OK – this is a confession as to how exciting my life is that it’s the second day today when I have done nothing more thrilling than listen to Radio 4. Today the thing that caught my attention is the bun fight between the cities of York and Leicester about where Richard III’s bones should be buried. Oh for heaven’s sake – it’s just the bones of a rich posh bloke who was able to become “King” by virtue of being richer, more powerful and a better bully than anyone else at the time. He, like almost every member of any of the so-called “Royal” families before or since, was an in-bred money grabber and continued that age-old tradition. it's certainly been going on for many thousands of years and continues to be the case even in very recent times. Whether you like the “Royal” family or not this cannot be disputed. Genetically of course this has been a disaster for “Royal” families and there are countless examples of inbreeding depression evident down the ages because of this. Queen Victoria was famously a carrier of haemophilia for just that reason. She married her first cousin, always a bad idea genetically, however much it’s a great idea for keeping the wealth in the family. She passed haemophilia on to several of her children and hence on to other “Royal” families.
I can sort-of understand why a bunch of scientists wanted to test the bones, get the DNA and see whether it really was him they’d dug up. That’s science and I don’t suppose it’s every day that you can do DNA analysis of family members from 630 years ago so I’m sure any opportunity must seem like a good-un.
Should he be buried in York or Leicester? Who cares? It’s surely just a load of old bones. Surely their whereabouts can’t really matter to anyone? Let’s face it, they’ve been under a car park for quite a long time and even before the tarmac was laid they were in a less-than-illustrious place. No offence to anyone from Leicester. Put them in a museum for people to gawp at, chuck them in an incinerator, just do it without fuss. The only reason for caring one way or the other is that an agreement was made between Leicester Council and the archaeologists that if they found him he would be buried in Leicester. I reckon that agreement is probably the only one that matters.
I know I sound like an old cynic and indeed that’s just what I am but I can see no reason why anyone beyond my own immediate surrounding loved-ones should ever want to preserve my grave. I can see that when I die it’d be nice for the people who love me to have somewhere to go to remember me, but that’s it. I will be food for viruses, bacteria, worms and anything else that wants to eat my remains. They can break my body down into bits of sugar, fat, DNA, protein and the other building blocks of new life. The bacteria can eat what the viruses make available, the bugs and worms can eat them and the blackbirds can eat the worms.
My precious Archie’s remains have been in the ground for three years today. I hope the critters in the soil have had a lovely feast on his remains and that they have started a new cycle of life. Long live Archie. Long live everything that is alive because of him. I hope every bit of him has provided a start for another creature. It doesn’t mean I miss him any less or that sitting quietly on the bench near where he is buried isn’t very special. It’s life and death in a precious cycle.