Sunday, 25 January 2009

Loyaute Me Lie

You never know what to expect as a Manchester City Fan. One minute, in the teeth of a recession they're trying to sign Kaka for £100 million, next they're taking on Craig Bellamy for £14 million, probably twice what he's worth. I'm old enough to have seen my team win the League Championship, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the European Cup-Winners Cup, but I've also seen them relegated more times than I care to remember, to say nothing of 'enjoying' a season in the old Third Division.

Supporting City teaches a person at least two things, even if they don't start with these qualities. A good sense of humour is essential. Next to that, resilience. Because every joy is going to be balanced with a healthy dose of disaster.

Of course, I could theoretically stop supporting them, and take up with Liverpool, or even that unmentionable lot from Stretford. But supporting City is hereditary. My father and both grandfathers were there before me at Maine Road and Hyde Road, long before the present COMS was even thought about. Loyaute Me Lie. No proper fan changes these things.

But why am I so interested in the House of York? It's far less obvious, because none of my family has any connection or interest at all **. The House of Lancaster is at least equally interesting, and yet, somehow, I can't bring myself to root for them like I do for the York lot.

(** As far as I know, but I suppose I could have their blood in my veins.)

Now I did once meet a woman who was convinced she was a reincarnation of Anne Neville, but there's a awful lot of us with the same interest, and we can't all have been Edward IV or whoever, can we?

Is it the power of historical fiction that hooked me? Maybe. In fiction at least the House of York (after about 1450, anyway) tends to get a good press, sometimes unjustly so. Fiction personalises history in a way that academic texts rarely, if ever, do. Does this not lead us to see events through the eyes of the heros and heroines that various pens have created? And thus to a biased preference to 'our' side?

Let's try another period for comparison - the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. Have you ever read a novel telling the story from a Whig point of view? Because I never have. To read the legends you'd think all of Scotland was on Prince Charlie's side, when in fact half Cumberland's soldiers at Culloden were Scottish. You'd think that England was full of Jacobites to boot, and yet, with the exception of a few hapless souls from Carlisle and Manchester, Prince Charlie received no English support whatever. Yet the Jacobites are romantic and everyone plugs for them - even I have a sneaking sympathy

Hmmm - maybe fiction is to blame, and that puts a heavy duty on all who turn their pen to it. But as far as the House of York is concerned, I'm a lost cause. Loyaute Me Lie.

1 comment:

John Foelster said...

For my own part, I got roped into the Richard III orbit while in (US) College at the University of Richmond (ironically enough).

I was a History major with a fetish for radical minority positions and oddball theories.

A hearty injection of skepticism as I got older eradicated a lot of these youthful fancies, but an affection for poor old Richard, a conviction that Ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Chronology is screwed up by 200-300 years that did not technically exist (see David Rohl, Peter James & John Bimson) and of course Edward de Vere. (And I don't want to argue about Edward de Vere. It never achieves anything.)

I think I indicated in another comment that I have a Richard III play that I want to finish someday. It's been in various states of outline and draft since 1997 and looks like it will be completed around the same time as your RIII novel. :)