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A factional hero by Nigel Roth


In the last few weeks, Tom Moore was given the honorary title of Colonel and the Freedom of the City of London.

He received these prestigious honors because he has been deemed a hero. In a time of pan-global panic amid pandemic pandemonium, Tom Moore - pardon me, COLONEL Tom Moore - is the hero of the moment. His heroic deed was walking; he walked around his garden and raised money (a sum of money that would have been less than 0.7% of Richard Branson's net worth), for the NHS.

The British Islanders have always liked a good hero, and Moore has a couple of unique notches on the UK hero stick that have the beating of some other heroic impostors.

First, he actually exists.

In the middle of the eleventh century, Crusaders galloped headlong to free the Holy Land from a millennia of scholarly learning and scientific progress and replace that with a man slaying a dragon. As a result of their drunken storytelling, a hero was raised from nowhere really, crowned as a king, and given the name Arthur.

Thomas Mallory, with nothing else to do but count the crows in the Tower, and Alfred Lord Tennyson, with nothing better to do than walk the corridors of my house reciting awful poetry, worked to inscribe this legend in our historic record, giving it the flesh that wrapped the bones of their lizard-lopping idol.

The fact that no single reference to a King Arthur of great deed in antiquity has ever existed in any form anywhere seems not to have stunted his heroic growth, and he remains to this day, romantic lover of Guinevere, puller of swords from rocks, and presider over a piece of round wood.

Second, he can spell his own name.

The greatest playwright of the English people, who wrote with an heroic eloquence of refined phraseology rarely matched in his age, was never once able to sign his name the same way. What’s in a name, you may ask. But there is also no portrait of the great man anywhere on the planet confirmed as his likeness. And yet, Shakespeare / Shakspeare / Shakespere /.. etc, is a national hero with a market town dedicated to his ‘memory’.

Not a hero, of course, to the unknown French playwright crouching in his Paris hovel in 1580, cursing the English rosbifs, and repeating his own name (which he could spell) over and over again, while nibbling on stale bread .. “Jacques Pierre! Jacques Pierre! Jacques …”

Third, he isn’t a peodophile (as far I know).

Take Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, as many a young midshipman was aghast to be instructed. A man whose exceptional leadership qualities, unique warring instinct for winning a good fight, and decisive strategy far outweighed his rather robust love of young men ab