12. But first, call out the Guard!

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

Wordsmith

Drawingsmith


They don’t want to come out because of their pink uniforms.

We need to go back a while here, to before Canoe was King. It had long been the tradition in Ang Gonnasec, as in most countries with Kings, that the young males of Royal Blood should spend some time in the armed forces. In Ang Gonnasec, this usually meant two years in a crack regiment in the army – as an officer, naturally, not a corporal or anything like that.

A crack regiment is not, as you might think, one that has cracks in it. Oh no. Quite the opposite. A crack regiment is an absolutely superduper one in which all the officers and men are hard nuts. The officers are slightly mad and have nothing at the backs of their eyes. The men have very short hair, tattoos on their bulging arms and huge chests, and can say rude words without moving their lips.

When the young Prince Canoe reached his 18th birthday he was sent to do his two years of soldiering in the crack regiment called the King’s Own 12th/13th Throat Slitters.

They made him climb up massive dangly nets and scramble over high walls, and swing across deep muddy rivers on a rope which he always let go of, because his weedy arms were too feeble to support his great fat flabby body.

He had to crawl through long tunnels, with the Sergeant Major shouting at him and throwing in Thunderflashes to hurry him up.

Prince Canoe was most unhappy. He wanted to go home. When he asked if he could, the Sergeant Major gave him 500 press-ups to do. After the press-ups, Prince Canoe decided he’d better write a letter to his father.

Canoe’s father was a small, smart, extremely straight laced and upright sort of a man with a neat moustache called King Osbert. That’s the man who was called King Osbert, not the moustache.

In shaky writing after 500 press-ups, the demoralised Prince Canoe wrote:

Dear Papa, I hate it here. I can’t do anything I like doing, and I can only do things I don’t like doing. It isn’t fair. Please forgive me about the chocolate egg you had bought for Mama’s birthday. I didn’t mean to eat it. It wasn’t my fault. Please let me come home and I’ll always be good, and I’ll be nice to the servants.

Your ever loving son, Canoe (HRH).

In the Olden Days, there used to be post collections and deliveries several times a day and so Prince Canoe had his reply in a few hours. He opened the envelope in a dizzy moment of hope. His father would save him. He’d soon be going home. Hurray! This is what he read.

Dear Son and Heir,

Please do not bother me with such a lot of chicken-hearted drivel. Are you a Royal Prince, or what? Brace up, boy! It’ll make a man of you and get some of that weight off.

To show you that I am not entirely deaf to the entreaties of my own flesh and blood, I am arranging to have you transferred to a different regiment.

Your loving father,

Osbert Rex.

Prince Canoe thought “Good-oh. Catering Corps, here we come,” but he was wrong. King Osbert had decided that the original regiment was not crack enough and so had him re-enlisted in the 42nd Highland Gut Scrunchers. These were the boys whom none of the other regiments would go anywhere near. They were the hardest of the hard.

They knew neither fear nor pain but they could make nothing of a great wobbly lump of Royal lard. They were delighted when the King, thinking that a cavalry regiment might be the answer, moved the Crown.

Prince to the East Riding Light Pulverisers, based in Pocklington.

A veil must be drawn over Prince Canoe’s attempts to play polo with the other cavalry officers. Suffice it to say that word got around and soon there wasn’t a polo pony within a hundred miles of Pocklington that would allow Canoe on its back.

The Pulverisers even tried to get him on a Suffolk Punch, seventeen hands and a real warhorse, but it had a nervous breakdown and finished up pulling a milk float in Driffield.

Eventually the two years was up and Prince Canoe could leave the army. He immediately began planning his revenge. The faint smile on his lips turned into a broad grin when he heard that his father, King Osbert, had died in very strange circumstances.

The King had been out on official duties, opening the new waffle shop on Scarborough North Bay Promenade, when the weather had turned cold. The metal of his crown – gold, naturally, and an excellent conductor – began to contract, squeezing his head tighter and tighter.

This would not have mattered normally. He could have said something to one of the people there who would have poured a kettle of hot water on his head and prised the crown off.

Unfortunately the King was eating a King Prawn Tikka Masala waffle at the vital moment. He tried to speak with his mouth full, a prawn went down the wrong way, and Osbert became the first and only member of his family to die from the combined effects of Coronetal Constriction of the Temples with King Prawn Tikka Masala Waffle Asphyxia.

Needless to say, a special paving stone was carved from Shap granite, showing a crowned prawn sitting on a waffle, and you can see it to this day outside where the Corner Cafe used to be.

Nickytams12_533

Hardly had the old King been lying five minutes in the family vault than the young King had his revenge on the army. He proclaimed that henceforth all regular and volunteer-reserve soldiers would have to wear a new uniform, which consisted of a powder-blue woolly hat with a pink bobble, a pink and white shell suit with a King Canoe logo on it, pink and powder-blue striped socks, and open-toed pink plastic sandals.

How he laughed when he thought of all those macho he-men having to wear such a uniform. But they wouldn’t wear it. Apart from a few no-hopers with nothing else to do, they deserted in droves. Many of the better ones ended up as mercenaries in the army of the Kingdom of Nosepipe.

Macdonald knew all about this and he rightly guessed that staying with King Canoe in the present emergency would make his chances of survival slim, rather less than those of a haggis on Burns Night.

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