Finding space for Richard III


I recently stumbled upon the Twitter and Facebook accounts of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and his amazing images of Earth from the International Space Station.  They exude such extraordinary beauty and serenity; Col. Hadfield is a man with a true perspective of the planet.

The International Space Station.

Down here on terra firma, many weeks after he turned up in a different kind of space, Richard III is still generating rather more earthy opinions.  Beauty and serenity are in short supply.

As an advocate of randomocracy and randomonarchy, I care little for either royals or politicians, be they living or long-dead.  Many readers of my previous post mistook me for someone who gave a Greyfriars Dicky.  I don't.  There's no new evidence to disprove Richard being just another mediaeval power-seeker who bumped off his relatives - including children - whenever he deemed it necessary.

The face of a tyrant

I do still think my town of birth would benefit from having his remains far more than my town of residence.  However, since I wrote that article, representatives of both cities (particularly those of York) have carried on chuntering and whinging and bickering.  It's getting extremely tiresome.

The representation to the Queen by York's council leader is basically that of a four year-old whining to their mummy about a toy.

York: "Maaa-aaam! He took my Dicky and won't give it back! It's so unfair!"

Ma'am: "But you weren't playing with Dicky!"

York: "Yeah, but - SNIFF - I'd forgot how much I REALLY liked Dicky and now I want to - SNIFF - put him in a special place where he told me he wants to live!"

Ma'am: "Right, ok, erm how exactly do you know where he wants to live?"

York: "Because he whispered it to me a long time ago, honest!"

Ma'am: "Hmm, I'm really not sure about that. However, I wonder if Leicester might be kind and let you share Dicky."

Leicester: "Over his dead body."

Leicester's Peter Soulsby in discussions with York's Julian Sturdy.

It's pretty embarrassing that grown adults can behave so pathetically.  If neither York nor Leicester can play nicely with Greyfriars Dicky, neither of them should have him.  And I can see only one sensible solution.  To put an end to the fuss once and for all, his remains should be put in a rocket and launched out into the cosmos.

This was inspired by a comment my friend Neil made to me.  "I don't understand why they don't just blast the remains into space," Neil said.  "Surely that's what he would have wanted, had he realised it would be possible."

A winged horse, a winged horse! My kingdom for a winged horse!

Neil is quite right.  The idea is brilliant: Dicky would unequivocally have wanted such a ceremony, and Leicester is the home of the National Space Centre.  The National Gas Museum is next door too, so finding rocket fuel wouldn't be a problem.

A friend of mine had managed to get a bowler hat-sized lump of Scottish rock taken into space and back by a Russian spacecraft, so I was also sure the European Space Agency would be happy to help out with this important peace-keeping project.  I wrote a petition to the government, imploring them to turn the Last Plantegenet into the First Planet Agent.

A few days after submitting my proposal, though, I received this email:


Naturally, I was extremely disappointed.  Yet again, our short-sighted rulers have turned down an opportunity to do something really remarkable and put Britain on the science and technology map in a big new way.  If the spacecraft was pointed in the direction of the right constellation, Dicky could have landed on an Earth-like planet and made a claim for new territory on behalf of the UK.

My campaign doesn't stop here, though.  If the UK and Europe won't assist, perhaps the splendid Col. Hadfield can?  I'm pretty sure no mediaeval king has ever visited the International Space Station, and as the Queen apologized for never having arranged a royal tour of the atmosphere, Canadian royal approval would surely be forthcoming.

Now if only someone from York could write a letter to the monarch asking for permission not to bury Greyfriars Dicky's remains in Leicester.

Ah no, wait a minute...


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