Friday, 27 March 2015

Richard III - Post 10 of 10

Five facts from this most amazing week:

1.  Over 20,000 people filed past the coffin.

2.  The oak and yew coffin was made by Michael Ibsen, cabinet maker, relative of Richard III and provider of the decisive DNA sample.

3.  The funeral service was presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev Justin Welby, with representatives of world faiths in the congregation.

4.  The sarcophagus is made from two tonnes of Swaledale fossil stone with an inlaid coat of arms of marble and semi-precious stones.

5.  This evening 8,000 candles will be lit in nearby Jubilee Square.

And one additional fact about me:

I almost froze signing my book, The Children's Book of Richard III, on our pop-up market stall but thank you to everyone who came along, shook my hand, bought my book and said such kind words about it.

Thank you for visiting my ten Richard III blogs and now I shall curl up and sleep!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Richard III - Post 9 of 10

The Reinterment

The funeral of King Richard III took place today behind closed doors. I watched it on the TV. It was a beautifully orchestrated and extremely moving event.

This photograph is from the TV and it all happened here, in our Cathedral. I'm so proud of my City of Leicester.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Richard III - Post 8 of 10

Me chatting with customers
Twenty thousand people have filed past the coffin of Richard III in Leicester Cathedral over the last few days. For me today has been another day of signing my Children's Book of Richard III on the market. Did I mention how cold it is? No? It's freezing!!

Fortunately, Leicester Market is packed with friendly people. Many have travelled a long way to come and visit Leicester Cathedral and most of them want to chat about Richard III. I've done a lot of chatting as well as signing!

Tomorrow is the reinterment. I don't have tickets for the event so I will have to rely on the myriad of TV cameras to see what's going on. I thought, today, I would mention just one of the events which will be taking place during the service.

Dame Carol Ann Duffy has written a poem called 'Richard' to be read out at the service. It includes the phrase 'grant me the carving of my name' and, of course, tomorrow his name will finally be seen carved in the sarcophagus.

The poem is being read by Benedict Cumberbatch. There are two reason why he was chosen. Firstly, he is playing the part of Richard III in a forthcoming TV programme called The Hollow Crown. (Something to look forward to!) Secondly, he is Richard III's third cousin sixteen times removed. (Who knew?!)

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Richard III - Post 7 of 10

I hate listening to my voice on the radio but I'm guessing that some of you would like to hear me being interviewed about selling my book so here is the link:

BBC Radio Leicester

And you'll hear my interview at 1:20:00

I spent this evening at Leicester Cathedral and the Richard III Visitors Centre.

The image of RIII is being projected onto the Cathedral wall
In the Cathedral we had a talk from the Very Reverend David Monteith. He told us that five thousand people had filed past the coffin yesterday and seven and a half thousand people filed past it today. They were still filing past as we sat there listening to him explain about the plans for the reinterment on Thursday.

Then it was our turn to pay our respects. We weren't given very long. In fact we were moved along quite quickly and this is why my photo is rather blurred but it was such a special moment that I decided to include it anyway.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Richard III - 6 of 10

Radio Leicester Interview
Lovely radio presenter, Jo Hayward, interviewed me this morning for her breakfast programme. As predicted by all my family and friends, I did not dry up. I managed to chat long enough to fill up my allotted time and you'll be able to hear my dulcet tones on Tuesday morning on BBC Radio Leicester.

A pop up book stall
Steady sales marked a good, if cold, start to our week of being market traders. Tomorrow I put on warmer clothes, a vest, maybe even long johns (whatever they are!) 

This photo is of Lynn Moore, publisher of my Children's Book of Richard III and owner of The Reading Shop, Oadby, talking to a customer.

The queue at the Cathedral
It felt as if everyone in Leicester wanted to view the coffin in the Cathedral. The queues were so long that at one point the wait was estimated to be four hours. I had to deliver some more of my books to St Martin's Bookshop at the Cathedral so I saw the queues for myself but I didn't feel the urge to join them. I am feeling very privileged (OK, smug!) because I have an invitation to a private viewing of the coffin tomorrow evening. I will, of course, blog about that tomorrow.

I did linger long enough to take this photograph of white roses that had been placed in tribute around the statue of Richard III outside Leicester Cathedral. (You can see just a few freezing queuers in the background.)

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Richard III - Post 5 of 10

My personal view of the Cortege

The afternoon began at Leicester's Jewry Wall with entertainment from Leicester's Morris Men.

The Leicester Morris Men posing near Jubilee Square
Next came the long wait for the cortege. At St Nicholas Church the coffin was transferred from the hearse to a horse drawn carriage. If we stood on tiptoes we could just see this happening. As we waited the crowds swelled until we were almost enveloped by them.
The spire of Leicester Cathedral is visible top right.
The horse drawn carriage was accompanied not only by mounted police, police motorbikes, policemen on foot and several helicopters, but also by two impressive knights on horseback, the sun reflecting off their armour.

And then the coffin was alongside me and it all happened in a fleeting moment so I didn't quite manage to get a perfect shot but I'll have to make do with this:

It was fascinating standing with so many people (visitors from New York on my right and from Norfolk on my left) and watch this historic event but now I'm cold and hungry and so I shall go and get my supper. Tomorrow it's the pop-up market stall to sell my Children's Book of Richard III and Radio Leicester. Exciting, isn't it!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Richard III - Post 4 of 10

The above is a copy of BBC Radio Leicester's advert from Facebook. They're asking people to 'be part of it' and that's exactly what I will be doing. Radio Leicester will be interviewing me about my book, The Children's Book of Richard III, at Leicester Market at 11 am on Monday morning. I'm not sure if it will be broadcast live or recorded but I dare say I'll blog a link to the recording... unless I mess up!

You can also find me today on Carol Hedge's blog. I'm lounging on her luscious pink sofa and I'm talking about... guess what? Yes, you guessed correctly, but there's a slight difference. I have found five fascinating facts about Richard III to ring the changes. You'll find my fascinating facts at The Pink Sofa meets Rosalind Adam.

There will be plenty of things happening in the City tomorrow. Apart from the cortege, which will be televised if you can't be here in person, I've heard that the Morris Men will be dancing at the Jewry Wall. There may be photos of them here tomorrow evening. There are sure to be photos of the cortege. Things are hotting up nicely!

Friday, 20 March 2015

Richard III - Post 3 of 10

On Twitter
Everyone is preparing for the reinterment, at least that's how it looks on Twitter! This afternoon I glanced at my Twitter timeline and saw the following tweets scroll down one after the other:

@+++++ Leicester Cathedral Square and Pop Up TV studio. It seems the whole city is being cleaned for #richardreburied 

@+++++ Live coverage of #RichardReburied #RichardIII as it happens @BBCLeicester from 22/03/15 onwards. Be part of it. 

@+++++ Our #horses are used at ceremonial events but this is the 1st time they will be escorting a King to his final resting place #richardreburied

@+++++ Quite a buzz @LeicsCathedral as crews set up for @Channel4 coverage next week 

I could go on but you get the idea. What on earth are we all going to tweet about when this is over?

Market Stall:
Advanced notice that I will be in front of the Corn Exchange in Leicester Market every day next week. We have a stall selling my book, the Children's Book of Richard III,  and I will be book signing every lunchtime. I will, of course, blog about it and there may even be photos.

Yesterday’s blog post was a gallop through the events that led to a King being found under a car park. I wouldn’t usually give out dates to an assembly of children but here they are for any interested blog readers:

Battle of Bosworth 1485

Henry VIII dissolved Leicester's Grey Friars 1538

Alderman Herrick had a garden on the site 1580s

City Corporation bought the land 1866

Built a block of offices next to the spot 1936

Created the car park 1965

Archaeological dig 2012

The illustration on the left is Alice Povey's interpretation of one of Richard III's flags and is taken from my book.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Richard III - Post 2 of 10

An Eclipse of the Sun:

The day that Richard III’s wife, Queen Anne, died, there was an eclipse of the sun visible across England. People thought that this was a bad omen.

Tomorrow, Friday 20th March, there will be an eclipse of the sun visible throughout the UK. There are still people who think that this is a bad omen.

What do you think?

So How Did a King Get to be Under a Car Park?
A section of Alice Povey's brilliant illustration from my book depicting the car park before the dig.
This is a potted version of how I explain it on my school visits. I’ve omitted all the over-acting and gesticulations because they really don’t translate well onto the screen!
King Richard marched with his army to head off Henry Tudor. They met up near Leicester at Bosworth Field.

When Richard was killed Henry, now King Henry VII, ordered his body to be brought into Leicester and put on display for three days.

Friars from the Grey Friars took his body down and removed it to the choir in their church, giving him a hasty, but I’d like to think, respectful burial.

King Henry VIII fell out with the Pope and sent his men to destroy all Monasteries and Friaries including Leicester’s Grey Friars.

An Alderman of Leicester had his house built where the friary had once stood and his garden covered the spot where Richard was buried.

The City Corporation bought the land and planned to build a Town Hall there but they never did.

They built offices and laid tarmac for a car park where the choir of the church had once been.

Many people believed, until a few years ago, the rumour that Richard’s bones had been dug up during a riot and thrown into the River Soar, but Philippa Langley knew otherwise, raised the money to organize an archaeological dig and the rest, as they say, will go down in history.
I then sit down and sign lots of The Children's Book of Richard III for the children. It's quite good fun really.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Richard III - Post 1 of 10

This time next week will be the eve of the reinterment of King Richard III in Leicester Cathedral. If anyone is surprised by this news then where have you been for the last year?

My plan is to post up a short blog each day for the next ten days with information about events, my contribution and a few snippets about Richard himself.

Richard III - Post 1 of 10:

Today I made my final school visit before the reinterment. I have visited so many schools to talk about my book, The Children's Book of Richard III, that I’ve lost track of which school was which. I only know that every school had a different feel to it. The children had a different way of behaving, of listening, of asking questions. Some of the questions were excellent. Others were not so. One of today’s questions was,

“What happened to Richard III’s crown after Henry VII had finished with it?”

“Good question,” I replied. “I don’t know the answer!” (Must do some swatting up!)

A section of Alice Povey's brilliant illustration from my book depicting the Battle of Bosworth

Yesterday’s school invited me in because 20 of the children had been chosen to take part in Sunday’s cortege when Richard’s body is received into the Cathedral. They were all understandably excited and I had to hide my jealousy (jealousy is not an admirable emotion).  Some schools have invited me to talk about what it’s like to be an author. Most of the schools have been happy with my regular talk entitled, “How on earth did a King get to be under a car park?” …but more of that tomorrow.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

How do you swim and breathe at the same time?

I am now swimming twice a week on a fairly regular basis and I’m feeling fitter for it. I’d like to go three times a week but there just aren’t enough hours in a seven day chunk, so twice a week will have to do for now. All I have to sort out is my breathing.

I’m one of those swimmers who do breaststroke with my head up, like a swan, only nowhere near as elegant. I watched how the other swimmers were doing it. (You have to be careful staring at other people in a swimming pool. You run the risk of misunderstandings.) What I needed, I decided, was to buy some goggles. This I did and on my next visit I enthusiastically pulled them on and launched myself into the water but that was when I realized that I didn’t know how to breathe. I tried not to attract attention as I spluttered and gasped and I resolved to find myself a swimming tutor.

This is turning out to be harder than expected. There are adult beginners lessons but I’m not really a beginner. Although I can only manage one length of front crawl (probably because I don’t breathe properly!), I can swim breaststroke for many lengths, so I’m now trying to get some one-to-one lessons. To date I’ve had no luck.

There must be someone out there who can teach me how to swim and breathe at the same time!

p.s. In response to Jo's comment below, I realise that I forgot to mention the neck ache. That's my reason for wanting to learn how to swim properly.