Monday, May 4, 2009

Holy Grail Found In Coventry! Or In search of the Real King Arthur or the Real Lady G..or the Real Robin Hood...

Or just real butter

So the arm of Saint Augustine of Hippo ended up in Coventry. Or an arm in a box that people thought was St Augustine’s. Perception being what counted. But did you know the Holy Grail was also found in Coventry?

According to my brittle and yellowing copy of the Courier Mail of Monday August 14, 1995 there’s a story headlined “Amateur Sleuth Traces Holy Grail”:

“Perhaps the most revered relic in Christian legend…..has been tracked down to an attic in a modest home in Coventry.”

Which had me going, but then the name Graham Phillips turned up so sadly that’s the end of that. Though I do have his book, and in it (p150) he says the owner lives in Rugby in Warwickshire…so the mystery continues….

Amateur sleuths keep sleuthing…conspiracy theorists of the world etcetc

When I first read versions of the Arthurian legend I was still in primary school and the idea of finding the Holy Grail, like finding Rider Haggard’s She, was very attractive.

These days I don’t understand it. (The grail part.. still not sure about Ayesha)

Nor do I understand the fascination with “The Real Arthur”. The story of Arthur and the Grail produced some of the most beautiful stories of the Middle ages. Patches of Lawman, the masterpiece of Gawain and the Green Knight, long stretches of the alliterative Morte Arthure. Until in Malory’s hands the story of the round table fellowship, its rise and fall, becomes something real and adult and troubling and very beautiful. An extended consideration of the way that even the most beautiful of ideals, upheld for the best of reasons, by the best of people, can not exceed the humanity of the participants.

Perhaps he was the last writer with the medieval understanding that the hero fails, dies and the failure is not a criticism of the ideal but a reality of life who could also believe in the flawed beauty of the human story as it had come down to him.

Perhaps the last writer to really take the story as one for adults.

But if you could find an Arthur who fought against the English incomers in the later fifth or early sixth century, and you interviewed him, he could tell you nothing about those stories.

This is going to be too long and its late. More later. Maybe a trip to Glastonbury first…..

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