Tuesday, 23 December 2014

There's dirty work afoot!

     And so, dear reader, we find ourselves mid-morning on a lovely summer's day, somewhere in the Kingdom of Gelderland. It is a bucolic scene: lush greenery; the gentle swaying of trees; the twitter of birds; all interrupted only by the irate chattering of a squirrel whose other half has been caught hiding his nuts where he shouldn't. But hang on, what's this? Our reverie is interrupted by the jingling of harness and the creaking of wheels.

(Right) It's a coach! But not any old coach. It's clear from the asthmatic wheezing of the horses that the carriage is heavily burdened, either by an emergency army-sized delivery of lard, or by that globulous wobble-bottom King Wilhelm of Gelderland. Sadly for the locals, the livery on the coach indicates that it is the latter. The King has been hastening eastwards, his passing churning the roads, and quite a few stomachs as well. Few things there are at the moment that can induce Wilhelm to leave the safety of Grosschnitzelring: pies, obviously; rumpy-pumpy; rumpy-pumpy with pies. True to form, Wilhelm is on a promise. Tired of the attentions of his current mistress, the tedious Irish actress Anne O'Dyne, the King has been contacted by the luscious, lewdsome Nora Hindquarters, until lately the paramour of Hieronymous von Rumpfler, commander of the Nabstrian army. Having labelled von Rumpfler dismissively as 'the mole' because of his rather random attempts at blind nocturnal tunnelling, Nora has invited the King to a secret assignation in an inn close to the frontier. After laying mammoth siege to his commode, the King has rushed as fast as he can westwards, bringing with him a small guard of Gelderland troops and a large quantity of 'Mister Stay-Puffed' under-britch plumpers.

(Left) But hang on: what's this! Amidst the greenery, the gentle countryside sounds are interrupted by the soft rattle of military equipment, alongside some suppressed giggles, and a whispered 'Let's do him now!' I spy some Nabstrian scouts!

Stung by defeats at Zorninhaf and Grosse Varnische, and with a military crisis emerging as obviously as King Wilhelm's belly button in a pair of under-britches, Burgrave Falco of Nabstria has hatched a plot to win the war by less direct means: for Miss Hindquarters is a double-agent; the meeting is a trap; and the whole enterprise is a nefarious plot that has as its objective the kidnapping of King Wilhelm! Stoked by enthusiastic hope and the reading of too many romantic novels, the early plans envisage replacing the King with a pliant body-double who can then be instructed to announce an end to the war. This plan is quickly dropped when it becomes obvious that it will take too long to find a talking walrus. Now, the objective is simply to abduct the King, and force him, on pain of death, to order an end to hostilities. What could possibly go wrong?