Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Royal Flush

It's gratifying to learn that the King of Wessex has decided to grace the village of Wodetun Bassett (it takes all sorts..) with a royal title. This small settlement in the woody plains of Wiltshire is a staging post for military personnel, and - sad to say - has been (and continues to be) the regular witness of cartloads of the cadavers of noble Anglo-Saxon soldiers slain in the Levantine, Mesopotamian and Bactrian kingdoms. In the interests of Anglo-Saxon imbecility and greed, they were sent to the battlefields to wage wars which have so far proved to be unjustifiable, wasteful and unprofitable.They've benefited no one - except those unscrupulous politicos, merchants and moneylenders who've generated good business from them. Nevertheless, the loyal local folk of Wodetun Bassett regularly line the streets to pay homage to the fallen - which I suppose is why it's just been granted such an honour.

But this isn't the only reason why towns and villages receive royal status; there are various places within the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms which have received royal titles simply because a monarch has happened to stay there overnight. Or perhaps the king of the day has taken a liking to the place for its charm and its landscape and has visited regularly. Or perhaps a royal personage has just happened to take a long-awaited dump there, and stopped for supper (after having washed his hands, I trust) and stayed the night in a local inn. There are also towns renowned for the healing properties of their waters; these are favourite places for potentates to pose and posture in their power and prosperity; these are usually prefixed with a 'Royal' and suffixed by a 'Spa' - but I've never heard of anyone sparring there, but there are market stalls bearing the same name..

Here in Northumbria, we have no such exalted titles to our settlements. Old King Alhfrith has been on the throne for ninety years, and he doesn't get out and about much.The foul-mouthed Queen Hillida is marginally more sprightly, and often travels through the realm, where she parades her impressive ignorance by pontificating about things of which she has no knowledge, or telling dirty jokes and frightening or upsetting those of a nervous and sensitive disposition. Suffice it to say, she's universally despised; she doesn't have the clout to adorn the name of any of the villages she's been known to frequent with a 'Royal' appellation.

As for me - I simply don't give a rat's rear. It's all human vainglory, anyway; the real King makes His presence known regularly when the monks meet in the Abbey for worship. No title will ever beat that.

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