Richard Philanthropy

I love a good story – I collect them like precious gems and show them to all my friends at any given moment. My favorite stories involve amazing coincidences.  I love the story of Smart Boy. However it’s just one of the bizzaro coinkidink stories in my collection.

This next one I like to call “Richard Philanthropy” – you’ll see why in a bit.

Like always, a little back story (no sobbing required, I promise).

In 1998, I got my MLA and landed a job as a systems librarian at North Carolina State University.  Scott quit his crappy job and we moved there – I wasn’t very happy (which is like saying ‘the Pope is sort of religious’).  However, amongst the daily misery of moving to ‘progressive’ Raleigh where I was told by an apartment manager that they didn’t ‘want my kind’ living there, (‘my kind’ referring to the fact that I had a job and my husband quit his in Tucson and had the audacity to move to Raleigh with me UNEMPLOYED), I met several people that I took a shine to.

One such person was another systems librarian named “John”.  He was great – but, like many employees at the library, he soon realized dysfunction when he saw it, and moved on. He landed a job at a university in Pennsylvania and to my knowledge, has been there ever since.

Warning: Topic Change Ahead – Prepare for Non Sequitur

Time moves forward – we are back in Tucson (not a restaurant with fried brains and baloney in sight).  I am working for a company that requires a bit of travel.  Flying is not a high point in my life. Yes, I’m a little freaky about it but not quite phobic. It’s really not the flying that I’m afraid of – it’s the crashing and dying that scares me.

Anywhooooo – I absolutely require reading material on a flight. It has to be something engaging and preferably at least 700 pages.   I’d just finished The Mists of Avalon on the return trip from Scrapple-Heaven (AKA Raleigh) to Tucson.  So I meandered over to Barnes and Nobel (possibly Boarders) and decided to move out of my comfort zone (mystery) and check out general fiction.  I saw this book:

This book is like crack ~ but less expensive.
Picture from

I loved the cover, I loved that it was a soft trade paperback and it had NINE HUNDRED FORTY FOUR PAGES! It also covered an interesting time period in history, 15th century England and Richard III. I knew nothing about him except what I’d learned via Shakespeare.  I’d read quite a bit of historical mysteries  – like Peter Ellis’ Cadfael series and loved anything to do with England in the Middle Ages so I took a chance on Sharon K. Penman.   OH MY GOD I LOVED THAT BOOK!  I read it like it was crack. Then I read all her other books as quickly as I could – which can be challenging as they are all about 800 pages.  She writes about my most favorite family, the Plantagenet’s – starting with Empress Maud.  However back to the point…SHARON IS LIKE A ROCK STAR OF AUTHORS! No, wait…the point being that I was enraged with how Shakespeare MALIGNED Richard III.   So much so I quit my job and started working in Public Television.  No – wait…that is the wrong sequence of events.  During my ‘enragement’ (oh my god, that’s actually a word) I happened to lose my job – BEST LAY OFF EVER!! and landed the best job in the world for me…researcher in public television.

During the period when I was learning about my new job, I kept my enragement going strong and joined the Richard III Society.  This is a group of really freakin’ erudite people with amazing amounts of specific knowledge about Richard III and the cast of hundreds that swirled around him during his life.

My memory is kind of like Swiss cheese…I know many people say this about their memory. But it’s true. I have a really excellent memory for such things as bizarro tidbids – but recitation of factoids, not so much. Here’s a perfect example.  During discussions on the Sharon K Penman Fan page on Facebook (which SHARON POSTS TO AND WILL RESPOND TO HER ADORING FANS BY NAME!  I have to admit I had butterflies in my stomach the first time she referred to me by name), people will post these incredibly detailed passages about various historical people/events – like say, Thomas Becket’s death…here’s what I remember of Becket’s death. When his clothing was removed after his murder, it was discovered that he wore a hair-shirt under his cassock and it had imbedded into groin along with lice and festering boils.  I couldn’t tell you the year it happened or the church he was in – just that he had festering groin boils.  That’s how my memory works.

Boils, and Groins, and Lice – oh My!
Those Catholics know how to have a good time ~

So back to the Richard III Society ~ I was a lurker on the online discussion lists (this was circa 2001). I would read other people’s postings but never post myself.  I noticed a particular woman would post a lot and was very knowledgeable.

At my nifty new job, my boss was working on a grant to research Ethnic Philanthropy and its application to Public Television membership.  She asked if I would join some online discussion groups and monitor the postings.  Of course I would!  So I did.  My boss did as well and asked me if I could monitor postings from a woman named “Linda Noir” on that list because she seemed to be very involved in ethnic philanthropy and my boss wanted to pick her brain.

So I start to monitor “Linda Noir” and I thought, how odd – the woman on the Richard III discussion group is also named “Linda Noir”. That has got to be a coincidence. I mean – these are two completely different groups – there are literally millions of people in cyberspace… what are the chances that “Linda Noir” is the same person?

Well, I’d give it a 100% chance that she is the same person. I started to post to the Ethnic Philanthropy group and struck up a virtual conversation with “Linda” – I said something along the lines of “I know this is a weird question, but you don’t happen to belong to the Richard III Society?”   HOLY CRAP – SHE DID!

Then it gets weirder…

Not only is “Linda Noir” the same person from these two discussion groups, but she’s a librarian. Not only is she a librarian but she’s a librarian that works at a university in Pennsylvania…and she works with my ex-colleague “John”.


And that’s my story.

Wait – wait – I have to add to it because I completely forgot that I RECENTLY saw that “Linda Noir” posts to Sharon K Penman’s fan page on Facebook. Cue the “Twilight Zone” music –

About Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher

I'm a research librarian for Public Television, story teller, bike commuter, baker, music fiend, lover of reading & books, mother, wife, friend - and many more descriptive adjectives and nouns.
This entry was posted in Coincidence, Humor, Random Thoughts, Richard III, Sharon K Penmen, Story and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

50 Responses to Richard Philanthropy

  1. Pingback: A Friend and a Feast | The Mercenary Researcher

  2. jlheuer says:

    Groin boils were certainly a great catch phrase but you got me a scrapple heaven. In my days as a reader advisory librarian I recommended Penman to many of the historical fiction minded. I also enjoy a good tale set in the Middle Ages. I remember reading Vision of Light by Judith Merkle Riley ( a 14th C setting). At the time I thought it was a good one, don’t know if it has stood the test of time. Probably doesn’t make your page count but it is the first in a trilogy.

  3. I’m not sure that I followed all of this re-blog but I am compiling a cookbook and it will definitely have groin boils as a recipe.

    I just finished Alison Weir’s The Life of Elizabeth I (highly recommended) and that book and your re-blog now have me interested in both James I (after Elizabeth) and Richard III.

  4. I really enjoyed reading your post! Thanks!
    Chris Mobley

  5. "HE WHO" says:

    WOW! I’d like what you’re on. I’d get a week’s work done in a day. Sadly, I am not much into historical fiction or Shakespeare but your energy intrigues me. I love to see people having fun! You must be dynamite on a hockey rink.

  6. MissFourEyes says:

    You have the best stories!
    Also, you said groin boils. I think I should start incorporating groin boils into more conversations.

  7. I love stuff like this. I’m definitely going to order the book. I could never resist a good groin boil! Yum! And here’s a little tid bit – I’m a bit of a genealogy freak and can trace my peeps back to the Plantagenets — you know, Long Shanks and the gang. That’s right, this old gal is a royal – just don’t ask to see my boils, though.
    …and I’m seriously ordering this book. It sounds juicy, and I’m not talking about the boils.

  8. El Guapo says:

    Only those associated with PBS would have the courage to bring us tales of groin boils.
    I await Gwen Ifills use of the phrase on her next expose.

  9. Reblogged this on The Mercenary Researcher and commented:

    Greetings People ~
    Yes, it’s another reblog of some past material that I posted in the beginning of my blogging adventures. It’s been a busy week for me – so I thought I’d put forth this story that I absolutely LOVE…it has groin boils…GROIN BOILS! Enjoy

  10. Kylie says:

    Oh my gosh! I love so many things about this!!

    Something about the pace of your writing was really energetic and had a good build up.

    Funny how absolute strangers who are drawn to the same things can find each other on cyber space, eh? eh?

    P.S. I remember so many random things, and am GRASS (Generally Recognized as Super Smart, not to be confused with GRAS–Generally Recognized as Safe), but I suck at trivia games. It’s always a disappointment.

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  13. Great story! I will definitely check out the book. There is an exhibit at the Tower of London that presents the story of the two princes and the Bloody Tower and asks visitors who they would convict– Richard III or Henry VII (?) or no one. Will you bar all future comments from me if I confess that I’ve voted Richard III “guilty” every time we’ve visited?? If Sharon Penman’s narrative overrides my Shakespeare exposure (as an impressionable college kid), I promise to revisit the exhibit over and over, voting him not guilty until I’ve undone my damage!

    I’m going to have nightmares about the hair shirt tonight…

    • Take a read and you can decide! I vote him “not guilty” – I also vote Henry II not guilty for the death of Becket as well. I will never bar comments – no worries. But Sharon gives a great perspective about the events and possible motivations for the events surrounding Richard’s life.

  14. You are the queen of incredible small world stories! I need to try to read a Sharon Penman book. I’m now intrigued.

  15. runningonsober says:

    Very freaky weird. It’s like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon freaky weird, haha.

    I liked the way you set out all the dots and connected them at the end. Way cool. I feel like I learned something too, though will probably most likely remember the hair-shirt and Twilight Zone song.

  16. charliecountryboy says:

    Nearly quit at the groin boil stage (was feeling queasy) glad I stayed. Great story 😉

  17. Small freaking world, ain’t it? I know very little about Richard III, unfortunately, except for what Shakespeare wrote about him.

  18. RCW says:

    Im still stuck in the 16th century, though I have started one of Sharon’s books. I could totally see myself getting in a discussion group like that. 🙂

    Also, I recognize the line “the pope is somewhat religious.” 😉

  19. The Waiting says:

    Where is the love button?! Several things. 1, We moved to the Carolina Sandhills lady year and I dislike it too. 2, EFFING LOVE THE MIDDLE AGES. Sorry for yelling. Im just a huge fan. I wrote my thesis on The Once and Future King. 3, You worked for PBS? That is like my dream job. 4, I think my reading comprehension skills are starting to diminish. Who is Richard Philanthropist?

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