"Any ideas for a blog post? I need something light and easy, nothing that will require research, nothing too serious, nothing too personal.”
Having just finished reading ‘Stoner’ by John Williams, the must-read novel of 2013 according to the literary establishment in the UK, I was still deep within the pages of this bleakly depressing and utterly gripping book; nothing suitable sprang to mind.
“Have you mentioned 'Bring Up The Bodies’ yet?” Beloved answered, metaphorically scratching his head. We went to see the second of the Mantel adaptations at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon last Saturday.
“I want something light and entertaining. Besides, the people who read my blog are not culture vultures. A review of a serious play would interest few of them.”
“Yes, I see that; of course, you want to write for your readers. Mind you, the Tudors are absolutely at the top of the tree of current interest. You can’t get away from them on TV.”
Beloved had a point. There’s one more or less populist programme after the other about them; learned researchers and historians strutting their stuff in front of the cameras, not to mention fictionalisations with added cleavage, smouldering, meaningful looks and gruesome executions galore.
Henry VIII went in for gruesome executions on a grand scale. Depending on which source you follow, during his reign between 1509 and 1547, an estimated 57,000 to 72,000 English subjects lost their heads, and not in a nice, flirtatious way. As soon as he ascended the throne he chopped off the heads of his father’s most influential advisers; he was probably just following the old adage 'start as you mean to go on’. New brooms and all that. By comparison, his daughter , who succeeded him on the throne, killed fewer than 300 people during her six years as queen. But she came to be called ‘Bloody Mary’. Talk about double standards. Feminism still has a job to do on this one, even in these enlightened times.
“No, writing about Tudor politics doesn’t strike me as an apt subject for a lightweight blogpost.” I needed to turn the conversation back to the matter in hand.
“Put like that, I agree.”
“Just think though, nowadays, if governments want to do away with politicians who have served their purpose, or others, who have become a thorn in the flesh of whoever happens to be paying the piper, they get the media to do it for them. No blood visible. Public opinion will do the rest. Blood and circuses for the 21st century. In Tudor times, the populace gathered around the scaffold or the executioner’s block, today, we read the Daily Muckraker.
“At least we no longer kill them dead.”
“No such luck, instead they get to ‘spend more time with their families’ “.
“This is all very well, and I’m sure we could go on, but it still leaves me short of an idea for a blogpost. Something light and funny, maybe?”
PS: For US readers:
“Spending time with one’s family is a metaphor for being sent into the desert politically.