In Honor of A Mother

Close-up of Lily flowersAs you may have read here,  Servetus’s mother passed away yesterday.  Knowing that many of you would want to reach out in a tangible way, a few of us have gotten together and created a PayPal account to accept donations in honor of Mrs. Servetus.  All moneys received will be donated to RA’s charities at JustGiving, under the moniker “Memoriam for a Mother.”

 

 

Frotteur

The man couldn’t decide.

He’d ducked into the specialty shop during his break in the photoshoot looking for a few Halloween items. The sight of jack o’ lanterns, ghoulish costumes, and ghosts made from sheets with cutout eyes had arrested his attention when he’d spotted it earlier. Unfortunately, it had also attracted half of London apparently, considering the crush of last minute shoppers that evening. He perused the dimly lit shelves searching for the perfect “something” for his young relative, but what would he like? The narrow aisles offered not much room, and he dodged and shifted as the people brushed past with a rushed “pardon” and “excuse me,” barely heard above the Creature Feature tunes playing in the background. Sometimes contact between strangers couldn’t be avoided like today, but it lasted just a second and was gone. He thought nothing more about it.

He was torn between two plastic tombstones, one saying “RIP Shawty” and the other “See You Soon,” when he noticed something different. It started as a faint brushing of fabric against fabric, then an increasing softness pressing into the middle of his back, accompanied by a whiff of floral perfume. Instead of stopping immediately, it continued, pressing more completely downwards, a ridge of buttons along his spine, past a belt in the small of his back, and along the curve of his arse. He would have sworn that he could feel every indentation and contour of her coat and body, as if he’d not been wearing two tee shirts and a bulky knit sweater. Mmm, nice, he thought for a second. Despite secretly enjoying their proximity, he’d have moved then, lest she think that he was taking advantage. He was a gentleman and clearly, the milling throng had forced her against him.

But just as he became aware of the delicious pressure of her body, a hand rose, lightly brushing his leg. Slender splayed fingers gently grasped his right hip. Again, instead of moving immediately, the fingers lingered. The hand shifted slightly, so that the thumb moved from the jutting bone to the soft area nearer his loins. At once, he felt electrified, as if his jeans and pants had melted away and the finger touched the soft sensitive skin beneath. He gasped at the sensation. A frisson of pleasure shot through him as her finger gently circled the area clockwise, once, twice, three times. Then he heard a husky “pardon” and the hand and pressure at his back disappeared.

He turned, open mouthed, as he watched her back, hair and coat floating behind her, retreating through the door and out into the street. Good grief, he thought. First it’s fans stroking his beard; now he was getting turned on by strange women frottering him in specialty shops among the plastic tombstones. What has gotten into him? What on earth would his mum say? At that thought, he chuckled. What would she say, indeed. Turning back towards the shelf, he finally noticed the teen a few feet away staring at him. She arched a brow in what apparently was part surprise, part amusement, as her eyes drifted significantly down and up again, before she engrossed herself suddenly in the fine print on a tombstone.

He looked down and covered himself quickly with the plastic prop.

Oh shit.

****

I totally blame Guylty after her post here. She’s out of control, I’ll tell ya.

Richard III for Dummies: US Edition

KRA 2

Cover by our imitable Jasrangoon.

Cover by our imitable Jasrangoon.  Art by @Flodwyns on Twitter

I’ve been pondering a topic for Richard III week when it occurred to me that the typical American doesn’t know much about the British monarchy, much less about Richard III. The most we know about him is the smattering in history books where he played the dastardly villain who killed the two young princes, looking like Sir Laurence Olivier with a big nose and a hunchback. Oh yes, he was also king of England some time before men wore long trousers. In other words, Americans don’t know much at all about kings or queens unless they were also famous for shtupping somebody i.e. Henry VIII and his six wives; Elizabeth I and her alleged eternal virginity; Victoria who mothered the entire European royalty; her son Edward VI who cut a wide swath through the British society; Edward VII and Wallis Simpson “the woman I love,” etc. ad nauseum. Let’s not talk about George III, the one against whom we rebelled. That’s not to say that some of these monarchs did not majorly impact history in other ways; it’s that the more salacious points tend to stick in the mind, as it were. Or maybe my mind. Anyway, back to Richard III.

As a Richardian ignoramus, I confess that others have detailed his life much more eloquently and knowledgeably than I ever could. So I’ve decided to submit to you, dear reader, talking points you can use the next time you’re at a party or function and find yourself cornered into a historical chat. These points will help you sound knowledgeable, cultured and current – at least as of this April.

Richard III was the first British monarch whose remains were found in a parking lot. (If you want to sound really cosmopolitan – car park). After he was surrounded and killed in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, his body underwent a series of indignities (read: stripped and maimed). It finally found a resting place either under or what was later the site of Greyfriar’s Church. Eventually the church disappeared, as religious structures tended to do back in the day, and 400 years later a car park appeared. Inquiring minds spearheaded partly by the Richard III Society (yes, he has an international fan club) and under the aegis of University of Leicester pinpointed his remains and exhumed them with much international ballyhoo. This was an historically significant event. When your audience asks why that was so, tell them this: it was a rare occurrence in which a king’s remains were found, scientifically identified, and used to possibly corroborate, refute or otherwise contribute to known historical accounts of the battle, his life, and the times in which he lived. If you audience clamors for more, impress them with these points:

As stated earlier, history has painted Richard III as a royal bastard – meaning a really nasty piece of work. But, remember that history is written by the victors (his successors the Tudors), and it benefited them to blacken the image of this rightful king, a man they happened to have killed in a rebellion. There is no evidence that Richard was any more evil or benign than any other monarch in those bloody, Machiavellian days. Although the victors attributed to Richard the orders to have the two little princes (his nephews Edward V and Richard, Duke of York) staying in the Tower of London killed; there are no corroborating accounts to substantiate the rumors other than the fact that Richard benefited by being the next in line to the throne. As it was, the Council had invalidated the marriage of Edward’s parents, making him a bastard and ineligible for the throne. Richard, Edward’s uncle and protectorate succeeded him to the crown in 1483. In the interim, the princes disappeared and allegedly were never seen again; their remains have never been found. So, it was easy to finger him as guilty by opportunity and circumstance.

Richard III has also been been painted as a ugly, misshapen git who took his frustrations out on the unsuspecting world. While scientific study of his remains reveal he did have severe scoliosis of the spine, but it did not seem to impede him in battle since eyewitness accounts reported he was an able swordsman.  Nor did he have a withered hand or club foot as rumored.  As for his looks, comparison of portraits of him during his lifetime, and depictions after his death suggest that painters actually attempted to subtly render him uglier to accommodate his newly minted image as the harbinger of evil. Channel 4 broadcast two specials about him including a digital re-creation of his face taken from his actual skull which revealed an average face, not an ugly mask. As for his supposedly ugly exterior reflecting an inner twisted mind, some accounts before his death portrayed him as a good lord with a kind heart for the common man. After his demise, it appears the same eyewitnesses suspiciously switched to the victors’ side. In other words, Richard may have fallen victim to a slur campaign by those who sought to legitimize their claim to the throne, mainly the Tudors who followed him. William Shakespeare later immortalized evil Richard in his play, Richard III, which has endured for centuries.

Lastly, to leave your audience in awe, discuss the anthropological significance of discovering undisturbed bones yielding information on stature, diet, disease, and effects of environment. For example, his diet as a wealthy nobleman would be rich in meats, exotic spices, and confections than a peasant who would not have such access. Yes, British cathedrals contain the remains of other royal figures, but the Church of England is loathe to give permission to exhume and test them. Hence, testing and identifying Richard’s bones accorded the perfect opportunity to corroborate historical accounts. Interesting, eh?

So in a nutshell, you now know a few salient points about Richard III to impress your family and friends, give or take a factoids. If you can’t also remember details that he was 1) born in 1452 and became one of the richest and influential noblemen of his time; 2) remained married to his wife Anne Neville without a breath of sex scandal; 3) ruled from 1483 to 1485; 4) died at the Battle of Bosworth Field and becoming the last king to die in battle on home soil since 1066; 5) and lie buried under the Greyfriar’s Church in Leicester, do remember that he was a 15th century monarch killed in battle, whose remains were discovered under a car park in the ruins of a razed church, and that he will be reburied next year in Leicester Cathedral with the pomp and circumstance befitting a king to the tune of 1 million pounds.

But seriously, if somebody says, “well, that’s all interesting, but why should I care?” remember this: history is not static; it’s alive and ever changing. What we learn today casts a new light on what we think we know about the past. And what we learn from the past impacts what we do in the future. It’s all linked together. Because of that, it’s important to obtain as accurate as an account can be, given the circumstances of the times. After all, historians and anthropologists will be excited about our bones, and lives 500 years from now; we would want them to get it right.

Right?

***

Hold on there!  KRA 2013 Week is still celebrating.  Rush over to the KRA fan initiative website here for more and take part in the yearly quizz.  You can sign the petition here.

 

Serene Sunday: Blue Bayou

Recently, Linda Ronstadt announced that she has multiple sclerosis and can no longer sing.  She’d had symptoms for seven or eight years but was diagnosed only recently because of voice issues.  The news shocked and devastated her as well as fans around the world.  I felt deeply saddened because she was one of the truly great voices of her time in the ’70s and ’80s.  Today in the era of wannabe singers and auto-tuning, Linda had an amazing vocal range from rock (When Will I Be Loved) to operatic (Pirates of Penzance).

So today, I present her Roy Orbison cover, Blue Bayou, which hit #3 on the the Billboard 100 in 1977.

Enjoy.

Linda Ronstadt – Blue Bayou

DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the audio of this video. Subscribe. 😉 Blue Bayou – Linda Ronstadt

 

***

KRA 2

I’ve completely fallen asleep at the switch in publicizing KRA week. However, I hope to redeem myself with a post about Richard III in my own strange fashion tomorrow.  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, KRA 2013 Week is in its 5 day!  Head over to the KRA fan initiative website here for more and take part in the yearly quizz.  You can sign the petition here.

42

The man was in happy denial today.

The leaves dappled him with sunshine as he jogged through the woody section of the park. It was another unusually warm day in London but the trees afforded him some shade. He acknowledged two joggers running in tandem as they passed and casually eyed a street vendor selling one of those delicious hot dogs from a cart.  He considered getting one but continued on.  No, no more gorging;  none of that, he thought.

A thrill of joy shot through him as endorphins kicked in.  Okay, so today marked another milestone into middle age, considered approaching old age by industry standards when even top stars found themselves detoured from romantic leads to secondary character roles, pushed out by up and coming youngbloods.  He felt quite conscious of each passing year just as his career was really taking off.  He dwelled in an in-between world at the moment – almost too old for lead parts but not yet old enough for others in his youth obsessed business.  Sure, he had a few more crow’s feet and deepening lines around the mouth, but he didn’t feel old.  He felt great, blessed with good health, a thriving career, fabulous friends, a loving family. What more could he want? Well, maybe a special somebody, but that would come. It may be a cliche, but his future was bright. No, there was no need to dwell on this particular day. He would continue to treat it the same since turning 40 – just like any other.  Friends had offered to take him out that night, but he’d declined.  He had to prepare the script for audio work tomorrow.  Accompanying rolling nausea and a pounding headache were the last things he needed in the booth.  His friends seemed to understand, although the red-haired bloke had texted they would be at the Club later if he wanted to join them.  When asked which club, the bloke replied laconically that he would know.  He shook his head.  How?

Rounding a sharp curve in the path, he could just see the park’s exit in the distance. It wasn’t too far. He would reach it in a minute flat.

Grinning, he picked up the pace.

“…9, 10, 11, 12…”

Finding himself counting steps, he wondered what his personal best would be. He’d sprinted this many times but it had been awhile, before his long project had started at least. Had it really been over two and half years? He’d tried to stay in shape during filming but the long hours made it difficult for him enjoy long runs.

“…24, 25, 26…”

His feet pounded the path as he concentrated on breathing evenly and rhythmically. Joggers glanced at him curiously as he passed them on the right, a striking, tall, fit figure in black Lycra and trainers. He dodged as a stray runner darted in front of him. He grimaced. That lost him a second or two. He breathed deeper, arms and legs pumping. He had to move faster.

“… 34, 35, 36…”

Willing his long legs to stretch farther, he picked up the pace. His cheeks billowed as he strained to suck in oxygen. Instead of the burst of speed, he realized to his horror that the rhythmic breathing had given way to outright panting. Surely he could do this? He was almost there.

“…38, 39, 40…”

Arms and legs no longer in sync, he lumbered off the path into the grass.

“…41, …..42.”

Gasping for air, pace faltering, he stopped finally and grabbed his knees. The bubble of joy popped. He’d always been able to sprint the distance in 60 seconds. Today, he could only manage 42 – to match his 42nd birthday. He groaned and wheezed. How fitting.

***

The man stomped down the pavement towards home.  How had his aerobic capacity slipped like that?  He sighed deeply, willing himself out of the funk.  There was no need to get his knickers in a twist.  Clearly, he’d lost running fitness with all the emphasis on strength training for the films. He needed simply to concentrate more on this part of his regimen. After all, he wasn’t getting any younger.  He would start a new running program tomorrow.  Today he needed get home, put a dent in the housekeeping, run some errands and start marking the script.  Right.

Rounding the neighborhood corner shop, he popped in for a nice cold bottle of Evian for his dry throat.  The shop girl, a slight brunette in intricate braids, cutoffs and a tight tank top, straightened up from stacking boxes behind the small counter and beamed at him.  He suspected she knew who he was no doubt, but she’d never let on.

“Morning!  Looks like another hot one today, yeah?”

The man smiled. Her perkiness was irrepressible.  He placed the bottle on the counter and reached into his pocket for the fiver. The water was ridiculously expensive but his throat felt like sandpaper.

“That’s on sale today.  Only 42p.”

He startled. That was unheard of.  “Seriously?”

The brunette dimpled and cocked her head almost coquettishly. “Seriously.”

Eying her wedding band, he smiled, palmed the change, scooped up the bottle and headed out.  42p indeed.

***

Chugging the water and thinking about the dreaded house cleaning,  he spotted a flea market just opening in a side street from the main road.  He wasn’t aware of any set schedule; it seemed to appear and disappear during the summers.  Not as big as Covenant Garden’s or Notting Hill’s, the market still possessed a fair selection of goods.  He passed a few fruit and vegetable stands before stopping at booth containing retro apparel.  A few loud ’70’s lime green and salmon pink polyester men’s shirts hung from a rope stretched over the top of the booth. Scanning the tables and the overhanging shirts, he lifted the bottle to his lips for one more swallow. His hand stopped suddenly; his mouth fell open.  As a youth, he’d attempted to rebel against his staid conservative parents by buying a pair of tight orange trousers.  That had been as far as the rebellion got because he’d never had the guts to wear the trousers. Years later, he couldn’t remember what happened to that garment. Now, before his eyes, a pair of beautifully preserved orange leather trousers hung on the back wall of the booth.  He grinned widely.

The seller observed the man’s starry eyed smile and matched it with one of his own.  “Ahhhh!  You like it, yeah?  Vintage ’80’s. Impeccably kept.  It’s never been worn!  See, the tag is still on it.”

Handing the item to the man, the seller pointed to the yellowed paper attached to its plastic tie. The small type said: ₤95.

The man examined the trousers carefully.  No, rips, tears, puckers, still supple, not sign of wear – he had to have them.

“How much?”

“₤42.”

The man smirked.  42 again.  “30.”

The seller shook his head.  “42.””

His smile drooped.  What kind of market seller didn’t haggle?  This man couldn’t know him and not his age surely.  “35.”

The seller crossed his arms in satisfaction.  “Perfect very expensive leather trousers.  Half off, innit? 42.”

The man sighed.  The seller knew simply he’d had him from the start.  Pulling out his wallet, the man counted out the notes.  42 indeed.

***

The man stood with hands firmly planted on hips.  The last glance around the sitting room observed the same things as the first four – dust and clutter, but mostly dust.  He looked at the dust motes in the air highlighted by the beam of sunlight through the windows. With no housekeeper, if he didn’t clean it didn’t get done.  Unfortunately, the more frequent and longer absences grew more dust bunnies.  Not really keen to start cleaning, he felt the call of his laptop.  It rested on the desk, the only are he kept  clean and clear consistently.   Seated, he felt suddenly hesitant to log on.  He’d not checked his alias “Alia” in a few weeks.  What would he find?  The day had been constant reminders of his birthday.  Suddenly, he noticed the number 42 turning up everywhere:  items on sale costing something-42p  at the grocery;  a shop assistant stating they’d had 42 iPads in stock the day before but had sold out;  attempting to tip the courier who’d delivered a package and finding only 42p in his pocket.  He wasn’t superstitious but this was enough to give him pause.  For a day spent intending to forget his birthday, this was downright depressing.

Resolute, he logged on and surfed to his alter ego’s blog.  Her last post concerned the pros and cons of his playing a super hero role recently vacated.  Personally he felt indifferent, so naturally Alia was unfavorable.  He chuckled, having enjoyed playing the devil’s advocate in the fan-wide debate.  Scrolling down, he noted the number of replies received and sighed.  He snapped shut the lid.

42 comments.

Good grief.

***

The man sat on the sofa watching his newest toy, a big wide screen HD telly.  The package delivered early yielded a DVD of The Wanderer’s Map to the Universe, the iconic sci-fi comedy which he’d never seen, as well as an unsigned cryptic note saying: “this might help you out.” He surmised that the red-haired bloke had taken pity and sent a clue about the club, in an effort to tantalize him.  He still resolved not to go but a puzzle was too intriguing, so he’d popped in the disc and settled back amidst the dust and clutter.  Delightedly, he realized it starred one of his new pals from the last project.  Not a bad way to procrastinate over house cleaning.

“…we want to know the answer to life, the universe, and everything!  You must tell us.”

He arched a brow and leaned forward. This should be good.

“…The answer to life, the universe and everything is – 42.”

He slumped back.  What?  42!  That number – again? He continued watching the film but felt pretty sure that the ultimate question had nothing to do with the club’s name.  But could it be – 42?

Returning to the laptop, he fired up Google, searching for the newest trendy night clubs. A few seconds later, he found what he needed: Club 42.

He threw up his hands and thought.  Smiling, he finally pulled out his iPhone and texted the red-haired bloke. “Very funny.  I give up, ” he typed.  “See you at Club 42.”

The reply arrived almost instantly.  The man could practically hear him laughing. “9 sharp.”

He’d wear his new orange leather trousers.

***

Happy Birthday, Richard Armitage.  You’re only as old as you feel.  Have a great time.