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8. What the King had for his breakfast.

Our latest episode of Nicky Tams the King of Nosepipe
as told by Gordon Thorburn and illustrated by myself



It was usually muesli for the poor wee lamb.

Nicky Tams looked at the muesli jar. It was a special, very good for you sort of muesli, specially mixed by the Royal Special Muesli Mixing Herald Pursuivant. It had large quantities of sharp bits, blended carefully with hard bits and chewy bits and stick-between-your-teeth bits, all together with loads of round, flat, floury tasteless bits.

Nicky Tams was allowed no salt or sugar, but he found that if he poured apple juice on his muesli, let it soak and then added masses of raspberry yoghurt (virtually fat free) he could just about manage to eat a couple of spoonsful of this remarkably healthy food.

Of course, he was then so hungry all morning that he was entirely unable to resist the chocolate bars, crisps and fizzy pop which the other children sold to him at playtime, but that’s healthy eating for you.

With the muesli he was permitted a glass of skimmed milk. There was also wholemeal toast, and he might have eaten some of that except he was only allowed to spread on it that shiny yellow slidy stuff out of a plastic tub, which tastes like they’ve added water to some old cooking oil after it’s been in the chip pan for six months.

Saturdays were better, when he could have bread and dripping, and on Sundays and birthdays he had real butter and jam.

This morning, this fateful morning, this utmostly historical morning, King Nicky Tams’s eye wandered while he mused over the muesli jar. At first the jostling and shouting outside his breakfast-room window meant nothing. Then, as his eyes came into focus and he saw Tracy and lots of other people charging about and giving orders, he had a blinding flash across his brain.

Today’s breakfast, he was astonished to realise, would be his last in Nosepipe for some considerable time. Possibly, it might even be his last breakfast FOR EVER MORE!!!

Once again he surveyed the breakfast table. His nose wrinkled and his lip curled. With a defiant swagger he walked across the Royal carpet, opened the Royal window, and chucked the entire contents of the jar of Royal muesli outside for the birds.

Back at the table he smiled a small smile and rang his little silver bell. When the Footwoman came (all the Footmen had been recruited into the army), King Nicky Tams made an announcement.

“This might be my last breakfast. So, bring me as follows to my Royal Menu Command and don’t argue.

Crispy bacon

Scrambled eggs made with lots of butter, cream and salt

Fried bread

Burnt sausages

Baked beans

Turkey burger

Black pudding

Chips, and a new large bottle of tomato ketchup.

“And to drink I will have a chocolate milk shake, made with proper milk.”

The Footwoman stood, nonplussed.

“And furthermore,” continued the King, now well into his stride, “I shall also have some hot floury baps, white bread, with real butter and honey. Got that?”

It came, he ate it, and it was good. Very good.

Tracy the Prime Minister arrived as he was licking the last of the butter and honey off his fingers. He smiled a contented smile.

“Yes, Prime Minister?” he said. “What is it?”

“Nearly time to go, O Worshipful One,” she said. “I’m like, thinking, yay. We only need to listen to the weather.”

Tracy cranked up the accumulator battery on the ‘Made in Nosepipe’ short-wave wireless telegraph receiving set. When the valves began to glow, she tuned it to the Ang Gonnaseckian frequency. Hooray and well done. She found the shipping forecast.

“Tyne, Tees, Humber, Dogger, Fisher, German Bight. One thousand and two, fall…..sssseeeepwheee. KKKkkgghkkkkkcrarrrk. Hooo-oooip? Thames, Dover, Wightssssssssseeeep. GaaaaaarggggkKKK! Neeeowsssssspp. Fastnet, Finisterre, Biscay. Nine hundred and ninety seven, falling ssssssskkkrooooossskall, Malin, Irish Sea, one thous…..skkkgggh.”

“Dash and drat,” said Tracy.

“What’s up?” said the King.

“The bit I wanted to hear. It was drowned out by interference. Now we don’t know what the weather will be like.”

“Of course we do,” said the King. “Look at it. It’s outside the window. Brilliant sunshine. Good southerly breeze. Not a cloud in the sky. Perfect. Come on, then. Let’s go.”

Actually, he had noticed one, very small, rather darkish sort of cloud in the sky, but it couldn’t be, could it? No, of course not. So off they went.


Looking at people looking at pictures.


7. The Prime Minister gets the shopping in.

Our latest episode of Nicky Tams the King of Nosepipe
as told by Gordon Thorburn and illustrated by myself



What a girl. She’d already written out the list.

This was the list. Bows. Arrows. Catapults. Air pistols (they wouldn’t sell proper guns to someone still at junior school, even in the Olden Days, and even if she was the Prime Minister). Slugs for the air pistols. Uniforms. Boots. Tents. Flags. Trumpets. And, of course, Men. They didn’t allow girls in the army.

“Now, what about lunch on the first day?” she said to herself. “Would a Chinese take-away keep hot all the way from here? Or might it be better to get something there? Fish and chips, perhaps?”

Tracy went shopping. She took a few tough types from the palace guards with her, to give her a bit of street cred, and she cashed in the Crown Jewels at the Nosepipewide Building Society.

In the shops, everything seemed so much more expensive than she had thought. She even considered the possibility that the shopkeepers had put the prices up when they heard she was coming, but that couldn’t be true.

In a remarkably short time she ran out of money and had to ask for tick, as credit was known then. She promised the shopkeepers land and castles in Ang Gonnasec. What they would get if the invasion was a failure, she didn’t say.

In any case, by the time King Nicky Tams The Easily Led came down for breakfast next morning, everything was almost ready.




The Doom of Nicky Tams.

Our latest episode of Nicky Tams the King of Nosepipe
as told by Gordon Thorburn and illustrated by myself



The Doom of Nicky Tams.

Perhaps some Eye of Newt would have been better.

Tracy was good at History as well as everything else, and so she knew the answer to that question.

“They usually try to make their kingdoms bigger, so they can be more important than the other kings.”

“But that’s silly,” said Nicky Tams. “Obviously.”

“Like, why?” asked Tracy.

“Well, obviously. I mean to say, if I were to make my kingdom bigger, that would mean making somebody else’s kingdom, well, smaller.”

“Precisely,” said Tracy, folding her arms.

There was a pause. King Nicky Tams The Easily Led was thinking. What was he thinking about? He was thinking about what he and his friends called ‘stuff and that’.

“Prime Minister,” said King Nicky Tams.


King Nicky Tams, the Easily Led

“Yes, your Nicky Tamsitude?” said Tracy.

“Which kingdom shall we make smaller?”

“OK,” said Tracy. “Listen up. There’s Abrascabradovia. Capital city: Crustington. But who wants it? Then there’s Pustulia. Capital city: Matterchester. Same difference. And on our southern border we have Feefifofartitartitania, dominion over which would be a mixed blessing. This leaves Ang Gonnasec. Capital city: Scarborough.”

“But it’s miles away,” responded Nicky Tams, gloomily, “and King Canoe of Ang Gonnasec, his father went to school with my father’s father.”

“King Canoe’s father went to school with lots of people’s fathers,” replied Tracy, rather cleverly. “And lots more people, and their fathers, went to school with people whose fathers went to school with the father of King Canoe’s father. Does that mean none of them is allowed to invade Ang Gonnasec?”

“Invade!” screeched Nicky Tams. “I didn’t know you meant invade. We’d have to go by sea, if we’re not going to invade Feefifofartitartitania as well. And we need soldiers, because if you invade, you have to kill the other soldiers. Or frighten them at least.”

“There is no alternative,” said Tracy, pulling up her left sock which had fallen down over her sandal. “Now, if you’ll give me the Crown Jewels, I’ll get myself away into town and buy the necessary.”

Morris minor, parts thereof…

Just a short film of a very small selection of the morris dancing and their bands yesterday in Stroud, there to celebrate Wassail. What a talented bunch.There were too many to film all of them all of the time, but these few give the flavour of the event. Make sure you don’t miss it next year. A brilliant way to cheer people at the most miserable time of year.

This was no morris minor.


See if you can spot this chap!



This was no morris minor.

A day out in Stroud to see the Wassail. Read all about where it comes from here

In actual fact, I saw more of the Morris men and women than the Wassail thing itself as by the time I’d had a spot of chilli and bread with the horse nearby I was at the back of the crowd outside the Subscription Rooms in Stroud. That aside I got loads of shots of the very fine Morris Dancers, who were all very accommodating, but then if you spend time decorating yourself like this you must expect some attention. I’ll leave you to enjoy the images, and will try and post a short film of the action tomorrow.



This chap looked good against the carpet shop


Some fine looking Morris Women too


This one had taken to a sheep, or might have been related.


And these two caught the eye, now where do they get their make-up?


No bull from this chap


This one was very fetching and fierce in his green hosiery.


The one behind this chap looks suspiciously like the chap in my drawing here

Country dancing of a sort.


This bloke’s day job is psychiatric nursing, I hope he takes the make-up off before his next shift. He was one of a group that had travelled down from Birmingham to perform.


And this one’s day job was sweeping chimneys, perhaps he’d come straight from work.

Last but not least was this chap, who was really dressed to kill. There was not a morris minor amongst any of them. They were all brilliant!




The new King gets busy.

Our latest episode of Nicky Tams the King of Nosepipe
as told by Gordon Thorburn and illustrated by myself




Why can’t people leave things alone?

“Never mind,” said King Nicky Tams The Easily Led, when he noticed his feet weren’t touching the floor. “Hello, everyone in Nosepipe. This is your King speaking. And a very special hello – to YOU.”

He couldn’t think of anything else to say, which hardly mattered seeing as nobody was listening, so he read the palace copy of the Nosepipe Courier and Advertiser. In the International section he was intrigued to see that some other countries didn’t have Kings ruling on their own. They had Governments to help the King, or Queen, and they had people called Prime Minister.

Indeed and amazingly, some countries didn’t have Kings or Queens at all.

King Nicky Tams, young as he was, could see the benefits of the Government system. The work could be shared: one for me, two for the Prime Minister, one for me, three for the Prime Minister. And if anything ever went wrong, you just blamed the Prime Minister, fired him or her and found another.

But who should he have as his Prime Minister, the first ever in Nosepipe? His Dear Mama filled the bill but Nicky Tams wasn’t THAT easily led. In fact, he thought that when he grew up, he might change his name to King Nicky Tams The Not As Green As He’s Cabbage Looking.

Next to Dear Mama, the cleverest person he knew was a girl in his class at Nosepipe County Primary called Ealfritha Agnetha Hrothgardottir (pronounced Ay-al-freeta An-yetta Krottgar-dotteer. Didn’t they have funny names in the Olden Days?). Ealfritha could recite her thirteen times table without ever making a mistake, and she could do long division.


…and can I change my name to Tracy

The King summoned Ealfritha, showed her the newspaper and asked her if she would like to be Nosepipe’s first Prime Minister.

“What’s the money like?” said Ealfritha. “And can I change my name to Tracy?”

“One thousand Brass Farthings a year,” said the King. “And yes.”

“Better than a slap in the chops with a wet haddock,” said Ealfritha, AKA Tracy, and that was that.

“Your first job,” said the King, “is to nip down the corner shop and buy up all the Eye of Newt. Here’s the sponduliks.”

“Certainly, Your Nicky Tamship,” said Tracy, and off she went.

“Dear Mama,” called the new King. “Dear Mama!” Scary Mary arrived, looking very pleased with herself.

“Dear Mama,” said the King. “My very Dear Mama. That which thou hast done unto my father, lo and behold, so one day couldst thou do it unto me, even with a toothbrush or any small, straight thing.”

King Nicky Tams had gone all old fashioned and high up, carried away with the excitement and importance of what he was saying.

“It shall not be. Away with her!” he cried to the palace guards. “Cast her forthwith into the deepest dungeon.”

“You can’t do that!” screamed Scary Mary. “You dirty rat. I’ll… I’ll… I’ll… turn you into a… I know. A cornflake.”

Queen Scary Mary grew even more scary as her eyes narrowed, her shoulders hunched, her fingers flickered, and she began her second Royal Spell in 24 hours.


See that moron on the throne?

Crinkle up his skin and bone!

Crisp him like a flake of corn…

‘Ere! Me Eye of Newt’s all gorn!

And so it was, because the King, thinking ahead, had pinched it out of her handbag. She couldn’t get any more and so that was her stitched up.

The palace guards took her down to the deepest dungeon, cast her forthwith, and there she was left to write her memoirs in permanent obscurity. Well, maybe.


…and there she was left

Tracy, meanwhile, had disposed of the last remaining Eye of Newt in a safe place, by which she meant a place only she knew about. She then returned to the King’s presence.

“OK, Your Nicky Tamsness. I’m in the shop and I’m like, all the Eye of Newt, please. I mean. How cool is that? What’s next?”

King Nicky Tams The Easily Led thought about this question. If the same question had been asked of his late father, the Muscular King, the answer would have been a resounding “Nothing”, because nothing really needed doing at that moment.

The country, after years of enlightened and muscular management, was running very smoothly. Don’t try and mend an engine that isn’t broken, the old king might have said to himself. Instead, his son said, out loud and to Tracy, “What do Kings usually do?”


Looking for a seam


I like to look for a project for the coming year and when I find something, I will probably ‘do it to death’. A bit like a stand-up comedian who finds a good story to follow and then proceeds to mine it for all it’s worth, I try to do the same.

I’m not sure quite which seam to mine this year but folk dancing and ancillary musicians might be one. The danger at times for me is that I leave the seam before fully exploiting it, so haircuts had their day but there are more to be done there.

Hair today and Hair tomorrow…

Border guards had a fair outing but they too found their way out of their predicament and are probably now, still together, guarding a building site somewhere, and still not speaking to each other.

Wiggling extremities together, will it help?

The British Character was given a good going over and is also an unfinished project in some ways. It was great fun to do but I’m ready to try something new.

Pont: Graham Laidler, and the British Character

I’m posting my contribution to Gordon Thorburn’s book, the next one is due to be here tomorrow. I have been complimented on his words quite a lot and have tried to make it clear that they are not my words, just my pictures, but hey ho, whatever.

The first one started here and is every week until it ends naturally. It’s a fun piece.

Nicky Tams, King of Nosepipe

My little red book is still around and was another of the seams that I mined for a while. In this instance, I did finish it and had it printed. What I’ve not been very good at is selling it. All very well doing it, another prospect getting the great British public to buy it.

My Little Red Book: Glossary

The key to all my projects is that I have to enjoy doing them. Not a bad way to spend the day, only marginally better than succesfully growing carrots.

The carrot barrier, how’s that sweet pea?







Country dancing of a sort.

I recently did this drawing and the original is going to be sold for charity by my chum Robin, who is keen on this sort of thing. For those of you not familiar with this sort of thing, then it usually goes under the title of Morris Dancing. I’m sure you’ll find out lots more about it on-line, and you could start here:Morris dancing . I’m not a massive fan myself but remember well when I saw some females of the breed doing a very energetic version up in Yorkshire many years ago. It really was something to behold, with the added excitement that they seemed to be bashing rolling pins with each other, and they wore clogs to give it extra frisson. Frisson? They won’t like that up in down to earth Yorkshire.

“Chums? You can’t keep calling people Chums”, I am being told.

“Why not? ”

“It sounds like you’ve just stepped out of the pages of a 1950s comic about school pals and the like”

” Well if he’d been at school with me he would have been a ‘chum’ but he’s too young for that. So I shall continue to call him a ‘Chum’. I might even call him an ‘Honourable Chum’.



More magic from Scary Mary.

Our latest episode of Nicky Tams the King of Nosepipe
as told by Gordon Thorburn and illustrated by myself




This is an extremely scary part of the story which must only be read at room temperature.

That night Scary Mary started her spell. As it was to be a spell against the King, she needed one very special ingredient. Without this special ingredient, spells cannot harm Persons of Royal Blood. She needed… Eye of Newt!

She also needed some chocolate mouse-dirt, some fluff that had been blocking up the Hoover, and a bit of that greeny blue fur which you can find at the back of the fridge on a small piece of paté wrapped loosely in aluminium foil. If there is no greeny blue fur, there will be some thick, wrinkled skin on an egg yolk in the bottom of a tea cup. Use that instead.

Magic Words are also required, plus a few more ingredients. The ingredients should not pose a problem but the words might. Please. DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, READ THESE WORDS OUT ALOUD, at any temperature. Someone might hear them and shout them out backwards at you. So:

Eye of Newt and Low Fat Spread,

Dead Fleas from the Doggie’s Bed.

Juice of ONE Frog, freshly squeezed,

Hanky Scrapings, freshly sneezed.

Crisps of Cheese and Onion flavour,

Chew it up and never waver.

Curry, past its Best Before date…

(deep breath)

Then, taking off one’s slippers and sneaking down the corridor past the sleeping sentry, up the stairs and around the corner to the King’s bedchamber…

Nickytams4 2

In total silence, at the door wait.

This is exactly what Scary Mary did. When she heard the King going to the loo she crept into his room, spat out the spell mixture onto his pillow, and scarpered.

The King came out of his bathroom and got into bed. He put his head on the pillow, took one accidental sniff and leapt back into the bathroom. There, he attempted to remove the spell mixture with his toothbrush.

And that was how they found him the next morning, standing stiff as a board in his pyjamas with his toothbrush up his nose.

Prince Nicky Tams was immediately proclaimed King Nicky Tams The Easily Led, and was shown into the throne room. He ascended the throne. When he’d ascended it and sat down, his feet didn’t reach the floor.


Same time, same place, next week, next episode.

Thanks for dropping by.