.  If one was accused of witchcraft, the charges could be dropped by a relative’s defence in a trial by combat or by twelve people swearing an oath of the innocence of the accused .

With the rise of Christianity witchcraft became a superstition, and persecution of witches persisted through the Middle Ages. In the 5th century AD, Christian theologian St. Augustine of Hippo (that is Hippo the place; he was not a saint of hippopotamuses) had

No comment.
No comment.

said that all pagan magic and religion were invented by the devil and that the devil’s purpose in inventing magic was to lure humanity away from the truths of Christianity, a view still adhered to in the time of Jacquetta. Witchcraft was feared and was a part of every day life and the every day beliefs of most people.

If Jacquetta did embrace witchcraft, is this the type of practice she enjoyed?
If Jacquetta did embrace witchcraft, is this the type of practice she enjoyed?

Two “types” of magic were said to be practised during the Middle Ages, white or good magic and black – the “bad” type of magic (maleficium).  Black Magic had more of an association with the devil and satanic worship.  If someone fell ill of unknown causes, someone’s cow stopped giving milk, a hen went off the lay, a woman could not conceive, this was all said to be caused by a witch who practiced black magic. Not the same witch necessarily. No one could do all that much before breakfast and still go to the market unless they were really magical and indeed a witch. Witches were often portrayed as old, warty and ugly women, often with gigantic hooked noses, because the church wanted them to be the targets of dislike and hatred.  Of course, those who allegedly practiced witchcraft had a wide range of appearances. Jacquetta was said to be very beautiful, though it is not known if she had a huge hooked nose, warts and wore a black pointy hat.

But was witchcraft possible and did ‘witches’ genuinely exist then? It is possible that the effect of having a spell cast on one was enough to trigger the desired result. The placebo effect is a universally acknowledged phenomenon. In essence, if you think something is going to make you better, it probably will. The term placebo, meaning “I will please,” dates back to the 18th century By contrast, the placebo’s darker cousin, the nocebo and is taken from Latin for “I will harm”. It was first formally recognised in the 1960s to mean something that rationally should have no effect but actually causes a deterioration in health. There are many anecdotal examples of the nocebo effect at work. For example, a nocebo response may explain the phenomenon of the voodoo curse in which a victim dies only because a belief in the power of the witch doctor has been so ingrained that, after he has been hexed, the target simply cannot believe that he will live. Other cases have been reported in which a patient has died after having been given a terminal prognosis; only for a post-mortem to reveal no such fatal disease was present. Although not thoroughly understood, physiological explanations of the nocebo effect have been proposed. It has been shown, for example, that a patient’s anticipation of worsening pain causes an increase in anxiety which triggers the activation of cholecystokinin that, in turn, facilitates pain transmission. This response generates a vicious circle of anxiety and pain which may be one explanation of the nocebo effect.

I, therefore, suggest that the belief in magic in the Mediaeval period was so engrained as to make spells actually appear  to work, but that Witches and Witchcraft existed no more then than they do today. To get a broad view I petitioned various experts on the subject to see what their answer was to the question ‘Could witches and witchcraft have existed in the Mediaeval period?’ The results are in the table below together with my comments.

Expert Opinion My comment
James Randi, stage magician and scientific skeptic, best known for his challenges to paranormal claims and pseudoscience  ¿Qué ? James Randi was unable to comment personally as he is still trying to decide exactly what his husband’s name is. This comment was left by his husband.
David Blaine, American magician, illusionist and endurance artist What the f*** do you want, ar*e w*pe. F*** off and quit bothering people. Regrettably I telephoned the wrong David Blaine.  I should have realised by his address being at a notorious traveller site.
Doris Stokes, medium There is someone with me who is looking for his brother.  Initial  letter J. I had to contact Ms Stokes through a medium.  I was not satisfied by the response.
Meg (of Meg, Mog and Owl) Of course witches exist. Although I am only a character in a book I am a witch so that proves it. Words fail me.
Miranda Aldouse-Green   The Goods of the Celts No Oh
Jason Kingsley, my next door neighbour Jeff, what are you on? Can you get some for me (Oh!)
The ‘Magic Circle’ Representative I think you misunderstand the difference between magic and witchcraft.  If you want a one word answer then that word must be no. I’m losing the will to go one here.
The White Witch: the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe I think, therefore I am. Witches will always be here. That’s a bit better, except she is also a character in a book.
The three witches of Baelmore No comment That may be because they were part of a dream one of the small people who hang around the house once had.
Witchsmeller Pursuivant – character: first series fifth episode of Blackadder I was incinerated at the end of the episode which proves that I am actually a witch to be able to still talk.The play writers didn’t think of that cunning plan, did they? Brilliant, Witchsmeller, just brilliant. Now everyone is confused.
Dumbledore, character in Harry Potter. Naturally all magic people exist. I am getting the message now.
The Wicked Witch of the West: character in Oz How much will you pay me? Nothing.
Paul Daniels: magician I will ask the lovely Debbie McGee. No comment, no comment at all.
Spokesperson for the Fortean Times No That is succinct
My own late Aunt Rose (via a sceance) Is that really you, Jeff? You’ve got fat. Thanks Aunt Rose

Summing up it seems that the only people who believe that witches and witchcraft actually existed in the Mediaeval period are characters in books, TV series and films  so therefore I conclude that Jacquetta and all other people accused of witchcraft are ‘not guilty’ as charged and are free to leave this pseudo courtroom. It remains only for us to judge whether Jacquetta was a nymphomaniac, had a degree of erotophilia or was just simply highly sexed. Next week I will be holding a séance to see if I can contact either of her husbands to comment on this matter.

Sources: Barsky AJ, Saintfort R, Rogers MP, Borus JF. Nonspecific medication side effects and the nocebo phenomenon. JAMA. 2002;287:622-7. DOI: 10.1001/jama.287.5.622

My phenomenal memory

A comment on Facebook

Philippa Gregory (author): ”The White Queen”

The White Queen (author) : ”The life and times of Philippa Gregory” (very interesting!)

©Jeff Jefferty Jeff February 2015

The Burgers of Calais

220px-King_Edward_III_from_NPGEngland’s great king Edward III, following his victory in the Battle of Crecy, laid siege to Calais.

The city had been ordered to hold out at all costs by the king of France, Philip VI. Philip had said he would come to the town’s relief, but he didn’t reach Calais in time and so failed to lift the siege.

The diminishing cheese-supply forced the city to parley for surrender.

According to medieval writer Jean Froissart, Edward offered to spare the people of the city if any six of its top burgers would surrender themselves to him, presumably to be grilled or fried.

Edward demanded that they came out already in their sesame-seeded buns, and with onions on the side, but no gherkins – he hated gherkins – and the keys to the city and castle in a Happy Meal box.

One of the wealthiest of the town leaders, Eustache de imagesSaint-Pierre, volunteered his Big Mac and five other Quarterpounders joined with him. A Chicken Legend tried to come too, but Edward only wanted beefy burgers. Saint-Pierre led this tray of burgers to the city gates.

The burgers expected to be fried, they really thought their bacon was cooked.

But their buns were spared by the intervention of England’s queen, Philippa of Hainault, who persuaded her husband to exercise mercy by claiming that the smell of their cooking would be a bad omen for her unborn child – and then ran to the nearest toilet, retching.

 indexThe story of the Burgers of Calais became so popular that renowned artists were inspired. The most famous of which is the sculpture by Rodin.

Copies of Rodin’s famous sculpture can be found from major cities to the smallest out-of-the-way town – throughout the world.

Every time we see the golden arches, we are reminded of the great sacrifice offered by the Burgers of Calais.




Sauces: Thousand Island, mayonnaise, mustard, BBQ and ketchup.

Research trips (because it was cheaper than going to Calais): McDonald’s, Burger King, Wimpy, KFC (oops, no beef?), Pizza Hut (well, they do do a burger crust pizza, so it was worth a try).


Jeff R Sun suddenly has a yearning for a Big Mac – see ya!