Tag Archives: Leicester

Elizabeth’s Secret Marriage (Part 2)

220px-Elizabeth_I_Rainbow_Portrait
Elizabeth in her wedding dress?

Behind the bike sheds: Well, after over 5 minutes of tedious waiting – and getting some very strange looks from the resident cyclists  – I was about to give up my quest when Bishop Stillington FINALLY appeared.

He seemed nervous, scared even. He kept looking behind him as he walked towards me. Did he think he was being followed? Was he being followed? I blinked, looked around and thought about it. No, he was definitely weird and not a little paranoid, but there was no one following him.

He walked straight up to me, slammed something into my hand – and left. Just like that. He was gone, swallowed up by the crowds of cyclists.

Magna_Carta_(British_Library_Cotton_MS_Augustus_II.106)
A 16th century love letter?

I looked at my hand nervously (the paranoia was obviously contagious). What had I got myself into?

The paper looked old, frail. It was brown at the edges, and curled up a bit?

But then I remembered one of my old art lessons. Wasn’t it possible to make paper look old and frail, by wiping a teabag over it? It was a pretty good effect, I recall. So how could I know? The handwriting looked old – all squirly and fancy, not like kids learn to write these days. There were no obvious signs of forgery in the text: no OMGs, LOLs or xoxo’s. But I still couldn’t be certain.

I called in at the nearest Costa Coffee, grabbed a cappuccino and settled down to read the text:

“My dearest, darling Elizabeth,

It was lovely to see you the other day, and spend those wonderful few hours together.

My heart yearns for you still.

I often hark back to our wedding day, thinking of you in that wonderfully coloured dress. I am reminded of it every time I see a rainbow overhead. How adorable you looked – and you had eyes only for me.

I love you so much, you are queen of my heart and my world (and the country, of course). How are we ever going to be together forever, have we only stolen moments in dark corners to look forward to?

I know all has changed. You said that I must forget about us, that I must move on, but do you mean it? How can you? How can I? No woman is as wonderful and majestic as you – I am yours to command, always.

Sweet Elizabeth, you are my wife, you swore we would be together forever. Elizabeth, is the crown worth our parting?

Come home

Your ever-loving husband

Bob

Bob? Bob? Who on earth was BOB?

It was a nice, sweet, sad letter, but undated. Was it real?

I resolved to find out and took a trip to my old alma mater. Leicester Uni has recently had some success in dating 500-year-old ‘things’, so I thought I’d see if they would check out the letter for me.

Unfortunately, all the really clever professors were busy or out to lunch, but one of the lab rats took a look at it. He had a sniff and a nibble and declared it could be carbon dated to the 1550/60s, give or take a hundred years – or so. That was good enough for me. The letter must be genuine, as it was written at the right time.

I now turned my attention to the writer. Who could this ‘Bob’ be? I turned to Wikipedia – such a fabulous, accurate and complete research tool. It has been my saviour many times, during arguments on Facebook. No one can argue with Wikipedia and win.

220px-Robert_Devereux,_2nd_Earl_of_Essex_by_Marcus_Gheeraerts_the_Younger
Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex

To the candidates:

Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, was a favourite of Elizabeth’s later in her life. But did she marry him? It is possible. Given the example of her father – and she like to think she was a king of England, like him, it is entirely possible. Her father liked to chop the heads of his spouses when he tired of them. And Elizabeth did chop Devereux’s head off when she tired of him. Maybe it was cheaper than a divorce, certainly it was quicker.

Next there’s Robert Cecil, son of Elizabeth’s greatest adviser William Cecil, Lord Burleigh. Raised from childhood to serve the queen loyally. But to marry her? If he did, he got over the grief of her death very quickly – he was arranging for James VI of Scotland to take the throne before the poor woman was cold in her grave – actually, I don’t think she was even dead. So, no, not him. Surely?

bob
Bob

The penultimate candidate is Bob, page to the Lord Edmund Blackadder. A lively, adventurous, thigh-slapping chap, as I remember. He must have been great fun to be with – and Queenie did like Bob, as I recall. But….and it’s a pretty big but…. didn’t he turn out to be a girl? And run off with Lord Flashheart?

220px-Robert_Dudley_Leicester
Bob Dudley, Earl of Leicester

The most likely candidate, of course, is Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. He was Elizabeth’s own age and a close confidant until his death. But he was married – for some of the time anyway. He married Amy Robsart in 1550. According to Wikipedia, this was a love-match. But something went wrong. Amy took a nasty fall down some conveniently well-placed stairs and managed to break her neck. There were constant rumours about the two of them – stories abounded that they wanted to marry. But Elizabeth called him Robin, not Bob, didn’t she?

Of course, that may have been in public, to throw people off the scent, maybe. There’s nothing to say Elizabeth didn’t call him ‘Bob’ in private.

Is there?

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Jeff R Sun, alumni of the University of Leicester, fan of lab rats and growing quite fond of cyclists, too

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Photos taken from Wikipedia, except Bob which is thanks to Google Images

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Sources: Wikipedia; Tony Robinson’s Kings and Queens, by Tony Robinson; Wikipedia; Cows in Action 1, the Ter-moo-nators, by Steve Cole; A Rough Guide to Egypt, by Dan Richardson; Blackadder II episode 1 ‘Bells’ (1st broadcast on BBC One 9th January 1986)

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Saint Richard? Miracles in Leicestershire!

Last weekend, Easter weekend, I went to visit my cousin Jess and her husband Jezz in Tamworth. Jess suggested that we drove to Shackerstone, about 20 miles away, to the Railway Museum and maybe to have a ride on the wonderfully restored steam railway.

My own inclination was to sit in a quiet country pub and drink copious quantities of Real Ale and  so we went to the Railway Museum.

Thank you Jess.

Shenton Station
Shenton Station

Despite my slight reluctance, it was a very interesting and enjoyable trip and after picking up our cars at Shackerstone, we parted as I had to drive to London. This is when I realised where I was! Just fifteen days before King Richard III had been taken along this very route on his final journey, a procession from Fenn Lane Farm to the wonderful cathedral in Leicester, where he was to be  interred.

Richard III route

In case you have not heard of this unusual event – it was not very well publicized and hardly any one knew about it –  Richard III, a Mediaeval King, died in battle in 1485, came briefly among us and shared his secrets, told us what he ate and the illnesses he suffered, suggested to us his hair colour and body weight and wowed the ladies both young and old, before his time on earth again was over and he was returned to the soil from whence he came (or quite close to it anyway).

Driving along this processional Richard III route I noticed something strange and a little magical. Everywhere I looked trees were bursting into leaf; chestnut, crab apple, beech …taking on a vibrant green mantle along their branches, clothing themselves in leaf.

Crab Apple BudHorse Chestnutbeech

 

 

 

 

The Willow, Salix caprea, was covered with furry looking Pussy Willows, desirable for flower arranging but a bane to hay fever sufferers when the pollen starts to blow, but oh! how spectacular on this bright day.

Pussy Willow

Baby rabbits were hopping in the fields

Jeff the rabbit
Jeff the baby rabbit, from the recent article in the Metro. The baby rabbits that Jeff the adult man saw were a lot, lot smaller than this, (or that is a normal sized baby rabbit and a very tiny child. )

and lambs frolicked with their mother

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2015-04-02 16.02.42

I really was enjoying all of the splendour of nature and felt what a pity it was that the hedgerows and fields had not been so abundant 15 days previously for the journey of the king. Even the flowers were showing their colours, shy violets peeping, primulas unfurling their primrose petals, jonquil escapees from gardens making little  sunshine patches in the green.2015-04-07 14.23.08 2015-04-07 14.26.19 2015-04-02 15.58.35

It was then that I began to wonder a strange and wondrous thought. Maybe Richard had not missed all of these miraculous happenings. Maybe he had caused them! Fifteen days before there had been no leafy buds, no lambs or baby rabbits, no flowers and now there were! What had changed?

HE had traversed this route.

Could Richard III be causing miracles to happen?

I stopped the car and tried to access Google. Of course I couldn’t. Richard may be able to make miracles happen in nature, but even he cannot get an internet connection in rural Leicestershire!

Later, safely in a hotel room, I found the Facebook pages I was after. Fans of the dead king were convinced that he should be canonised for his unerring goodness. Maybe they were right! Maybe this mere man, just a normal king, did have magical or miraculous powers.

He, Richard, was most certainly the instigator, the very cause of the splendiferous nature display I enjoyed and witnessed that day. I consulted Wikipedia on how to make this king into a Saint and consequently wrote (not emailed) to the Pope.  Although the Pope does not make someone a saint – the designation of sainthood only recognises what is already there – I hope that he will respond favourably and try and progress this.

Miracles happened all along this saintly man’s processional route. His sainthood cannot be denied.

I hope to go to his tomb in Leicester Cathedral next week. I need a miracle to cure this ingrowing toenail.

Miraculous baby duck on a Leicestershire pond

(Source material is unavailable.

Cotton material and a bit of velvet material is available.)

Photographs are from http://homepage.ntlworld.com/candj_simmons/SHENTONS.HTM

The Hinckley Times

Wikipedia

Author’s own collection

© Jeff “Jefferty” Jeff: 09.04.2015

Tall Man Found Sulking In Leicester Park

Latest draft

King Richard III, the last king of England to die in battle, was found under a car park, apparently buried there by Henry VII. Since Monday the 22nd of March, Leicester’s streets have been flooded by Ricardians, tourists, town folk, the curious and even the occasional Tydderite.

While on my lunch break, I found a man looking sad and depressed in Town Hall park, looking as if he’s been through the ringer. I wondered if he needed some help (and I needed a story). When asked if he was having a problem, the man looked up at me and said:

“I’m a descendent of Richard III and no one gives a shit. You see, a couple years ago, I ran across a genealogy chart that connected me to kings! I always thought I was special. I mean look at me, I don’t even need the cables to put the cars up on my tow truck, I just push them up there myself! I’m tall and good looking and have offspring all over the place, just don’t tell my girlfriend that. I joined a couple of Facebook groups hoping to find some cousins but nobody cared. They told me to read some books or something, I don’t know, I don’t read books! Books are boring. They said they were something like history groups!  What’s a history group? I’ll tell you what it is! It’s a place where geeks go to play and are all jealous of people like me. They are asking me all sorts of stuff like where I got my info from! Uptight book types think they’re better than me. I don’t want to talk about history I want to talk about my uncle who was a king but no wants to hear it. I came down here this week hoping I can meet some cousins or something and still nobody gives a shit! I mean I am special right? It’s rare that you find someone who’s related to a king. I thought they would ask me my opinion on this whole reburial thing, I mean, I think I should have a say in this. Some lady handed me a paper and told me to join these FB groups about moving Uncle Dick to York because that’s what he wanted. After a sulk and a pint or two, I think I’m going to look into that. Do you know where the Blue Boar in is? Maybe I’ll find someone there?”

I gave him directions, grabbed a Richard III shake and went on my way.

 

Jeff Fuel is recovering in a very dark hotel room somewhere in Leicester after overdoing it at The Friary Pub celebrating the reburial of Richard III. He’s occasionally waking to eat ice cream and giggle over John Ashdown Hill’s heroic eye roll. He swears people were cheering all over the place but no one believes him.

Jeff Jefferty Jeff had to step in and put all the bells and whistles on this article because Jeff Fuel wasn’t functioning correctly when found behind the Friary. Just don’t tell him about my fee of 50 pounds I took from his wallet.

 

Was Richard III dig a hoax? Leicester council worker’s tale.

To prevent Brides digging Richard up prematurely LCC cannily ensured that his remains were hidden under a car park.
To prevent Brides digging Richard up prematurely LCC cannily ensured that his remains were hidden under a car park.

His story was a strange one.

Very strange.

Believable?

I will allow you to judge.

He had worked for Leicester city council until his – I could hear the quote marks around the next word, “accident”… and then … but I get ahead of myself.  I will begin at the beginning.

I was sitting in the waiting room of a famous burns unit somewhere in England having lost a fight with a chip pan, when this small and elderly man came in hobbling painfully on two sticks, his face and hands as badly deformed by the scars of burns as the face of the racing driver Nicki Lauder.

The only vacant chair was by me and the man came slowly towards it and with difficulty sat down and rested his sticks. He turned his head towards me and I realised he was trying to smile an acknowledgement or apology for me moving my paper to make room for his bottom and I gave a warm smile in response.

The clinic was running late and as gradually we began talking I noticed that his voice was young and that the apparent age was caused by his disfigurements.

He burbled on. I was only half listening but I felt he was lonely and was saying yes and no, hopefully in the right places. His voice continued – ‘generally, we repaired places of historic importance straight away – blah blah – if  they are beyond repair then they should be replaced on a like for like basis – burble blah – like for like means same materials, design and level of craftsmanship’…

and so on and so on – and I was wishing fervently that my name would be called when my ears perked up – ‘Greyfriars, that was the one,’ he was saying.

I knew the name! Some history bloke had written a book a bit ago and said it was important. The man and I were talking in February 2013 and by that time Greyfriars was very, very  important, suddenly shooting to global fame with the discovery of a medieval king, Richard III, in the car park the previous year. Just the day before there had been a news conference confirming that the DNA had proved that the remains were indeed that of the long dead king.

‘We found him,’ he said, ‘me and the team, we –‘

At that point my name was called and it was my turn to see the consultant.  ‘Wait for me,’ I said, ‘We can go for a coffee after you have been seen.’ His eyes looked hopeful and then resigned. He did not expect that he would get either the coffee or to tell the rest of his tale, but tell it he did over enough coffee to refloat the Titanic.

His name was Dimitri Shukla (– my parents took the idea of United Nations into their own hands, said Dimitri whose father is second generation Indian and his mother Russian. ) He worked as overseer on site for Leicester City Council, his main area of responsibility being historic monuments and carparks. Car parks! That was where the problem had started.

It was in the spring of 2011 and the carpark of the council office worker’s building in the centre of Leicester was pitted deeply with pot holes following the icy conditions of the long winter of discontent and bitter cold of 2010 and 11.

The city’s finances were in a mess (a bit like my own) with far more going out than was coming in and no way to make the books look better in the foreseeable future. Revenue was desperately needed. Tourists were bored with Leicester and the only thing of interest to see was a crisp factory.

A ‘must see’ sight on the Leicester tourist trail.

Brave words hide a sorry story. You may look at the complete statement of account at http://www.leicester.gov.uk/your-council-services/council-and-democracy/key-documents/annual-accounts/ but I would recommend that you pass on that dubious pleasure and get a life.

Dimitri and his team were told to ‘make good’ the council workers car park as the workers, social service personal, were revolting. His words, not mine.

Work began on 1st April 2011. Dimitri looked into the distance as he told the next bit, obviously still worried about telling his tale. He and the three man gang were to remove the existing tarmac and resurface. No sooner had the digger started when the shovel uncovered a bone, two bones, a whole skeleton. ‘‘We felt awful’’ he said with a shudder, ‘‘The JCB had punched a hole in this poor skeleton’s head and there he was all naked and boney and laying there. I called the boss at Glenfield and he said not to go offsite. One of the office workers came towards the window and then suddenly all the blinds were drawn.

Greyfriars,_Leicestershire_Council_Offices_building Credited to Greyfriars, Leicestershire Council Offices building by RobinLeicester
Greyfriars, Leicestershire Council Offices Building Credited  to Robin Leicester

“We were all sat round and not allowed offsite and there was this bloody thing in the hole we had dug, with its empty sockets just staring at us and that mouth grinning like he was laughing.  Lost a tooth, it had. Laying all twisted and broken up a bit I reckon.’’

Dimitri was getting very worked up so I suggested a bite to eat and a chat about something else. The food – pastrami and gherkin with mustard mayo on rye – he accepted but the offer of another subject he rejected. I was glad. I wanted to hear the rest of the saga.

‘’The boss, Mr M, arrived and saw the body – the skeleton. I told him we had to call the police. I watch Time Team. They always call the police when they find human remains but Mr M said no, he’d call his superior and we must just wait.

‘it didn’t seem right. It was all wrong. This human laying there dead and us not telling the police or a pastor or someone.

‘’Waited most of the bloody morning, we did and then Mr M gets a call and another call and then three  other suits from Glenfield all turn up and start looking in the hole and talking and arguing. Me and the lads, we needed a drink and we needed a p**s, but no, we weren’t allowed off site.

‘’Jase (I gathered Jase was one of the workmen) gets out his phone and one of them suits just dives at him and chucks it in the hole with the bones, then he says to put a tarpaulin over it and to go home and not say nothing to no one.

“Jim and Jase went in the van together and Stuey set off on his bike. My car was in for its MOT and it’s not far to the bus so I was about to set off walking when Mr M catches me up and pulls me round sharpish and says ‘Dim, you not to tell anybody this or you are finished here. No reference. No job. No future. No nothing.’

“ I was shocked. Mr M isn’t a bad sort for management and I just didn’t know what had had got into him. He looked scared sh*tless himself. Grey under his South of France tan.

“ Just then there was a squeal of breaks and Stuey went sailing past the gate, his bike following in a rainbow wheeled arch. Thud. Screeches, yells, shouts screams. Me and Mr M, we rushed for the gate and there was Stuey without a head in a mangled mess on the bonnet of a Skoda. Police. Ambulance. Sirens. The rest is a blur. A nightmare. Cops asking questions, Mr M saying we aint seen anything, protecting himself or protecting me? I don’t know. I remember Mr M saying he’d give me a lift back to the house I share with me mam and I remember her fussing and making me some tea in Great Grannies old Samovar that she only uses for special occasions.

“All that afternoon, all that evening, the phone was ringing, anonymous callers, breathers, scarers frightening  poor mam, laughter, deranged laughter. It was a nightmare, the memory of the bones, the thought of mangled Stuey, the calls. I wept. I’m not ashamed to tell you I wept and wept and me mam she just sat there and stroked my head like I was a baby.

“Worse was to follow.

“Central News came on the television. Jase and Jim had been killed outright in a hit and run incident on the way home.

 

“Three of us – dead.” Tears formed in his lashless eyes and one oused it’s way down his scarred and withered cheek.

“The knock came at the door at 7 p.m. I knew it would be ‘them’ waiting to get me but it was Mr M battered, blooding heavily one finger hanging by a lump of flesh. Mam, she pushed past me to get the poor man off the doorstep – she was proud of her clean doorstep – genuflecting at her iron crucifix in the Prie Dieu as she went.

“What happened next is in tatters, in fragments in my mind. A shot, Mr M goes down with a bullet through his head jolting mam, the crucifix fell from the Prie Dieu impaling her through the jugular and a bottle came whizzing past my ear.

“Jesus saved our mam” he said, “Saved her”.

“You mean she lived with a heavy cast iron crucifix through her jugular?” I asked incredulous. Dim looked bewildered…

“No. Not mam. She was dead long before she hit the ground but Jesus saved her from seeing her little  Dimitri Varunovitch like this. He was merciful to her, was Jesus.”

Molotovin_cocktail
Molotov Cocktail, similar to the bottle bomb that Dimitri described

For once I was speechless but gathered myself enough to ask about the bottle. “It hit the wall and seemed to implode” he said, “I know nothing more. Months later I came out of a coma and found my body…” he indicated his battered livid and red scarred flesh,  “I’ve been moved from hospital to hospital ever since. I’m still in one.”

He paused. “I didn’t remember my name at first and no one knew it as I was unrecognizable so when the horror came back into my mind I decided to stay unknown. They call me John Smith now.

“Last year they announced on the news that they had found that dead king, but Mr. Jeff, it was a hoax. It was me and the lads that found him and they tried to shut us up by any way they could till they got the maximum publicity. They need the money, you see. Money is all it is about.

“Murdering bastards’’.

Two men in hospital uniform approached the table. “Ready, Mr. Smith? Time to go home.” I saw their identification badges. Nurses from a psychiatric hospital.

“Has he been weaving his tales again?” one asked of me, “Great story teller is our John,” and they took him by both arms and walked him out of the room.

 

Jeff ‘Jefferty’ Jeff has recovered from the burn to the hand, but has not attempted deep fat frying since. Mr Shukla aka Mr Smith was never heard of again (except occasionally on Facebook someone  who may be Mr Shukla under an assumed name insists that the dig was a hoax.)

 

Source material

A bag of Walker’s crisps.

A bag of  McCoy’s Crisps

Finding Richard III, the unofficial account; by eminent mediaevalist Dr Don Ashtray-Pill

A kettle of fish

A bag of Kettle crisps

“Greyfriars, Leicester site” map by Hel-hama

© Jeff ”Jefferty” Jeff: March 4th 2015