Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace

Yesterday I spent the entire afternoon at Hampton Court Palace, cleverly arriving in time to watch the school kids all leave so that I didn’t have to worry about inadvertently knocking one over when moving backwards to get a better view of something. Woohoo.

The marriage of Henry VIII and Katherine Parr has been re-enacted daily there and I have to say that the guy wandering about as Henry VIII was WICKED. He was hilarious and really interact well with the general public. Didn’t see much of Katherine Parr as I was too busy wandering about doing audio tours to be in the right place at the right time to catch the rest of the festivities.

In the evening, I attended the discussion on “Henry VIII on Stage and Screen” (chaired by Dan Snow and featuring Thomas S Freeman, Gregory Thompson, Greg Walker and Susan Doran), which was way interesting and like the giant geek that I am, I remembered to bring a notebook to make notes. Although it’s not just because I’m a geek, it’s because I tend to forget earlier points when I get caught up in the later ones 😀

Henry VIII is one of those kings that children remember because he got married 6 times and he had an extreme fondness for execution. Which is great. The multiple marriages thing kind of makes him more accessible, in the same way that Elizabeth Taylor is accessible. Or maybe not. At least the whole set up of his family – different children from different mothers and wives who became essentially sisters and all the wacky hijinks that went on back then are kind of a familiar story.
The whole hard-on for execution and Henry’s famed temper are also one of those things that show up a heck of a lot on telly and in film – I guess because it makes for interesting viewing (and maybe more so for the current generation who are all obviously apparently hopped up on violent computer games and similarly violent music! Or something :P)
Interestingly, something that was pointed out and something that I’ve not really thought about was that Henry’s attitude towards his wives and daughters changes depending on the time the play/film was written and tends to be more in line with the thinking contemporary to that of the play or film.

I can’t help but wonder that there is a heck of a lot missing from the picture of Henry VIII that most people (myself included even after attending this talk!) have of him. Not much is said about his life other than for his marriages, his children, his rage and his gluttony, at least in a form that is accessible to the masses. I guess The Tudors is helping to “adjust” the idea that Henry was this big fat angry bloke and that in his youth at least he was apparently hot and charismatic, though some of that has to be the allure of power perhaps. I’ll probably do more reading about him (to add to the HUGE stack of WW1 and WW2 books I’m ploughing through).

So, to summarise – Hampton Court Palace was wicked and the discussion I went to was well cool. As it were.

And I even remembered to check out an essay about Henry VIII that was mentioned during the evening! Mostly because I wrote that one down, but it does bring up some interesting points.

And then…. I got home and realised I was wearing my “I put the cute in execute” t-shirt. Muahahahaha.

Peace One Day

“Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous patience.” – Hyman Rickover

Peace One Day is an organisation initially set up to get a day of global ceasefire and non-violence, a “Peace Day”, recognised.

They decided that the best way to go about it would be to get the UN to do something and subsequently found that the UN already had one of these Peace Days, only… nothing really got done on this day. So stuff happened and eventually they got it ratified as this day of global ceasefire and non-violence and got it a fixed day rather than a vague third-tuesday-in-September,-but-maybe-we’ll-celebrate-early affair.

ANYWAY. They did it. And a documentary was made about it and broadcast on tv. Quite late at night. Which was when I caught the last two thirds of it when it was first broadcast, as I was uncharacteristically watching tv downstairs, late at night, rather than browsing the net in my room. I was fascinated, not just because it’s a really well-made and well-constructed documentary or because Jeremy Gilley is an infectiously driven dreamer-hero of the story, but because it’s a damn good idea.

A day of actual peace. Where children can be immunised without health workers fearing that they will be hurt. Where aid can be delivered to places that need it but are usually too difficult to get to. Where one person does not kill another person.

Because to achieve world peace, you have to start somewhere. And why not start with just one day.

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – Thomas Edison

Over the last few years, I have been able to celebrate this global day of peace more, well, vocally I guess. Being a student, I always had plenty of time to get something sorted out. This year however, while I did manage to do something to strive towards peace, I didn’t have the time to be vocal about it or remind every body I knew that it was coming.

The tragedy of no longer being a student and having days full of… slacking between lectures. Stupid work.

Anyway, to remedy this, I have decided I am going to start early. In fact I am going to start planning now. This way I’ll have plenty of time between work, church, the two courses I am doing and whatever else life throws at me to get something done.

And hopefully, it’ll be nice and big and vocal and spread the world and encourage people who don’t know about Peace One Day or the day of global ceasefire and non-violence or all the good that gets done and CAN be done on such a day to celebrate it and DO something.

“An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.” – The Buddha

Peace One Day is a nice idea. However, if it is only an idea, it is worthless. An idea this vital, this important must be put into action. It is not enough to think about it and do nothing. Do something, even if all it is it telling someone else about it.

Lives depend on it.

Michael Marshall Smith blogging for Powells.com

“The other thing about this Wednesday is that it appears to have quite a serious hangover.


Always seems like such a good idea at the time. The problem, of course, is that the brain that thinks it’s a good idea is one suffering from increasingly impaired judgment. You start the evening as a sophisticated gentleman, judiciously sipping a jaunty beer as you discuss the dominant cultural forces in seventeenth century Flanders, and next thing you know you’re dressed up like a nun and running around the town baying at the moon. Unless you started the evening as a nun, I guess, in which case maybe you wind up dressed as a writer. I don’t know. I’ll have to find a nun and ask her. Seems like a high mountain to climb right now, though.

On the upside, I got my week’s exercise done by standing up for the whole evening. So on balance I think I can feel pretty virtuous about the whole thing.”

Michael Marshall Smith

It’s stuff like this that makes me wish he wrote stuff more often.