What Merry Men

Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “things that make me happy”….


Everyone has heard of the tears behind the smile of a clown. There are reasons for this. Firstly, the smile is painted on, so that you look will happy even if you’ve just broken your own nose whilst trying to pull the ring off a can of Coke. Secondly your job involves having whitewash poured into the front of your trousers, custard pies slapped into your face, and a ladder held by another clown whacked into the back of your head. It is not widely known that many of them apply for transfers within their circus, opting instead to be shot out of a cannon, or to stick their head into the mouth of a lion.

I know how they feel, thought Old King Cole as he listed to his fiddlers finish playing Achy Breaky Heart and launch themselves, as he had feared, into My Heart Will Go On. When played on three fiddles this song sounds like a cat trapped inside a set of bagpipes. Still, he smiled indulgently at them, because that was what was expected of him.

The original Old King Cole was a man of simple needs and a simple mind, who was a merry old soul mainly because he quaffed his wine from a bowl rather than from a mere goblet. Still, there are many worse ways in which a king can rule his subjects, so the citizens of Magnolia still revered his memory.

For five hundred years the citizens had insisted upon this pageant, where the incumbent called for the Ceremonial Pipe, The Ceremonial Bowl, and the Ceremonial Fiddlers Three, and sat grinning like a loon while the Pipe made him cough like a back-firing lawnmower, the fiddle-scraping set his teeth on edge and the bowl was filled with Magnolian wine, which tasted like paint.

They also insisted that every king be named Cole, and that each one be referred to as Old.

The current Old King Cole, number LXIII, was just thirty-two years old.

The song ,which could be described as haunting if by that you meant gloomy and filling you with dread, nyeahhed to a merciful halt. The Fiddlers Three ended the pageant with the Ceremonial Saying of the words “Fiddle-Diddle-Dee”, and Cole, with a final wave to the crowd, headed into the palace, where he slumped into his armchair and closed his eyes.

“Would you like to see my drawing, Daddy?” said a childish voice.

He opened his eyes, and looked at a picture of their enormous palace, though, since this seems to be true for any child’s painting of their house, it had just four windows, one door and smoke scribbling from a single chimney. His heart melted with love.

“It’s beautiful, sweetheart,” he said to his daughter, his one and only child.

He would be the last Old King Cole. Already the public were deciding that the winner of Magnolia’s Got Talent would take the role at future pageants, which would make it interesting if, say, it should ever be won, though of course this was unlikely, by a dancing dog.

He smiled as he looked at the picture with his daughter. She would never have to smoke the pipe, stomach the wine, endure the noise. This made him very happy.

In fact, it made him a merry young soul.


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