Nov 4, 2009

The Heart & Stomach

In his brilliant series A History of Britain, my favourite historian, Simon Schama, describes my favourite Queen, Elizabeth I:

"It doesn't do to be too starry-eyed about the Virgin Queen. Elizabeth the First was only too obviously made of flesh and blood. She was vain, spiteful, arrogant - she was frequently unjust and she was often maddenly indecisive. But she was also brave, shockingly clever, an eyeful to look at - and on occasions she was genuinely wise."

As far as epitaphs go, that's a belter. I think I would be well-pleased to be described as vain, spiteful and indecisive (qualities I have oft-encountered in myself), if I might also be considered brave and clever.

Most of all I'd love to achieve that genuine wisdom - or as Elizabeth herself might say: the heart and stomach of a king.

You see, I have lived almost three decades on this planet, and sometimes I like to think that I am reasonably worldly and more enlightened about my own nature and the greater human condition.

But then I have moments - too many moments - when a childish selfishness overruns all other thoughts in my brain, and influences my moods and words. It's then I realise my three decades don't mean much - certainly not by Elizabeth I's lofty standards.

 Now, THIS Queenie I can do

So how does one go about gaining wisdom? Can an over-emotional, over-sentimental fool like ever me hope to achieve a Zen-like state of calm all-knowingness?

And what are your favourite words of wisdom?


  1. I'd settle for the liver or kidneys of a king.

  2. Who's Queen? I know a lot of costuming people, and I like the joke "What I'm wearing is late Elizabethan" Confused look. "Elizabeth 2, I can't see our monarch lasting another two decades..."

  3. Well I like to live by an set of beliefs, a credo if you will. Much of which was listed out in the recent training video Zombieland but could be put more succinctly as

    'Better dead than zed' or by the team at zombie tools - 'Can't save the world, then prepare for it end'.

    Though why prepare in the face of such overwhelming devastation, why prepare to go on after the unthinkable?

    As described in the Criss Carter series Millennium

    ‘It is prophesied that when the end comes, it will come in darkness: a catastrophe all foresaw but few believed. Most of us will battle too late against the chaos, but not the few, the radical few, who obey no discipline. Unencumbered by conscience, they prepare ruthlessly pursuing their own preservation. If they survive, the rest of us perish’

    I want to be there tosatnd against the ruthless, the unencumbered by conscience.

  4. "Anything you can throw away you didn't need in the first place."

  5. Doc - mmm, liver. I'd settle for the pancreas or appendix at this stage.

    Ysambart - Heh. Fashion.

    Barnes - You made an interesting point. What's the point of achieving any wisdom if I'm not prepared to guard my brains against impending zombie attack?

    Flinthart - That's a reference to shoes, isn't it? ;)