Category Archives: Battle of Hastings

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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1066 and all that jazz

 

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This sums up the incorrect version of the battle of Hastings that we always been led to believe. Here, for the first time, the truth is revealed.

William was totally fed up. Not only did they keep being rude about his mother but they kept spelling his name wrongly. William might have been the son of the unmarried Duke Robert of Normandy and his mistress Herleva but it was cruel of everyone to call him William the Bastard and remind him at every opportunity.

In the middle of the 11th century, despite his total lack of interest in all things political, William was part of a power struggle for the throne of England, held by his relative Edward the Confessor (who had been given his name because of his habit of turning up at sheep dog trials and confessing,) who named the powerful English earl Harold Godwinson as the next king on his deathbed in January 1066.

William didn’t much care. He and Harold had long been rivals but in another, far more interesting sphere: fighting with marrons.

Marrons came in two varieties in England and in what is now called Continental Europe, edible and inedible. The edible type, sweet and nutty, could be used in many different ways in the kitchen and for many communities the marron was the sole source of carbohydrate. Aunt Bessie’s oven chips had not yet been invented and the potato was still an unknown root vegetable in an unknown part of the world. William and Harold did not fight with the edible variety – both of their mother’s had separately put a stop to the boys fighting with food many years before – but they fought with the inedible variety of the humble marron.

The game was itself was simple: two players, each with a marron threaded on a thong of rawhide, take it in turns to hit each other’s marron, until one marron is destroyed. The first player holds out their marron at arm’s length, hanging down, ready to be hit, the thong wrapped around his hand to stop it being dropped.

The opponent, the striker, also wraps his marron string round his hand, then takes his marron in the other hand and draws it back for the strike. Releasing the marron he swings it down by the string held in the other hand and tries to hit his opponent’s marron with it.

But this year, William was despondent. Harold across what he called the Sūð-sǣ (South Sea) was busy being king and wouldn’t play with him, his courtiers kept being rude about his mum and the marrons were small and hardly worth playing for.

Harold, however, was equally fed up. Marron season was here and what fine huge conkers they were and here was he stuck at the head of an army somewhere in Geordie land fighting some Danes to ensure that his kingdom did not become overrun with chubby Danish comedians called Sandi.

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Here’s one I made earlier. (Serving suggestion only.)

Harold’s ministers were adamant that their new king could not have time off, so Harold hatched a plan and calling for his scribe sent a quick parchment to his old adversary William the Bastard, challenging him to a marron fight on the south coast in a couple of weeks time and upon it’s receipt William gathered the usual band of mates he took on stag parties and they set sail.

Historians have made much of William gathering an army to cross the water and Harold leading his war band to the area, but the truth was far less blood thirsty. It was just a friendly meeting between two groups of young men, intent on having a good time with old mates; the usual, wine, women and song, with marron fighting thrown in.

After carousing through the south eastern coastal villages full of good ale and mead, the two groups of men met at Senlac Hill. (Senlac later gave its name to a laxative tablet made of Senna. If you have trouble with constipation, please do not rely on laxatives for long periods as dependency can develop. senaSeek advice from your doctor about retraining your bowel. This is a public service announcement.) Anyway, as I was saying, the drunken, carousing groups of young men met at Senlac Hill and there, after more mead and ale had been consumed, the marron battle started, William against Harold.

It was Harold’s turn to aim first, but shock and horror! Live footage embroidered rapidly at the scene shows that Harold was cheating. He had two marrons!

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This footage, embroidered by the marron championship correspondents live from the scene, clearly shows Harold cheating.

William’s men saw red. They saw other colours too, but predominantly red and furiously angry and totally tanked up on the alcohol, they broke every marron championship rule in the book and beat the shit out of Harold and his friends. In the affray Harold got a red hot poker shoved in his eye and William lost some of his clothes and damaged his ring. Then one of William’s friends took things too far, (there is always one), and skanked Harold with a broken mead jar.

Harold died.

The party broke up after that and the hung-over men slunk away to vomit behind bushes and sleep off the effects of the day.

William woke up later with the horrid, horrid memory of what had happened. Oh MERDE! What could he do? As hastily as his pounding head would allow he opened an eye and then, much later, another. Groaning he sat up. Bodies were all around him, dead, dying, sleeping, groaning, spewing Saxons, Normans. All a great jumble of stinking hungover men. It looked like a battle field.

A battlefield?

As fast as his inebriated brain would process it, he realised that was the answer. Deny it was a stag party and insist that it had been an intentional invasion. The murder of the king could then be passed off as him having been killed in rightful combat!!

He tried to smile. It didn’t work. Some hangovers are like that. Not smiling he called the embroiderers to him and with a hefty pay off he got them to tweak a few bits of their tapestry interpretation of the day showing him not as William the Conkerer, but William the Conqueror.

William became king, but forever mourned the best marron fighting partner he had ever had. Under Norman rule, Angle-land became  très Frenchified, altering the language forever although here in England we now call marrons ”conkers

Source material:

A bit of old hessian I found in the garage

A small square of calico

Linen

I read a few books too.

Conkers-Featured

© Jeff Jefferty Jeff 6th October 2015