Saturday, 5 November 2011

Gun Powder, Treason and Plop.

The hens are building a bonfire in the back garden. It's quite a small bonfire as I have banned them from using the stepladder after Mrs Slocombe used it rescue a balloon from a telegraph wire about a month ago and ended up dangling from the wire herself, the balloon fluttering gaily to its frredom in the great beyond.

'I told her not to go up there,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'I told her she'd had one too many gins and flip-flops are unstable footwear for ladder climbing, but would she listen?'
'What?' says Mrs Slocombe.
'See?' says Mrs Pumphrey.
'I do,' I say, 'but you're still banned from using the stepladder. Health and Safety.'
'So what do we do now?' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'We want a proper bonfire of enormous height and magnitude, not a poor excuse of a small cushion of twigs.'
'Stack chairs,' I say. 'One on top of each other. I'm not allowed to use a step-ladder at school to put up classroom displays, so I stand on a chair instead. Sometimes I put a chair on a desk.'
'Much safer, then,' says Mrs P.
'I'll say,' I say. 'I barely wobble at all.'

So there is a chair stack in the garden at the moment and the bonfire is taking on gargantuan proportions. Well, gargantuan when you're only 18 inches tall. Still small by my 5 feet 6 standards.

'You've never bothered with celebrating Guy Fawkes Night before,' I remark, as the chairs slip away from each other and Mrs Slocombe disappears from view somewhere behind the remains of this year's hops.
'Guy Squawkes,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'Not Guy Fawkes. Guy Squawkes.'
'I assume from this you are boiling for a story of important historical relevance?' I say.
'You bet,' says Mrs Pumphrey.

Once again, it seems, the chickens got there first...

'Twas back in 1605,' begins Mrs Pumphrey. Mrs Slocombe emerges from the undergrowth, straightens her bodywarmer and restacks the chairs. 'And a plan to overthrow Parliament was afoot. Clandestine meetings in dubious dark corners in even more dubious taverns had been occurring for weeks. Civil unrest was building, and it was all to do with the Corn Laws.'

'Weren't the Corn Laws introduced way after 1605?' I say. 'Like, a couple of hundred years later?'
'Yes, well, that's just typical, isn't it?' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'We chickens try to be organised and nip these things in the bud, and look what we get for our trouble. Ignored, that's what. If humans listened to chickens, the world wouldn't be in such a sad and sorry state.'
'Pardon?' I say. I am distracted by Mrs Slocombe who is now climbing back up the chairs with what appears to be a small wardrobe attached to her, backpack style.

'Anyway,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'The plot was set to blow the Houses of Parliament to kingdom come, and the hero of the hour was to be Guy Squawkes, who drew the short straw from the hen's nest.'
'Should hens be playing with gunpowder?' I say.
'Another myth,' says Mrs P. 'The plan was to use powered chicken plop. Much more eye-watering.'
'This is true,' I say. 'And would explain 'gunpowder, treason and plop.'
'And this is where the hole in the plot appeared,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'There should have been 5 bags of dried ploppings, enough to lay an incendiary trail from the cellars all the way up to the throne where King James parked his Royal backside.'
'Where was King James during all this?' I say.
'Having toffee apples and sausages with Shakespeare,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'They were working on the script of Macbeth. Oh, and burning a few witches.'
'Oh,' I say.
'So there was only enough ploppings to go half way along the corridor, about as far as the members' bar,' says Mrs P. 'Unfortunately, Guy Squawkes was rather fond of a flagon of ale, so when his ploppings trail dried up, he caught a whiff of the brew and side tracked himself in the bar. And one flagon turned into four or five and the next the gang know is that Guy Squawkes is standing on a table singing something like, 'We're going to blow the king to smithereens and we're going to do it tonight!' at the top of his voice.'
'Kind of gave the game away, didn't it?' I say.
'Indeed,' says Mrs P.
'Didn't he meet a rather gruesome end?' I say, thinking of the ensuing hanging, drawing and quartering malarkey.
Mrs Pumphrey sighs. 'Indeed,' she says. 'He was elected MP for the London Borough of Enfield, and endured many years of surgeries dealing with a quite bonkers electorate who made unreasonable demands like free plague carts on Sundays and nuts for all.'

'I can see now,' I say, 'how British history has been sorely misrecorded.'

A loud BANG! causes Mrs Pumphrey and I to jump, almost from our wellies.

'Sorry!!' shouts Mrs Slocombe, emerging from a cloud of smoke. 'I was just testing a Roman Candle with Andy's blow torch!'
'She can trace her ancestry back to Guy Squawkes, you know,' says Mrs Pumphrey.
'I'm not surprised,' I say.

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