Rain reign

Driving through the rainy Ayrshire hills is an unusual pleasure. You drive past wee burns carving through the lush pastures, rushing with rain water. The sheep are fat and happy from good Scottish grass fattened up with rain. The plantlife is fed by rain, bright and healthy. The sky is filled with colourful roiling clouds carrying sweet lifegiving rain. Houses shine, washed bright by constant rain. Healthy lowlanders walk dogs lean and fit from running through rainwet fields. Even the road ahead reflects the light from the rain puddles in the tarmac.

On the local radio I hear the local people giving their contempt for the monarchy free rein. Down back in England people are welcoming the beginning of Charles III’s reign as king. Here, the radio vox pops are raining contempt on who they keep calling “the English king”. I have to restrain myself…

He’s not just the English king. This is another example of the small-mindedness and the needless tribal division that is endemic in this age of algorithms.

Let’s go back to 1603 when it was well decided that James Charles Stuart should follow the first Elizabethan age and come be our king too. James VI of Scotland and I of England. Son of Mary Queen of Scots. A practical decision to make absolutely certain the Spanish didn’t come knocking on the crown again. James the VI of Scotland then became also James the I of England.

As observed by Shakespeare, Puritanism was on the rise. Malvolio, who thought that because he was worthy there should be no more cakes and ale, swears to be revenged on the whole pack of courtiers and nobles for their cavalier treatment of him. His son, Charles I of Scotland and England etc was to bear the brunt of that puritanical revenge. A bloody civil war fought between the royalist Cavaliers and Cromwell’s puritan Roundheads, leading to King Charles’ beheading on a cold January morning in 1649. He famously asked for two shirts, as it was cold and he didn’t want shivering to be mistaken for fear. Then came the interregnum. The next year, his son Charles was declared King of Scotland, while Cromwell and the Roundheads were just beginning their time in control of England. Charles exhibited a combination of stamina, ingenuity and good contacts. For someone so recognisable to escape to France with a grand reward on his head was remarkable.

The logical next move for a New Model Army buoyed up by a sense of their own righteousness and everybody else’s wrongfulness was to ban fun. The theatres were pulled down. Until Wanamaker’s Globe came up in the nineties, we lost entirely the form of audience inviting theatre that developed in London from the cart shows via James Burbage in Shoreditch. When the monarchy was eventually restored to a country now understanding (for a short while) that idealists and zealots are frequently not the best leaders, the French form of proscenium theatre came with Charles, bringing new techniques such as the disconnect between actor and audience. The idea of a fourth wall. An “aside”. And WOMEN ON STAGE.

And now we have another King Charles. He has shaken my hand. He loves the theatre. I’m okay with him.

King Charles III. He doesn’t come across as very Scottish, but his lot were Scottish first and his king name was brought into the mix by James VI of Scotland…

I just don’t see why we need to be so little that we spend so much energy hating a system that at least means we aren’t only represented by the likes of Boris on an international stage. The world is big and we are a small nation. We are getting smaller and we seem to want it to happen while Russia is expanding. The troll factories amplify and attack to fit their agenda, and we know that the more we all fit ourselves into tinier and tinier boxes, the easier we will be to eat.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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