Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Writers group, homework: "Last night in Hampton Court"

I have joined an enjoyable, relaxed and stimulating writers group. Among other things we set a homework task from one week to the next. Arising from discussion last week the assignment for today is to write something beginning "Last night in Hampton Court..."

I had no idea, needed to research. Wikipedia told me that the last king to live at Hampton Court was George II. And one comes to the amazing idea that George II in a small Germanic court of Hannover was schooled first in French, as a baby, then German, then Italian, then English, then come to giant 1.5 million wild London. As ruler to yearn for Hannover where also ruler, in England denied power, in Hannover powerful. Living in this palace where the ghost of Anne Boleyn (perhaps others too) runs nightly from Henry VIII, perhaps a bit of a Trump in his era.

Thus armed I wrote, with some thought also to rhyme and meter and some adoption of the English obsession for centuries with the dismal-simple, brain-suffocating iambic pentameter, an iamb being

da dum

and the penta meaning five times, so a meter of five iambs is an iambic pentameter:

da dum, da dum, da dum, da dum, da dum

with the multilingual, castle-trapped George in my text below breaking away from such giddy simple brain-befogging meme into growls and lusty gurgles.

After writing this below I also found somewhere that historians had for a long time regarded George 2 as a mistress-chaser uninterested in affairs of state, but more recent historians deciding he was actually a diplomatic genius. Thus must speak the PhD candidate or the champion new history department chair. There is no new historical truth without, um, novelty: yoiks.

But I, I, have accidentally written the truth in this short yarn. As you will see. Set in 1755, the year before the Seven Years War and the Diplomatic Revolution. Those things, those skipping hypotheses both true, but at the core the truth is found arising midst lusty yearnings.

I didn't know any of this last week.

Here is what I wrote, my homework for today:

Assignment: A piece of writing to begin: “Last night in Hampton Court…”
PREFACE: Hampton Court Palace was built by Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop, in 1517, taken by Henry VIII when he fell out with Wolsey because Wolsey couldn't get his first marriage annulled. And – the Trumpian nightmare – the pope made this chancellor to the king a cardinal, higher ranking than the Archbishop of Canterbury, nice cover story in Time magazine equivalent, a bit like Trump's Bannon. As cardinal the exponent of rigidities of the alt-right of Rome from which Randy Hank, in pursuit of offspring, needs must distance himself. Becoming in the quest the Queen of Tarts, off with their heads.Anne Boleyn’s ghost reportedly haunts Hampton Court, as perhaps others. In the late 1600s extensions added entirely different style. The last monarch to live there was George II. Powerless almost, alongside a newly rowdy parliament, not changed much, compare Corbyn versus May and the creatures of that dark lagoon, the Bullingdon Club. The last king to lead British troops in war.

Dressed up, gazing out, musing in four languages,
fingers counting days till he can escape again to Hannova
on that sick-making ferry to The Hague.
1755 late winter: Thus spake George II unto himself
Last night in Hampton Court I lay awake and rose and paced and thought of Fred my first-born son, dead before me so inappropriately, heir to the throne of this reckless unkind country. I cursed my grandmother Sophie and her protestantism that yanked us from fifty-first in line to top of the maypole in this weird-dancing all-yelling no-manners land.
Why must I sit in this mishmash of architectural horror with ghosts of women running from randy Hank while out there the ruffians who run this place with gunpowder breath speak such a dreadful tongue and give me no heed. I can imagine dirty things they mutter. Would that I had their power to hang, draw and quarter them. Then they would sit straight, ha ha, with or without their guts.
I must go back to Hannover and find a war again. I miss it. Another good fight would ease the pain of loss of Fred. We could rival the other Fred, he the so-called Great in Prussia. Or perhaps together, Fred and I, Hannover and Prussia, we could fulfil dreams of greatness: of real courts, of real culture, of real power— so the children at Versailles who giggle at us would sit up and, well, hey, with a little or a big war, Fred and I could really make them sit up, or perhaps in their very French tradition, drop their heads in a bucket.
Out the window those bloody bleating sheep and those hunchy-humble-honcho workers bald-headed from yanking forelocks as they stoop ridiculously as I ride by.  One said “by George”. I yanked him down but then in their me-stopping indecencies they said it was something the hoi-polloi said instead of god. God. God: why can’t they think me god. In days past I would have been. Fred, no. I miss Fred but the simpering now dead dear lad never controllable, betrayed me to the parle-ia-ment and jumped into the negotiations for his own maybe f-ing marriage to a child of Prussian Fred, who wanted then for me to give my Fred my Hannover. Not bloody likely. And now these parliamenters, Fred dead, will have to cope with Fred’s boy, George. Right named. I can shape him, my willing godlet who will be George III.

Hank, courtesy of wikipedia
Riding stinking in the sheep-wool, sheep-skin things I must wear in winter here. Oh, someone fetch a cow and make decent leather garments. I love the sensation of leather… as much as bed-feathers. So does Freya, but I guess the wool stuff has some virtue as when she rolled off and fell to sleep the night too close to fire and woke with Hannoverian yowl, parboiled inside her sheepskin top. Mercifully she was not alight. And something to see her ripping off wool in morning shades…as did through all these past chilly shiver-giving months. I will take Freya with me when next to Hannover. We will talk about ‘when’ tomorrow. Or tonight. And tomorrow. Ah to be in Hannover with crispy fruit and Freya.

Where is that man who fetches baubles. Crap baubles of the town, but my lovely loves them. Am I, am I? … I am … somehow in Hank’s spell. There are vapours of Hank in my bedchamber.

No comments:

Post a Comment