I've just come back from England, where we went to celebrate my mother's 90th birthday.
So there we were sitting round her cake with its wimpy ‘9’ and ‘0’-shaped candles instead of a proper rollicking conflagration of 90 candle-shaped ones, just like pre-election supporters of a president, resident and non-lame-duck-ish, chanting “Four more years!” only we had upped it to “Ten more years!” Yes, we need ten more birthdays out of her so she can get the traditional hundredth birthday telegram from the Queen. That famous telegram’s one of those things you grow up with in England (well at least you grew up with in the 1950’s): a telegram from the Queen on your hundredth birthday: something to look forward to for your whole life.
In passing I wonder does the Queen still even send telegrams1? Maybe she just tweets? Something like: “#Hundred @RichardsMum happy hundredth bday from Brenda and all at Buck Hs.”? Seems likely, in ten years if not right now.
And anyway, regardless of putative poopy behaviour towards my Mum ten years hence, I should of course immediately disabuse you of any notion that I support the current royal family in any way. As far as I'm concerned they’re a load of bloody foreigners, and their ancestors have been ever since the most recent King that I personally recognise: the blessed St Eadmund, Last King of East Anglia2, and sometime Patron Saint of England, who was viciously martyred on the orders of Ivar the Spineless Git by the Great Heathen Army in 869.
Oh yes! And I refuse to call the Great Heathen Army a load of ‘Vikings’ because that will immediately put an erroneous picture in your mind of guys with horned helmets à la Hagar the Horrible. And as everyone knows, horned helmets weren't invented until 1876, by Professor Carl Emil Doepler, for a production of a Wagner’s Ring des Nibelungen. Before that, for a hundred years or so, the guys who went fara í víking were imagined to wear equally spurious, but rather more elegant, wings on their helmets. Of course in reality you want things like swords and axes to bounce off your helmet and not be channeled by some useless excrescence into aiming directly for your shoulders—I mean you need your shoulders, especially when wielding your own sword or axe. And anyway the term ‘Viking’ is more of an occupational title than anything else.
Exactly like ‘Queen’.
And note this: Queens also don't wear horned helmets and Vikings most definitely don't send tweets, or telegrams, or even desperately requested cards with personalised messages, on anyone’s hundredth birthday: not even my poor Mum’s! And I think that pretty-well wraps things up for Vikings, Queens and my Mum.
Cheerio for now from
1 Do you think the Queen sent her mum, the Queen Mum, a telegram on her 100th birthday?
2 Historical note for history wonks and all you nerds out there: Eadmund might possibly have been briefly followed by an Oswald and an Æthelred II before that swine Guthrum usurped, but there ain’t much evidence apart from a few coins so we’ll just gloss over those poor sods.
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