Readers will know by now this column is the very dab at identifying new fads and crazes among the community at large.
Think of it as a public service to warn and advise sensible people not to get involved, and to keep their distance until other people have made all the expensive mistakes or received therapy for whatever damage they might have sustained.
Only a few months ago there was a popular appetite for demanding that public figures apologise for past wrongs. The choice of subject and apologist has always been selective and it matters little if the evil deed was several centuries ago or last week, a show of public grovelling just has to be made.
As a matter of principle I restrict apologies to my own misdeeds, or more truthfully those I cannot deny, and in circumstances where I am genuinely sorry – anything else lacks sincerity and is totally worthless.
Back to fads. The latest bee in the public bunnet seems to be locating and/or digging up long-dead kings or other namely persons.
I am not all that sentimental when it comes to history, but I am prepared to stick to the notion that having been returned to the earth from whence one sprang, there is an unwritten entitlement to be left to enjoy eternity in whatever form it presents.
There are exceptions to this rule. If exhumation will help solve a criminal mystery and there is a sufficiency of evidence to justify the move, there is no reason why this should not take place.
But digging up a long-dead king for no better reason than to check out if he is there strikes me as being flimsy to say the least. In any case Richard III was by repute an unsavoury individual, not above the ancient regal trick of rubbing out anyone likely to get in the way of his kingly ambitions. If anything, the old lad gave nothing more to his country and people than a half-decent Shakespearian play and an item of common Cockney rhyming slang.
Undeterred by a chorus of negative vibes, the diggers set to work and before too long a wheen o’ banes were found under a Leicester car park. Then the boffins got going and having laid out the skeleton as far as it was complete, followed by a few tests, they went public that this was in fact the incomplete chassis of the late King Dick.
As a side benefit, weapon marks on the unearthed bones suggested the last few minutes of the life of Richard III were rather trying for him, and now the silly faction are happily squabbling over where the bones will be re-interred.
My money is on putting him back where he was found, this time with two feet of reinforced concrete on top – anything else smacks of attempts to re-write history.
Needless to say various folk are piping up with names of other monarchs and famous types whose last resting place is unclear. In as much as many of the earlier examples were slain on the field of battle or under murky circumstances, thereafter either buried on the spot, or carried off as some form of rather miasmic trophy of war, it is worth considering the tombs of those fortunate enough to have some form of memorial might well be empty or containing a dupe for whatever reason – thus excavation is a poor bet.
I read news of a suggestion that some elementary archaeology might reveal the current whereabouts of the elusive Fletcher, our very own Flodden hero.
Given the lack of firm documentary evidence other than the incomplete historical records of long ago Selkirk, it is safer to treat Fletcher as a tradition rather than a fact. It is sad to contemplate that the full Fletcher story might have been consigned to the flames in a bonfire of documents as part of Second World War air-raid precautions – maybe we count ourselves lucky for the timely intervention of those nice Mason brothers who rescued as much as they could from the vandals.
That man Hitler has so much to answer for – maybe we should demand an apology and compensation.
By a stroke of good fortune and an eye for a bargain, I own a copy of the Selkirk Protocol Books covering the period of 1511 to 1547.
Given that every trivial piece of Selkirk business is recorded therein, it might well pay me to trawl through this rather slow read in search of anything recording when good ol’ Fletcher bought the farm.
Personally, I am quite happy with the accepted version of Fletcher’s long walk home with the flag, and on that basis I feel reluctant to encourage any serious attempt at locating where he lies buried, presumably somewhere in Selkirk.
The Fletcher story fits where it touches and no more is needed of it.
We should not deny ourselves the dream that all that has been said about him was true and one day he will be discovered by accident, rather than the reality of casting more doubt about the credibility of his name and deeds.
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Weather for Selkirk
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West