This is something I’ve started only this week and it is… Well, a bit different to what I usually do. I’ve had the idea for the story floating around for a while and whilst this isn’t my first stab at it, it’s certainly the furthest I’ve got. Even if I end up starting again (which I do sometimes) this is a story I definitely want to get out one day. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it for this is the start, the first preview, if you will, of THE KHYBER.
It was the year Queen Elizabeth would refer to as her annus horibilis. First came the separations of all her married children. Being a devout Christian and against that sort of thing was difficult enough for her but to make matters worse there was a notorious toe-sucking incident involving the Duchess of York, a kiss and tell memoir from Princess Diana, the publication of a series of vomitorious phone calls made by the aforementioned Princess to a friend of hers (James Gilbey), the revelation that Prince Charles had been having it off with Camilla Parker Bowles (and yet more published phone calls), a large fire which burnt down part of Windsor Castle and then, as if fate itself were conspiring against her, she had to start paying income tax. Then she began a lawsuit against The Sun after they published the Christmas message two days before Christmas. Support for the monarchy (though not the Queen herself) was at a very low ebb.
But whilst the Queen was spiralling through a vortex of endless despair, how was the rest of the world coping? The previous year had been one of extreme violence and bloodshed and as it drew to a close all of that looked set to continue. However, in the end, 1992 would turn out to be a much quieter year than its predecessor, although one that would have enormous ramifications for the future.
Recently the National Portrait Gallery in London acquired a portrait of Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington- An unfinished one by Thomas Lawrence. Wellington is one of the greats of British History, a figure that everybody should know on sight- The victor at Waterloo, one of the most successful generals ever to lead British Army, he even had the cheek to sleep with half of Napoleon’s family at one stage. After all that he went into politics, serving as Prime Minister- One of only two to be born in Ireland and another of only two to have been a general (in both cases he shares the distinction with Lord Shelburne.) He’s the only person in history to have held every rank of the British peerage, beginning as a commoner and dying a Duke. As an octogenarian in the House Of Lords he famously kept shouting ‘Who? Who?’ during a readout of people in the cabinet- I imagine that whilst this was funny the first time most people probably wanted to seriously shut him up by the end. A man who did so much as Wellington, and was at the helm for the most important event of the nineteenth century of course deserves pride of place in the National Portrait Gallery. Continue reading “Wellington & The National Portrait Gallery”