Auntie Doris’s Great Works of Art #14 “The Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba” by Claude Lorraine Kelly – 1648


When I was packing my case to go away with my Raymond he always used to get impatient and say something like “Come on lass, we’re off for a couple of nights in Withernsea, it’s not  the embarkation of the Queen of ruddy Sheba!”

Obviously, I knew that, I wasn’t going to travel for days across the Red Sea to Jerusalem to pay tribute to and probably have carnal relations with King Solomon, I was going to be driven down the B1362 for about three quarters of an hour to maybe see a singer in the clubhouse, and listen to my Raymond’s snores echoing around the caravan all night.

But still, a woman has to pack enough stuff to last her the weekend, doesn’t she.

Of course, the queen of Sheba had a bit more packing than most. She was the ruddy queen for heaven’s sake, you couldn’t expect her to make one pair of tights last all weekend, and not be able to swap her shoes for a comfy pair of slippers at the end of the day. The queen of Sheba would have had a selection of slippers to choose from, and most of them would probably have had pompoms on them.

Besides, I wasn’t just packing for myself, I needed to take his ruddy slippers an’all, otherwise, he would have had a face on all weekend, and I couldn’t be doing with putting up with him with one of his faces on. And we would both need our pac-a-macs in case it rained, and I would need my rain mate to protect my hair, and if it rained heavily we would both need wellington boots. There was a lot to think about. Even if it didn’t rain. It might have. You never know.

And the Queen of Sheba wasn’t just packing for one either. She had her retinue to think about. Retinues don’t live on fresh air you know. They have to be fed and watered and have a change of clothes every now and then, or they start to stink. King Solomon would not have been impressed by a woman with a stinky retinue. Those sorts of people never are.

And besides all that she had to pack some presents for King Solomon, she decided on gold, unguent oils, spices and precious stones. Apparently she took plenty of them an’all, which is why Lorraine painted them loading a treasure chest into one of the boats which is already full of parcels of stuff, and there are a fair few golden pots on the quayside as well. We never had any treasure chests or golden pots at Withernsea. But I did try and brighten the place up a bit with a pot dog and a plaster of Paris ornament of the lighthouse.

Of course, when she arrived in Jerusalem, the famous composer Handel had written a special piece of music to welcome her, so there was a bit of a fuss at that end as well. I was lucky if my Raymond put the ruddy kettle on when we arrived at that ruddy caravan. So I don’t know how he could have compared me to the Queen of Sheba. He was no ruddy King Solomon. But neither of us really liked a fuss. So I suppose he was alright for me.

Auntie Doris’s “Thats Swearing” #1: Jesus H Christ and Flaming Henry.

Christ-Descent-into-Hell There are plenty of stories about Jesus that you don’t find in the Bible, and not all of them are as bad as you might think. I don’t know what’s true and what isn’t, I have still never met him, and I have been dead for the best part of twenty years. But there’s plenty of people on the other side that still believe in him, and think that they will see him some day. and who am I to argue with them? Any road, there is one story about him coming to England when he was a lad with his uncle, Joseph of Arithmea, or whatever they called him. It’s such a well known story that Sexton Blake wrote a song about it, and it’s one that you will have heard an’all, unless your head is completely filled up with ruddy pop music. “Jerusalem” … “And did those feet, in ancient times walk upon England’s mountains green…” Apparently they went to the Glastonbury festival, but they wouldn’t have thought much to it, because it was all Celtic pan pipe music in those days, and no one likes that except for vegetarians and hippies.
Joseph would have been alright, because he had a good English name, but if anyone had asked the lad what he was called, and he had said “Jesus” it might have caused some trouble with the racialists and the immigration control. So he used his middle name, which was Henry.
Back in the olden days, Henry was a well respected name, that posh people, such as kings and the like had. No one would ever have thought that it would one day be the name of a funny looking vacuum cleaner with a face that sucked up dirt through its nose. It was a perfectly acceptable middle name for the Messiah.
So that’s how you get the swearword “Jesus H Christ” which comes in handy as an expression of extreme surprise.
But there is another story of Jesus which takes this a stage further. As a youngster he visited England, but later on, after the crucifixion and before the resurrection, he is said to have visited Hell itself. The Catholics have it in their catechisms and whatnots. “Jesus descended into Hell” they say. The Catholic Vicars all get into a right fuss about what he did that for. Whether he had gone down there to have a go at the devil, or to save the souls who had died before his time on earth, or just as an extension of his suffering and dying to save us lot. Any road, I reckon it was a bit hot for him down there, and I expect the ruddy Devil had a go at sticking his trident into his bum, and there would have been plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth going on.
It’s meant to be horrible and chaotic and terrible in hell, and Jesus was an innocent and straightforward person, who didn’t deserve to have to suffer that. So the swearword “Flaming Henry” is used by innocent people who find themselves in terrible chaotic situations. Such as when you open the pantry door and all tins of soup and yard brushes and bags of sugar and bottles of juice fall out and you get broken glass on the floor.
Other situations where “Jesus H Christ” or “Flaming Henry” may come in handy.
(i) When you accidentally tread in some dog mess and it makes one of your feet slide forward really quickly whilst the other one doesn’t move at all: “Jesus H Christ: What filthy so and so let their dog do that there!”
(ii) When you are baby sitting for your nephew and niece and they have been banging around upstairs when they should have been fast asleep over an hour ago “Flaming Henry, if you two little so and sos don’t give over, I’ll be coming up there and knocking your ruddy heads together”
(iii) When you have almost finished a 1500 piece jigsaw of a rural scene in Scotland, like one of those off the cover of the “Peoples Friend” magazine, and your ruddy nephew charges into the room pretending to be Batman and knocks it all over the floor. “Jesus H Christ! Flaming Henry! Ruddy, Ruddy Nora!”