Now is the winter of our discontent
So said the title character in William Shakespeare’s Richard III. Thanks to Shakespeare, and some other biographers of the time, we’ve known for centuries that King Richard was a hunchbacked, evil murderer, usually portrayed in black, and with a gimp and a Hitler mustache. He was the last of the House of Plantagenet, and the last King of England to die in battle, during the final skirmish of the War of the Roses in 1485. He was buried in a Catholic church that was later destroyed by King Henry VIII, thanks to his feud with the Pope.
Over the years, Richard’s legacy has been up for debate. The Richard III Society was formed in the 1920s to rehabilitate the king’s sullied reputation. They insist that the historical record of his reign was a biased one, written by the succeeding House of Tudor as a way to legitimize their claim to the throne. This led to Shakespeare’s villainous depiction, written about a hundred years after Richard’s death. Shakespeare’s take seems to be the one that stuck, even though the Richard III Society still exists today.
Then, everything changed when they found Richard buried in a Leicester parking lot, like some sort of limey Jimmy Hoffa. The corpse bears battle scars, signs of postmortem abuse, and a case of scoliosis, but no evidence of being a hunchback. And there’s no truth to the rumor that he is being charged £8 million for spending more than 600 years in the parking lot and losing the ticket.
We know it’s him because it was matched with the DNA of a Canadian gent who is known to be part of Richard III’s lineage. It’s making Britain rethink Richard’s legacy. Maybe he wasn’t that bad a guy anyhow. Not a saint, and perhaps not a very good king (hence, the end of his house and being buried in a parking lot), but not the bent and maniacal imagery of the Bard, either.
What else should Britain be rethinking?
How about football? No, not the HGH, head-trauma-inducing, American sport. I’m talking hooligans, advertising on the uniforms, and singing songs until you are horse because a tie game is the bloody dog’s bollocks! You know, soccer!
Now comes word that a global betting scam located in Singapore may have fixed more than 680 matches! Blimey! We’re buggered, for sure! These games include qualifying games for the World Cup and European Championships, and the Champions League for top European teams. I’m not sure how you fix a nil-nil match between the Everton Toffees and the Queens Park Rangers, but I’m pretty sure it involves a red card and a mid-fielder writhing on the ground after being grazed by a Croatian defenseman. Turns out, this sport is more crooked than a Beckham penalty kick. They say it involved the bribing of players and referees, and about 425 corrupt officials, players, and serious criminals in 15 countries.
This goes far beyond England, of course. It involves international matches in Turkey, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Croatia, Austria, Hungary, Bosnia, Slovenia, and Canada. You know it’s serious when Canada gets caught cheating.
This is the kind of scandal that can bury a sport faster than a medieval king with a head wound and scoliosis. Like the unfortunate king, it could ruin your reputation for centuries. What else should England be rethinking? The benefits of dental hygiene? Driving on the left side of the road?
Actually, I have no complaints about England. I’d love to go there, search for more kings, and bet on a football match. Only now I’m afraid that perhaps Romeo and Juliet didn’t love each other but were actually just good friends. It’s time to recalibrate, people!