What If? – A Tudor Spoof
Posted By Claire on November 16, 2011
Our anonymous spoof writer has been rather busy…
19th May 1536
Anne tapped nervously on the lid of her arrow chest. She heard a creaking followed by a loud crack, and was relieved to see her brother with a crowbar in his hand and a broad grin on his face.
“Good grief Anne it’s amazing what those illusionists can do with mirrors and a jar of strawberry jam. I was convinced they had made a mistake and you were really dead, even though I’d been through the same thing myself two days earlier.”
Anne grimaced, “Yuck, the jam’s all sticky.”
“Don’t worry about that,” said George, “we need to get out of here quickly. Cranmer’s got the ladders and Jane’s doing a strange little dance to divert the guards. We haven’t got much time.”
Anne clambered out of the chest and looked down at it in disgust, “How inappropriate for a Queen. You would think I’d have been given a proper coffin.”
They poked their attached heads out of the vault and padded across the chapel. Anne looked round sadly, “I always loved this chapel, but I’ll never feel the same way about it again.”
George nodded, “Yes, there is something about being buried in a place that rather puts you off it.”
They both peeped nervously outside the door of the chapel where Jane Rochford was performing the dance of the seven veils while the guards stared at her in incredulity. While the guards were diverted, the Boleyns made a dash for it, and found a very worried looking Cranmer leaning as nonchalantly as he could against a sixty foot ladder. Anne gave the ladder a long hard look.
“How on earth do you expect me to get up that thing in these shoes?”
As they were debating the best way of getting Anne up the ladder, Norris, Weston, Brereton and Smeaton arrived covered in mud.
“It’s alright for you two,” said Norris in a huff, “we were all buried underground and thought we would suffocate. You try getting out of a small deep hole in the ground. It’s not easy I can tell you!”
“Well,” said George defensively, “I spent two days hidden in a crypt and it was jolly cold. Anyway, we’ve got another problem on our hands; getting my sister up this ladder.”
“Can’t you just shove her?” Mark asked.
Anne gave him a look that would have sent a tiger scurrying for cover, “No you can’t just shove her! Anyway, why can’t we go out the same way as we came in?”
Cranmer looked even more worried, “Convicted traitors don’t usually leave out of traitor’s gate. It’s normally the other way around. Someone might notice.”
“Then again, convicted traitors don’t normally leave over the wall either,” said George, “Come on we better hurry because Jane’s looking knackered.”
Sure enough poor Jane was indeed very red in the face and was starting to wheeze as she whirled her veils manically around her head. Be that as it may, the guards were still fascinated, so they all looked expectantly at Mark who raised his eyes to heaven, sighed deeply and started up the ladder. He straddled the top and looked around, “You can see my house from up here.”
William was next and straddled the wall on the other side of the ladder. They both held their hands out expectantly for Anne. She hesitated and looked back at the Tower. “I thought I would be put in a dungeon when I came in here.”
George nodded, “Me too.”
Norris looked even huffier, “We were all put in dungeons, and poor Mark was kept in chains. You two should think yourselves lucky. You had it easy in your nice posh towers with servants and hot water and comfy beds. Try sleeping on a slab, and then you can complain.”
The Boleyns ignored him. Anne took a deep breath and placed a delicate foot on the first rung of the ladder. Slowly and deliberately she started to climb.
“Get a move on!” Hissed George.
She glared down at him, “Shut up! I’m going as fast as I can.”
George looked anxiously round at Jane who was definitely looking the worse for wear. “Quick,” said George, “we’re running out of time.”
He turned to see Mark and William haul the previous queen of England onto the wall where she dangled with her head in freedom and her legs in prison. She closed her eyes, “This is without doubt the most humiliating position I have ever found myself in. This is even worse than being found guilty of incest with him,” she said, gesticulating at George.
“I do have feelings you know,” said her brother looking hurt. He started up the ladder only to find his progress halted by Anne’s legs when he got to the top. “Budge up a bit, Anne.”
Poor Anne crabbed her way sideways to allow her brother access. Henry Norris was next and once they were all perched on the top of the wall like a small flock of strange looking ravens, Cranmer pushed, and the others pulled at the ladder and flipped it over onto the other side of the wall. Cranmer waved and went to find Jane, who had given up on the dance of the seven veils and was now doing an Irish dance with her legs flying in all direction.
Our intrepid heroes took it in turns to clamber down the ladder and then turned to freedom in glee. They were faced with the murky waters of the Tower moat. Anne looked at it disbelief, “No way! There is no way I can possibly be expected to swim across that.”
They all peered across the moat where Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn were waiting anxiously. Elizabeth smiled at them and waved around a picnic basket full of nibbles.
George waved at his mum, “Come on Anne, this is poetic justice for all the times you pushed me in the moat at Hever when we were children.”
Anne was just about to object when her brother shoved her as hard as he could. She hit the water like a breaching whale, and surfaced coughing and spluttering and looking nothing like the elegant Anne Boleyn, but more like a bedraggled water vole.
She doggy paddled furiously, “How dare you do that to me?”
George grinned, “You’re not queen now so you’d better get used to it. Look on the bright side at least it’s washed the jam off.”
They all made their way to the other side of the moat. Once there, Anne gave her brother a punch which made his arm go numb. He smirked and pushed her back in the moat. As she dragged herself ashore for the second time she turned on her father, “By finding them guilty,” she said pointing at the four men, “you also found me guilty, did you realise that?”
Her father looked abject, “I know, but Henry would have been ever so grumpy if I’d found them not guilty. And you know how he gets when he’s grumpy. I had visions of joining you in the crypt.”
Anne sighed, “Oh, alright, I forgive you. It’s Henry I can’t forgive. I can’t believe he seriously intends to marry that Jane creature. She is the most boring little squirt I’ve ever met and she’s got a face like a cow chewing the cud. You mark my words, it’ll end in tears. Anyway, deep breath, what are we going to do now?”
By then Jane and Cranmer had arrived. George turned to his wife with an admiring smile. “Nice moves!”
She glared at him, “That’s the last time I agree to be a diversion. I’m shattered and I’ve worn a hole in my shoe.”
George grinned, “Thanks anyway. I suppose we’re quits now, and bearing in mind I’m dead, you’re free to do what you want.”
Jane smiled at her erstwhile husband, “We had some good times, but it never really worked. At least with you being dead we don’t have the hassle of trying to get divorced. We all know how difficult that can be,” she said looking meaningfully at Anne.
George and Jane gave each other a friendly kiss and Jane trooped off home to see if she could possibly claw back any of George’s fortune. The rest of them looked at one another uncertainly.
“So what are we all going to do long term?” George asked.
Mark sighed, “I still want to be a court musician. I might try and change my appearance and go back. I’m obviously going to have to change my name as well. I’m thinking of changing it to Thomas Tallis. What do you think?”
Everybody agreed it was a fine name. Weston thought for a while. “I just want to go to the Costa Brava with the wife and take it from there.”
Brereton agreed that that was what he wanted to do too, although he preferred Ibiza.
Norris smiled, “I might go to the New World and take my chances with the natives. That’s going to be the new life for me.”
The old friends all embraced and the four men walked away to their new, or in some cases old, lives.
“I better get back to Henry before he misses me,” said Cranmer, “good luck to both of you. And please try to stay out of trouble. The strain of all this is killing you’re parents and me.”
Anne and George hugged him and Cranmer went back to his King, who was busy preparing for his next wedding, in blissful ignorance that his second wife was very much alive.
Anne glanced at her brother, “What do you want to do for the rest of your life, George?”
He shrugged, “All I ever wanted was to serve Henry as his adviser and diplomat, but if I go back with a change of appearance and name I still think he’ll recognise me. I love France though and have had some very good times there. What do you say to a life on the French Riviera, Nan? Let’s face it Anne, there’s no life for you or me here anymore.”
Anne nodded sadly, “We would constantly be in hiding. That’s no life for people like us.”
The Boleyns all went home, arm in arm, to Hever where Anne and George intended to organise their final escape, well away from the clutches of the King they had both loved.
12th February 1542
George had just come in from his dip in the sea, when he was met by his new wife, their five year old son, and Anne who was waving around a piece of paper with the shocking news from England.
George sighed. “Quick, we haven’t got much time. It looks as if we need to get out the mirrors and jam again, Anne.”