Get A Grip

Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “handles”…


The King looked up as Sir Olaf the Inventor entered his throne room. He moaned, and not just because he did not want to see Sir Olaf.

Kind Frederick of Saxe-Coburg was King of, well, Saxe-Coburg (sometimes the answer to the question “what’s in a name?” is “everything”), part of what is now Germany. It was Oktoberfest and the King felt that it was part of his Royal duty to join in. Then, as now, Oktoberfest was a month of quaffing, an old Germanic word meaning “pouring beer down the front of your face”. Oktoberfest meant mornings of sore heads – some caused by hangovers, some by being punched in bar-brawls, and some by banging the back of your head on the toilet-cistern when getting up after throwing up. It was a time of debauching, bauching, and de-flowering, which is stealing flowers from gardens to present to your wife in a desperate attempt to atone for the fact that you have come home five hours after you said you would, and that you are wearing a traffic-cone on your head.

Even when the King was feeling at his best a meeting with Sir Olaf was difficult, as Olaf’s inventions tended to be a little odd. He had, for example, invented the bicycle pump, although he had to admit that since nobody had yet invented the bicycle it was of limited use. He had invented the German war helmet with the spike on top. This was only useful if you charged head-down at an opponent, but many had learned to step aside so that you impaled yourself into the fence behind them, with some of them adding insult to injury by shouting “Olé” as you passed by.

The King had given Olaf a knighthood in the hope that he would take it as a hint to retire. Instead he had invented the knight hood, though it had no eye-holes in it since, as he said, the hood would only be worn at night.

He was a remarkable inventor, but not very good at spelling.

“Ok, Olaf,” sighed the King, “what is it this time?”

Sir Olaf reached into his satchel and produced a goblet, though one with a difference.

The King shook his head. This was a mistake, since it caused the feeling that someone had just struck the inside of his forehead with a tin bucket. “It seems to have grown ears,” he said, when his head stopped spinning.

“I call them handles,” said Olaf proudly.

“What are they for?” said the King.

“They are for carousing with your friends,” said Olaf. “If, for example, you are in wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen and would like to clink and drink one down, you can do so without trapping your fingers between the goblets.”

“I see,” said the King. “And this goblet -”

“It’s not a goblet,” said Olaf, “I call it a tankard.”

“Why?” asked the King.

“Because I thank hard before I came up with the idea,” said Olaf, whose grammar was on a par with his spelling.

Just then Queen Margareta entered the throne room. She pointedly ignored King Frederick, and looked instead at Olaf and the tankard. “Interesting,” she said.

She took the tankard and, to Olaf’s horror, broke off one handle. She held it daintily by the other handle, and found that her little finger stuck out of its own accord.

“It would be perfect for drinking tea with the ladies,” she said, almost to herself.

“What’s tea?” asked Olaf.

“Don’t know,” she said. She smiled sweetly at him. “Invent it.”

She sailed galleon-like from the room. The King and Olaf looked at one another.

“She likes it,” said the King. “And it’s the first time she’s smiled since Oktoberfest began. This calls for a drink.”

The King poured some beer into his goblet and into Olaf’s tankard, which Olaf had to admit looked better with just the one handle.

“To the tankard,” said the King.

They clinked their vessels together. The King’s fingers got trapped between them.

The word that he uttered was the first ever in what is now often referred to as Anglo-Saxon.

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