Good King Richard and his lass, and bad King Boris

I’m exploring my collection of LPs for my student days, and a favourite song (as sung by Shirley Collins) is Richie Story – King Richard leaves his throne and becomes a ‘serving man’ to a country lady who he falls in love with. In time she becomes queen,’and many a knight and many a squire stood there to welcome Richard’s lady’. It’s a smashing story, combining humility and love and joy. Humility was hardly an attribute of the real King Richard, but popular myth would have it otherwise. I don’t often find such simple happiness listening to a song – and I wondered why.

Tune and singer have something to do with it, and message. Humility too rarely wins out. Maybe I’ve just never got over fairy tales with happy endings.

And on the debit side – yesterday evening I also felt I had to listen to (some of!) Boris Johnson’s speech on Europe. Bad King Boris? No humility here. And a risk of a very unhappy ending. In the best Grimm tradition?

It seems we’d be negotiating a deal similar to the free trade agreement the EU has with Canada, should we leave (and Boris would probably by then be PM). We are twenty miles from France, and our history has been intertwined over millennia with the European mainland, and yet our relationship would be defined by a deal with a country 3000 miles way. We also had Boris insisting that trade would go on with Europe as before – as one of many examples, we export chocolate to France, and the French will continue to export their chocolate to us – so the world will continue as before. Maybe, maybe not – but I rather like the place we’ve got to with the EU as it stands. Why on earth leave? I still await a significant rational verifiable argument.

Beyond the fairy tale link I can’t really connect King Richard with the EU, or use him to back the arguments for staying in. He was an Englishman, archetypal we’d like to think, and a crusader, and he made it to Jerusalem. And he got imprisoned on the way back.

Keep out of gaol would be my message – what that gaol is I leave to you, the reader, to decide!

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