Golden Age

It Smells Like Roses Sire!

Woody Allen’s 2011 movie Midnight in Paris is his best film in years. It’s based around the simple premise that we love looking back to a nostalgically golden age.

Which ipso facto confers a degree of shabbiness on our own.

Splendour resides in renaissance Florence or Paris in the 1920’s or London in the swinging 60’s.

Never in our own age.

I think we’re all sporadically susceptible to this nostalgic yearning for better, more perfect days.

A time when if you left the door unlocked your neighbours would leave a freshly baked pie on your kitchen table.

When a sportsman’s accomplishments were the result of individual talent, unadorned by pharmaceutical enhancement.

A time when bankers were honest, and politicians were, if not exactly truthful, then at least not brazen liars.

But did a golden age, any golden age actually exist?

Many Historians consider the reign of Henry VIII as the start of an English golden age.

If splendour is a criterion, kings don’t come more splendiferous than Henry VIII.

He still fascinates us, The Tudors debuted in 2007 and ran for four seasons on Showtime.

And his appeal is understandable, in his youth Henry was among the best athletes in the country.

He was good-looking and well-educated.

He spent the equivalent of £2 million a year on clothes.

The historian John Guy considers him, "one of the most charismatic rulers to sit on the English throne".

True, in later life he turned into a paranoid head-chopping  monster afflicted with gout for certain, and either syphilis or, more probably type II diabetes (historians differ).

Well nobody’s perfect but even in his prime Henry had a dirty little secret.

Except it wasn’t really a secret, he was a courtier with a title: The Groom of the Stool.

The Groom of the Stool was a confidant of the King and as such was both feared and respected.

His insider knowledge about the King meant he wielded considerable influence at court.

Even though The Groom of the Stool’s intimacy and power sprung from a rather unsavoury function.

Because in those days of yore and very basic plumbing, The Groom of the Stool was only on hand to wipe the King’s arse.

So it’s safe to say there was never a golden age for politicians.

They have always been full of it.

The phrase Golden Age originally came from Greek mythology.

Maybe a myth is all it ever was.

Perhaps that’s why we still need to hear it from time to time.