Monday, 31 October 2011

King Gambrinus

(Gambrinus: A legendary Flemish king who was said to have invented beer.)

King Gambrinus wobbled into the hall where all the assembled court dignitaries were gathered. The wooden door slammed behind him and, momentarily, he held his head in his hands. This jolt caused something to stir within his royal veins. He staggered to a thin window, and vomited. This truly was the work of a king who had had a very good dinner. A poor, startled, serf below looked up, shook his fist, then recognising his master slunk off, not daring to vent his anger.
King Gambrinus himself also slunk, in his case to the floor, vomit still dribbling from his mouth.
“Hic,” groaned the king.
The Queen rushed forward; but even she dare not touch. “Master, master,” she wrung her hands, “what ails thee?”
“I've invented…” The king unable to continue fell asleep. No one dare touch the crumpled royal heap sprawling on the floor.
All night the hall shook and throbbed to the king's snores. Early in the morning the queen entered the hall and watched over him. Throughout the morning she watched as he slumbered. Around midday the king began to stir.
“Herald, herald,” he muttered.
“I could get you some breakfast?”
The king said nothing.
“Would you like some breakfast. Some nice…”
The king groaned. “Herald, fetch me the herald.”
“Would not the physician be more appropriate?”
“The herald.”
The queen signalled to one of the serfs. But she had not given up on his breakfast. “Some nice…”
“No nothing, just the herald.”
They sat in the hall for some minutes waiting for the herald. Eventually he arrived still buckling up his coat.
“Sir,” said the herald.
The king groaned. “Not so loud.” He took a deep breath. “I'm going to issue a proclamation.”
“Another one, sir,” said the herald, getting out a piece of parchment.
“Yes, another one.”
“I hereby issue this…” The king groaned.
“How do you spell that?”
“Spell what?”
“The grrr sound.”
“You don't include that, you idiot?”
“Oh, sorry sir.”
“Where was I?”
“I hereby issue this grrr.”
“Not the grrr.”
“Of course.”
“Lets start again.”
“Yes. That would be best.” And the herald crossed out everything he had written with big black lines.
“I hereby issue this…” The king groaned again.
“I thought we agreed about the grrr. Sir, you said…”
“Yes, I know, not the grrr.” The king banged his fist on the table. “This royal proclamation that no longer in the Flemish Kingdom can beer be brewed or drunk. I hereby declare that beer has been uninvented. By Order of King Gambrinus.”
“Sir, is 'uninvented' a word?”
“It is now.” The king held his head in his hands. All that proclaiming had tired him out. “Get that scribed up,” he said, “or whatever it is you do and read it out in all villages and public places in the kingdom. And I'm going back to bed. Wake me when it's dinner.”
The king struggled up and with as much dignity as his hangover would allow marched to his bedchamber. There he slept for the rest of the day.

* * *

That evening the king was feeling a lot better. Dinner was going well, the conversation was good and the king felt on form. Everyone was laughing, even the queen, and that was most unusual for her. The king had just finished his sixth plate full of stew when he called forth the herald.
“Bring me the royal proclamation,” he announced, in a big booming voice.
“Yes sir… err… which one?.. err… you see, there are so many… err…”
“This mornings, what else? You fool.”
“Yes sir. Of course sir. Yes sir.” And the herald scurried off, only to return moments later with a long scroll of parchment. “Sir,” he said.
The herald bowed holding the scroll before him. Hoping the king would not notice where, in his haste, he had smudged the not yet dry ink. The king grabbed the scroll and, with gusto, ripped it up. Tossing the bits in the air.
“You know what I fancy?” the king said. And a great big royal grin spread across his face.

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