Woes of the Woodville Wives….
This is posted on behalf of someone else, and is not the work of viscountessw
‘I can feel his presence, I’m sure of it’, said the leader of the group of hormonally challenged women in the ruins of Pontefract Castle. It was the inaugural meeting of the Woodville Wives, a pilgrimage they had vowed to undertake ever since the tyrant’s bones had been unearthed.
They remained indignant, incandescent even, that the deformed maniac was now the centre of such public fascination and their beloved, saintly, poet, worthy of such incredible adulation was a reduced to mere footnote….how dare ‘they’ rewrite History? Their literary and chivalric hero had perished in this very castle. It made more sense to romanticize him than the other object of their slavish infatuation, the aesthetically challenged ‘Lancastrian’ who had claimed the throne by his superb military tactics and prowess. It was high time the world was made aware of the loss of such a national treasure as Earl Rivers.
Oh, how they swooned at the mere mention of his name! In a group consisting of a disproportionately high number of alpha-females, the competition to be top dog was unsurprisingly fierce. However, a leader had emerged; her specialist knowledge of the Woodvilles, honed by many years of deep research and a proficiency in Wikipedia had ensured her pre-eminence. The others deferred to her authority, albeit reluctantly. Resplendent in their tee-shirts, loose fitting skirts, necklaces and brooches (featuring the special one’s quartered arms), they paid homage. They recited poetry and tried to feel the spirit and history of their hero. From far and wide they had travelled, from Europe, Australia, the Americas.
Oh! How Anthony would have approved! In fact, they were probably sure that he had actually been aware of the existence of this wonderful new world – he was cruelly murdered before he could alter the course of human knowledge and understanding! Cut down in his prime. And so they gathered, here in Yorkshire on 25 June, to commemorate his anniversary. The day before the murderous, misshapen tyrant claimed the throne of England. Damn that Plantagenet!
Rain cascaded down the ruins of the castle, despite it being humid. Well, it was Wimbledon season. However, it made the Wives feel depressed, uncomfortable and inexplicably hungry. The leader’s wing-commander suggested that they retire to a nearby pub for a spot of lunch before taking the steps down to the eleventh century cellars.
The group ate heartily; partaking of what they imagined was traditional Yorkshire fayre and real ales, all the time discussing the attributes of their heartthrob. Inevitably, the talk turned, as it always did, to that bloody Richard! The leader discussed her latest entrepreneurial plans, a tome devoted to the object of their pilgrimage and the extension of her range of novelty items to include Rivers as well as Tudor. It never ceased to amaze her how there was such a market for the tacky merchandise but her enslaved minions were insatiable! A toilet roll cover (typically English, she thought) was going to be the latest product.
The fact that the rain had been torrential, was, she felt, an omen. He was smiling on her endeavours, was Anthony. Alas, their intellectual musings were rudely interrupted when other patrons decided to play music on the jukebox. How could one possibly think, plot and scheme when such noise was screeching?!
To the strains of The Bangles’ ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’, they struggled to make themselves heard. Many voices, different accents, all female, competed to be heard. The group were then joined by their local Yorkshire historical expert and guide – a man, the only one to be allowed in their privileged inner sanctum.
He lingeringly embraced each of the women in turn, having been their ‘friend’ and ally in cyberspace for some time. He swiftly sank a pint of Yorkshire Pride and said that he would show them around the cellars of Pontefract and other hidden gems. A clap of thunder broke above, just as a bad Eighties post-disco track started in the background – ‘Give it Up’.
‘Never! ’bellowed the Antipodean delegate!
‘Nevill?’ said the man with the Lancashire accent. ‘No, we will never give up! Despite all ‘they’ throw at us, Richard was a tyrant, Anthony was a genius, and the world needs to know this! They gave HIM a glorious reinterment and all those fools went out to pay tribute! I’m not having it and I’m never wrong!’
The Lancastrian Yorkshire guide massaged her monumental ego, passed her a pack of pork scratchings and a pint and told her that she was infallible and would always, yes always, have the last word.
The squadron leader, aka Wife Number one swallowed her resentment and grudgingly allowed this slight to her to go unchallenged. There would be time enough to remedy this situation later….
The group eventually departed the ‘Dog and Duck’ Public House following a break in the rain and trudged wearily back to the castle. The wives followed their guide to the cellars, in stately, solemn and sodden procession. Assembled in a circle, they kissed Rivers’ emblems, clutched hands and, at the behest of their leader, attempted to invoke his spirit. Their eyes raised, glistening in expectation, as they felt a swirl of wind, so tangible, they reached to touch it.
The leader raised her nasal voice ‘Lord Anthony, we are here! Come to remember, here to care’. Minutes passed….nothing…as they meditated on the image and words of their hero…. ‘Anthony!’ wailed the chief wife once more….then, they froze as a male voice boomed ‘Richard!’
One of the group, a foot soldier from the Americas attempted to break free and run away. ‘I didn’t sign up for this; I’m going, back to my Mama and Papa, back to Chicago’.
An English lieutenant, pulled her back into the circle, and whispered the words to ‘Hotel California’ – ‘you can check out…but you can never leave’.
‘Richard!’ the voice bellowed once more…
‘Anthony, is that you?’ said the Woodville commander.
‘No, I’m not Richard, he’s over there. I’m Thomas, Lord Darcy and I demand to know what you are doing in my home?’
The chief wife was petrified, her hands shaking, but she was not going to show weakness in front of her minions. ‘We seek Lord Rivers…is he here?’
The cellar was now icily cold and the wives could not see where the voice was coming from, some were in tears and fervently wishing they had not been enticed to partake in this fool’s errand.
‘Lord Rivers!’ – the voice returned, its tone incredulous, ‘Rivers, that craven coward, couldn’t joust his way owt of a silke purse! Eh, Richard?’
At the mention of HIS name, the women (and their guide) trembled.
‘Is the usurping tyrant with you?’ said Woodville number one.
‘of whome doth thou speake?’ said Lord Darcy.
‘The Plantagenet who killed his own blood and destroyed York’ replied Woodville one, with a bravado she did not feel.
This time Darcy shouted, his broad Yorkshire tones filling the empty cellar, ‘Thou meanest Richard III? His Grace ys not here at present but Richard Two ys. I have witnessyd some artycles at Pomfret but I have never before seene such brutish creatures! Richard Two doesn’t lyke ye either! Be gone! hydeouse Lancaster crones and seeke ye your poet somewhere else…do not darkyn these doors agayn. And taketh that excuse for a male with thou, a complete buffoon!’
Darcy and Richard II retired together and laughed long and hard at the folly of women; Lancastrian women with strange accents. They ignored the brooding, mumbling presence of Rivers but mentioned his hysterical visitors, to which he replied ‘I thank thee for sparing me that, at leaste’ and went back to reciting his poetry. Darcy and Richard decided to move on and tell Richard, third of that name since the conquest, of the source of their mirth. No doubt Richard would be highly amused!
It was a shame that these modern mortals did not know what an acerbic wit Richard III possessed. Another legacy of the damage inflicted by those damn “Tudors” and their acolytes!
The Pontefract group have been suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder since the incident and are currently undergoing medical supervision.
This is a work of fiction. All resemblances to people living or dead are entirely coincidental.