Monday, January 15, 2007

The Bloody Tower


I hear that the Tower of London has employed its first female Beefeater in 522 years. Good thing too. It’s about time these historical attractions were dragged into the twenty-first century. I once visited the Tower with our all-female acrobat team – we got a guided tour from a grizzled member of the yeomanry wearing the famous Toyland costume. Although the fellow did a competent job, he couldn’t resist showing off in front of the girls. I’ve noticed this tendency in the human male – when a gorilla’s in the vicinity, he makes a special effort to convince any watching females that he’s the dude who’s calling the shots.

“As you can see there are trees planted all around the courtyard,” he said, “but I hope our hairy friend won’t be tempted on this occasion.”

I assumed he meant the temptation to climb them rather than piss on them.

“If I do get the urge I’ll fight it with all my strength,” I assured him. “But if worst comes to worst, you can always lure me down by sticking a plum on the end of one of those long spikes you warders are equipped with.”

He grinned sheepishly.

The main history lesson I took from the visit was what appalling despots the monarchs of England used to be. One of the worst was that disgusting ox King Henry VIII, who had the hapless Anne Boleyn beheaded in the Tower courtyard for the alleged crimes of adultery (i.e. playing a game of kiss-chase with a childhood friend) and witchcraft (i.e. singing French ditties while wearing a pointed hat). Her real offence, it seems, was miscarrying the male foetus of the Tudor tyrant, for which a more just reward would have been a purse of fifty guineas.

The Tower complex was certainly impressive, but I left with the feeling that it lacked the romance of a truly first-class tourist venue. Perhaps it’s because it was built by those dour dismal Normans, merciless control-freaks who recorded every cowpat and codpiece in their infamous Domesday Book. That kind of obsessive documentation leaves no room for fable and fantasy, which are the lifeblood of all the most popular historical sites. If I were in charge of the English Tourist Board, I would mug up on Dark Age myths and circulate a few choice stories about places to visit near the Thames.

I hear, for example, that there’s now a giant wheel on the South Bank, where tourists pay a handsome fee for the privilege of gazing at the gorgeous scenery of Tooting. How many more visitors would be lured to that wheel if people realised the historical significance of the plot of land beneath it? It is the very spot, forsooth, where Osgood the Good and his fearless Saxon pikers filleted and skewered the favourite goat of Odkell the Viking, causing the broken-hearted heathen to wander aimlessly though the Thames mudflats bleating maudlin Norse dirges. It is said that you can still hear those laments if you listen hard on Waterloo Bridge on a windswept winter night.

Part of the problem, I suspect, is that the English lack the poetic sensibilities of their cousins north of the border, who have mastered the art of publicising their own myths in the spooky voice of the Highland crofter. The Loch Ness monster is a classic example. I know for a fact that Nessie was actually a circus elephant taking a well-earned bath after performing in a show, but you don’t hear the Scotch pouring cold water on the gibbering of gullible tourists or objecting to the latest
Hollywood movie about the legend. Those canny Celtic folk know on which side of the kilt their sporrans are buttered.


Comments:
As a Scot I love our Gothic slant on all our history. In Edinburgh you can visit under the City and see the remains of the original Edinburgh. Of course they sell the history as a Ghost Walk and claim that its haunted. . .so one gets a history lesson with bump in the night thrills!
 
This chicken recently had the opportunity to amble along the banks of the Thames and stopped by at the aforementioned attractions.
I thought the Tower was ruined by the plethora of fish and chip shops and the ravens with cut off wings. I suppose one could say the barbarism of the forefathers continues unabated...
As for the wheel - I wondered what those strange vibrations were I kept on picking up - must have been the resonance of the last bleat of Odkell's goat.
 
Forget about Beefeaters, GB, I can't think of a single monument that wouldn't be improved by a team of cheerleaders doing their stuff on it. Let's start with Stonehenge.
 
That would have to be the scrawniest beefeater I've ever seen!
Maybe it was the mad cow shortage that caused it, but seriously, that feller is a disgrace!
 
No no GB. Those laments on Waterloo bridge are from Vivien Leigh from the film of the same name when she gave up her lover(Robert Taylor) after a bracing chat with C Aubrey Smith. Soo sad:(
 
Beefeater is certainly my favourite brand of gin, 1:5 with Schweppes tonic, two ice cubes and a slice of lemon. Bombay Sapphire is just nouveau riche posturing, and Gordon's is mother's ruin. Well it ruined mine, anyway.

The Jocks certainly are canny, but the accent is devilishly attractive. Close your eyes and Rab C. Nesbitt could turn into Bond, Jamesh Bond.
 
It's just a matter of time before the Tower is sponsored by McDonald's and the warders become Beefburgereaters
 
So I take it that none of you has actually been up on the wheel.

Pi, didn't Vivian Leigh suffer from nymphomania during her marriage to Olivier?

What about David Steele, Daphne? Would you have let him murmur sweet nothings in your ear?

Hasn't someone already invested a Tower Burger, Kim?
 
I sincerely hope that picture at the top is NOT of the first female beefeater. For if it is...why the only adjective that comes to mind is 'fugly'. I am impressed with the facial hair though...takes a strong, confident woman to pull off that hat AND the goatee, you know?
 
It's not Kara dear. BTW, I really like your face. It's funny and pretty at the same time, which isn't easy.
 
I amin the position of agreeing with everything you say - apart from the Loch ness Monster by the way - which WAS real but has emigrated to the States because of global warming. In Bridport we still follow many of the old ways - may I invite you to visit us? Your hairiness would meet many equally intelligent simians amongst the many limbed mutants and vicious flesh eating hordes in South Devon.
 
I have never had the opportunity to visit such a place but would like to before it becomes overrun with commercialism... I would love to hear what they say about King Henry. What a loathsome character of history.

Good thing that picture isn't one of the new Women. I agree with Kara as that it would be quite fugly, and yet scary at the same time. Lets just say, not very pleasing to the eyes. Hopefully, there will soon be some pictures of them because now my curiosity is peaked :) My morbid curiosity that is...
 
GB: yes and what they now call bipolar disease. She was always the last to bed and wore everybody out but my sympathy tends to go to her rather than Olivier who didn't rock my boat. I know you have a sweet nature and won't mind my saying she spells her name unusually - Vivien.
 
Thanks for the information, Pi, it is always a pleasure to be corrected by you!

That's very civil of you, Mr Dog. I'll have to ask Dr Whipsnade to visit first to make sure the facilities are in order. Many moons ago I wrote this piece about your master, Dick Dastardly. One of the paragraphs concerns your good self.

Chalice, I now feel like an ass for not ferreting out a picture of this lady. Like her male colleagues, she would have served in the army for 20 or so years. I certainly would recommend a visit: a Beefeater will take you on a tour for no extra charge.
 
We may know what sides are sporrans are buttered, Nana's, but they inevitably fall buttered side down. Traditionally, it is the tragic flaw in our national character to take the most maudlin explanation for this and assume the Fates have it in for us. We in the Western Isles know that it's not the English or the inattentive sporran-maker, or even the butter that is the problem. We know we don't get any sunshine because we are bad and God is either punishing us for something or testing us but, still, we have jam on our sporrans and if they fall we just pick the bits out. The five-second rule!

I'm with Daphne on Beefeaters. I first tried it at age 7 at my great-grandmother's funeral. A snooping griever came upon me in the dining-room and ratted me out to my granny who came in, looked at me under the table with the Beefeaters and said, "I think I'll join you in one, darling."
 
Wait. wait. Did I just get hit on by a gorilla up there? Excellent.

Oh, and I've been on the London Eye, if that's what you were asking. Is that what you were asking? I had to restrain myself from running at and slamming into the clear glass walls (you know, like I was gonna jump to my death, but couldn't) just to freak out the other tourists. They were Japanese. The end.
 
Well, Sam, the glass must be half full even in the Western Isles, what with the gin and the haggis and the guga sandwiches. Didn't George Orwell or someone go and live there?

Kara, we call that gentle flirting in the jungle where I live. If I were hitting on you, you'd have my big hairy paws around your waist. And yes, I was talking about the London Eye. Do you remember seeing anything interesting from up there? The M25 perhaps?
 
As a Stuart one understands your displeasure of that fat oaf Henry. His full matrimonial saga can be cut down to "divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived". Still, adds a bit of colour to the family I suppose. I asked for my half-crown back after going on the wheel. It's far too slow and you only go around once. Call that a ride?!

Nessy also has a lesser known sister monster known as Morag of Loch Morar. She's a little shy compared to the fame hungry Nessy.
 
Sir Baron Sir,

You are the first nobleman to visit since Lord Angus Fartwell graced us with his presence.

I don't believe in any of these Scotch monsters. Come to Africa if you want to see a real one. The worst villains are the lions.
 
Oh shame on you, Gorilla. Lions aren't monsters - they're just big, sometimes hungry, pussycats. If you want a real monster you should meet my werechicken granny.
 
I just linked you, I hope you don't mind, especially since my new template has gone all twee and completely and awfully girly. . .

Wouldn't want a big gorilla like you being related to anything so femine, without your kindest permissions.
 
Ms Hen, it is obvious to me that you have never been eaten by a lion.

Link away, Drama Queen, I've already linked you. It takes an early vulture to beat this gorilla to the link. And I love it when you talk girly...
 
I must admit that on my various grand tours I found that being eaten by a lion caused a great deal more displeasure than staring into the peaty waters of Loch Ness.
 
我实际上认为您将发现奈斯湖妖怪是丢失的Bridport 突变体。什么是牛肉食者? 他们整天吃牛肉吗?
I thought in fact you discovered the Nath lake monster will be the loss Bridport mutant. What is the cow meat? They eat the beef all day?
 
Baron, I am sure we can agree that there are few things worse than being eaten by a lion. My friend Davey Attenborough will one day realise that he has spent much of his life making snuff videos.

Mu Tai Dong, as you show a picture of your boyfriend in your blog, may I presume to assume that you are a woman?
 
Interesting. I am glad to be here.
 
I didn't even know they made a Nessie movie in 96'.

Apparently no one else did either. ;)

Steve~
 
Ah, The Ballad of Odkells Goat, often brings a tear to the eye...

Great blog by the way - I suspect I'll be back soon!
 
Um...some water...some buildings...some grey sky...maybe a bird...I can't remember. It was a couple years ago.

And 'gentle flirting' is for pansies. That's right. pansies.
 
Thanks, Seany, see you soon.

Well, Kara dearest, since you mistook it for "hitting on you", I can only assume that you want the men you fancy to behave like pansies.
 
oh SNAP!

Maybe it's just all I know. Ever think of that? The manly northwestern lumberjacks have long since been replaced with wannabe Elliot Smiths meandering about in their Converse high tops with coffee IVs hanging from their wrists. So you see, it was an easy mistake.

Lord, but I'm bored today.
 
If you're this sassy on your dates, Kara, even the lumberjacks might be intimidated.

Here's some advice: If a man compliments you, just smile bashfully and flutter your eyelids. I know it won't be easy, but the man will love it and quite possibly fall head-over-heels for you.

In case you're wondering, I learned this from watching humans in the circus.

Been a pleasure talking to you, Miss Kara. You sure are a purdy lady! Time for bed in the jungle, now.
 
I've been wondering if gorillas have pubic hair or pubic baldness - and I realise i've never noticed because David Attenborough never said - but I guess he never met you who he could just ask stuff.
 
Very much enjoyed my time spent strolling through your site...as a poet and an avid reader, I found it both enlightening and enriching. I thank you...
 
是您会猜测的Apey!
Is Apey which you can guess!
 
We're hairy all over, Mutley. It's our human cousins who've developed a fetish for shaving off the pubes.

Glad you liked it, Mr Lettershaper, and good luck with the poetry.

Yes, Ms Dong! I see that you give your sex on your profile page! I should have realised, of course, because your name is so feminine.
 
I don't completely trust my brain's automatic response but Orwell suggests Jura.
 
Pity you didn't get to see his plumbs.
 
Sorry, I meant plums.... Not that it makes the comment any more sensible.
 
What a load of tosh , the scots dont make anything of anything much , they are all too busy lying in a pool of sick on the glasgow to euston express surrounded by empty tenants extra cans
 
You're right, Pi, he wrote '1984' there.

Do you like looking at plums, Julia? I'd rather be eating them.

You're all mouth, Beast. I'd like to see you waving the Cross of St George on the Glasgow to Euston Express.
 
你好我是有一个非常女性名字, 象花。如此多少个香蕉您吃每天天!You are good I to have an unusual feminine name, likely spend. So how many banana you eats each daily!
 
Holy Moly macaroni!
I turns my back for ten minutes and you've become a cult.
I am pleased for once.
 
Dr M, it was because you turned your back that I made overtures to all these good folks. I was auditioning for someone to fill your boots.

Miss Mu Tai, I limit myself to one big bunch a day.

Next post tomorrow morning.
 
Crazy story.
I don't know where you heard that.
 
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