One of the things I keep coming across is a claim that Richard III made English the ‘official language’ of England. Or that he was the first king to have official records – Acts of Parliament and the like – written in English. He wasn’t. The Rolls of Parliament, the Close Rolls and the Proceedings of Privy Council were written in English throughout the Wars of the Roses. There’s still the odd bit of French and, of course, Latin in the Parliamentary Rolls, but English is, by far, the predominant language.

I’m not sure where this story comes from. I believe (and I could be wrong – please correct me if I am) that Richard III was the first king to give his coronation oath in English, but this is a far cry from officially affording English status as a ‘national’ or ‘official’ language.

English (or Middle English as we now call it) was, for a time, drowned out by Norman French and might well have succumbed to it altogether. But English is unusual in this regard – mostly, a newly introduced dominant language will wipe out existing languages, especially if it spreads to all areas of life, and extra especially when the newly dominant group keeps itself separate and has a firm hand on power. This has certainly happened in the Americas, Australia and parts of Africa in the fairly recent past. The Roman Empire was particularly good at this. What was different in England is the swiftly organised marriages between Normans and Saxon nobility. Within a couple of generations, English was the language of choice for the children of mixed heritage, even as they maintained French for all the ‘important’ things in life.

This is, briefly, how it happens. Essentially, children (particularly adolescents) are at the forefront of societal language choices. Parents and grandparents will change their own language use to suit their children and grandchildren. If the kids are speaking Language A (and their linguistic background is Language B), then the grown ups will use Language A when speaking with them. This is a seriously widespread phenomenon. In the case of most threatened, or dominated, languages, this can cause language death very quickly – within a single generation. In the case of English, it was its salvation. It was hugely altered, lexically and grammatically, but English nonetheless. I’ve seen it suggested, quite seriously, that Saxon mothers and nurses were ‘secretly’ teaching their children English, and that’s why it survived. That doesn’t explain the massive changes in the language nor, in fact, its survival. An intellectual knowledge of a language, learning it in school or secretly from a caregiver, doesn’t turn it into a fully used and fully useful language. Under these circumstances, the learners only have one place to use the language – in class or with the caregiver. You could have a thousand people doing this and it won’t make a scrap of difference to the fate of the language – what matters is interaction with other speakers. Lots of interaction. It’s like the difference between learning Spanish in school and going to live in Santiago for a year.

Children want to speak with other children. They also want to speak with adults, but the important thing is being able to talk to other kids. It’s why the children of migrants often, very quickly, pick up the language of their new home, and why knowledge of their first language is lost. They have a whole bunch of new kids to talk to, and Mum and Dad (whatever their feelings about their kids maintaining their first language) will make the switch with them, in order to be able to talk to them. So, these Anglo-Norman children needed, more than anything, to find a way to interact with Saxon children. And that way was English. The greater the distance, historically and culturally, between England and Normandy, the more people in positions of power, wealth and authority identified as ‘English’ and not ‘Norman’ – the more English became entrenched.

French held on, in official circles, for some considerable time but, by the time Henry VI was on the throne, it was very much a second language for those who spoke it at all. Add to that the wars between France and England, and French was pretty much doomed. Richard III might have learned French as a child, but his language of choice was English. As it was for his brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents.

So, no, Richard III did not make English the official language of England.


In response to a post very helpfully entitled ‘The delusions of the Cairo-dwellers”

What I’m not going to do is stoop to the blogger’s level with cheap insults. What I am going to do is apply logic to some quite baffling ‘arguments’. Because, here in the real world, logic is not only at home but gets up and answers the doorbell. We have to be careful, though – shine any kind of light in the swamps of Illogicity and there’s scurrying and hurrying and snapping at ankles.

1. If Margaret of Burgundy lied about the identity of Perkin Warbeck, then the King of France must have been lying about Richard III murdering the Princes.

Firstly, to suggest that Person A might have lied about something doesn’t mean that everyone else is a liar. This is something about individual human beings the inhabitants of Illogicity might not have grasped – we’re not all exactly the same. Margaret of Burgundy may have deliberately lied about the identity of Perkin Warbeck, or she may have allowed herself to be convinced she actually believed he was her nephew – in her letters, she certainly sounds convinced. We just don’t know. But let’s say she did lie about it… that doesn’t prevent anyone else who was alive at the time telling the truth. One in all in just doesn’t apply here.

While we’re on the subject of possible lies told by the duchess of Burgundy… Here’s a puzzle that requires huge twists of logic, great strands macramed into some kind of demonic Pot Hanger of Illogic… If Perkin really was the duke of York, he puts his uncle Richard (by name) right in the frame for the murder of his brother. In a letter, Perkin clearly states that, on Richard’s orders, a ‘lord’ came to the Tower, murdered Edward and was going to murder young Richard, only he took pity on him and smuggled him away to Flanders. This is an eye witness to these events. And he names the killer. I’ve seen this written off as a ‘forgery’ or (somehow) yet more ‘Tudor Propaganda’ (presumably sent back through time in the countess of Richmond’s time machine). It’s either a true recollection of the event, or it’s a lie. If it’s a lie, then Margaret of Burgundy was involved in concocting it, or allowed it to be concocted without a whisper of protest. If it’s the truth, then it’s the truth, and Margaret of Burgundy knew it to be the truth.

And then there’s the King of France thing. I don’t know many people who’ve (seriously) said, “The King of France said Richard murdered the Princes, and that’s all the proof I need!”. What’s usually said is something like, “The King of France mentions it, which is evidence the rumours Richard did away with the princes was extant in his lifetime”. Two quite different things, really. But it’s always easier to argue against what’s not being said than against what is…

2. Elizabeth Wydeville ‘retired’ to Bermondsey Abbey because Henry VII was punishing her for something.

We don’t exactly know why Elizabeth Wydeville retired to Bermondsey. She didn’t make a note in her diary. Here’s a blog post from Susan Higginbotham discussing it. There’s no real need to leap to any conclusions about her being ‘put away’ by Henry Tudor. Unless, of course, that feeds right into a particular view of Henry Tudor. Which, quite rightly, the inhabitants of the swamps of Illogicity argue quite strenuously against in the case of Richard III. Saying this kind of thing gets your name added to the list of ‘Tydderite Trolls’ but it’s worth saying anyway: If you want your historical hero to be treated fairly and not ‘maligned’, then you might want to lay off ‘maligning’ other people from history. Go read The Water Babies, particularly the bits involving Mrs Bedonebyasyouwould.

3. Everyone says Richard III was a usurper but no-one says Henry VII was.

There are a lot of people who believe Richard III was a usurper who also believe Henry Tudor was. However, there is one slight difference between the way Richard III came to the throne and the way Henry VII did, and that’s all about conquest. It might not have been cricket, he might not have had the most spectacularly sound claim in history, but he deposed the reigning king in open battle. Richard III didn’t. That’s why we have to look at these things differently, and not try and compare apples and oranges. Which is pretty classic argument deflection

3. All the proof needed of Edward IV’s secret marriage to Eleanor Butler is his secret marriage to Elizabeth Wydeville.

It’s rather tedious to hear, time after time, how ‘romantic’ it was that Edward IV made a secret marriage with Elizabeth Wydeville. It wasn’t ‘romantic’. It was monumentally dumb. Kings just don’t get to go around marrying whoever they like, not even great strapping lads like Edward. It was good for him – there’s every indication it was an extremely happy marriage, but stirred up a spot of bother. Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is ‘Edward IV made one secret marriage, so clearly this was just the last in a long line of secret marriages’. Or, in any case, two. But we know about the marriage to Elizabeth Wydeville. We know it from events of their lives, not from something that was brought up after Edward IV’s death. And certainly not from something that was brought up after they were both dead. This is why there is doubt – serious doubt – about whether the pre contract story, the ‘Edward secretly married Eleanor Butler before he secretly married Elizabeth Wydeville’ story, can be taken at face value. Because there’s nothing – nothing – concrete to say it took place at all. And the two people most directly involved were dead, they could neither refute nor confirm the story. In this case, the act of parliament on its own just isn’t enough. Henry VII says in an act of parliament Richard III ‘shed infants’ blood’ – is that enough to declare him guilty without other evidence to corroborate it? If you said  no, then you’d be right!

4. Thomas More, the Princes, ten foot holes, bones in urns &c &c &c.

No-one takes Thomas More at face value. He was quite possibly writing some kind of satire. To waste time disputing and refuting his every word is a pointless exercise. The bones in the Tower exist. They were examined quite thoroughly using the technology available at the time. The conclusion reached was that they were more likely to be the bones of the Princes in the Tower than anyone else. That may, or may not, be proved correct should they ever be subjected to further testing. As to ‘why weren’t they thrown into the Thames?’… Because bodies thrown into the Thames have a habit of floating to the surface. And that would have been seriously embarrassing. I’d say the very last means of disposal anyone who might have murdered the princes would have considered was ‘hey, let’s chuck them in the Thames!’

5. Owen Tudor and Katherine de Valois weren’t secretly married because there’s those who say maybe Edward IV and Eleanor Butler weren’t.

Owen Tudor was secretly married to Katherine de Valois. There’s an act of parliament that mentions it. And her sons were alive at the time. So was her secret husband. So, lots of people to scratch their heads and say ‘huh? wha?’ if it wasn’t true. When the act of parliament that talked about Edward IV’s supposed secret marriage to Eleanor Butler was written, both of the principals were dead. And a third party benefited hugely from the revelation. So it’s difficult for many people to take that act of parliament as the final word. Especially as there’s no other evidence whatsoever to back it up. None of the people named (or in Ms Butler’s case, not named) were around to refute it. And the one person who maybe could (and that’s a big maybe) was hauled out of a council meeting and summarily beheaded.

6. If Eleanor Butler didn’t get her lands from Edward IV, how did she get them?

We don’t know how Elizabeth Butler acquired the lands in question. That’s all we can say. ‘We don’t know how Eleanor Butler acquired the lands in question… so they must have been given to her by Edward IV!… to keep her quiet about their secret marriage!’ is a leap of….? Yes, that’s right! It’s an enormous leap of logic.

7. People always say Richard III ‘murdered’ some people who were executed. No-on says that about other kings!

If Edward IV, Henry VII or Richard III hauled anyone out of a council meeting, without trial, for summary execution over a handy log, that would definitely qualify as murder. Only one of the three did this. Had Edward IV, Henry VII or Richard III arrested the incoming king’s chief advisors and supporters, sent them far away, then (possibly with some kind of show trial) had them executed, that would probably qualify as murder. Several other people were executed during the reign of Richard III. I’d reckon they all had trials, so that doesn’t qualify as ‘murder’. Four men were executed prior to his taking the throne, and none of those deaths was entirely aboveboard. The earl of Warwick was responsible for the unlawful executions (‘murder’) of at least four men during his rebellions. This isn’t a positive reflection on him. Henry II orchestrated the death (‘murder’) of Thomas a Becket. This isn’t a positive reflection on him. Neither are the deaths of Hastings, Rivers, Vaughn and Grey a positive reflection on Richard III. And there’s not much can be done about that without visiting even further injustice on these four men. Lawful execution is lawful execution, whoever’s on the throne. Murder is murder, whoever’s (almost) on the throne.

8. Once the Princes were declared illegitimate, their threat to Richard III vanished. And, anyway, why didn’t Richard do away with young Warwick?

Declaring the princes illegitimate didn’t (and couldn’t) remove them as a threat to Richard III, or any subsequent king. That’s just a fact of life. Does that mean he did away when them? Well, we don’t know what happened to them, but it’s fairly clear to many rational and openminded beings they were dead before August 1485. The young earl of Warwick was affected by his father’s attainder. No-one was likely to seriously back him against Richard because (and I’m seriously surprised so many people have missed this) the very people who might have supported him (the remnants of his grandfather’s affinity) were busy supporting Richard III. Yes, the attainder could have been reversed, just as the ‘illegitimacy’ of Edward IV’s children was. But that would have required whoever wanted it reversed to be in a position to reverse it… and Richard was the only one in that position and, presumably, he didn’t want to reverse it. But the whole argument itself… “You say Person A killed Persons B & C. But he didn’t kill person D, did he? Ergo he didn’t kill B or C, either! Coz, if he’d killed B & C, he’d have gone on to kill D, as well!” I’ll just give you a minute to extricate yourself from the swamp…….

Had the princes survived to adulthood, they would have continued to be a threat to Richard. Now let’s just cycle back to the first para of the post, for a moment. “Perkin Warbeck was the real Duke of York!” (subtext, yes, but arguably it’s there). And what did Perkin Warbeck do? So why might he not have done exactly the same to Uncle Richard, had he survived? And been smuggled to Burgundy &c &c &c? So, yes, by the evidence of that argument alone (whether Perkin was Perkin or Perkin was not), the princes would have continued to be a threat, illegitimate or not.

9. No-one’s allowed to say Richard III was planning to marry his niece but us!

I’m not sure there are many actual, serious historians who believe Richard III was planning to marry his niece. There are several novelists who’ve riffed on this. The latest would appear to be a devoted Ricardian (though the niece in question isn’t Elizabeth but Cecily). So, I guess the question is: why is it not ok for anyone to suggest Richard was planning to marry his niece, but it’s perfectly fine for a Ricardian to write a novel with very premise? Not that I’m expecting any kind of serious answer to that – novelists can write what they like, and I don’t believe this particular novelist is attempting to say any of this actually happened. But you know the weirdest thing about the whole Richard/Elizabeth of York thing? It was started by a proto-Ricardian! Yes, George Buck, who claimed to have seen a genuine letter, written by the genuine princess, which he may well have misinterpreted, was a forerunner of today’s murreyandblue bloggers! So, there you have it. An early Ricardian says “Richard was planning to marry his niece”; a current Ricardian writes a novel in which Richard has a torrid affair with his niece… But woe betide anyone who dares to say Richard was planning to marry his niece!

It’s at this point the swamps of Illogicity tie themselves in knots and disappear up their own S-bends.

(And if you have to explain your insult with an asterisk, maybe it’s time to rethink the insult.)


… and steal silently away into the night?

Now they’ve got themselves mixed up with a Big Name Author and she seems to have liberally imbibed the koolaid!

I don’t know this BNA’s work, I know of it, but I’ve never read her books. She was big in the 90s, I believe. Anyway, some 10 years ago, this BNA decided she’d had enough (Enough!) of nasty reviewers trashing her work. They didn’t like one of her books. Some of them were longstanding fans who were disappointed with her latest offering and left reviews that said that. And BNA was incensed!

Now, please note, I’m not talking about a Piddly Little Untalented Indie Writer with Their Knickers in a Twist. PLUIWTKTs are bad enough and abound on STGRB, where they pointblank refuse to learn anything about their craft from the feedback of anyone. Except the gloriously gushing and glowing feedback of their friends, family and socks. That they learn a great deal from, mainly that they’re not PLUIWTKTs at all, but The Best Writers Evah! Everyone needs to learn from their previous work. Every writer needs to remember they’re only as good as their latest book. But not the PLUIWTKTs. And not BNA.

So, when BNA posted a paean of praise to STGRB on their Facebook page, some people took the opportunity to point out the downside of STGRB. (And there is one. A BIIIG one.) These comments were deleted, as the post wasn’t about STGRB! Despite the fact the OP referred to a lavishly wonderful post on the STGRB website about how BNA is Kicking Bully Arse!

I have to backtrack a little here. Sorry about that.

Some time ago, a friend of mine posted a review of a book on Amazon. I’ve talked about all that a little here. In that post, I mentioned that STGRB added my name to their list of Amazon ‘trolls’. On the strength of a comment I made on a review that accused my friend (and others) of being part of a ‘conspiracy’ to destroy the career of a particular author. Now, someone from STGRB posted on this conversation on BNA’s Facebook page, so I decided that would be a great opportunity to request my name be removed from the list. BNA didn’t like this! I was asked to delete the comment and told I had made some ‘extreme remarks’. Now, I was very careful to make sure the language I used was reflected in previous comments. Words like ‘merciless’, ‘relentless’, ‘cruel’, ‘championing writers’, ‘stalking’, ‘bully’ and ‘even lacking in basic human virtues like sympathy and kindness’. All of which had been used to describe what these horrible trolls were doing to PLUIWTKTs and BNA. None of it was considered ‘extreme’ until I used it. I found that a bit strange.

I had no time to take screenshots before my words were deleted. (My work. © Me. Deleted by someone without my permission. Anyway, moving on…) This means I can’t replicate it here. Oh, it still exists. I copied and pasted it for my own records before it disappeared, but c/p doesn’t have quite the same ring of authenticity as a screenshot. Never mind.

A very helpful suggestion, that I contact STGRB through their website, was made. Strangely, I’m not about to deliver myself into their hands. They’ve already shown their colours by their ongoing behaviour, by adding my name to a list of trolls, by bullying reviewers in the worst possible way, by damaging the reputation of all indie writers who believe their Just Another Indie Writer, Please Read My Book and Review it Honestly! (of which ranks, I am a member) and continuing to parade their ‘championing of writers’ all across the interwebs, when their behaviour is damaging to the very writers they claim to be supporting.

And BNA is doing neither her reputation nor her ego any good by this. That the egos of the STGRB oddities is swelled by this kind of attention, their tactics endorsed and their behaviour unchecked, is a sad side effect. “I can’t tell if what you say is true!” BNA said. Nor could she tell whether any of the claims of the STGRB oddities were true, but that didn’t seem to matter.

“We change all your names to ‘anon’ when you post a comment on our website,” one STGRB oddity said, “because if your real name is there, the trolls will gather and go after you!”

If, however, your name appears in their list of trolls, whether you deserve to be there or not (and there’s a question about whether anyone deserves that), then the STGRB oddities should feel utterly free to gather and go after you. Sounds fair.

(I might add that one particular STGRB oddity posted comments in that conversation under at least two of her fake accounts. I posted under my real, actual, I was born with it, name.)

Remove my name from your list, STGRB. Take down your damaging and insulting website. Stop going after reviewers and writers. Stop handing cups of lukewarm koolaid to BNAs. Pack up your tents and steal away into the night. The vast majority of JAIWPRMB&RIH’s will thank you for it!

Just one final thought. Do you know what I want to do with my time? I want to write. I want to write and edit and proofread and format and edit and proofread and proofread and proofread and write and edit and format… I want to read reviews of my work that are honest, whether they be glowing or critical. I want other people to read those reviews and know them to be honest. If I come across one that’s batshit crazy, I want to have the strength to move past it. Because I want to write &c. What I don’t want to do is spend my time trying to get idiots to see that what they’re doing, in an attempt to keep their writing record squeaky clean, with few honest reviews and no critical ones, has a flow on effect that damages every single indie writer out there. Judging from the behaviour of BNA and other LKAs (Lesser Known Authors), they’re damaging mainstream, trad published writers as well. Pretty soon, no-one on the face of the planet will be able to trust a review and, if STGRB and BNA get their way, no-one on the planet will be able to say “I didn’t like this book because…” And that will be so helpful and useful for writers! Won’t it?

UPDATE: My name has been removed from the STGRB ‘trolls’ list. Now to get them all removed!

Britain’s ‘lost’ monarchs

Posted: January 31, 2014 in Uncategorised

A conversation on facebook about Edward VI got us thinking about other ‘lost’ monarchs. These are kings or queens who died young, or heirs to the throne that never made it. I’m going to try and come up with a list. All contributions appreciated!

Edgar Ætheling, briefly Harold Godwinsson’s heir after the battle of Hastings, before the English decided it was pointless (thank so chris y for this!)
William Adelin, son of Henry I – drowned in the wreck of the White Ship
Henry the Young King, son of Henry II (thanks Jayne Smith for the reminder!)
Arthur of Brittany, grandson of Henry II (thanks to Esther!)
Three sons of Edward I who died in childhood, John, Henry and Alfonso (thanks to Celia Parker)
Edward, the Black Prince
Edward of Lancaster
Edward V
Edward of Middleham, son of Richard III (suggested by Celia Parker. I’m still on the edge with this Edward, as he had two barriers in his path. The first (an early death) rendered the second (his father’s defeat at Bosworth) moot.)
Prince Arthur
Lady Jane Grey
Edward VI
Prince Henry, son of James VI
James Stuart, the Old Pretender, son of James VII
Prince William, son of Queen Anne (I have not included Anne’s many children who survived birth but not childhood, nor have I included any of her sister, Mary II’s, children)
Crown Prince Frederick, son of George II
Princess Charlotte, daughter of George IV

I shall have to delve into the history of Scotland to complete this list. And I’m not sure whether to include Richard III, or if a two year reign is too long for him to be considered ‘lost’.

À Warwick! À Warwick!

Posted: January 27, 2014 in Uncategorised

Found among my list of google searches:

“What does the battle cry ‘ À Warwick!’ mean?

It’s from French – à is ‘to’. So this is a cry rallying men around their leader.

It’s a good thing, really, they weren’t much into the double barrelled surname in mediaeval times. ‘À Fortescue-Patterson!’ might have lost them the battle before it began.


Another google search that came up: ‘Was Edward IV murdered?’

It’s highly unlikely, given the universal question ‘who benefits?’. Certainly no-one close enough to him to slip some arsenic into his food.


And, lastly: “Did George of Clarence murder his wife?”

There’s nothing to indicate Clarence murdered his wife. She died shortly after the birth of her last child (who didn’t long outlive her) and this would seem to be an odd time to poison someone. Quite apart from that, there’s every indication the Clarences’ marriage was a success. George accused one of Isobel’s women of poisoning her, dragged her to Warwick to be tried and had her hanged when she was found guilty. There’s no evidence Isobel was poisoned by anyone and the death of Ankarette Twynho was an appalling misuse of the law. That was the charge Clarence was originally arrested on. It soon changed to a charge of treason. Isobel’s death set in motion a set of events that led to her husband’s execution. Clarence wasn’t the most loyal brother in the universe, but I do rather feel for him, and for Isobel.

The Princes in the Tower, Josephine Wilkinson, Amberley.

Before I go on with this review, there are two quotes I think worthy of highlighting.

“When texts refuse to conform to the theory, it is time to change the theory, not the text.” (p112)


“The question, therefore, should not be ‘Who killed the Princes in the Tower?’, but ‘What happened to the Princes after they disappeared?” (p156)

The first is spot on and a good many writers and commentators on the life and times of Richard III could benefit from applying this principle. The second, I think, could do with a little tweaking. “The question, therefore, should not be ‘Who killed the Princes in the Tower?, but ‘What happened to the Princes… [to cause them to]… disappear?” With that one tiny adjustment, I’d be wholeheartedly agreeing with this as well.

The Princes in the Tower is a slim book, a collection of essays based on a reading, collating and analysis of available sources. Wilkinson gives a brief life of Edward V, up to the likely point of his disappearance, then deals with the usual suspects, one at a time. All, including Richard III himself, are declared innocent. On the available evidence, that’s a fairly sensible conclusion to reach. Or at least, the conclusion that it’s difficult to declare, beyond reasonable doubt, any of them actually guilty, is sensible. Oh, and she dismisses the current favourite suspect, Margaret Beaufort, in a few deft sentences.

The ultimate conclusion Wilkinson reaches is that no-one murdered the Princes, that they (or one of them, at least) was, by person or persons unknown, removed to Flanders where he lived in silence and obscurity until (possibly) he re-emerged as Perkin Warbeck. I’m not entirely convinced by this, as the living in silence and obscurity bit leaves way too many unanswered questions. While ‘he became Perkin Warbeck’ might answer the question ‘What happened to Richard duke of York?” it says nothing about his brother, Edward V. A thorough investigation, so far as possible, into Warbeck’s background and, as Wilkinson suggests, records in Flanders, would be welcome. It might go some way to confirming Warbeck’s royal pretensions, or it might put the story to bed, once and for all. Either way, it would add to the little we know.

As The Princes in the Tower is most decidedly not a book of speculation searching for an answer to the question quoted above, but an examination and interpretation of available sources, Wilkinson’s conclusions are, of necessity, going to reflect those interpretations. It raised more questions than it answered for me, but as some of those questions hadn’t occurred to me before, I see this as a very good thing.

All in all, this is a good book, clearly organised and written. While there may be alternative interpretations to some of the passages quoted, Wilkinson backs up her views and doesn’t, so far as I could see, resort to cherrypicking or convenient source-blindness. I’d recommend this book to anyone trying to make sense of some of the events of 1483 and 1484.

Firstly, I need to say that others have written about the battle of Wakefield in more depth than I can here. Keith Dockray & Richard Knowles’ excellent article can be found here in its entirety; and Helen Cox and Philip Haigh have both written more detailed accounts, among many others.

I’ve been digging through some of the Chronicles today. There’s far more primary source material online than most of us realise! I seem to find something new every time I venture out into the interwebs. Taking a list of sources from Haigh, I found various references in: The English Chronicle; Gregory’s Chronicle; Halle; Stowe’s Annales (which I think might be an early draft of Halle); Polydor Vergil; Croyland and Fabyan. There are some elements everyone agrees on: the date York’s party left London, their arrival at Sandal on Christmas Eve; the date of the battle; the list of the dead. Most of the chroniclers stick to the bare facts (as they knew, or at least heard them). Only Croyland philosophises and only Halle embroiders. He gives a stirring speech to the Duke of York, full of “I’m no coward!” and “wouldest thou that I for dread of a scolding woman, whose weapon is onely her toungue, and her nayles, should incarcerate my self, and shut my gates then al men might of me woundre and all creatures maie of me report dishonor, that a woman hath made me a dastard…”. Halle gives no clue as to his informant of the astonishing, word perfect memory. Halle’s most egregious flight of fancy involves the death of the young Earl of Rutland. Not quite “scace of ye age of xii yeres, a faire getleman, and a maydenlike person” but a grown lad of 17 – too young to die, then as now, but by the lights of his times, old enough to go to war and fight by his father’s side. Interestingly, there’s no mention of either York’s pre-battle speech nor Rutland’s pathetic end (“chyldkylling”) at the hands of Butcher Clifford in the version to be found in Stowe’s Annales.

There are usually three reasons given for York leaving the safety of Sandal Castle and riding into the teeth of a superior enemy and his demise. Responding to the taunts of his enemies (or the ‘scolding woman’ with her tongue and nails), suggests he was hotheaded and impulsive. Riding out to rescue stranded foragers suggests he was noble and empathetic. Betrayal by Robert Nevill (the usual suspect) suggests he was trusting and, perhaps, desperate for allies and men. While most commentators will plump for one or another of these, there might well have been elements of more than one in play.

The deaths of the duke of York and his son, Edmund earl of Rutland, are usually the focus of Wakefield discussions, commemorations and thoughts. Their deaths were certainly a blow to the Yorkist cause, one that perhaps many feared they’d not recover from. Certainly the duchess of York feared for the lives of her two younger sons and sent them to safety in Burgundy the first chance she got. But for the Feast’s purposes, there were other deaths that day (and the next) that need to be remembered.

Richard Nevill, earl of Salisbury, was set upon by a mob, dragged outside Pontefract castle and summarily beheaded. The Bastard of Exeter, Henry Holland’s half brother, is often found at the top of the list of suspects. Far from falling into a catatonic trance at the news, as one novelist would have it, his widow sprang to action and launched a wrongful death suit against several men, on behalf of her surviving sons. It was unresolved at the time of her death in 1462.

Sir Thomas Nevill, Salisbury’s second son and husband of Maud Stanhope lady Willoughby, died in the battle. Those who enjoy a game of ‘what if’ with regard to Rutland may enjoy a similar game with Thomas. Just as with Edward IV, Thomas was the next brother down in a swag of brothers not known for their love of peace or the quiet life. He didn’t seem to have had much of a calming influence on either Warwick or Montagu, but his actions when York made his bid for the throne – the unknown words spoken to his uncle in private that got him to back down… a bit – suggest he was something of a diplomat. If he’d lived, he’d likely have been elevated to the peerage prior to 2nd St Albans. Instead of John, it might have been Thomas who remembered and celebrated his mother’s family name in his choice of title. I don’t think John would have been far behind him – and judging from his belligerence versus the Percies in the 1450s, I doubt John would have been overshadowed in war by Thomas, but with three Nevill brothers in the fight instead of two, things might have been very different – would Thomas have joined Warwick in rebellion? would Warwick still have rebelled? – or they might not. Who can possibly say?

William Bonville, Lord Harrington, 18 year old husband of Katheryn Nevill, was also killed. He died the same day as his father. William and Katheryn had been married just two years, and probably only sharing their own household for perhaps one. They were the parents of a six month old daughter, Cecily.

There were far too many deaths in England during the Wars of the Roses. The Nevills were wiped out; the Percies came close to it. The House of York supplanted the House of Lancaster and neither flourished in the end. Wakefield was just one tiny part of it, but the shock of the deaths of so many important Yorkists must have sent  the duke of York’s family and supporters reeling, as well as the earl of Salisbury’s.

And, for those of you who don’t know, I get to remember the murder of Salisbury on a very special day for me. It’s my birthday tomorrow!

This document found its way to me through secretive and convoluted means. I can attest absolutely, 100%, to what I like to call its provenance. Others may choose a different word. Shocking, revealing and world-shattering as this document is, I promise you it will rock you to your core! Or it won’t. Who can say?

Minutes of the 2013 AGM
of the
Internet Douchebags International Obnoxious Toerags Society

Meeting opened: We can’t work it out! Everyone says it’s a different time but we all know someone is lying!. Once we find out who that is, we shall expose them most cruelly with taunts and execrable doggerel.

Members present: Everyone who matters. Well, mostly those who matter. We’re still not sure about Sister Shred-of-Decency and Sister Pisspot is starting to get on our nerves.

Apologies: We don’t apologise for nothing! What do you think we are, a bunch of sissified pansies?? You can take your apology and shove it up your arse!

Correspondence in: Sister Tampon claims the anonymous hate comments on her blog are being posted by an Anonymous Enemy called Smellyfart Pukeface. Sister Pisspot lolololed at this. Brother Frockshop got a nice comment on his latest Facebook post bragging about his Illustrious Ancestors saying ‘Well done you! You must be a truly Special Person to have Illustrious Ancestors! Please tell us how you did that so we, too, can have Illustrious Ancestors of our very own!”. Brother Flamewar had a twitter argument mostly with himself under several different names. He’s sure it will give him net creed, loads of sympathy and a bunch more followers. Sister Trolls! Everywhere! received a review of her latest book I Know Everything About Everything Ever and You’re Nothing But a Speck of Dust Who Knows Nothing! that was only four stars! Sister Trolls! Everywhere! is very upset by this and has invited everyone she knows (except that evil, jealous, nasty, possibly certifiable, illiterate, jealous reviewer) to a Facebook Pity Party. Bring a plate. A bottle of orange Kia Ora cordial will be provided by our generous hostess. Thank you Sister Trolls! Everywhere!! Sister Shun-the-Unbeliever says she received messages from a Hater who did some serious Hating for a bit. She also received her usual weekly memo from God telling her what He hates. Which is a lot of stuff, apparently, so you can imagine how busy she is!

Correspondence out: Sisters Tampon, Pisspot, Bowel Movement, Reality Bypass and I-Heart-Rameses-11 all sent personal messages on Facebook containing a single four letter word. Sister Pisspot lololololed. Everyone else just sniggered. Sister Tampon posted some anonymous hate comments on her blog that must have come from Smellyfart Pukeface because they were anonymous! Brother Frockshop told various people to go fuck themselves. Brother Flamewar traced his own ip address, sent himself some nasty emails, telephoned his employer and threatened to have himself sacked. Sister Shun-the-Unbeliever commented on sixteen Facebook statuses and contributed to 19 twitter conversations with very helpful advice about how people should live their lives and how soon they’ll be going to hell if they don’t follow her advice coz God hates them and she knows this coz she got the memo.

Business Arising

1. Sister Shred-of-Decency is still undecided about changing her name. She received encouragement from members present and a quiet reminder that ‘decency’ has no place in IDIOTS. She has promised to get back to us before the meeting closes.

2. Sister Pisspot lolololed at the word business.

3. Sister Bowel Movement offered to do her business right there on the floor. Brother Creepy-Old-Man heard the word ‘arising’ and looked around with interest.

4. Six more names were added to the list of People we Really Really Hate! They will all be contacted shortly with the good news.

5. Sister Trolls! Everywhere! reported back on her hacking problem. It’s still going on and she reaffirms that anything she has ever said on any digital forum that might be taken as the slightest criticism of another human being wasn’t her but some evil, jealous, possibly certifiable, nasty, jealous hacker, especially if it’s stuff like how pathetic a writer Trills Everywhere is and how she churns out trash™, pre-digested and with all the big words removed so stupid people can read and enjoy it, not like Sister Trolls! Everywhere!’s books, which are intellectual and deep and just so much better than anything the trash™ churning out so called ‘writer’ Trills Everywhere pollutes the world with. As soon as she can work out a way to claim her actual real words spoken from her actual own mouth have been backed, she will announce that this has happened.

6. Sister I-Heart-Rameses-11 tabled a report on People Who Hate Rameses 11 and Why We Should All Hate Them! It was greeted with gasps of awe and wonder. Sister Pisspot lolololed.

6. The New Four Letter Word Working Group tabled an interim report into their Search for New Four Letter Words. Everyone agreed that plum doesn’t sound all that rude really, and fnot just isn’t phonologically feasible except no-one knows what ‘phonologically’ means, it’s probably some gay arse thing put about by the Anti-Rameses-11 bitches who, everyone agreed, are total bitches and complete and utter trams. Sister Pisspot lolololed and said she’d like to stab all those trams in the arse with a pickle fork, which is JUST A JOKE! you stupid people with NO SENSE OF HUMOUR!!!!!! then she flounced for a bit coz she was so distraught she was shaking. Like everywhere! And she’s down to half a bottle of gin! She got lots of supportive messages and executed a rather shambling and unconvincing reverse flounce which is, frankly, starting to get on our nerves.

Election of Officer Bearers

Sister Tampon pointed out that as she’s the grossest, least hinged and most totally crass member of IDIOTS, like, ever, there was no need to go through the boring process of electing office bearers, she should just be confirmed in her position as Chief Douche for Life and everyone else should bow down before her. Sister Perennial-Follower agreed. Sister Pisspot lolololed. Sister Shred-of-Decency rolled her eyes and Sister Bowel Movement farted. And then sniggered. Brother Creepy-Old-Man asked if anyone had any sketches of their tits he could look at. Sisters Tampon and Reality-Bypass passed him several pieces of paper and he seemed quite happy after that. Sister Trolls! Everywhere! offered to write a really clever poem with rhymes and everything, except she probably won’t get the lines to scan but who around here can?, commemorating the occasion.

Motion: That Sister Tampon be confirmed as Chief Douche for Life.
Seconded: Sister Perennial-Follower.
Brother Frockshop moved an amendment: That the office of Descendant of Several Thousand Illustrious Ancestors be created and he be appointed to that office. When he didn’t get the general acclamation he expected, he told the meeting it could go fuck itself and went to the corner to sulk for a bit. Members reported receiving several messages, in all caps, suggesting they go fuck themselves, but hoped Brother Frockshop might settle down after a nice cup of tea.
Sister Shun-the-Unbeliever was appointed by God (again) to be The Voice of God. She said God says “thank you”.

Motion carried as amended.

Motion: That Sister Pisspot go and make everyone a nice cup of tea.
Carried by general acclamation.

Motion: That a new secret Facebook group called ‘We All Hate Sister Pisspot!” be established so everyone can hang shit on Sister Pisspot.
Seconded: Sister Perennial-Follower.
Sister Tampon spoke to the motion saying “Well, she’s been asking for it, stupid bitch!”
Sister Shred-of-Decency questioned the decency of this idea.
Sister Tampon suggested Sister Shred-of-Decency might like to go help with the tea.
Motion carried.

Election of Office Bearers declared bloody well done now so will everyone just sit down and shut the fuck up coz I’m speaking!

Any Other Business

1. Nominations for Toxie Awards
The meeting congratulated all members nominated for Toxies this year. Sister Tampon was nominated for Douche the Year for the third year running. Sister Bowel Movement was nominated for the coveted Speaks With One Side of their Face award. Brother Flamewar and Sister Trolls! Everywhere! both received nominations for the Career Self Destruct award. It’s going to be a tight finish there! Sister Shun-the-Unbeliever is, once again, up for the Religious Intolerance award and Brother Frockshop is up for Most Four Letter Words in a Single Facebook Comment. All members agree that Sister Pisspot has no competition for the Lololol award and Sister Perennial-Follower is almost guaranteed the Nez Brun. IDIOTS should be very proud of their achievements in 2013.

2. Sister I-Heart-Rameses 11 will be organising a trolling party of various Anti-Rameses Facebook groups, including the Nothing Whatsoever to do with Rameses, We Don’t Even Mention Ancient Egypt group which is, as everyone knows, a hotbed of Anti-Rami trolls! And we Hate them! She tabled various romantic sketches of the totally gorgeous and sexy Rami which everyone sighed over, except Sister Tampon who just went kind of quiet and her eyes glazed over for a bit. Sister Pisspot lolololed so hard she knocked over her cup of tea. Sister Bowel Movement sent a private message to Brother Flamewar and they both looked at Sister Pisspot and giggled.

3. Sister Shred-of-Decency gave a heartfelt speech about how left out of things she feels, what with being just a teeny bit decent and everything, and has asked that all members address her in the future as Sister No-Shred-of-Decency. Sister Reality Bypass immediately set up a new secret Facebook group called ‘We All Hate That Two Faced Bitch Sister So Called No Shred of Decency! The Bitch!”. Everyone else immediately joined, except Sister Pisspot coz we didn’t tell her about it.

4. Sister Bowel Movement described her latest bowel movement.

5. Sister Trolls! Everywhere! tabled a report that every other writer on the face of the planet was jealous of her and trying to destroy her career. Brother Flamewar objected to this, saying every writer on the planet was jealous of him and trying to destroy his career. Sister Reality Bypass offered to write one star reviews of every book ever written if that would help. Sister Trolls! Everywhere! thanked her for her kindness but wanted it on record that she’d never actually ask anyone to do anything like that even though it’s totally justified and would help her sales, and if anyone saw anything on Facebook or twitter or whatever that looked like it was her asking people to do anything like that, she was hacked! Brother Flamewar said what about him? and Sister Reality Bypass got a bit confused.

6. Brother Flamewar suggested setting up a More Reasons to Hate More People working group. Sister Tampon pointed out this was already covered by both the Why We’re So Outraged About Everything! sub-committee and Taking Disagreement Personally and Responding with Insults and Abuse advisory group. Brother Flamewar disagreed. Sister Tampon said Brother Flamewar was a sad, pathetic, jealous troll who was just jealous! Brother Flamewar said Sister Tampon should GET A LIFE!! Sister Perennial-Follower agreed. Sister Tampon said that everyone know that Brother Flamewar knew everything! like all sarcastic and everything and Sister Reality Bypass said that everyone was sick of Brother Flamewar insulting everyone with his insulting words. Sister Perennial-Follower agreed. Brother Flamewar said that Sister Tampon is a fnotting tram! Sister Perennial-Follower agreed. Sister Trolls! Everywhere! said Brother Flamewar was a troll and Brother Frockshop told everyone to go fuck themselves. Overwhelmed by her latest fantasy about RamiBaby, sister I-Heart-Rameses-11 passed out in the toilet and Sister Bowel Movement had to step over her. Brother Flamewar said he’d set up his own More Reasons to Hate More People working group and he wouldn’t let Sister Tampon join no matter how hard she begged coz her name was going to be at the top in ALL CAPS!!!!! Brother Creepy-Old-Man took photos.

Meeting closed when Mummy said it was time we were in bed. We hate Mummy!


Here’s a short extract from Hane & the Hunter, my new fantasy novel. It’s in its final pre-publication stages and should be out soon.


I got caught filching panacaenium chips. I waited till the others were asleep, curled up or stretched out in the bunkhouse of Parlourbone Station, snatched up my empty sacks and tiptoed out into the dark.

The little engine creaked and groaned as it cooled, the ground around it lit faintly by the dying fire. Lamplight glowed in the windows of the Hunter’s private compartment, but all was still. I picked up spilled chips from the ground and filled one of the bags before I needed to clamber up the side of the tender and scoop them into the second. A sudden sound warned me too late that I wasn’t alone — a brief exclamation, words that would have earned me a mouthful of soap.

“Get the hell down from there!”

I jumped down to the ground almost onto his foot. He studied me for a moment and I found it hard to keep my head up, let alone meet his gaze.

“Come with me,” he said. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you. Might as well do it now.”

He waited at the door of the train and I followed, my sacks of panacaenium banging against my knees.

“Leave them here,” the Hunter said. “You can pick them up when I’m finished with you.”

I followed him up the steps and into his compartment. He turned the lamp up and sat down, waving me into a chair opposite.

“Tell me, are you a maiden?”

“That’s a rather personal question, sir.”

“Yes. But it’s relevant.”

“No. I’m not.”

My face grew hot and I tilted my chin up, to show him I wasn’t ashamed. Last night, it might have been Brock, one of the knights, both of so affected by beer we hardly knew what we we did. Hurried, up against a wall. Not that I was in the habit of such things. It wasn’t my first time, but I was hardly a girl of vast experience.

“Their spell can be strong,” he said. “You’ll need to remember yourself.”


“If it’s a poldereng.”

I looked at him in astonishment. There’d been no talk of such things on the journey. Most people didn’t believe they were real, just tales to quell naughty children. And particularly fond of virgins, if those tales were true.

“Do you know what you are, Haine?”


“There’s nothing I can tell you. Sigrid thought she saw something. You might care to find out what that could be.” He took something from around his neck, holding it for a moment before handing it to me. “The beast will know you – if there’s anything to know – even if you don’t. This might help.”

I took it in my hand, a scrap of cloth twisted into a bag. I sniffed it cautiously. It smelled of herbs and sweat.

“What’s it for, sir?”


“Won’t you need it?”

“I’m a long way from her. I can get another.”

I slipped the amulet around my neck, tucking it inside my shirt. If he wasn’t going to give me explanations, I’d stop asking for them. Let tomorrow tell its own story, my mother used to say.

He was troubled. The crowsfeet around his eyes were etched deep and he looked as if he hadn’t slept in days. I’d never been this close to him before. I wouldn’t have said he was a handsome man. Tall but not overpowering; solid rather than thin. He moved with a quiet grace and surprising speed when he needed to. He had a strength about him, contained most of the time, but ready to be unleashed. Like a cat, pretending to sleep while unsuspecting birds fed just out of reach.

“Fetch me some wine.” He nodded towards a small cabinet tucked into a corner. “And one for you. It’s not a night for drinking alone.”

A flask of wine sat on top of the cupboard and I filled two cups. I handed him his and sat down again.

“Your Parsifal Haine’s granddaughter,” he said. “Which of his sons was your father — the worthless drunk or the knight?”

“Gwillam,” I said. “And he wasn’t worthless. Just brokenhearted.”

“Didn’t he take in a foundling? Brought her up. Left her his goods and title.”

“Not a foundling, sir. My mother brought me with her when they married. I don’t know my real father.”

The Hunter grunted and drank his wine. “Heard that story. Some say she was a prostitute he lost his heart to. Left him to go back to her trade.”

I’d heard that before as well. Not from anyone who knew me or cared. “She wasn’t.”

“No, I don’t suppose it would stand you in good stead, to be the fatherless child of a whore.”

“I’m not.”

He drank his wine, still looking at me, his gaze unsettling.

“I don’t know anything about her, sir,” I said. “Except she was a good woman.”

He closed his eyes, his head falling back. “Well, whatever she was hardly matters. It’s you that counts.”

“You should get some sleep, sir.”

“I’m not the only one. And I haven’t been creeping about in the night, climbing onto trains and stealing honest men’s panacaenium.”

“Left mine behind. And it’s all yours, in the end.”

He looked at me through narrowed eyes, drained his cup and set it down. “Out! Unless you plan to stay the night.”

“No, sir,” I said.

He didn’t press the point and didn’t see me out.

I picked up my sacks and went back to the bunkhouse. No-one stirred as I slipped off my jacket and boots and got into bed. Sleep, I told myself firmly. Don’t even think about it.

But there was too much to think about. I couldn’t begin to imagine what Sigrid thought she saw in me. I’d never once spoken to her and only ever saw her at mealtimes, sitting beside her sister, impatient to be somewhere else. How either of the Hunter’s daughters could have noticed me, let alone recognised anything, was beyond me. His two worlds – domestic and military – didn’t tend to coincide.

Then there was the small matter of a poldereng. No-one I knew had ever seen one, their trails of death and destruction were left in the dark of night, far from towns and villages. Far from well lit crowded castles like Huntershall. And people drew deep breaths and spoke of logical explanations, though few were ever forthcoming.

Everyone knew the stories. Children lay awake in the night, pale and sweating with terror, the sounds outside their windows calling to mind the tales their grandmothers told. Things like poldereng didn’t belong in our world. They slipped in through the cracks, called by mischievous minds. If there was one at Gaunt’s Fell, it was either the runaway slave of a hedge wizard, or it had made its own way, cut off from its kind and living by its wits and sharp claws. Even kelpies, they said, feared poldereng.

The Hunter’s amulet pressed into my collarbone and I shifted. I didn’t like the idea of being recognised by a monster, and wondered why the Hunter would even suggest it. Sigrid couldn’t have seen anything in me. There was nothing to see.

My eyes closed and my thoughts blurred. As I drifted off to sleep, I wondered what it was the Hunter must remember that required an amulet.


I’ve just come back from a glorious three weeks in New Zealand. The Shaky Isles. Aotearoa. EnZed. Land of the Long White Cloud. Godzone. While I was gone, the world didn’t change. Pity.

There are people who thought this blog was interesting, informative, in parts ‘quite funny’ until they found out it was mine. Now it’s foul. (Though my name is right there, on the About page, and on My Books page… )

Someone’s sockpuppet joined A Group on facebook and left provocative comments to get people’s backs up, then joined Another Group and left other provocative comments. Then went back to A Group and mentioned they were a member of Another Group so they could stir people up.

Someone with a tumblr account has  made some pretty nasty comments – borderline defamation – about a very good friend of mine. Why? Because she doesn’t share Ms Tumblr’s love of Ms Tumblr’s favourite reconstructed plastic head.

Someone wrote a book about a little known queen. Because that person doesn’t simply adore and worship said queen’s husband, she’s been subjected to some pretty nasty personal attacks.

Someone wrote a book calling into question (on shaky, patched together, cherry picked factoids) a particular English king’s legitimacy. Those who have publicly criticised the book have said nothing personal against the author. Yet they have been publicly pilloried for saying nasty things about the author.

There’s this dead king they’ve just recently dug up (well, nearly a year ago now), and he’s going to be reburied in a cathedral in England. And he’s going to get some kind of tomb. All the designs but one are ‘insulting’, and they cause people to be so angry and outraged they shake uncontrollably and THEN TYPE IN ALL CAPS!!!!!! WITH LOTS OF EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!! Because the cathedral, the university that dug up the king and the whole entire city are immoral and evil.

On facebook, you get to block people you don’t like. Yet you can get other people to tell you what they’ve posted and make nasty little comments behind their backs. To some, this might seem a little cowardly. Others don’t think so. They snigger and lolololol!

Apparently, on facebook, it’s perfectly acceptable to troll groups. If you’re one of the Chosen Ones*. If you’re not a Chosen One, saying anything is ‘trolling’. If you are one of the Chosen Ones, you get to say anything you like.

There are various funny pages on facebook. Some them are actually funny. Apparently, if you run one of the not funny ones you can go to others (the actual funny ones) en masse and drip your vile toxins all over them.

‘Shrieking Banshee’ is the new language for talking about history. No, sorry… not history but fantasies about shagging the reconstructed plastic head of a dead king.

Having fantasies about shagging the reconstructed head of a long dead king trumps rational discussion about history.

A very good friend of mine is a member of a worldwide organisation. She has no patience with fantasists who dream about shagging the reconstructed plastic head of a long dead king, who aren’t (by the way) members of this organisation. It is, apparently, perfectly acceptable for those reconstructed plastic head fantasy shaggers to drop in on any group or page where they think she might be found and hurl abuse, demanding she be drummed out of said worldwide organisation. Presumably for not wanting to shag the reconstructed plastic head of a long dead king.

The very best way to get the world to think about your favourite king differently (more positively) is to wallow in a pool of toxins, swallow a huge mouthful then spew that out over everyone and everything.

Someone wrote a very good novel about a long dead king. The book has inspired a lot of people to find out more about this king. Some of those people find a different interpretation than the author of the book. Others don’t. Instead of just saying “Hey, that’s the way the world works!” they take the novel as gospel truth and get all outraged and offended by those who don’t. Then, when someone points out that they’ve based their view entirely on fiction, they get even more outraged and offended.

When an argument is lost, it’s perfectly ok to descend into personal attack. That’s how you know you’re One of Us. If you don’t descend into personal attack, or if you insist on using logic and attempting to be objective, or if you lay any kind of claim to intellectual honesty where you’re prepared to challenge writers who are One of Us when they cherrypick facts and write bollocks, then you’re clearly not One of Us.

Anyone who refuses to drink the koolaid, or who takes a mouthful and spits it out, or who questions the flavour, or who says “No, thanks. I’ll buy my own drinks” might as well paint a target on their backs.

And if my questions, my objectivity, my openmindedness, my need to sort truth from myth and my willingness to stand up for my views is any kind of threat, then those who are threatened might need to look at their own position. It might just be built on quicksand.

You can’t reason with the unreasonable. Yet the reasonable keep on trying.

*’Chosen One’, from what I can work out, is code for ‘I fantasise about shagging the reconstructed head of a long dead king’.

UPDATE: I received a single four letter word pm this morning. I’m still puzzled by its precise meaning. Was she advertising she had one available? Not that I’d be interested, but it might have been useful for her to add ‘for sale or rent’ afterwards, just to make it clear.