Faultless Rufus (1544 -1599)

Faultless Rufus was a contemporary of William Shakespeare. He was a failed playwright who lived in London. His origins are not clear, but it is believed that he was born near Southwark and spent his youth working as a carter. He always wanted to write for a living, however, once his limitations as a playwright became apparent he changed direction. He took to the commercial world of public relations in an attempt to make a living. He offered his services to various trading ventures and worked hard to write them slogans that would help sell their wares.

His real name was Rufus Barking, but his inability to tell lies in his first chosen profession led him to gain the ironic name Faultless. His acquaintances often said that his only fault was that he was too honest, and this is what spelt the death of his first chosen profession. His plays were incredibly tedious affairs that reflected no fantasy or anything remotely different from real life. People didn’t want this; they had enough of the disappointments of real life on a daily basis and yearned for a fantasy or humourous escapism.

His inability to tell lies in his new chosen profession led him to gain the name Faultless, his only fault being that he was honest to a fault. His slogans included, Stinks like a Lord, but fit for a King’s table, to promote the wares of local fish merchant Mudlark Molloy. This caused some controversy, mainly from various lords who maintained that they didn’t stink at all; subsequent research proved them wrong. From this moment Faultless Rufus was walking on thin ice. He was firmly in the sights of the aristocracy.

Another slogan, Deflowerin Maidens – London’s best brothel – Only a 40% chance of catching the pox, earned him the wrath of the female population of London. They were incensed that he had stooped to advertising the sex industry. He followed this with an advert for a local medical practice, The Leech House – Have your blood sucked out by us, not the tax collectors. This earned him a special visit from the tax collectors, who delivered him two black eyes and kick in the groin. This slowed him down for a while but he continued his relentless quest for honesty in advertising.

His best known piece was a sonnet to promote London as a tourist destination for the rest of the world. It was Queen Elizabeth’s idea; she personally commissioned the work. Rufus toiled on this for many months, agonising over how best to promote his native city. He eventually produced his final draft of Come to London in November 1599. He was promptly arrested, charged with treason, and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Since his honesty had alienated most of the influential population, his appeals for clemency fell on deaf ears. He was executed on 24 December 1599. The Queen was reported as being delighted by the outcome of the trial that never happened and commented that his hanging should serve as a warning to anybody who spread malicious lies about London – even if they were true.

Come to London (Sewer of the West)

I drifted lonely as a turd,
Through open sewers of London town,
With an odour of which most have heard,
This is the Jewel in England’s crown.
Come moor your boat at Greenwich Docks,
The Bloody Flux and Plague await,
As does a strong dose of the pox,
If you take our women on a date.
Come stroll throughout our putrid place,
Eat dodgy meals that make your shiver,
Then let our thugs rearrange your face,
And dump you senseless in the river.
Come to London and I think you’ll find,
That we’ll rob you foreign bastards blind

About George Fripley
I am a writer who enjoys writing humour, satire, poetry and sometimes a bit of philosophy. I live in Perth, Western Australia and occasionally get a poem or article published. It's all good fun! I have two books available for unwary readers, Grudges, Rumours and Drama Queens- The Civil Servant's Manual (This contains all that anybody could ever want to know about why government runs so slowly) and More Gravy Please! - the Politician's Handbook. (available through Amazon). Real name Peter Tapsell...just started off writing under a pseudonym and kept going.

One Response to Faultless Rufus (1544 -1599)

  1. Great post – love the humour

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