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The Battle of Hastings, as told by Chris Bryant

By Mark Wallace
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Bayeux Tapestry
Following the gripping instalment from Chris Bryant's diary in today's Independent, ConHome presents an earlier extract, during his previous incarnation as King Harold the Second:

Sunday, 11.15pm I'm told some Norman immigrants have landed near Hastings, probably with the intention of taking my job. I try to ensure my trumpeter will wake us all up early for a battle in the morning.

5.55am Parp (that was the trumpeter, don't be cheeky). My housecarls and I have an early start, and kick off the day with a mug of ale and some mutton - we're on the Atkins.

5.56am Is Hastings in Kent?

6.20am We had a long march from Stamford Bridge, but I needn't have worried - we've got to Hastings in plenty of time. The Normans are saying my troops look a bit tired, but that's just typical of them - talking down the Anglo-Saxons again.

6.28am Armour. What a drag. My helmet is really bulky and I can't see out properly.

7.05am Battle formation. Even the Normans have told me beforehand they think I'm going to win, but as soon as we line up they start shouting about how they've got more archers than me. I say I didn't want loads of archers anyway, so whatever.

7.15am The early skirmishing is over. I'm getting fed up with the tiny eye holes in this helmet, and I'm worried the crown on top makes me look elitist. I borrow my squire's helmet instead - much better, I can see out no problem.

8.05am Now I'm right across from William of Normandy (with whom I used to hang out at court), the smarmy git. I want the battle to be about strategy, but he insists we get bogged down in detail, how many of our men get killed, all those boring process points. He's asking why we don't have a battleplan. I say "We're the Anglo-Saxons, and we're the goodies, so we don't need one - that's why you'll always be remembered as William the Loser." Definitely came out on top.

8.40am God, shield walls get boring after a while. Crash, wallop, scream, crash, wallop, scream. Who are these Normans trying to impress?

9.00am Back to my tent to finish the battle strategy. Some Normans are saying I'm panicking, but that's rubbish - I always intended to add some little extras in about now.

9.30am Arrive at the shieldwall to deliver what I hope is a cogent, reflective battle strategy about how we can deal firmly and fairly with these bothersome foreigners.

10.02am The Normans are all running away, so as planned we charge down the hill after them. It all seems to go fine - there's lots of blood and limbs all over the place, probably theirs.

10.30am An arrow hits me in the eye - I deal with it professionally and with panache, as usual.

11.15am My surviving bodyguards are carrying my lifeless corpse off the battlefield. Someone said my soldiers are running away, but I'm pretty sure they're just keen to see the sacks of parchment sent by everyone to say how well I've done. Harold the Conqueror strikes again.