Posted By Claire on November 16, 2011
Please read “What If? – A Tudor Spoof” first.
Henry sat with his leg wrapped up in bandages staring moodily at his court as they laughed, danced and stuffed their faces with his food. He idly wondered which one of them he could behead next, because that always brightened up a dull Sunday afternoon. His gaze caught the eye of the court musician as the young man banged away manfully on his lute. Thomas Tallis looked an awful lot like Mark Smeaton, except for the long droopy moustache and the eye patch.
Henry had just eaten half a wild boar and a couple of swan’s legs with Peregrine Falcon stuffing so was only feeling slightly peckish. One of his hunting dogs walked passed and Henry licked his lips. The dog gulped and ran away to play on the scaffold, which was safer than being around Henry when he was feeling miserable and peckish. The only person pleased with the King’s mood was the executioner, who was probably the busiest of Henry’s employees. He was doing so well that he’d just put down a deposit on a nice detached house overlooking Tyburn. His wife wasn’t too keen on the view but at last he could walk to work.
Henry turned to his wife who was tapping her foot out of time to the music. The Lady Rochford had insisted it would be funny if he dressed up as a beggar and met Anne of Cleves off the boat when she arrived in England. It turned out to be the worst idea since Adam and Eve thought, “that’s a nice apple, let’s have a nibble”.
Anne sat next to him chomping on a particularly greasy pork chop. It was not a sight which made him feel especially amorous. He gazed down mournfully at his lap. Nowadays there was more action in a morgue than in his cod-piece. He could almost see George Boleyn sat on a cloud yelling, ‘I told you so!’ Anne and George had been dead nearly four years, but they probably still had more life in them than there was in his nether regions.
He picked up a Golden Eagle sausage. It drooped. He sighed and tried to imagine making love to Anne as he watched grease dribble down her chin. Was it on his wish list? Oh yes, right up there with contracting leprosy!
He remembered happier times when his beloved Jane sat next to him and he was able to make love to her without completely losing his breath and feeling as if he was about to have a stroke. He remembered with affection Jane’s brothers dancing with her, but having learnt a lesson from George Boleyn, holding her at arm’s length as if she were about to explode. Oh how they all laughed!
Poor Anne glanced sideways at her scowling husband. She was convinced that the way things were going she had about as much chance of getting pregnant as giving birth to a beagle. Admittedly she had had a sheltered childhood, but even so, she had seen dogs and horses playing piggyback, so she was fairly certain holding hands wouldn’t do the trick.
She thought back in horror to that day she arrived in England. First of all she had been met by a strange toad-like little man who she later came to know as Cromwell. Her English had been a bit rusty so she wasn’t able to understand what he was saying to her. Being English, Cromwell did what English people always do when foreigners don’t understand them; he stared to shout at her on the assumption that by doing so she would suddenly say, ‘oh yes, now I’m being shouted at I suddenly understand every word you say’. All it did was terrify her.
Then there was the dreadful moment when that revolting old beggar had accosted her. She had already punched him several times in the face and kicked him hard in the groin before someone had explained to her that it was the King. Of course it had all been hushed up as a wheezing Henry had been carried to his carriage with his eyes streaming, but she was convinced rumours had got out. She was already being called ‘Anne the King feller’ on account of Henry collapsing like a sack of coal down a coal shoot.
Anne had decided that the English were the most peculiar people she had ever met. Little Kitty Howard was a very giggly, flirty girl who kept giggling and flirting with Henry, who didn’t seem to mind that the girl kept wetting herself for no apparent reason. The Duke of Norfolk was another oddball. He never walked anywhere, but just glided on a waft of black smoke, and no one seemed to notice!
And as for the Lady Rochford, she was the most peculiar woman Anne had ever met. Although Jane Rochford had insisted it was quite normal for English women to sacrifice goats on the night of a full moon whilst dancing naked round an oak tree, Anne increasingly suspected this was a lie. No one else did it and likewise no other widow of a convicted traitor went to the Tower chapel and danced around the altar wearing a party hat and waving streamers. Even Henry had noticed she was a bit weird.
So Anne and Henry sat side by side in lawfully wedded misery and the court watched the soap opera with mixed emotions:-
1. Although Thomas and Edward Seymour relished their attached heads, they were slightly concerned that whenever their little nephew drew a picture of them, Edward always left out their heads. Edward’s nurse put it down to his genes, but she was wondering whether to refer him for counselling.
2. Cromwell watched Anne and Henry anxiously and wondered whether he should make arrangements to leave the country.
3. The Duke of Norfolk licked his lips with a forked tongue and glided around the room smelling of sulphur.
4. A somewhat distracted Lady Rochford put a couple more twigs in her broomstick and debated whether to trot off and choose a goat for the next full moon.
Henry sighed deeply. There were times when he regretted having Anne and his friends killed. Admittedly Anne Boleyn had the temper of a Rottweiler on steroids, but at least she, George and the rest weren’t boring. He had even heard a couple of his foreign ambassadors swear the siblings were alive and that they had been spotted in France, but that couldn’t be correct because the couple had apparently been wearing ‘I love St Tropez’ T-Shirts, and neither George nor Anne Boleyn would be seen dead in a T-Shirt, even if they were supposed to be dead.
Henry sat in self pity and watched Catherine Howard dancing. Anne watched Henry watching Catherine, the Duke of Norfolk watched Anne watching Henry and Catherine, and Jane Rochford watched Norfolk watching Anne watching Henry and Catherine. Oh, the intrigue of it all. Yes! The scene was set, the script was written and the actors were in position. Now all it took was an egomaniac with the emotional maturity of a teacup to ensure a second tragedy to keep us all entertained nearly five-hundred years later!
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