AND HERE I AM. And what a gaudy line-up I’m in! We might almost pass as continentals … oh, I am a ‘continental’ … I forgot that for a moment.
“How on earth can you be only half British?”, someone asks. Well it’s relatively easy. Should I show them some diagrams or would I end up being arrested for distributing Europhile pornography? Let me try to explain it. You see, two people of the opposite sex (although not exclusively) get together — one of them is British and the other isn’t — and they ‘do-it’! I think you know what I mean. A little bit later: a child.
Slight oversimplification, I admit. What worries me these days — given the narrative of much current politics in Britain — is the assumption that if you’re not 100% British (does that actually exist? Did Angles, Celts and Saxons all turn up in these islands on the same boat?) then you’re surely a bit dodgy. Well, it didn’t take too many years for me to work that out. I wasn’t “dodgy” in the sense of ‘perversion’ but I knew I wasn’t quite the same as my friends. My forename, ‘Roland’, was a clue. It might surprise you but there are not too many Roland’s in the East Midlands.
Song of Roland
There is a rather obscure, and really quite old, poem called The Song of Roland. I forget whether it was my birthday or Christmas but my adoptive mother/aunt, Marjorie, gave me a copy. Given that both of my adoptive parents were music teachers (tales of how Marjorie played the local Free Church organ as if she were the female re-incarnation of Thelonious Monk will have to wait. If you’ve never heard Onward Christian Soldiers played ‘boogie-woogie’-style … you’ve never lived!) I was charmed that there was a song about me.
Now … Where was I? Oh yes, being distracted. That happens quite a lot. The Song of Roland; here’s a summary: it is what the French, in the late eighth century, called a “Song of Deeds” (Chansons de Geste). Whoa! I can do “deeds”. Nothing too legalistic mind — solicitors and I don’t get on. There was this emperor — aren’t there always — called Charlemagne; he seemed to spend most of his spare time ‘beating-up’ rival Europeans. ‘Roland’ — he does what it says on the tin — is the “greatest warrior in the world”. Bashing Saxons and Saracens here, there — wherever. I was never very keen on that part. I like to think I’m reasonably good in the kitchen but even with a small knife in my hand I suspect I might be considered a potential risk to myself and all-and-sundry.
Nevertheless, what does ‘Roland’ do — what is his “deed”? The poem was not actually written until the latter years of the eleventh century. Oh come on … we’re talking about the French for f**k’s sake. “I know another excellent cafe in the next poxy village.” “BON!”
– “Have you finished that wretched poem yet?”
– “Not yet … I’m contemplating my last paragraph.”
You see where I get this writing ‘gig’ from. But what does he actually do? Well he kills a lot of people (I don’t like that part) but he gets his comeuppance at Rencevaux (for crying out loud — get a ruddy atlas) and he ‘fell’ (not sure I like that part either although given I’ve been declared clinically dead twice I should be used to it).
There is no real evidence that ‘Roland’ ever existed. He was a work of fiction. A little like Storyboard4. And a happyish new year to you all ✪