Archive for May, 2022

Thursday 19th May 2022

Posted in Uncategorized on May 19, 2022 by uppyalf

Wednesday 18th May 2022

Posted in Uncategorized on May 18, 2022 by uppyalf

Tuesday 17th May 2022

Posted in Uncategorized on May 17, 2022 by uppyalf

The infamous ‘bad’ King John, villain of every Robin Hood tale, is most famous for sealing Magna Carta which some historians regard as the first step towards England’s constitutional monarchy.

As the fourth surviving son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, John was never expected to become king and was destined for a career in the Church. With so many older brothers there was nothing left for him to inherit and he was given the rather humiliating epithet ‘Lackland’.

John’s early years were overshadowed by conflicts between his father and his older brothers and between his parents. Following the death of his older and much more popular brother, Richard the Lionheart, John became king in 1199. He was an unpopular monarch and at the time of his death he had lost the majority of his lands in France and the English barons were in open rebellion against him.

King John seems to have been fond of Worcester and spent Christmas here in 1214. He stipulated in his Will that he wanted to be buried in Worcester Cathedral, between the shrines of St Wulfstan and St Oswald. The original Will (the oldest remaining royal will in England) is still kept in the Cathedral Library and can be seen by appointment when the Library is open.

King John is buried in a place of honour in front of the High Altar. His tomb features the Plantaganet badge of three lions (or strictly leopards!), and has the oldest royal effigy in England. John’s son, Henry III visited his father’s tomb and became an important benefactor of the Cathedral.

When King John of England died, largely unmourned, in 1216 he gave instructions that his body be buried before the high altar of the cathedral church of Worcester, and close to the shrines of St Wulfstan and St Oswald. If the king had won precious few friends in his lifetime, he might perhaps count on these two for the life-to-come.

King John still lies in the same spot today, but his two saintly companions paid the price for a later king’s divorce from Rome. Under Henry VIII the shrines of Oswald and Wulfstan were torn down, and their bodies sealed in lead.

The two saints had much in common. Both dated back to Anglo-Saxon times and both had been bishops of Worcester. There might have been a third. Bishop Dunstan – another popular saint – was also canonized, but his translation to Canterbury in 960 took him to Kent instead.

Quite how the monks of Worcester felt about the arrival of the king’s body is unrecorded, but there’s a fair chance they were less than delighted. They were in the middle of building work.

So popular had St Wulfstan become to pilgrims that the east end of the church was being expanded to accommodate them. The work was completed two years after King John’s death, when his son and successor – Henry III – was invited to the dedication, and to see the saint’s body transferred to a splendid new tomb.

You wait years to see a Plantagenet, and then two come along almost at once.

So who was this Wulfstan who attracted such devotion from kings and commoners ?

Wulfstan was born a Warwickshire man, born in Long Itchington in c1008. The date is not certain, but it was close enough for Worcester to celebrate the millennium of his birth two years ago. Naming children was much more flexible in Saxon days; it seems that Wulfstan’s name derived partly from his mother – Wulfgeva – and partly from his father – Athelstan.

Wulfstan was educated first at the abbey of Evesham and then at Peterborough, before being enrolled as a clerk at the priory of Worcester. He was ordained in 1038, and began to climb the ecclesiastical ladder.

In 1062 he became bishop and remained in that position for more than 30 years. Wulfstan died at Worcester in 1095, probably in his 85th year.

If all this sounds rather unexceptional, it conceals a much more interesting sub-text. Even if your historical knowledge fits easily onto the back of a postcard, you will certainly be aware that England went through a change a management over that period.

No longer a family firm run by the Anglo-Saxons, it became a multi-national with a Norman as managing director.

One thing we know of the Normans is that they wanted their own men in positions of power, both in the state and the church. For a Saxon to hold on to his bishopric was very unusual indeed, and by the time he died, Wulfstan was the only English-born bishop in England.

The story goes – in existence at least since 1138 – that when Wulfstan was summoned to Westminster to yield up his crozier to King William, he refused, saying that he would only give it to the Saxon king who had appointed him. He thereupon drove his staff into the tomb of Edward the Confessor, where it stuck fast. Only Wulfstan, says the legend, was able to pull it out.

Those early saints’ lives need to be taken with a pinch of salt, of course. But for what it’s worth, Wulfstan’s contemporary biographer also records that the bishop became a vegetarian as an act of contrition for thinking of roast goose whilst he was conducting a service.

Yet hold onto his seat he did, and Worcester came to be very grateful for that, for Wulfstan transformed the diocese over which he presided for 33 years. He founded the priory at Great Malvern, ordered large-scale building work at Hereford and Tewkesbury, and no doubt at many parish churches too.

But Wulfstan reserved his greatest efforts for the cathedral in Worcester itself, increasing the number of monks from 12 to 50, commissioning manuscripts, acquiring new lands and replacing St Oswald’s old cathedral with something much more substantial.

According to a contemporary biographer, tearing down the old Saxon cathedral brought Wulfstan to tears – “pompusly destroying the work of saints”, he called it – but down it came nonetheless. The bishop might have been a Saxon by birth, but his instincts were now thoroughly Norman.

Given the size of the new church, practically the same length and width of the current cathedral, it was a mammoth undertaking. Stark, white and immense it was, a church of vast proportions for the new age. Although the building was not complete when Wulfstan died in 1095 it was largely so, and a powerful legacy to his successors.

But if Wulfstan had effectively erased the achievements of his own saintly predecessor, Oswald, the same fate was to befall him.

Ironically, such was the fame of Wulfstan that the church was being rebuilt to reflect the importance of his shrine, just as King John made his final pilgrimage there.

Today it is only below ground – in the crypt – that we can get a real sense of Wulfstan’s achievement. No doubt Wulfstan had a good idea of what he wanted the chapter house to look like too, but it was only completed 15 years or so after his death.

The crypt at Worcester is undoubtedly one of the finest underground spaces in England, a dense forest of plain Romanesque columns, no less than seven bays wide.

Only here can one feel the stark simplicity that was Wulfstan’s style. In the absence of a burial place, this will have to be the good bishop’s memorial.

Prince Arthur Tudor was the eldest son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Named after the great hero of British mythology, Arthur’s birth in 1486 symbolised hope and unity for a country which had been ravaged by the Wars of the Roses. His parents’ marriage united the houses of Lancaster and York and the new Tudor dynasty was born.

Henry arranged an advantageous foreign marriage for his son, to Princess Catherine of Aragon. The newly-wed Prince and Princess of Wales began their married life at Ludlow Castle but they had only been married a few months before both of them became dangerously ill with ‘sweating sickness’. Catherine recovered but Arthur died aged only 15 in 1502.

Arthur was buried in Worcester Cathedral and his chantry, located to the right of the High Altar, near the tomb of King John, still survives. Included on the chantry are many heraldic carvings symbolising the various houses such as York, Lancaster, Beaufort and even Catherine of Aragon’s pomegranate.

On Arthur’s death, his younger brother Henry became heir to the throne and the new Prince of Wales. Henry VII died in 1509 and after some years of uncertainty, the new king Henry VIII married his brother’s widow. They were married for 24 years before Henry sought an annulment to marry Anne Boleyn and change the Church in England forever. It was her previous marriage to Arthur that gave Henry the opportunity to divorce Catherine.

During the reign of Henry VIII’s son (and Arthur’s nephew) the protestant Edward VI, some of the carvings on Arthur’s chantry were damaged, but the chantry itself survived.

Sir John Beauchamp of Holt rose rapidly in the favour of Richard II. He served in the wars in France, and received the honour of knighthood for his service in the wars against the Scotch. In 1377 he became Steward of the King’s household, and on October 10th of the same year was by patent (being the first instance of the kind) created Lord de Beauchamp, Baron of Kidderminster. However, he did not enjoy these honours long – he was seized by the King for having appeared in arms in London together with other Lords “for treasonable purposes” – and after confinement at Dover he was beheaded on Tower Hill aged 58.
It was said that the monks at Worcester Cathedral, being ancient friends of his family, received his body into their Cathedral, in which it was interred, and his tomb was erected over his grave. If you believe that the tomb belongs to Sir John Beauchamp of Holt, you may attribute the relevance of the swans that the couple rest their heads on to the crest of the Atwoods of Wolverly, the last of whom John Beauchamp of Holt was declared to be heir.

Monday 16th May 2022

Posted in Uncategorized on May 16, 2022 by uppyalf

I’m Mandy fly me

Just like a rolling stone
I’m outside looking in
But if your chance came would you take it
Where on earth do I begin?
I’m Mandy fly me
I’ve often heard her jingle
It’s never struck a chord
With a smile as bright as sunshine
She called me through the poster
And welcomed me aboard
She led me she fed me
She read me like a book
But I’m hiding in the small print
Won’t you take another look?
And take me away
Try me Mandy fly me away
The world was spinning like a ball
And then it wasn’t there at all
And as my heart began to fall
I saw her walking on the water
As the sharks were coming for me
I felt Mandy pull me up give me the kiss of life
Just like the girl in Dr. No, No, No, No
Ah when they pulled me from the wreckage
And her body couldn’t be found
Was it in my mind it seems
I had a crazy dream?
I told them so
But they said no, no, no, no
I found me on a street
And starin’ at a wall
If it hadn’t have been for Mandy
Her promise up above me
Well I wouldn’t be here at all
So if you’re travellin’ in the sky
Don’t be surprised if someone said: “Hi”
I’m Mandy fly me
stuck in my head for days now???

“I saw a tramp standing in front of an American Airlines poster that featured a beautiful stewardess, smiling seductively and beckoning with her finger: ‘Hi, I’m Cheryl… Fly Me!’” Stewart recalls. “The statement was obviously a pseudo-sexual invitation: ‘Come on, big boy, book a flight with us and I’m all yours.’ But watching this poor, ragged soul, I wondered if he was fantasising about getting on the flight, and ‘getting off’ with her, when realistically he would never board any aeroplane – [let alone] with her.”
“Eric didn’t see the poster, I did,” insists Gouldman, citing a United Airlines billboard that he claims said: ‘I’m Susie, fly me to Miami’. “That intrigued me because there was a real sexual connotation.

Sunday 15th May 2022

Posted in Uncategorized on May 15, 2022 by uppyalf

Saturday 14th May 2022

Posted in Uncategorized on May 15, 2022 by uppyalf

Friday13th May 2022

Posted in Uncategorized on May 13, 2022 by uppyalf

Thursday 12th May 2022

Posted in Uncategorized on May 12, 2022 by uppyalf

The Sight of the Green Dragon

Swans and butterflies
Rivers and plants
All on a corner to welcome
Stratford’s visitors
Hide the scruffy hoardings
At the site of The Green Dragon
The Queens jubilee is approaching
I ask if we can sit down
Rest your old legs the one girl said
We meet with the artist
To pick our brains
Not mine of course
I would not let them in
Don’t think too deeply
The council lady said
I was in trouble from the word go
Done by the end of May
Artist speaks
No Shakespeare
He’s been done to death
Tells of his work
His projects
Art therapy
They stare at their phones
I did not let them in
They did not take my name
Or take my details
A councillor arrived
Dachshund in the arms of his wife
He in suit Ukraine colours on lapel
He had the laugh of a fake
I did as the landlord of The Green Dragon requested
So I rose from the table and buggered off!
I thought that would be brilliant on the mural
Bugger Off!
But alas butterflies, a swan on a bike, rivers and plants

I would like a black cloud over bills mothers
This would defiantly make the brummies’ smile

Bish 12th May 2022

Wednesday 11th May 2022

Posted in Uncategorized on May 11, 2022 by uppyalf

Out Beyond Ideas

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’
doesn’t make any sense.

Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī

Tuesday 10th May 2022

Posted in Uncategorized on May 10, 2022 by uppyalf