A hearse, a hearse…

23 March, 2015 (22:20) | All articles | By: Stuart Fraser

The last time King Richard III went to Leicester, his battered naked corpse was slung face down over a horse and he had a spear shoved up his bottom. Things, I would have thought, could only get better. Unfortunately… The poor King has now suffered a fate worse than horseless death on the butcher’s slab of a late medieval battlefield: he has been claimed by the 21st century.

Now he is doing his bit for the Leicester Tourist Board in a funeral charade that might have had a tad more dignity had they asked Simon Cowell to organise it. He has been hauled through the roads and lanes of the county on a ghoulish magical mystery tour, taking in all the scenic spots where various parts of him either dropped off or were lopped off. Then something called the Church of England – an institution that wasn’t yet even a twinkle in the underpants of a yet-to-be-born Henry VIII – had its say. Now lots of visitors are filing pointlessly past a wooden box containing some 500-year-old bones and somewhere far, far away a Plantagenet ghost is screaming: ‘A hearse, a hearse – my kingdom for a hearse.’

Only by Thursday will the poor sod will finally find himself six feet under again, by which time a spike up the bottom will seem to have been the least of his worries.

King Richard III is learning, as we all must, that in our post-medieval age, nothing ain’t nothing unless it’s showbiz. We have created a media, we have decided to live by that media, and nothing can matter unless the media has feasted upon it. Hence a five-day farewell to a king who until now was better known as a piece of rhyming slang.

I used to think of these as the end days, but now I realise how wrong I was. We won’t be allowed the end days until TV has worked out a schedule for them.

Meanwhile, why am I late again? Why is the blog short again? If I began to go into it, you would realise why, when I compare my life to that of Richard III, I have a sort of fellow feeling. For me, for the moment, the spikes are metaphorical – but they still smart.

Thank the Coconut Eating Crab for small mercies:

1: On Friday, my few remaining sober synapses caught a fantastic BBC4 film on Dexys – formerly Dexys Midnight Runners, now just Dexys by decree of leader Kevin Rowland. What a life-enhancing hour of joy that was. Utter madness, but great joy.

2: I have long fallen out of love with rugby union, now that it has become an imitation of soccer and placed brawn far, far above the brain that used to make it beautiful. But my Scottish genes still derived a frisson of joy from the oh-so-cruelly-late-and-narrow margin by which England were denied the Six Nations championship on Saturday.

3: You may remember me moaning about the difficulty of extracting ice cubes from a hard plastic tray come the umpteenth G&T of the evening. Well, in a brief outbreak of humanity, the family have bought me a new ice cube tray which has soft dimples to cradle the water beneath the rigid plastic tray. To dispense, you just gently push this soft plastic. I think it is possibly the best thing I have ever been bought in my life.






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