Monday, April 25, 2011

Hail to the King

Forgive me for not writing - but it's not really my fault.

Blame can be placed on the usual suspects -- three demanding pets, 136 Language Arts students, my novel revision, and of course... Henry VIII.

Here's what happened: I finished the excellent BBC series Wire in the Blood and, while scrolling through Netflix in a deep state of despair, I discovered The Tudors.

My grasp of British history is weak at best, despite tons of Shakespeare and a 2009 trip to England that included an excellent Beefeater tour of the Tower of London. The various Richards, Edwards and Georges are basically interchangeable in my mind (but so, to be honest, are Buchanan and Pierce and Fillmore).

That said, I have a sick obsession with Henry VIII, his six wives, the lone son and the daughters who were so inconsequential that they only stayed on the throne for half a century.

I was hooked by the end of episode one. Castles! Crown jewels! Jousting! And if the TV-MA status was initially off-putting, it's amazing how quickly I started yawning my way through the boudoir scenes of the king and his flavor of the week. All right, let's get to the good stuff -- like when Henry denies the supremacy of the Pope to get his divorce, thereby bringing the Protestant Reformation to England.

Essays to grade? Not when the Queen is exiled to the Fens.

Sleep to be had? Nah -- not when the country's best executioner has been summoned for Anne.

And illogically, I started rooting against history. I knew what would happen; I had memorized long ago the sad demises of the six wives (divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived), but still I found myself hopeful. Catherine is too noble to be set aside! Poor Anne would give him a son if she could! Maybe there was some way sweet Jane could survive that difficult childbirth...

Between seasons two and three, foiled again by the Treick stomach, I spent a night shivering/sweating and dizzy with vertigo, unable to sleep because of my tangled 16th century nightmares of beheadings and courtiers. I'd drift off for a moment, then wake with a gasp, thinking, If if could happen to Sir Thomas More, it could happen to me.

Seasons three and four, tragically, were available by DVD only. I was forced to stalk the mailman, grasping the mail greedily as he approached. In the meantime I checked out a stack of books from my public library, which for probably my whole life has housed an entire shelf on the Tudors. It's possible that this obsession isn't normal, I thought, when the librarian asked if I was writing a research paper on Henry VIII. Walking through the park, I casually mentioned to Will that Anne of Cleves was granted the status of "sister" after Henry annulled their marriage. Will smiled tolerantly at me; perhaps he was wondering when I would finally change the subject.

Maybe "The Tudors" falls into that ambiguous "for better or worse" category; one of the strange future things about our spouse that we simply cannot predict. But Will rose to the challenge. Later that day, there was an early birthday present waiting for me - the last season on DVD. And that's where I'll be for the next week.

1 comment:

  1. For countless hours I shared your obsession. Not much about the history of England floats my boat, but I craved each episode of The Tudors like – well, insert your favorite analogy. Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, was my favorite character, and I thought Henry Cavill was marvelous in the role. (Most of the time I thought King Henry VIII needed either a good spanking, or a time-out, or both – what a spoiled brat.) Marna and I just finished The King’s Speech – if you haven’t seen it, I suggest you put it on your list.