It will doubtless astonish a great many people to learn that the Prince of Wales is the real author of the novels I have published on the net, along with those suppressed and those yet to come.
Of course it is not true today. I wrote my books and have to own up to them. Prince Charles, whatever other faults he may have, is innocent. But truth is a slave of time, and it could become true later on, say three or four hundred years from now, when the meagre facts of my biography have been frittered away and the Prince’s life distorted beyond current recognition by the warping pressures of the ages and the willingness of some members of our species to believe anything, and once believing it, to cling grimly to their illusions despite a tsunami of contradiction.
Well, I don’t mind – really, I don’t. It’s ok. Charles! I want you to know that now! It’s all right! Meditations on one’s life after death, of the fame that people who write often hope to acquire if not in their own lifetimes, after they’ve gone, are beside the point.
This thought – or random collection of absurdities – came to me following the alleged controversy* over the authorship of the works of William Shakespeare I wrote very badly about in my last post. The theory that an Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere, is the real author of Shakespeare’s work took around three hundred years to surface, courtesy of a man named Looney. De Vere wasn’t the first, and he’s not the last as would-be literary detectives discover cluelettes in any scrap of disembodied reality pointing to whatever they have already decided is the truth.
Of course there have to be some connections, however tenuous, to make it work. De Vere, for example, lived at roughly the same time as Shakespeare. His unfortunate death in 1604 needed a bit of explanation given that Shakespeare continued to live and write well past then. But hey – if de Vere’s your man, you’ll have a plan. Once decided, nearly anything can be explained.
The reason the de Vere-ians (or “Oxfordians” as they prefer to style themselves) don’t like the idea that Shakespeare wrote his stuff is implicitly elitist. They complain that WS was quasi-literate and worse, while de Vere, a nobleman (we are not talking morals here but descent) and a ward of the “virgin queen” herself, carried the right cachet to pen such wonderful prose and poetry.
De Vere did write poems and plays, but what survives stands no comparison with the quality of Shakespeare, and he is not at all a good fit for the perspectives of the plays and poems, as people who really do know what they are talking about have tried to explain. Looney got his idea from the discovery of certain common phrases and sayings in the work of the two – a bit too common actually: they have been dismissed by investigators as “commonplaces”.
The reality is that Shakespeare was known by his contemporaries for who he was – an actor, theatre impresario, poet and playwright. There was no mystery at the time because there was nothing to be mystified about. His colleagues praised not only the product of his genius, but the means of achieving it, and while his friend and rival Ben Jonson disputed the technique, he too raved about the work. There is, as I said in my last post, a wealth of internal and external evidence that makes William Shakespeare not only a good fit to be the author, but the only fit.
Everyone was satisfied till the 19th century. Why wouldn’t they be? Then a woman who eventually went mad decided it was really Francis Bacon wot done it, and Will Shakespeare’s corpus was on the barbie, even if Bacon didn’t taste right.
Looney’s sizzling approach brought de Vere to the table about 1920. His literary spice has since been joined by at least a hundred thousand garnishes of coincidence and “otherwise inexplicable” culinary puzzles to serve up a banquet for the Looneys.
They can make anything at all about de Vere worthy of the finest restaurant, and anything about the Bard vomit-inducing.
Put another way, it’s not a serious scholarly case. It’s a social pathology.
Sailing ahead a few insignificant centuries, how will it turn out that Prince Charles may be the pole of attraction for this strange phenomenon to become the author of such sub-literary erotic thrillers as Kaos, The Russian Idea, Demented, Tobi’s Game, The Kleiber Monster, Evilheart and Savonarola’s Bones?
It starts in a public toilet in Scotland.
The Prince of Wales is not just the Prince of Wales. Among his many royal titles is that of the Duke of Rothesay. Rothesay is a village on the Isle of Bute a short ferry ride off the west coast of Scotland.
On this island and in this village is a public toilet built around 1900. It is a masterpiece of its kind, and when it was restored not too many years ago, it was patronised by the prince and duke. He went in alone, and came out alone…and signed the visitors’ book.
On the same page as Charles’ signature, surrounded by other signatures, is the hugely significant signature of myself.
Sooner or later – say, round about 2316 – someone is going to notice this, and draw the only, the logical, and truly amazing conclusion.
Wow-ee! How did Charles use the occasion of his unaccompanied visit to the loo to secrete in some pre-arranged spot a memory stick containing prose far, far too hot to go out under his name? How did Evans, the shadowy nobody who was always on the scrounge for a few extra coppers, and who went in alone, pick up that memory stick, take it away, and…and…and…
To find out you’ll have wait a few centuries. By 2316 it could be a slew of memory sticks, and the dates of the signatures could have been altered…or forged…the same page! The very same page…
But that’s not all! Oh my goodness no!
In 2012 the prince and his wife visited New Zealand, the home turf of the mysterious Evans, whose biography will prove so elusive. Evans at the time was living 40 km or so from the wee village of Feilding. Charles and his wife visited Feilding. Evans was known to prowl the township and environs.
Did Charles take the opportunity to top up the corpus? Did Evans steal over in the dead of night to uplift the concealed flash drive/memory stick?
Why not? Why indeed not?
But what, diligent readers may ask, about the “Why”? Why would Charles wish to write these tawdry tales laden with the purplest of prose…sex, sex and more sex occasionally broken by the odd spot of violence and – this is true and I can’t help saying it – philosophy?
The philosophy, if it can be dignified with the term, is easily dismissed today as jejeune ravings of a depleted mind, and still will be around the year 2300, give or take a few centuries and a new owner. What about the rest?
It will be “pointed out” that Charles was highly sexed, and the proof will be not slow in hitting whatever medium there is for communication by that time: the Squidgy tapes, for instance…the public pinch on Diana’s bottom…and the behaviour of one of his sons…wow! This is a family given to playing billiards in the nude in Las Vegas!**
Alert readers will have noticed a key difference between de Vere and Charles, and Evans and Shakespeare: the charactisations are reversed. In Shakespeare’s case, “Looneys” want to bring the author up a few pegs by making him de Vere, with Evans “Loovies” will wish to plunge poor Windsor steeply down to end in a mighty thump on a loo seat in Rothesay. Times have changed and will go on changing and lowering the royal tone…hard to resist.
And “true facts” are true! Attached to this missive, photos taken by me of 1) the Rothesay public toilet (I went in alone too, to pick up the memory stick of course, but I’m not saying where I found it), and 2) interesting notices in the rail station of “friendly Feilding”.
Most people – well, me anyway – would like to live forever, even if we know we can’t. It would be great to be alive in 2300 to watch the fun, to slyly bat away the probing questions of Rupert Murdoch’s minions, including “how is it that you and Rupert can live so long?” but more importantly, “How did Charles pass you the manuscripts? What did he say about his influences? What about the blog? Did he write that too?” Of course I won’t be around actually – yet another tragedy of my life. But how delicious, and what a way to while the time in the old folks’ paradise!
In 2316, as the revelations unfold, Charles may well be glad to be dead. It’s ok, man. I understand that too.
** I shouldn’t really, but it turns out that Las Vegas is not all that far from Roswell, New Mexico. Look it up! I didn’t create geography. The map is the map, you know?