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A short story from Mr Yippeeeeeee, story-teller extraordinaire and Yvonne’s guest on Good Afternoon
“STOP, ” roared the King “You, you hopeless buffoon. I don’t keep you in silk slippers just for you to stretch my neck every single night. If this carries on I will have a neck like a giraffe and people will think I’ve escaped from the zoo.”
“SEND for Henry,” demanded the by now very angry and fed up King. Henry was the King’s oldest and most loyal retainer. He was at least 84 years old and was now becoming a bit decrepit.
“But your Majesty,” murmured Sid, who was Henry’s deputy. “Poor old Henry retired to his bed hours ago because he is so very worn out. Your Majesty, I don’t know if I will be able to wake him up.”
“I DON’T CARE,” snapped the King, staring hard at a subjugated Sid. “Pinch his toe, pour ice cubes down his vest, pull his nose, twist his ear, do anything, but get Henry here. NOW. THIS INSTANT. For goodness sake, you think I’m going to spend all night trying to sleep with my magnificent golden crown stuck on my head. That’s even worse than sleeping with a pea under my 12 mattresses. You just can’t get decent servants these days. If my idiot son didn’t spend all day talking to his plants I’d abdicate first thing in the morning.” The King was really, really, REALLY fed up.
Over the years Henry had honed a special skill for removing the King’s Crown from his expanded head. With the help of 2 very strong courtiers firmly grasping the King, Henry would grip the crown and simultaneously do a subtle twist and PULL HARD. The king’s crown would pop off just like that ! Otherwise all that happened was that the poor King’s neck was stretched AND the crown stayed stuck on his head and didn’t the whole Palace hear the roar when that happened.
The poor King was often in such a bad temper the next morning from the evening before. Occasionally he was forced to sleep very fitfully with his crown still firmly stuck to his head. The King really didn’t like having his Crown removed. It was his worst time of the day. Consuming eleven course banquets and chucking goblets over his shoulder he quite enjoyed.
For many years the King had become increasingly ANGRY. Just the smallest thing could upset him. Yesterday he lost his temper because Henry hadn’t worn his new hunting boots for long enough to make the leather soft and supple. His old servant had been especially chosen because his feet were exactly the same size as the King’s and he hadn’t got any verrucas. When the King was in a very bad temper he used to stamp on the floor so hard that it trembled and shook. Sometimes the whole Palace shook, from it’s very foundations to the apex of the roof and even his servants became shaky.
The King’s staff felt rather sorry and very frightened of the King. Times were hard and to lose one’s job at the palace could result in trying to survive on ever more meagre State Benefits. Nobody wanted that. The latest rule was that if you had a just one extra bedroom you had to have your benefits reduced by £15 a week. It was called the Bedroom tax.
To lose your position was almost as bad as being thrown to the wolves for the entertainment of visiting royalty when they became bored with dancing madrigals.
The staff grasped any opportunity going to try and appease the King. Sid would say “ Your great and unusually debonair and illustrious and wise and noble Majesty, King above all Kings, may I say, the grace with which you just sat down on your throne was just magnificent to behold. Oh your Majesty what a deep and wondrous joy it is to serve you. If only I could go without sleep I would willingly be at your beck and call every moment of the day and night for 364 days of the year.” Sid was allowed one day a year off on Boxing Day to visit his dear old Mother.
Though the King pretended he was a trifle bored by this ebullient praise, he rather took such adulation to heart and felt oh so proud to be the most very important person in the whole world.
He made the mistake of thinking all the showering compliments were really real. His chest would quite naturally puff, puff up and, would you believe, even his very head would swell. Then removing his crown at night would become a terrible and painful ordeal. Can you imagine what it must be like to have your neck pulled and stretched every night so that your crown can be removed. That could be useful when you wanted to look at the fair maiden over the other side of the wall but nobody wants to go around looking like a giraffe. Being a King can be so tough.
One very sunny morning the King was out with his entourage hunting in his 2,000 acre private forest hunting the delectable but elusive wild deer.
The King proceeded, on his mighty white steed, along a rarely used and overgrown path. His entourage followed at a discreet distance appropriate to the decorum constantly bestowed upon his Majesty.
Save for an occasional bird twittering to his wife the forest was silent. Even the falling leaves, which led a merry dance on a windy day lay still.
The King had a concentrated frown which could have been mistaken for a headache. He was still trying to recover from his crown being extracted from his perpetually swollen head the night before and his neck was rather sore from being stretched.
Suddenly, right in front of the dense foliage, the forest hermit, out searching for wild berries for his breakfast appeared. The King was startled.
“What are you doing here,” snarled the King, in MY forest.
“Your most Royal Majesty” murdered the hermit, “ could I humbly remind you of when I saved your son’s life when he fell off his horse and I administered some of my healing potions and he became completely well again. Your Majesty I beseech you that you said my reward would be to have your permission to live for the rest of my days in the forest. And you granted me the left over scraps from your table so that I would never go hungry again.”
“Humm, thought the King, “but since when did you have my permission to get in my way. Get out of my way.”
“Your Majesty, you look as though you have a headache. May I administer a potion or tw…..” the hermit tried to say.
“Headache, who said anything about a headache, roared the King. What ARE you talking about. It’s the red rings around my forehead and my painfully stretched neck from having my crown removed that, for goodness sake anyone but a nincompoop could see, is the problem. I am in such a bad temper all the blasted time.”
“Ah, your Majesty you are suffering from a rare case of swollen head syndrome. It’s something that very and more important people can suffer from.”
“Stop pussy-footing around man and tell me what’s the solution. I’m hunting for a deer for tonight’s banquet and I haven’t got time to waste talking to oh so wastrels like you, the King sneeringly told the hermit.
“There’s a simple cure your Majesty. When people spend all their time showering you with compliments and telling you that you’re the most illustrious King in the whole wide world your chest quite naturally swells and there’s also a similar effect with your head. Sometimes people just call someone a big head but in your case it’s literally true.”
“Get on with it man” the always irritated King muttered, trying to pretend he was rather bored and not in the least bit interested. “You’d best give me a solution then, oh so clever one.”
“Well your Majesty, may I say because of your rather ferocious temper your courtiers feel the constant and perpetual need to shower you with compliments to try and appease your bad mood. It’s because they love you and adore and care for you so very much. Anyone would have a swollen head if all the time every one told them that you were like a breath of fresh air and the very very best thing, even since sliced bread,” added the Hermit.
“For goodness sake man, you still haven’t given me the solution, will you just get on with it.” roared the King.
“I’m so sorry your Majesty. If you couldn’t hear the many and rich compliments coming your way you wouldn’t react to them and then you would no longer have a swollen head. Your temper would improve no end and people wouldn’t feel the need to praise you all the time. Then you would no longer have swollen head syndrome,” the hermit concluded.
“Don’t be stupid man,” I can’t go around covering my ears with my hands all the time, can I,” a by now exasperated King replied. “Then I’d have arm ache instead and not be much better off.”
“Quite so,” said the Hermit, “but you could stuff each ear with cotton wool for the next 7 days and then you would be rested from all the compliments. Then your head would stop swelling and your temper improve and your servants wouldn’t feel the desperate need to constantly praise you.”
That’s just what the King did and thereafter he no longer had a problem with the dreaded swollen head syndrome and his crown was as easy to remove as when it was placed on his head in the morning. He slept so much better without an aching and stretched neck. Everyone in the Palace was so much happier. The King never admitted it to anyone but he was so glad to have had the chance encounter with the Hermit.
Mr Yippeeeeeee is available to fund-raise for charities and can be contacted on 01268 525527 or by email on [email protected]