Sweyn Forkbeard…

…used to be king of England, Denmark and Norway. He was King Canute’s dad. Those of us who did our 1066 and all that will remember that Canute tried to order the waves of the sea to do his bidding. The sea did not oblige. The sea has little respect for kings. The mice, of course, know this which is why they asked Slartibartfast to design the fjords of Norway, those lovely crinkly bits for which he got an award. His real name was Phartiphukborlz, but this was too much for the BBC which likes to hedge its bets with a fickle public in order not to be accused of anything unseemly that would appear to be rude or biased. Thus we learn this morning that global warming is “very likely” as in 90% likely, which is if you think about it, quite a lot likely. Even more likely than Tony Blair being Prime Minister next Christmas. While I am writing this the BBC changed the headline of this news item to “Blame for warming pinned on man” which in the wonderful ambiguity of the English language could mean there is this man who has just had this blame pinned on him. Sounds like a crime report, or perhaps a heating bill, or perhaps the Old Bill are just turning up the heat on Tony, who after all is a kind of modern day Canute. Old Forkbeard became king because Ethelred was unready. This was the Golden Age of Puns in English history, and to add to the merriment “London bridge was burning down” at the time. We are, of course, living in the Golden Age of Detective Stories as Yates of the Yard calls for tea with Tony. History unfolds as cultural metaphor. I blame the mice. Norway was great but custom made luxury planet building soon went downhill. I mean just take a ride on the Northern Line.

Apparently old Sweyn had a long, pitchfork-like moustache, a “tjúga” in Old Norse, not a full beard, but Sweyn Forkmoustache being pretty difficult to pronounce in Old Norse, Forkbeard it had to be. The moustache was invented by a Scythian horseman in 300 BC. In Western cultures women generally remove facial hair, though many are capable of growing it and have done so, usually in the form of thin moustaches. Which all goes to prove that shaving is responsible for much of human suffering. After all Tony Blair shaves. I rest my case. When will the BBC finally come out and tell us “10% warming pinned on dead parrot” probably because of the methane? The French turned off the lights of the Eifel Tower yesterday, only for five minutes but still they are at least trying. After Canute failed to turn back the waves he took off his crown and refused to wear it again. A wise man. Does history repeat itself? With all due respect to Nietzsche’s idea of the eternal return, probably not. Will Canute return in our hour of need to convince us that we cannot keep back the waves forever, although the Dutch have a jolly good try? My money is on Forkbeard who spun a moustache on the unready Ethelred. London had to capitulate to the old Viking in the end. He became king on Christmas Day and died in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, the county that may hold the secret of the Holy Grail. History was more romantic in those days. Whether ultimately true or not it can teach us to value and conserve that that which is best in human nature, while keeping us aware of our folly. If once you have paid him the Danegeld,
you never get rid of the Dane, otherwise known as Yates of the Yard (or the greenhouse effect – you pays your Danegeld and takes your choice!) Joli weekend, mes amis!


About Leighton Cooke

The Original Cookiemouse
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