Last night I dreamed I was trying to make the circle peace sign with glue and glitter for Prince and he was patiently waiting, I did it over and over. Moved the glue and dusted it with glitter but I couldn't get it right. And Prince couldn't think how it went either and it was all very puzzling, so we googled it, and it was like the idea of peace was not available on the internet, the symbol was not image in a search. I woke up this morning sure that it meant that war is so much upon us, too much upon us - my body is churning with refugees of war, Trump and Brexit - dark things. And that's what comes out of the neural networks - a sign that peace is hard to find.
Then in the dream Tina Fay and I were cleaning up, and we were not pleased with the mess but we were very efficient cleaners.
I have been thinking about Joan, the eldest daughter of King John because in this version of getting the Magna Carta signed that I am working on - a play -- I think she's the hero. I want her to be like Tina Fay cleaning up.
I want to write a play bout the meeting memorialised in this plaque. It takes place in Bury St Edmunds (a town in Suffolk in England pretty near Cambridge) on 20 November 1214 when Stephen Langton called a meeting of the barons unhappy with King John (not all, more were neutral than were rebelling) - he was charged by the Pope to bring peace to England. Largely so that the Pope could get King John out crusading - Innocent needs the money hustle or whatever. So Stephen sees if maybe they can clear up the terrible fighting and bloodshed under King John's reign by all agreeing to a charter - a contract. This became the Magna Carta. The charter itself was a disaster but the way the general problem got solved paved the way for the most virtuous creation of civilization - the rule of law. I think Joan was key to making this happen. She's in her twenties and has three years experience going back and forth between her father the King and her husband Llywelyn the Great - the beloved prince of North Wales . Joan has in fact just negotiated this big hostage release in the Marches. Apparently South Wales/Borderland was a total terrorist disaster in those times.
So I see her beautiful and big and currently suffering from traumatic stress disorder because the has been way too close to too many killings. Truly sardonic. Unable to find the peace sign and pissed about it. I see her of course thinking circles around her father, her husband, the Archbishop Stephen Langton and even her sort of stepmother, Isabella of Gloucester.
The Plaque doesn't mention women, but I think they were calling the shots. First Joan and then Isabella. Isabella of Gloucester is the first wife of John, they separated because they were third cousins which isn't allowed under canonical law. She was around when Joan was little as the first legit wife of King John, though. Isabella is no slouch and a free thinker who has listened to the scriptures. Isabella I think came to Bury with her new husband Geoffrey de Mandville. Her husband wants a new King because this one is ruining him with dowry and tax. Isabella is fond of John, they parted well, she doesn't want him killed, but this nonsense ruining her husband has to stop.
But more powerful than Joan and Isabella at this secret meeting is Clementinia. Joan's real mother. The only thing we know about her is her name, which is deeply thrilling. She has to come to the meeting at the end and lay it on the line in a Julie Cope, Johnny Rooster, pagan powerful kind of way: no more war, you idiots. In my mind she lives in the woods in Norfolk in a small matriarchal pagan tribe that existed completely off the books back then. She is the bringer of mercy.
I think of the way these three women would make a charter possible and for one thing, it involves resourcefulness and Robert Fitzwalter's wine cellar. It also involves a primal understanding of what is sacred. Freedom as sacred. Laws in service to life, not life in service to laws. Those women wanted to live in a world where it is possible to find the peace sign. As do I. Although it was great to see Prince.