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Kings, Bugs and Cables

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Word for today is Gusset. Don’t ask me why. I just spent my ride to work chuckling over it, so it has to be the word for the day.

Today’s commemorated event is the death of Henry IV of France and Navarre in 1610. He was the first King from the Bourbon dynasty and as such I appreciate him. After all, I’ve consumed a fair amount of Bourbon, so I feel a certain kinship. Actually he was two Kings, kind of like James I of England and VI of Scotland. He was, in fact, Henry IV of France and III of Navarre. He must have been quite a ruler. Apart from his reputation in history, which is very benevolent, he was a staunch protestant who actually changed his religion to Catholicism because it would be better for France. I guess that’s pretty damn selfless. He was the man who ended the Wars of Religion in France. Kind of makes you wish he’d been around in Ireland in the 70s or in the Middle East now. As an interesting aside, due to the strange line through which he ascended to the throne of France, that particular section of the wars is known since as the War of the Three Henries! He was the man who sent the groups that settled and claimed Canada for the French. Henry IV was wise and fair and compassionate, doing a great deal for the common folk of France, rebuilding the treasury and the infrastructure after decades of war and generally bringing peace and prosperity to France. And then, in 1610, on May 14th, he was murdered.

Now, I realise that that wasn’t particularly funny. I just find Henry IV impressive and interesting. I think the funny part comes in the form of the assassin, François Ravaillac. What you have to bear in mind here is that this is the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th. When we talk of religion at this time, we’re talking of all sorts of absurdity. Protestantism was on the rise and France was a shattered and divided nation yes, but this was also an era in which the inquisition was still deep-fat-frying innocent folk for having a knobbly nose or knock knees. This was the era when across the old world and the new, any woman who owned a suspicious looking cat or liked to add a few herbs to her Coq au Vin was dumped in the pond tied to an anvil or torched as a witch. So we’re talking about an era of insanity, violence and evil in the name of God, regardless of which side you were on. And yet, François Ravaillac was considered a bit of a barnpot by even these crazy sickos. As a seriously obsessive Catholic, Ravaillac tried to join the Catholic order of the Feuillants. They gave him a period of probation and then declared him a loon who had crazy visions and kicked him out. Not daunted by being rejected by the Feuillants, he applied to join the Jesuits, who refused him even a trial period. This itself should be a warning: the Jesuit order included two of the men responsible for the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 and three priests executed for treason in plots against Elizabeth I; the head of the Jesuits is a ‘General’. And even they would not admit Ravaillac. Then in 1609, Ravaillac had a vision that told him to persuade the King of France to convert all the remaining protestants in France to Catholicism, probably alongside some dancing cream cakes and a palace made of cheese. His vision seems to have omitted to point out to him that half a dozen French Kings had been trying precisely that for half a century with the only result being a lot of dead Frenchmen of both religions. In fact, France was enjoying peace for the first time in over 40 years and Ravaillac’s vision told him to try and halt this disgusting outbreak of civility. Ravaillac kept journeying to Paris and trying to get an audience with Henry IV. Thwarted by the fact that it’s a surprising rarity for a reigning monarch to grant an audience to a crazed, drooling, wild-eyed failed monk with premonitions who’s advocating war, Ravaillac waited for the royal coach in the Rue de la Ferronnerie and leaped aboard, stabbing the King to death. He was tortured for weeks and finally pulled apart by horses (the punishment for a regicide in France.) Interestingly, he’s supposed to have said after his capture “I have no regrets at all about dying, because I’ve done what I came to do.” He seems to have been a little confused since what he actually came to do was talk to the King, not puncture him.

Two nice quotes from Henry IV:

“God willing, every working man in my kingdom will have a chicken in the pot every Sunday, at the least”

“I shall rule with weapon in hand and arse in the saddle”

Well my, oh my. That was a long one (as the beautician said to the barbiturate salesman.) And what, we ask, has been happening in the world of the hunter of Moose?

Well. The yard is now down to three pieces of furniture, two buckets of ash and a pile of chipboard pieces. This morning, after my unprecedented success with the ‘Roundup’ weedkiller, I went about the various weeds that still seemed to be clinging to life. So later this month I’m expecting the garden to turn to ash one morning and all the trees to fall over gurgling.

On the way to work this morning, as all recent journeys, I rode with my visor up, since it’s warm and sunny. The downside of this is the incredible quantity of things that bounce off your head. I really am astounded by the number of pieces of foliage that struck my on the glasses and the forehead. I probably have an imprint of half a sycamore tree on my face. I’ll have to check that in the mirror. Also a number of bugs have met a grisly end on my face, including one unfortunate fly that had the bad luck to fly up my left nostril this morning, almost causing me to lose control as I tried to see where I was going while my eyes watered and I kept trying to eject my new lodger. In the end he dislodged sharply and bounced off the inside of my chin-guard, rattled around the helmet like a pinball table and finally disappeared out somewhere. I wonder if he’s still alive, telling the story on some bug-network from the other perspective. Ewww. Just imagine it! You’re happily pootling along on the wing on the way to work and suddenly you’re sucked into a giant nostril, shot out of the same, ricochet off several pieces of hard plastic and are finally ejected a good mile from where you started. Poor little bugger.

Well. Now I’ve got to use the last of my lunchtime to go and stand in the soul-destroying queue at the post office in order to mail 3 cables to our Belfast Office because apparently Belfast does not have a computer shop! Madness.

See you tomorrow.



Written by SJAT

January 11, 2011 at 2:56 pm

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