We’ve had that many showers of rain of late, I would expect Gloucester to not have any doctor shortages for the quite considerable foreseeable future, and possibly beyond.

I have a feeling that the weather may be changing now, however. Today, we’ve had spitters and spatters of rain, but nothing like the recent deluges. And we haven’t had a rumble of thunder once today. Temperature-wise, things are on the comfortable scale. Fans needed, but for appearance only, although mine is whirring away as I type. But, I digress. Back to Doctor Foster.

Doctor Foster
Went to Gloucester
In a shower of rain
He stepped in a puddle
Right up to his middle
And never went there again

Doctor Foster was a nom de plume used by King Edward I way back in the Thirteenth Century, apparently. The peace back then was ravaged by the Second Barons’ War… well, this war between the noblemen of the time and the king (Edward’s father, Henry III) lasted three years, between 1264 and 1267. The two opposing sides were led by the Earl of Leicester, Simon de Montfort, and Prince Edward. The very first battle took place in Gloucester. A peace treaty was signed in 1267, which ended the war. There were other incidents along the way in various towns, but this post isn’t about the war… it’s about Doctor Foster… that’s just background!

Sometime after the prince was crowned, in 1274, and became king, he needed once again to visit Gloucester.

Edward was a lofty man, so also went by the name Edward Longshanks. Luckily, being lofty, he had a grand horse to carry him. He’d have looked slightly silly had he used a Shetland Pony or other such magnificent animal. Disguised as Doctor Foster, he and a few colleagues set out to Gloucester. The journey would have been quite long back then, but eventually they reached the outskirts of the town. Edward was somewhat of an intimidating character, due to his height and his features, so most folk were somewhat afraid of him. As Doctor Foster, most people wouldn’t have known it was him, had they known the king at the time as well. Those who travelled to Gloucester would have known all about his personality traits, however, and would have tried to stay on his good side.

It had been raining somewhat on their approach to Gloucester, and the group were somewhat wet. The king noticed a long puddle ahead, between where they were and where they needed to be. He steered his horse in that direction, to trot straight through the puddle.

Unfortunately, the puddle was no puddle. It was a dyke that ran all along the edge of a field, and the king had mistook it for a puddle. He and his horse plunged into the deep water, and all their thrashing turned the water into a thick mud. He couldn’t get himself or his horse out, so they both had to be dragged out by the few helpers that followed.

Embarrassed and outraged by the incident – that was no way in which a king should be treated – he turned around and headed back home, vowing never, ever, to return to Gloucester. Even though the king wasn’t amused, I’m sure the others with him would have had a good giggle or two afterwards.

I can laugh. Things like that happen to me from time to time.

I was walking along a beach once, when suddenly the weather turned and the heavens opened. I ran back to the road the quickest way – or so I thought – but my path was cut off by a wide dyke. It was actually an estuary of a river, so there was no way I could have gotten across to the other side, so I had to run back the way I came. As more rains fell, the sand became sludgy, and every footstep got more and more difficult. Eventually, I reached the pavement. I stomped some of the loose clay-like-sand off my shoes, and decided enough was enough and head back to the car. I was wearing a tee-shirt and jeans, and was sopping wet. I passed a hut selling tea and coffee, so treated myself to a cup of tea, and had a chat with the delightful woman who was serving. She told me the weather had been fine all week, and that day was the only day it had rained.

Tea finished, I walked through the rain (I couldn’t get any wetter!) toward the car park. I passed a shop that I noticed was selling towels, so I dripped in, bought myself a towel and a new tee-shirt. I walked back to the car, put the heating on full, towelled myself down, changed the tee-shirt, and then set off home, shivering.

I felt fully rejuvenated though, Being out in the elements can do wonders for you, as long as it isn’t too long, I hasten to add.

Unlike Doctor Foster, I visited that beach again many times after. And every time, I smile as I remember that day.

Sometimes, it’s the incident that makes us feel good; other times it’s how we feel about it.

Posted by Tom Merriman

A future writer living in the present day

5 Comments

  1. Love your memory and the story of the unfortunate King Edward. 🙂 Have a great weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. Thanks, Sylvia. Hope you have a great weekend also!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  2. It’s probably an apocryphal tale, but it’s fun. And it sounds like your beach memory is a fun-memory, too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. You’re probably right, Merril… I added a little embellishment to the tale just to move it on a little. My beach memory is fun now… at the time it was a little frightening standing on sand that could have swallowed me at a moment’s notice (or so it felt!) 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

      1. I imagine it was very scary at the time!

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply

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