Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Twenty Second Day of Advent - Kings (Good), Pages (Hither) and (Finally) a Last L or Two.

It was all go at the castle of King Wenceslas when Santa's sleigh arrived. Not quite the Feast of Stephen, (which is what we now call Boxing Day because after 24 hours of being holed up with relatives you don't see from one end of the year to the next you are becoming increasingly tetchy with their so-called 'interesting character quirks' and feelings of violence are arising and there might be fisticuffs before the next tin of Quality Street has been eaten) but close enough that preparations were in full swing.

'Welcome,' boomed King Wenceslas, not unlike the kakapo parrots of New Zealand which sit in holes in the ground and go 'boom!' 'Please make yourselves at home. I'm just overseeing the clearance of all that deep, crisp and even snow by the front gate. It piles up something chronic there every year and makes it very difficult for the villagers to come wassailing. They like a wassail, do my villagers.'

So whilst King Wenceslas trudged out into the snow with his snow shovel (he was a very hands-on king), Mrs Pumphrey, Tango Pete, Harold Angel, Merrily Onhigh, Santa and the seven swans all settled by the massive fire in the main hall and warmed their frozen toeses and noses (or beaks, depending on your species) for the weather had taken a very sudden turn for the cold, unlike today in Kent where it has been alternately lashing it down with rain and bursting forth with sunshine. And quite mild, too, although not mild enough for Andy's panettone dough which is having trouble rising but I am sure it'll get there in the end. 

Eventually, King Wenceslas returned from his snow shovelling, and accepted a mug of hot chocolate from his Page. 

'This is Hither, my Page,' he said, introducing the young man to the assembled guests. 'He is an excellent chap. Always by my side. If I want flesh or wine or pine logs he brings them straight to me. It is almost like he can read my mind.'

'I've read The Book of Pages, Sire,' said Hither. 'It's all in there. How to page.There are pages and pages of how to page. Page after page after page...'

'Yes, thank you Hither. Marvellous!' said King Wenceslas. 'Now,dear Mrs Pumphrey. How can I be of service to you?'

'We were sent by Three Wise Men,' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'They said you might know the whereabouts of the Last L of Christmas.' She held her breath in anticipation of a positive response, for yea verily, not only were they running out of time, they were also running out of blog posts.

'You mean the one that was in Christmas the year before the Christmas that was celebrated with the First No L?' said King Wenceslas.

'Yes!' said Mrs Pumphrey, excitedly.

'Indeed I do!' say King Wenceslas. 'In fact, I can get several Last L's if you've a mind to collect a set. They are relatively common round these parts.'

'But that's amazing!' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'Could I have some to take back to Much Malarkey Manor with me?'

'Of course,' said King Wenceslas. 'Hither my Page will take you to them immediately, won't you, Hither?'

'Yes, Sire,' said Hither.

The intrepid explorers, now full of excitement that their search was nearing its end, pulled on their coats and boots and gloves and hats and followed Hither into the snow. 

'Where are we going?' said Tango Pete as Hither strode out ahead of them, towards a fence that separated a forest from a huge mountain. 

'Under that mountain,' said Hither, 'and to the local public house. It's called St Agnes Fountain. You'll find the man you want there.'

And so they travelled through the forest and down, down a narrow mountain pass into and under the mountain and, sure enough, just as Hither said, they came upon a pub by the name of St Agnes Fountain which was doing a very brisk trade.

'Who are we looking for?' said Mrs Pumphrey.

'The woodsman,' said Hither. 'He should be here about now. His name is Mr Pawman and he spends his days out and about gathering and selling wood. On account of it being very, very snowy here. And cold. And sometimes he picks up a few L's, too. From the LM trees. He sells the m's to the M & M factory down the road.' (You may need to be reading this post out loud to benefit from the full phonic effect.)

'What's he talking about?' says Daisy, looking puzzled, and not because she has been eating sticky gingerbread and making a jigsaw puzzle at the same time and is now covered in bits of oddly shaped cardboard.

'Oh, do keep up!' says Primrose. 'Pawman gathering winter few L? Get it? Good! Now give me that piece of sky.'

And so it was that Mrs Pumphrey was not only able to find the last L of Christmas, but several L's, which she paid Mr Pawman for and placed carefully in her handbag to take back to the Manor just so she could go 'Nya- na-na-na-naaaaaa!' at Mrs Miggins and they could all get on with Christmas, scores settled. 

'Time to go home, I think,' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'Time to go home.'


rusty duck said...

L's bells...
Could you ask Mrs Pumphrey to pocket a few M's as well? Rather fond of those.

Denise said...

I shall indeed, Jessica!

Countryside Tales said...

You are too clever by half Mrs. I was with Daisy on the needing it spelt out to me.

Is this tale finishing on Xmas Eve? Because if it is M says to tell you that he believes advent technically ends on Xmas Morning. 'Good grief Husband' (I said to him) 'the poor woman's written a post a day for this story since December the 1st and marvellously entertaining it has been too. I think she deserves a medal' (or possibly a home knitted scarf, because I'm better at making those than medals)'and a day off on Christmas!' To which he smiled and agreed, but stuck to his point about advent....

Denise said...

Good grief! What does the man want? My poor stewed writer's brain on a platter with a nice chianti???

Well, I have consulted with my good friend the Pope, and according to the official Catholic line (I am not Catholic, I just thought if anyone would know, he would) Advent ends on 24th December. And according to the Calendar of Chocolate, it ends on 24th, too. However, if I get a moment or two tomorrow, between going to the panto, writing Advent Blog 24, making a squash, Stilton and cranberry veggie pie, making some spiced red cabbage, delivering a Christmas present, making a Malteser and Jaffa cake trifle, prepping veg, digging out the Christmas crockery, hoovering, ironing and dusting and cleaning out the chickens, I MAY write a poem for Christmas Day. But warn M not to hold his breath lest he turn purple and pass out! Xx

Countryside Tales said...

He says very good about the poem. We're not Catholic either, but M feels there would be little use consulting Martin Luther on this issue because he's fairly sure ML wouldn't approve of advent at all... However, I have now googled 'was martin luther a supporter of advent' and learnt that not only was he, but he LOVED crimble in general too. So basically, my husband is wrong (but still looking forward to your poem). X