Snarky Starkey

This is in response to remarks made by David Starkey, when asked whether St George’s Day should be an English national holiday. Also, I haven’t been about for a while so what better to jump back in with than with a good auld rant.

Side note: I’ll be posting a nice wee story about a deaf and mute fairy tomorrow, so, if you don’t like my rants, there’s that. Anyway, without further ado-

‘If we decide to go down this route of an English national day, it will mean we have become a feeble little country, just like the Scots and the Welsh and the Irish,’ he responded.

Me: This sort of knee-jerk vitriol is the type of school-boy bullshit deflection we’ve all encountered on the playground; one kid calls out another for wearing shitey trainers, then the kid with the shitey trainers hisses about not caring about having good trainers cause he doesn’t care about trends, or girls, or looking good. Basically, the deflector tries to act like hes above such petty and material concerns. England it that kid with shit shoes. It has no shape, no definable form or singular quality of person by which to set itself apart from the shades of grey by which life has cast its palate. So, what does a grey blob do when surrounded by color? Condemn the vibrancy of the former, for that is all it has to attack.

‘We do not make a great fact about Shakespeare, like the Scots do about that deeply boring, provincial poet Burns, and we do not have national music like the awful bagpipe.’

Me: Oh realllllllyyyyyyyyyy? What about the Judi Dench led gala in the link below.

Prince Charles. Shakespeare celebrations. A prince on a stage. A prince celebrating Shakespeare. Have I made my point yet?

Oh, and here’s the jam-packed itinerary for the, totally not a great fact about Shakespeare, celebrations in the above link.


From 10am: Free entry to our permanent exhibition, The Play’s The Thing
10.35 – 11.30am (approx): Shakespeare Birthday Parade, Bridge Street
11.15am – 12.20pm (approx): Literary Pageant performance by Positive Youth Foundation, Bridge Street
11.30am – 4pm: Craft Workshop, Upper Foyer, The Other Place
12 – 4pm: Sonnet Ferry, Chain Ferry Crossing, River Avon. Listen to Shakespeare’s poetry as you cross the River Avon, read to you by RSC actors. 50p per crossing
12 – 3pm: Meet the Artist: Jasmine Thompson, creator of Love as a Revolution, Bancroft Terrace
12 – 12.45pm: Blood Guts and Gore, The Other Place
1 – 1.45pm: Theatre Design Q&A, The Other Place
1.30pm: Positive Youth Foundation performance, Bancroft Terrace (10 minutes)
2 – 2.45pm: Stage Fighting Demo, The Other Place
2.30pm: Positive Youth Foundation performance, Bancroft Terrace (10 minutes)
3 – 3.45pm: Rehearsing Shakespeare, The Other Place
5 – 6pm: Apples and Snakes present: SPIN

Side note: Have I made my point yet?

Also, seeing as you went and brought him up; auld Rabbie boy actually wrote and composed his entire catalog of original works…whereas…

‘The Scots and the Welsh are typical small nations with a romantic 19th century-style nationalism.’

Me: As opposed to what sort of reverie then, and by which era should we embolden its sensibilities within our collective national memory; what age is better to dwell upon than one wherein the very era of romance was captured in the zeitgeist of a nation? The bronze age, the iron age? The 10th century, or the 13th, maybe the 5th, or why not the 17th century, eh? Sorry, I’m deliberately being obtuse here, but in all honesty, that period in Scottish history is the most recent, as well as one of the better documented era’s by which modern minds can better imagine and comprehend the life and times of its inhabitants; it was a rural and relatively peaceful time having occurred not all that long ago, and which still appears to hold a tangibility enough to allow one to just about reach back and grasp its fading light.

Alexander Nasmyth - View of the City of Edinburgh
Alexander Nasmyth: View of the City of Edinburgh, circa 1800’s

David Starkey on Mary Queen of Scots ‘a whore and a trollop and a murderess’ and then accusing Scotland of ‘adoring failure’ while he was at it.

Clearly Starkey knows no female Scottish Monarch other than the world famous and easily recognizable Mary Queen of Scots, otherwise he would have picked out a more legitimate and obscure target with which to direct his inane snark too. Besides, as a woman she was arguably a vastly more intelligent individual than he likes to think himself to be; reputed to have been a bright, gifted and immensely talented woman whose long list of skills included playing the lute, poetry, prose, falconry, and horsemanship, as well as having been in possession of a linguistic proficiency that would be hard to beat even today, being fluent in French, Latin, Spanish, Greek, Italian and, of course, Scots.

‘a whore and a trollop’ Well, all I can think of as to how he reached this conclusion of character is by the portraits of Mary herself, of which reveal a strikingly captivating and attractive woman who was considered by her contemporaries to have been a beautiful child, and later, woman.

mary queen of Scots
A death mask, morbid, but nonetheless point proving.

For what its worth, Mary was also an elegant 5′ 11 tall, with a long supple neck, pale, flawless skin and flowing auburn hair, and all in stark contrast to Starkey’s rotund, balding, four-eyed little 5′ 7-5′ 8 frame. A wee touch of the green eyed monster, indeed, me’thinks.

Oink, oink…”

She was also married three times it has to be said, and that is probably where Starkey draws his conclusion from. However, far from the loose woman three marriages might make her seem like to a shriveled little specky pig-nosed geek, the first was actually a treaty outwith her control and put into effect when she was an infant, of which was dissolved upon her husbands death from meningitis. Hardly a whore. The second, to her cousin , Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, was one of convenience and fairly practical for royalty during that period, and certainly nothing so scandalous or note worthy enough to have gained her a reputation as a trollop; not by the standards of the age, nor today. The marriage was dissolved due to a bad case of murder having befallen Darnley. The third marriage, forced upon her, very literally, by Lord Bothwell, who kidnapped and raped her by way of some twisted sense of courting, was to be the last of her nuptials. The marriage ended with Bothwell fleeing her side after defeat at Carberry Hill, never to be seen again. murderess, whore, trollop, all of the above, or simply an unfortunate spouse? You decide.

‘The only victory [Scots] have ever celebrated is Bannockburn; the rest is about wallowing in failure. They even have special music for failure – it’s called bagpipes.’

Me: We hardly celebrate it though, to be honest. It was one of our finest moments, but far from the only such occasion. Essentially, we rode across the Bannock on a bridge compromised of the slaughtered and pulverized corpses of English invaders, 25000-30000 to be exact. Really; whats not to celebrate?

The music of failure? The very same music that drove the English like sheep from Scotland’s fertile, verdant countryside? The very same thunder whose effects upon Starkey’s kind were enough to have it outlawed as a weapon of war.

The very same stirring skrill that is not only instantly recognizable and appreciated around the world, but singularly unique and heart-swellingly uplifting? No; failure doesn’t strike terror into the hearts of Englishmen, nor does it represent the passions of a nation quite as well as the Bagpipes do.

But, it is understandable that Starkey hates them, or at the very least, assumes an air of contempt for them publicly; because they are Scottish, and England doesn’t have its own instrument. Its as simple as that. What else could it be, for where does such deep-seated hatred, venom and contempt stem from, if not base jealously? Oh, look there!

Turnip, turnip…”

Tis the pudgy, pig-nosed face of envy rearing up once again. Quick, everyone, wave to the sentient turnip!

Cinead MacAlpin.