All posts by doublehistory

Confusing Eleanor

330px-Church_of_Fontevraud_Abbey_Eleanor_of_Aquitaine_effigy
Eleanor’s tomb in WestFontminstainerbleau

Today (1st April) is the anniversary of the death of the most remarkable woman in history. Eleanor of Aquitaine was the only woman ever to wear the crowns of both England and France. A wife of two kings, mother of two kings, grandmother to more kings and great-grandmother to two saints, no less – in short (and if you believe Facebook) she was the woman from whom most of us are descended – or at least claim to be.

On this day in 1204, Eleanor of Aquitaine breathed her last.

Or did she?

330px-EleanorAkvitanie1068
Eleanor

Eleanor of Aquitaine was the most incredible woman of the Middle Ages. Beautiful, alluring – and that was just Aquitaine! Her lands and well-documented beauty made her the most irresistible woman to at least two kings (and possibly an uncle).

Eleanor’s Medieval career began with her marriage to Louis VII of France, during which time she gave birth to two daughters, went on Crusade. After liberating Jerusalem from the Muslims it is possible – though quite yukky (author’s words) that she had an affair with her uncle, Raymond of Antioch.

Once back from the Holy Land Eleanor’s taste for conquering was still unsatisfied. Growing bored of Louis, she decided she wanted to see what was on the other side of La Manche (the English Channel to some) where the people were satisfyingly in the throes of Civil War.

She got divorced.

Alienor_of_Brittany
Eleanor wandering around Windsor

Looking round for a younger, fresher model of husband Eleanor settled on Henry of Anjou – and promptly married him. In just a couple of years Eleanor had conquered Normandy and England and enough sons in the nursery to make up a 5-a-side football (soccer in American) team. Still not done with war, Eleanor did encourage her boys to ‘play-fight’ with their dad. But Henry II wasn’t  impressed and sent Eleanor to her room – well, castle (she was a queen, after all).

Eleanor came out of her room once her sons Richard and John became king, one after the other. Ever and ungrateful son, John then put Eleanor in ‘comfortable confinement’ after her grandson, Arthur, had besieged her at Mirebeau. Eleanor was sent to England and spent years wandering around Windsor Castle.

Eleanor_de_Montford
Eleanor when she married a Welsh Prince

This was the start of Eleanor’s many adventures. Some sources say that in the years to come she would be married to her own grandson, becoming queen of England once again. Not that it worked out so well this time. She wasn’t imprisoned but her grandson Henry III was nowhere near as good a king as his namesake Henry II – and Eleanor got blamed for everything that went wrong.

According to Facebook, she was then captured at sea by her great-grandson, while on her way to her wedding. After years in captivity Edward I would release her to marry her Welsh prince – only to kill said prince in a fit of pique during a war with the Welsh.

Eleanor also had several daughters called Eleanor. One married the king of Castile, another married Simon de Montfort …. the list is endless.

Anna_Eleanor_Roosevelt
Modern Eleanor?

When Eleanor died, fifteen years after her husband, at Fontainbleau, near Lincoln, her husband had her body returned to London for burial. On every stopping point on the journey south, Eleanor’s distraught spouse had a memorial cross erected to her memory. Each cross was imaginatively named the ‘Eleanor Cross’. Eleanor was laid to rest beside her still-living husband at WestFontminstainerbleau Abbey, Frangland – or Engrance (if you prefer).

In short, Eleanor of Aquitaine was the most incredible woman who ever lived. Her life spans most of the Medieval period – and beyond. Whenever you hear mention of Eleanor, it is this Eleanor of whom we all speak, none other. In fact, one wonders if there was ever another….

Now don’t get me started on Henry II….

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Jeff R Sun is branching out – like a tree

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Sauces: Wiki-juice, Facebook Mayo, Twitter Salsa, Sour historian and chive

 

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Henry and his turbulent priest

Portrait of St. Thomas Becket, reassembled from fragments by Samuel Caldwell Jr in 1919. Becket Window 1 (n. VII) in the north aisle of the Trinity Chapel, Canterbury Cathedral.
Portrait of “St.” Thomas Alphonse Becket, assembled from a description by his aunty Maud.

Thomas Becket or Thomas A Becket? Which is right? Either? Neither?

A recent discovery in the archives of the Vatican has solved this for once and for all. The Latin translation of this valuable document has been painstakingly done by myself with the aid of a 1903 Preparatory School Latin Grammar Crammer and a Swahili to Latin dictionary with book worm.

Thomas A Becket was born in 1118, his cousin Thomas Becket in 1119. The two boys were brought up together and there was a great similarity in their appearance. The A of Thomas A Becket, stood for Alphonse, which he hated and rarely used.

Upon reaching adulthood at the age of about 14 the boys went their separate ways, Thomas A into marriage and fatherhood and Thomas into the priesthood. They had always enjoyed wearing things on their heads and the respective hoods seemed ideal! If Robin Hood had been invented then, one of them would have been sure to follow him!

Despite the reversal of fortunes of the father and uncle of the boys, Thomas rose rapidly through the ranks of the clergy whilst Thomas A held a good position as a clerk for King Henry II, both men putting their king before everything else.

Thomas Becket was nominated as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162. Henry probably hoped that he would continue to put the royal government first, rather than the church but no, that was not to be. Thomas transformed himself into an aesthete and became, (in modern parlance), a bit of a Jesus Freak, growing his balding hair long, wearing sandals and only eating bran, thereby renouncing all worldly pleasures in his quest for greater spirituality.

King Henry was a religious man himself and frequently attended confession, going, instead of to the normal confessional, to a large, blue painted metal box with windows and a sort of devotional lamp on the top. He would come out of the box with a look of bewilderment, invariably saying ‘it is larger on the inside than it looks on the outside’. No one ever saw his confessor going into or leaving the confessional. Indeed, sometimes people seemed unable to see the confessional, as if it moved beyond their range of sight.

Henry became increasingly fed up with Thomas’s new found spirituality and unwashed feet and wanted a return to the old style arch bishop. He consulted for a long time with his confessor before approaching his government about getting rid of Becket. Holding up his hand for silence he began, ‘Who will…’ The rest of his speech was drowned out by a babble of voices all saying that they would. The king tried again. ‘Who will rid me of this…’ and again he was shouted down by an excited clamor of voices. If kings had been known to utter profanities, at this point he would have yelled, ‘FFS!!! Shut up and listen’, but decorous to the last his voice fizzled out with, ‘rid me of this turbulent priest.’

There was a mad scramble for the door as men rushed to do what they thought the king had bidden them to do, namely murder Thomas Becket.

Thomas Alphonse Becket heard of this as he was getting ready for bed and unshaven, night gown on, sandals untied, hair awry and feet unwashed he rushed to Canterbury Cathedral to warn his cousin, getting there just as the door to the blue confessional swung open and a man wearing a very long multi coloured scarf reached out, grabbed Thomas and pulled him into the confessional.

To Thomas Alphonse’s amazement, the confessional seemed to burp once or twice and dematerialize, never to be seen in that area again.

He was just trying to come to terms with that when armed men burst in and chopped the top off his head having mistaken him for his cousin, the missing Arch Bish.

Of course Thomas A died in agony in a pool of blood in his cousin’s cathedral, was buried as a martyr and sainted without anyone ever realizing that the wrong bloke had been killed.

As for Thomas Becket, he travelled in the dark blue confessional, with his learned priest confessor who turned out to be a very clever Doctor …
Or should I say … with his learned priest/confessor Who, who turned out to be some very clever Doctor chappie from the future.

The doctor sensibly steered the Time Machine/confessional in the direction of 1970s England and landed at Glastonbury during a festival, to the surprise of no one.

Thomas Becket embraced the drug culture of the age with fervour before having (another) epiphany, changing his name to Ian Duncan Smith and becoming a Conservative MP.

So, when someone asks ‘Thomas Becket or Thomas A Becket? Which is right? Either? Neither?’ the answer is BOTH!

Further reading:
Canon Ixus 115 HS instruction manual
An afternoon breeze
expels cold air, along with
the fallen brown leaves.
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe: CS Lewis (in Swahili)
A bird flies sweetly
on paper wings. Telling all
of my love for you.
1903 Preparatory School Latin Grammar Crammer pp 7-14
The back of the credit card bill
Eeny meany mackeracker
Airy o and dominacker
Chicker chocker lollypopper
La pom poo

Police_Box_the_Love_Invasion

Jeff Jefferty Jeff 1/2/16 ©

 

Stir Wars: The Sauce Awakens

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, the dark forces of history were gathering. Preying on the innocent readers of historical fiction, or those unsuspecting viewers enjoying a BBC costume drama, the dark lords of misinformation planted such dangerous seeds as Richard III invented bail, or that Edmund Tudor was a rapist, or Catherine Howard was a slut. Worse still, in some small enclaves of resistance, these darth(in)vaders even managed to penetrate dedicated groups and equip them with anachronistic armour. But as the edifices of civilisation crumbled, there were those who could not hold their tongues.

It was a period of civil war. Rebel historians, striking from a hidden base, won their first battle against the evil didactic empire. Setting down their traditional weapons of facts and evidence in favour of the salty-edged tongue of satire, they managed to gather forces and unite under the iconic banner of Double History. From the safety of anonymity, they infiltrated social media groups, to a mixture of derision and applause, using humour to expose the ignorant and easily-influenced, to draw all true history lovers back to the way of the light. And the force was strong with them. For months they fought to liberate their people and restore freedom to the galaxy. But all warriors need rest, so, pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, they retired to gather their strength and plan their next move.

Now the time has come for the rebels to rise again. It’s a time of uncertainty; unrest grips the internet as the influence of the dark lords spread, but a glimmer of hope remains in the heroic forces of the resistance. The group of freedom fighters are stirring, watching the boiling pot of misinformation and awakening the skill and strength needed to forge a new future. From the crucible of darkness, Double History rises again, to challenge the historical faux pas, the deliberate blinds, the misinformation, exaggeration, assumptions, bias and romanticism rife among facebook pages. Love them or loathe them, the Jeffs are here to stay, reminding us that history must be constantly challenged, questioned and proven. That it is not a discipline for the faint-hearted or the lily-livered.

Fight us or join us. If there is a topic you would like the Jeffs to write about, or a common myth you would like to see given the Double History treatment, write it in the comments below and you may see your idea featured on the blog.

 

Jeff. R. “Skywalker” Vescent has awoken.

Burns Night

Hag

 

Burns’ Night.

Held this time of the year to honour the birth of the Scottish poet Rabbie (Robert) Burns as it has been every year since 1667.

Sixteen sixty seven?

I can hear the exclamations of disbelief from here!

Surely Rabbie Burns was not born until 1759?*

But desist in your cries of disbelief until you have read the writings of this ace researcher Jefferty Jeff.

The Great Fire of London was a huge conflagration that swept through the central parts of the English city of London, from Sunday, 2nd to Wednesday, 5th September 1666, consuming all in it’s path. Citizens buried their cheese to avoid having an over abundance of Welsh Rarebits with their stews and Welsh rare-bits put on their skirts and hurried away from the overabundant Thameside stews.

Miraculously no one was killed during the fire, though this was not due to any fast thinking action by Mayor Bloodworth (whose blood was worth nothing after that debacle), though Mistress Pycke did get a nasty singe on her second best kirtle and Samuel Pepys was nearly caught (again) by the long suffering Mistress Pepys, with his breeks down and a (ahem) lady in his arms.

The spin doctors of the day wanted to put a positive slant on this disaster and to ”celebrate the miraculous escape of the citizens and the ‘purifying by fire’ of the squalid areas” they suggested that an annual celebration thanks giving supper should be held. Today we would call it a charity fund raiser, but that is today and in those days people were honoured to pay mega bucks to attend a Mamlsey and dug-up cheese party.

And why was it celebrated on 25th January? The man who succeeded the indecisive Bloodbath (oops, sorry! Bloodworth!) as Mayor in October 1666 was Sir Richard How, married to a lovely lady called Anne, but with eyes only for Sarah Lewington whose date of birth was 25th January and as a sop to (hopefully) please her and gain her lust decreed that not only would she be guest of honour at the first Burning Supper, but it should be held on her birthday.

As is well known, at Burns Night Suppers a poem is read, one that dates back and refers to the original Great Fire, that started in Pudding Lane, during a race between apprentice pudding makers to get the suet puddings cooked fastest.

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm

Over the years fewer and fewer people attended and as a fund raiser really it sucked until one day a young and little known Scottish poet, Robert Burns, suddenly  died, to every Scottish person’s dismay. His fan  was still mourning fifty years later when  an enterprising Haggis salesman from Glasgow hit upon the idea of revitalising his flagging haggis sales, drumming up whiskey sales for his cousin Hamish (no, not that Hamish, another Hamish) and holding a supper on the Burning Night Celebration date,  25th January, which by coincidence was the date of birth of this little known Scots poet…

and so we have Burns (or Burning) Night celebrations to this very day.

* (A few people will no doubt be thinking that is very accurate time, one minute to eight in the evening.)

Source material:

A picture of a haggis on Facebook

Mma Ramotswe, Number One Lady Detective

The Fire Brigade.

Jeff jefferty Jeff does not want to be associated with this work and denies any knowledge of ever having written it and even if tortured you will not get him to say he did it. The copyright below is a lie.

© 22.1.16  Jeff Jefferty Jeff

The Much-Maligned King

Saint RichardWith the great historical discoveries we’ve had over recent years, there has been some major re-thinking on the history and reputation of one of England’s most hated and maligned kings – and rightly so.

While his mortal remains are now at rest this king’s legacy of evil and wickedness is still debated by eye-rolling, loony historians, fan-girls and sane history buffs on every Facebook page you come across (yes, I’ve checked, he even gets into groups dedicated to historical women *groan*).

He has, throughout, history, been demonised and vilified by historians and non-historians alike. Words such as “tyrant”, “monster” and “murderer” have been slung at this king for more years than I’d like to count.

The main beef for many is the propaganda levelled against this king by subsequent dynasties; the misrepresentation of his actions and the accusations of murder which just refuse to go away.

And mud sticks.

So it’s about time he was given the rights that all Englishmen have – the right to the “assumption of innocence until proven guilty”.

No, of course I’m not talking about Richard III! The man killed his nephews, why on earth should he be allowed to be presumed innocent?holbein henry

I’m referring to that great man of the Renaissance, the Hercules of England, Europe’s very own Alexander; Henry VIII, of course.

With this in mind I thought I would take a new look at the main accusations, strip away the propaganda and look at the deaths involved in their proper light; one at a time, rather than as one great killing spree.

Does responsibility lay at the king’s door?

Were the deaths justified for the good of the realm? Should I leave Cairo and move to more bridal climes? (Oops, sorry, that last was a personal question, not relevant – much – to this essay.)

The first person I looked into was Catherine of Aragon. Of course, Henry is not accused of killing her; but he is accused of treating her shamefully. Catherine married Henry having sworn that she’d never slept with her first husband Prince Arthur, Henry’s older brother. Catherine made thiCatherine_aragons declaration only after Arthur was safely dead – and therefore could not dispute it.

What was her motivation?

Well, Henry was a young, handsome – ok, gorgeous – 18-year-old Adonis who also happened to be king of one of the most powerful kingdoms of Europe, whereas she was a penniless Spanish princess who had been more-or-less abandoned by her own family. So, of course, she only said this out of her love for Henry, rather than any selfish reasons.

There was one problem with Catherine’s declaration; Prince Arthur had once sworn otherwise, declaring one morning, after leaving Catherine’s chamber, that he had “spent the night in Spain” (something no one bothered to tell Henry until many years later). Quite an unequivocal statement from a Prince who had no ulterior motive.

Poor Henry was a devout Catholic and knew that marrying his brother’s wife was a mortal sin and when he finally discovered the truth, what choice did he have but to divorce? And why would he do it with such vehemence and hatred? Surely it’s hard to be kind to someone who has endangered your immortal soul by making you commit such a heinous sin? Henry would have had to be a saint to be able to forgive. And it’s certainly not his fault that Catherine of Aragon stuck to this fib – through thick and thin – but neither is it Henry’s fault that he stuck to his own guns and fought to the very end to obtain a divorce.

So, now, we come to Henry’s “victims”.

Anneboleyn2Let’s look at Anne Boleyn first.

If Anne Boleyn was innocent of the crimes she was accused of – of sleeping with other men, including her brother and of planning the king’s death – then she is a true martyr and Henry is a monster worse than Darth Vader. However, thanks to the Daily Mail, we now know beyond any doubt that Anne did have an affair with her brother, George Boleyn. A French poem, written a few days after Anne’s execution by a Frenchman living in England, proves unequivocally that Anne slept with her brother.

And if one of the charges is true, then surely they all are?

And if Anne was sleeping around, what else could he do but execute her? Imprison her? Maybe, but an example from French history suggests the dangers in doing that. In 1314 the wives of France’s 3 princes were accused of adultery and imprisoned. However, the princes found obtaining divorces difficult (to cut a long story short) and all 3 ruled successively as kings of France, but were unable to  produce the much-desired legitimate male heir and the Capetian line died out.

With such an example from just a couple of hundred years ago, can Henry really be blamed for wanting a swift conclusion to his marriage?

And, to be honest, this same argument stands for Henry’s execution of Catherine Howard the poor chap is proof of the adage that lightning CAN strike twice in the same place).

One of the most heinous crimes that Henry is accused of is, of course, Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury. And well, to be honest, I’ll give his accusers that one. Poor Margaret. But, then, every king is allowed one over-reaction; Richard III has Lord Hastings, Henry gets Margaret Pole.

thomas moreAnd then there’s Thomas More…

Well, I have a theory…..

Sir Thomas More was Henry’s friend. What if he committed an unforgivable betrayal. I’m not referring to his refusal to swear allegiance to the Act of Succession, rather I’m referring to his abominable, slanderous book about Richard III.

We all know Henry loved his mother dearly, and spent most of his childhood sat on her lap, listening to her stories about her childhood, her father and her wonderful uncle, Richard. We always think of the Tudors hating Richard III, but in Henry’s time the slanderous, legend blackening work of Shakespeare is still decades in the future. What if Henry knew of the gentler side of Uncle Dickon? What if he saw him as the loving uncle of a fatherless teenage girl, who gave her gifts and danced with her at Christmas.

EoY portraitThis is the intimate picture of Richard III that Henry grew up with, knowing him and loving him as a favourite great-uncle. And then his friend presents him with a manuscript saying “I’ve put together some ideas, have a look at it, just let me know what you think.”

Of course, Henry reads it and goes ballistic. How dare More write such hateful things about this great king, this hero, this Son of York, this man who saved the kingdom from the disasters that would, almost-definitely, have befallen the land had a child-king been allowed to live …. er, I mean, to reign?

Henry had no choice, More brought it on himself. Henry had to have him executed in order to prevent More’s slanderous work from reaching a wider audience. It was the only way to prevent publication.

It’s not Henry’s fault the “facts” still got out…

By Jeff R Sun

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Jeff R Sun has been supporting the Richards for years – I’m thinking of changing my allegiance to the Henrys. All advice appreciated.

If you would like to be the first to see the Jeffs’ latest blog posts, please like the Double History Facebook page.

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Photos: Wiki

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Sources: Measly Middle Ages; Terrible Tudors; Slimy Stuarts; Wiki; Daily Mail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Real Father of Edward of Lancaster: A Tale of Three Edwards

In his magisterial Wars of the Roses, historian Dr John Ashdown-Hill demonstrated beyond doubt that Henry VI could not have been the father of Edward of Westminster. The fact that he did so without offering any evidence makes his feat even more dazzling.

So who was the father of this misbegotten so-called prince? Although Dr Ashdown-Hill propounded the theory that Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, was the father, I find myself in the humble position of having to disagree, for once, with him. But I shall do so gently and respectfully.

Edward of Lancaster. Certainly illegitimate.
Edward of Lancaster. Certainly illegitimate.

As we know from Dr Ashdown-Hill’s equally magisterial Royal Marriage Secrets, Katherine of Valois’s sons Edmund and Jasper were fathered not by Owen Tudor, as those hidebound historians tied to tired ways of looking at things would have it, but by Edmund Beaufort. Why else would the eldest boy have been named “Edmund” instead of “Owen”?

Thus, logic dictates that we look for a man named Edward as the father of Edward of Lancaster. One name springs forth instantly: Edward, Earl of March.

Now, an objection, and a quite reasonable one at that, immediately comes to mind: Edward, Earl of March, born in 1442, was too young to father a child in 1453. But I would propound that Cecily, Duchess of York actually had two sons named Edward: one the legitimate offspring of Richard, Duke of York, the other the son of a lowly archer. The legitimate son was born in 1430, the date given by Sir Thomas More in his History of King Richard the Third, which goes to show that even a stopped clock tells the time right twice a day. Thus, as a randy twenty-three-year-old, the strapping Earl of March was more than ready, willing, and able to serve the beautiful, frustrated, and very French queen in any way she deemed necessary. Need I say more?

Margaret of Anjou, Lancastrian harlot
Margaret of Anjou, Lancastrian harlot

But tension was building not only between Lancaster and York, but between Legitimate Brother Edward and Illegitimate Brother Edward. As the 1450s wore on and Illegitimate Brother Edward approached the age of manhood, he brooded not only upon his base birth, but upon his older brother’s seduction of the beautiful queen. Consumed by jealousy, in 1459, he killed his brother.

Edward IV, looking guilty, as well he should
Edward IV, looking guilty, as well he should

Illegitimate Brother Edward had always lived out of the public eye, and he bore a remarkable resemblance to his dead brother. So Richard, Duke of York, who had come to rather like his wife’s bastard, and who did not wish to air his dirty laundry in public, hit upon a plan. He and Illegitimate Brother Edward would manufacture an excuse to flee abroad, stay a few months, and then return, with Illegitimate Brother Edward assuming the role of Dead, Legitimate Brother Edward, Earl of March. Their opportunity came in October 1459, at Ludford Bridge. When Illegitimate Brother Edward returned the following summer in the guise of his dead older brother, no man was the wiser, although a few marvelled at his youthful appearance and concluded that his exile must have been a very pleasant one.

But one woman was the wiser–Margaret of Anjou, who somehow had learned of her lover’s death. From that point on, she was determined to destroy the fake Earl of March, who had killed the father of her darling boy. Not until she was a prisoner and her son lay dead on the field of Tewkesbury would England be safe from her wrath. In the interim, countless lives were lost. We could blame this on  Margaret of Anjou’s lust for vengeance, Illegitimate Brother Edward’s lust for power and status, and Legitimate Brother Edward’s just plain lust –but we shall not. Instead, we shall blame it on young Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond, who somehow managed to plan it all in order to put her own whelp on the throne.

Sources:

John Ashdown-Hill, Royal Marriage Secrets

John Ashdown-Hill, The Wars of the Roses

Sir Thomas More, The History of King Richard the Third

A dream I had before my dog woke me up to be taken outside. Damn dog.

Jeff Borden has been resting over the past few months. He is feeling much better, thank you very much.

The pains of beauty

This post was prompted by the sight that met me one morning as I entered the bathroom and found the lovely Mrs Sixwotsitdorf desperately trying to tame her whiskers, a process that not only requires hot wax but also garden scissors, rope, a shovel and a fair amount of duct tape – the latter one being used to muffle her own screams as she pulls off the earlier mentioned wax which she applies with the shovel after first trimmed the unlikely amount of hair under her nose with the garden scissors (I´ve honestly never been clear on what the rope is for.)

In any event, watching this and feeling fairly certain that we can all agree on the fact that women really need to do this, I mean; where would we be if women were judged simply on their intellect and persona? Mayhem, starvation and general anarchy, that´s where. So I´ve put together this little guide of beauty care through the centuries for everyone to get their inspiration. You´re welcome.

We have for example the most beautiful of them all, and a constant role beauty1model for all women to live up to; Nefertiti. There are suggestions that beauty in her part of the world and time was even a part of Ma´at, the way one perceived the world.

And in all fairness, who wants to perceive the world through “ugly”? None of us do, just admit it.

This gave a spiritual dimension to putting on makeup which women of today is clearly lacking; instead of just mucking away with mascara, eyeliners, blushers and stuff, they put their heart and soul into it. The even considered beauty as something holy. But. Then there is another thing. What is beauty, who is beautiful and how do we, or someone else – I am clearly flawless – go about obtaining said beauty?

But the ancient Egyptians with their eyes, primarily, painted with crushed malakite stone, a copper based ore, and kohl, which apart from fat contained a number of metals, weren´t the only ones to have seen the importance of beauty. They would eventually suffer from the occasional pink eye, and insomnia. And mental disease. But that must be more important than looking plain. Mustn´t it? I´d rather be insane than ugly. (As tragedy, the old Greek kind, would have it, I have turned out to be both insane and ugly)

Lead has played an important part of history. I mean, why not add a highly poisonous substance to your body if the goal is to look better. The fact is, that you won´t die the first 100 times or so that you add it to your facial powder. The aim was to look pale, and we have to respect the fact that it at one point was high fashion to look as if you dived head first into a sack of flour, what could it possibly matter if it *eventually* affected your health? When your skin peeled away, you could always hide it with a thicker layer of makeup. Add a little arsenic and mercury to the mixture and you were set to go. Someone who had the correct attitude to her looks was Marie Gunning, the Countess of Coventry, and one of the first official victims of beauty, dead from lead poisoning at the age of 27 (which should put her up there with Janis, Jimi, Jim, Kurt and Amy as far as I´m concerned).

Then we have the corset. Take a cone formed contraption, have someone Catherine de Medici introduce it in France and soon you will have a serious breathing problem among women. But they looked like hourglasses and that was nice. We need the corset back, not least because the wives of the time didn´t have the air necessary to scream at their husbands in them.

o-CURVES-OF-YOUTH-570Another highlight in the history is the malady of double, or triple chins. There is a cure. Just strap a construction to your head and tighten those chins. It looks incredibly painful, and you can hardly wear the thing in public, as no makeup in the world would hide it, but there is no problem one can´t get around.

I could on. But I won´t. Point is: don´t whine about hot wax, garden scissors and rope.

Jeff Sixwotsitdorf (who uses makeup as soon as no one sees him)

Sources:

An empty mascara

Lot´s of lipstick

An ugly face (my own)

A bottle of wine

A cracked mirror

One hundred years of the Women’s Institute – (what have they ever done for us?)

theWI_Logo_IW_SPOT_pos
Are they? They don’t inspire me.

I have often been described as a misogynist, an unfair description I feel as my favourite sister is a women and even Mrs JJ was of the so called fairer sex.

Labelled with this tag, it surprised me to be selected to make a speech in celebration of one hundred years of the Women’s Institute.

It surprised me even more to be booed off the stage and to have a rotten tomato thrown at and hitting me square on the nose. What sort of person carries a rotten tomato around anyway?

I feel I have a lot left unsaid about the Women’s Institute I and would like to share my look at the WI with you here.

The Women’s Institute was originally founded in Canada in 1897 by Adelaide Hoodless, a woman with evidently too much time on her hands who would have been better employed making herself a hood. It is pretty cold in Canada and her pretty little ears must have been quite chilly.

It spread to the United Kingdom (the Women’s Institute, not having pretty little cold ears) and in 1915 was started in Llanfairpwllgwyngyll , Wales – (spell check is having a break down at that place name.)  They claimed to have two clear aims, to give an new lease of life to rural communities and to encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the War. Speaking from a purely male point of view, it is probable that a brother or son of one of these ladies thought up these aims retrospectively as I am fairly sure that women in 1915 were not capable of thinking such lofty thoughts. I would suggest they just wanted to have a get together and a chin wag once a month and needed an excuse. With the men folk away, they were bored. Nothing more, nothing less.*

The WI plays a very important part in giving women opportunities and encouraging women to go to work. I do appreciate there are some menial jobs that are better suited to women. Cleaning, toilet attendant, shelf stacker – all jobs that require no real thought and little commitment, real jobs would be unsuitable for woman as they have neither the temperament nor the skills and would be too afraid of breaking a finger nail or mussing up the lipstick.

It was with horror recently that I opened the door to the boiler man to find that it was a boiler woman (and a pretty little thing she was too,) and I am still wondering why she slapped my face and reported me to British gas when I asked to see her credentials.

The WI also gives the chance to learn new skills and encourages further education, yet I fail to see why women really need an education. They have us men and they have Google! What will they need men for if they know everything?

As for learning new skills, as far as I have been able to ascertain this means learning new recipes for making jam. The WI motto should be ‘why buy a jar of jam from Tesco at 84 pence, when you can get the fruit, the pectin, the sugar, the jar, the label and the fuel to cook it, for only £6.29??’

tesco_reduced_sugar_blackcurrant_jam_340g_1

The WI is also well know for it’s campaigns. I had first hand experience of that as a ten year old when my WI member Granny slept under canvas with us for a fortnight. Campaign? No Granny was a Camp Pain!

Campaigns that they fight are wide ranging but seem to exclude us poor men entirely. How unfair is that? Examples of recent campaigns are, No More Violence Against Women, Women Reaching Women, Women and Climate Change, Fast Fashion, Mission Milk, Excess Baggage (most women I know carry a lot of that). A campaign that has been mooted this year follows the award winning chef Matt Gillan famously serving Billy Goat as a main course for WI centenary banquet, which would be fine except for the reason he chose that meat.

It was to save  the Billy Goats from slaughter.

(Think about it.)

If the good ladies are not making jam and saving old goats they are singing about Jerusalem. Jerusalem! They live in Leeds and Bristol and Mevagissey yet they choose as their theme song a song all about somewhere they will likely never see and would be too hot for their delicate health any way.

I am still wondering about the sexual nature of the line ‘Bring me my arrows of desire.’ I am not sure that women should be allowed to sing songs like this. It may bring on a head ache. Every mention of anything of a sexual nature to Mrs JJ always brought on a head of migrainous proportions. As for the line ‘ Among these dark Satanic mills‘, if Edward BulwerLytton had written those dreadful lines instead of William Blake, they would have been mocked, parodied and criticized as purple prose (or maybe purple poetry) and the poem would never have been set to music at all.

To sum up my original question, what did the WI ever do for us? Did they do anything? Anything to improve the lives of us men? I think there are two very great positives.

The first is  one night a month when our good lady does not have time to do what all good ladies  do and cook us our dinner, which allows us the freedom to go to the chippy to enjoy cholesterol and carbohydrate. We then get to  spend an hour alone in the house with a six pack and a computer game without the nagging to get on with the DIY.

The second is the Calendar Girls calendar, a much thumbed copy of which is in my locked desk draw for reference purposes of course. Just for reference.

Sources:

Pirelli Calendar 1989

Mediaeval queens jam recipes : Philippa Gregory.

***Richard III’s knight in: Dr Don Ashtray Pill

* Now in 2015 the WI has more than 212,000 members in over 6,300 WIs all getting together once a month to exchange jam and have a natter like women do.

** There wasn’t a two ** reference so you can stop looking now.

***(This new title by Dr Pill is a look at one evening from the perspective of Richard III when Queen Anne went to a local WI meeting).

Jeff Jefferty Jeff is currently writing his memoirs: ”The confessions of a Jeff” working title ”How being part  of Double History has brought a new lease of life to Jeff’s sex life.”

 

 

© Jeff Jefferty Jeff 25/11/15

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween Special: An interview with the ghost of Richard III.

As the evening of 31st October approaches, spirits the world over are preparing for Halloween. Jacquetta is sharpening her pointy hat and her daughter, another descendant of Melusine, is winding in a string attached to a ring (ouch!) to ensnare another sex slave. But what of Richard, former Duke of Gloucester and now revered king and guest of the Dean of Leicester Cathedral? We caught up with the ghost of Richard III sitting forlornly on a bench outside an ice cream parlour not far from the Cathedral. He agreed to answer a few questions if we would buy him a sorbet.

Richard, what’s it like to be a sex symbol 500 years after you died?

It’s a nightmare! Anne gets in a strip every time one of those brides starts swooning.

What do you think is your greatest achievement while alive or dead? Other than being the victor at Bosworth? I won, you know. How many people go there to lay a Red Rose??11899728_479447468895637_1236857115_n

My other greatest achievement is surely after my death {{sigh}}. If I had this many supporters while alive, there’s no way that wormy weakling Hank would have unhorsed me! Who cares if a lot of what they say is made up? That’s politics!

How did you come up with the idea of bail?

I invented bail – or did I?

Which is your favourite Stanley?

Matthews.

Do you like strawberries?

Despite stories to the contrary I have never eaten one. We are sitting outside an Italian ice cream parlour which claims to be selling Richard iii’s Strawberry Sorbet. I have been in there so many times to try it, but each time the call out the priests and the holy water and the exorcism routine   and back to the crypt I’m banished.

Have you any idea what Buckingham wanted to discuss before his death?

Yes. (Despite prompting Richard refused to elaborate and just did that naughty trick he has of dematerialising and reappearing a few times saying mwah hah haha.)

Tell us honestly, did you fancy your niece?

Oh, that again. I’ve said this before. I’ll say it again. It was dark, the candles were flickering, she was wearing the same dress as my wife and I was horny. A natural enough mistake to make, surely?

Did you plan to marry your niece?

I started that rumour. I had to. They wanted me to marry that ugly Joanna of Portugal and I had to find some way to get out of it. Imagine going to bed with that every night. After they heard the rumours her family made certain that the name of Richard was never mentioned as a prospective husband again. Round one to me I think.

Were you responsible for the thunder clap the moment the ‘Richard III’ character was struck down at Bosworth this year? I can’t take credit for the thunder clap -that was that show- off Margaret Beaufort’s doing (she steals my thunder too). I can take credit for THE clap. Should have listened to Eddie’s warnings -he would know.

What do you have to say about Hastings?

Hastings! My favourite battle – what other Hastings could you possibly mean?

What do you think of ‘The Head’? The best answer I can give to that is that I hope that someone someday does a reconstruction of the head of Dr Caroline Wilkinson that makes her look like a cross eyes moron with a weight problem.

Are you happy with everyone giving you white roses or do you want a bunch of daffodils or an orchid for a change? Atishoo!

Philippa Langley claims “In the second parking bay, I just felt I was walking on his grave.” Did you do any thing to make Philippa feel this way?
My ears seem to have decomposed over the centuries and I misheard. I thought it was Phillippa Gregory. I wanted to scare that woman so much that she stopped writing fantasy stories about my family and affinity.I’ll tell you something funny Mozart tells me every day. He lays in his grave making a strange noise and until someone says, ‘What is that noise?’ so the grave yard worker always says, ‘Oh, it’s just Mozart decomposing.’ How we laugh and laugh.

Do the people of the South have trouble understanding your northern accent? Mebe. There’s nowt as quair as folk.p308834570-5

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Do you have any plans for another exhumation and reburial?
Maybe a wrong choice of phrase, but over my dead body. All those fans throwing knickers and roses at me! I could have been killed.

What happened to the princes? You remember you asked if people in the South had difficulty understanding my accent? That’s what happened to the princes.

Which foot do you miss the most, your left or your right?  When I was alive I was really attached to both of my feet, but I am delighted I no longer have them. ULAS were excellent and very thourough with their research but it was embarrassing to have people read about my worms and my liking for eating swan. Just imagine how much fun they would have had discovering that I had Athlete’s Foot, Veruccae and a large corn.

Which of the Woodvilles did you despise the most? Which Woodville do I hate the most? Well Jaquetta the witch of course! If she hadn’t caused Bedford’s death with her spells and married that lusty Woodville fellow, none of this would have happened! I’d be on the throne to this day! Instead they bred their own army. Disgusting, I say! Nothing like MY dear sweet and frail innocent Anne! Harlot!

What was the worst thing ever dumped on your head – council worker’s Volvo or that hideous tomb? You ask that of a man who had a Victorian Sewer dug through his feet?

It is said that you haunt the Cathedral and that this is a picture of your ghost. Is this true? What? That? Do you seriously think I would stoop that low?

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Richard denies that this is a picture of his ghost.

Do you have any plans for another exhumation and reburial?
Maybe a wrong choice of phrase, but over my dead body. All those fans throwing knickers and roses at me! I could have been killed.

Which nickname do you prefer? Dick, Dickey, Rickayyyyy?  I heard my favourite sister whisper, ‘ I really like dick’ so let’s go with that…

At that moment another Jeff  handed me Richard’s gelatto and with that Richard disappeared leaving me holding a rather soggy cup of Strawberry Sorbet.

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