Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Robin Hoodie

I mentioned the British Icons site a few posts back when discussing national pride. I see that it's added some new waves of British ‘icons’ to its list. They include fish and chips, Monty Python, the British Bobby and The Archers radio show.

Sherlock Holmes and Robin Hood have also made it onto the list, which is interesting considering that they are fictional characters. I stress the fictional aspect as only today I was walking along Baker Street from Regents Park to the train station and, of course, I passed by 221b, the address where Holmes lived in the stories. There actually isn’t a 221b - there is only a 221 - but such is the lure of the famous detective that the building has been re-numbered and is now the Sherlock Holmes Museum. I can’t help but wonder how many of its visitors believe that Holmes was a real person. Certainly, when I was a police officer working in the West End in the early 1980s, a lot of the tourists I spoke to found it hard to divorce fact from fiction. I remember one American lady getting so irate that she was right that we almost had a stand-up argument in the street. Eventually, I gave up.

Robin Hood is an interesting choice of ‘icon’ though. Again, he’s essentially a fictional character although there may be a nub of truth at the heart of the legend. There are many candidates for the historical Robin Hood including Robert Fitzodo, Robert of Loxley, Robert de Kyme and a certain Robert Hod. But underlying the whole legend is the unpalatable fact that this enduring national icon was an armed robber!*

Robin Hoodie?

* a subject we discussed back in December - read the post here.

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