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Tony Grist

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Return Of The King [Mar. 23rd, 2015|10:23 am]
Tony Grist
How nice to see an example of the pageantry we Brits are supposed to be so good at happening in a city that isn't London. There was a Lady Di vibe. The coffin on its gun carriage being pelted with white roses.

Jon Snow- curating for Channel 4- was ill at ease with his material- at one point turning from Richard Coles- who had just given an articulate little speech about reconciliation between Catholic and Protestant- to a local Asian entrepreneur with a hearty "Well, that was a load of mumbo-jumbo wasn't it!" thus disrespecting and discomposing both his guests. He needed to be reminded he wasn't dealing with a bunch of slippery politicos who were asking to be pinned down.

But Channel 4 as a whole seemed embarrassed by what one has to call the spiritual dimension of the occasion. I'd been looking forward to the choral compline but as soon as it started we were hustled out onto the streets for some vaccuous vox-pop. Snow was fixated on whether or not Richard was a bad king. There's a place for that debate, but this wasn't it. Something odd and atavistic was going on, ancestral ghosts were stirring- and it seemed to be passing the broadcasters by.

The sight of Cardinal Nichols in his red robe served as a reminder of that other controversial figure from English history who is buried in Leicester. Like Richard, Thomas Wolsey was laid to rest in a monastic church that has since disappeared- and the site of the grave is only approximately known. Maybe the archaeologists from the University of Leicester should get out their spades again.

One of the knights in armour who escorted the coffin was unmasked in Snow's studio as a keeper of arms and armour at the Wallace Collection- and an American. Richard belongs to the world. His two closest living relatives- whose DNA was used to identify the bones- are a Canadian and an Australian.

The knights in armour were- depending on whether lunch had agreed with you or not- a bold imaginative touch or unutterably kitsch. I loved them. Ritual well done can evoke the invisible and here it did. Time was foreshortened, jumbled up, transcended. Richard was sung to rest with the glorious anthem Herbert Howells wrote for John F Kennedy- to words translated by Helen Waddell from the 4th century Latin of Aurelius Clemens Prudentius.

Take him earth for cherishing,
To thy tender breast receive him
Body of a man I bring thee,
Noble even in its ruin..
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: ideealisme
2015-03-23 11:24 am (UTC)
I haven't been a fan of Jon Snow for quite some time. Another self important male presenter who leaves the mother of his children when she ages and starts again with a younger model, then gets on the moral high ground, like Esler and both Dimblebys. I an tired of being preached at by men who consider women over 40 disposable.

I like the ceremony of the Richard III reburial. It makes you think that in the history of the world, 500 years is the blink of an eye, though we have caused considerable harm to the world in the last 60.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-03-23 11:38 am (UTC)
I didn't know that about him, but I don't think I'm surprised.

I like Channel 4 News- which he anchors- but I thought he was very much out of his depth here. There was a lot of stuttering and fluffing and intrusions of ego. Also- as with his treatment of Coles- a real failure to get the tone right.
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From: cmcmck
2015-03-23 11:28 am (UTC)
'There is no creature loves me,
And if I die no soul will pity me.
And wherefore should they, since that I myself
Find in myself no pity to myself?'
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-03-23 11:39 am (UTC)
No longer true.

Richard must now be one of the best-loved of English kings.
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From: cmcmck
2015-03-23 12:19 pm (UTC)
Well, you know me- having lived so much of my life in the 17th century, I have very little time for kings.

Most of the historians of the period known to me are either ardent monarchists or ardent republicans.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-03-23 01:23 pm (UTC)
I'm a republican too but the Middle Ages are another world. There was no republican alternative to the Plantagenets and Tudors.
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From: cmcmck
2015-03-23 02:01 pm (UTC)
Ah, but there was a republican alternative to the Stuarts!

Shame the English Republic didn't stick.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2015-03-23 05:45 pm (UTC)
Ritual well done can evoke the invisible and here it did. Time was foreshortened, jumbled up, transcended.

Good. I'm sorry the presenters weren't up to the numinousness of the occasion, but I'm glad the ceremony itself was.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-03-23 05:54 pm (UTC)
A lot of the reporting has been negative- which saddens me. I think the trendy metropolitan media just didn't get it. They were expecting something kitschy and provincial and that's what they saw. Actually I reckon Leicester did
itself proud- and produced something more heartfelt and less pompous than London would have managed.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2015-03-23 06:55 pm (UTC)
Actually I reckon Leicester did itself proud- and produced something more heartfelt and less pompous than London would have managed.

Do you have any videos you can point me toward? I was reading descriptions yesterday; it sounded as though it was done well. And strange, but it should have been. A country doesn't often get the chance to look at the past so directly.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-03-23 07:15 pm (UTC)
I watched it live. Channel 4 did the broadcast. You might try their website- but they may well block US viewers from viewing their product. Otherwise there's YouTube.

This is Channel 4's Richard III site- http://www.channel4.com/programmes/richard-iii-the-reburial

I've just been there and they've got a web camera in the cathedral filming the crowds as they file past the coffin- cripes!
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