Spending all that time picking olives allowed me to think about all kinds of things and for some reason I couldn’t get Robin Hood out of my mind. Don’t ask me why. It must have been all those hours stuck up a tree.
Above is a shot from the classic screen version of the legend’s story starring Errol Flynn. He wasn’t my favourite Prince of Thieves though. When I was a kid I was a big fan of the TV version of the Robin Hood story starring Richard Greene. To this day the theme tune to that programme is the only song I will ever sing publicly if pushed and after at least two bottles of wine. Ah those lyrics;
Robin Hood, Robin Hood riding through the glen,
Robin Hood, Robin Hood with his band of men.
Feared by the bad, loved by the good
Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Robin Hood.
They don’t write ’em like that any more. Anyway this isn’t about Richard Greene nor Errol really – but the Flynn picture illustrates the point of my key and rather profound conclusion about Robin; that he was probably a screaming queen.
Well you’re probably thinking it’s an interesting theory but how did I come to this thought given his legendary status as an heroic man of action etc? Well it wasn’t straightforward. I was thinking initially about how he ought to be considered as England’s first true socialist, being the architect of all that wealth re-distribution from the ruling classes to the down-trodden serfdom. Then I started thinking that for a socialist, he made a pretty poor republican. After all wasn’t King Richard the Lionheart his liege and the man to whom he swore unswerving loyalty?
Now Richard was away fighting the Crusades with all his fine and loyal noblemen, leaving his brother John as the acting monarch. So why was Robin (who many people regard as the Earl of Huntingdon) not at Richard’s side fighting the Saracens. The answer is that he wasn’t a nobleman at all but plain old Robin of Loxley, a yeoman from Yorkshire no less, who in common with his fellow Yorkies was content to let the brave men of Lancashire fight the good fight to save their Christian souls from the infidel hordes.
So Robin was a bit of a patsy but that doesn’t make him Camp Freddy. He’s where my theory takes flight. I reckon the legend was misinterpreted by a partly deaf historian with a bit of a blind spot too. I mean why would a grown man take himself off to the woods to live with a bunch of merry men – and I think we all know that ‘merry’ is synonymous with gay in olde English.
And what about those men….First off we have Friar Tuck. This is where the deafness crept in – I reckon he wasn’t a man of the cloth, the historian just misheard his real nickname, Try a F*ck. Then there’s Little John. Enough said? What about Robin’s favourite, seen above, Will Scarlet? If you’re going to hide in the woods and need a colour to help camouflage you, scarlet isn’t the one I’d pick to be honest. He’s not even gone for plain old red – no it had to be scarlet. I think we’ve found the Graham Norton in the pack. Then there’s Alan A Dale. I think that might have been A Day! And Much the Miller’s Son – surely that was Touch…
But you’re probably thinking a ha what about the fair Maid Marion Robin’s beloved? Well ask yourself why is she referred to as Maid Marion – because she was a maiden; Robin never ‘made’ marion, he was too busy making merry with the men.
So there you have it, the real story behind one of England’s greatest Yorkshiremen and long-bowmen. Ooh matron.