Tuesday, 11 December 2018

King Arthur of Cameldung - political satire

King Arthur of Cameldung and his fabled Sword, Expeditor

In the heart of the great nation of Albion lies a swamp. In the middle of which, more or less, is a large hill - very broad, but not so tall – on which has stood for ages beyond memory the great City of Cameldung. The famous city; the royal city; the city of legend; the sinking city ...

In fact Cameldung, and more significantly the hill, trace their origins back to time immoral, when the ancient trade routes from the orient brought silicon chips from Taiwan and cheap jeans from China in caravans. They weren't aluminium caravans pulled by 4x4s, but caravans of camels – hence the hill... Nowadays the throne at Cameldung is occupied by King Arthur and his fabled sword, Expeditor.

King Arthur was sitting in his throne, as he was expected to do each weekday except public holidays. He nursed his sword of office and peered from one monitor to another on his cluttered mahogany desk. He was a mite concerned about the mahogany desk, because he'd claimed it as 'work expenses' and if he was deposed, which seemed increasingly likely when he woke at 3a.m., in a fever, he'd really like to take it with him.

King Arthur of Cameldung - comic art
King Arthur was scanning the recent posts of the tax-evasion forum, fatgits.com, logged in under an alias, when his squire knocked upon the great door leading to the royal presence, coughed apologetically and tripped over the Dalmatian and the giant rug it occupied (both legitimate expenses for the king) and announced to the king that a knight of the realm wished to have an audience with him.

King Arthur stood and glanced to his right where the specially made, full length, mildly-convex mirror reflected his grand countenance with reduced waistline. A fine figure of a man, he mused.

'Enter, serf!' he bellowed, and the knight approached somewhat nervously towards the throne. King Arthur collapsed regally back into his throne.

'Good King Arthur, wielder of Expeditor, defender of the realm and bane of all miscreants,' the knight began, as was the custom in this fair land.

'Yes?' replied King Arthur of Cameldung.

'I was monitoring the welfare of my homeland around the great City of Wherewithal, as you so generously asked me, thus giving my life meaning and duty such as befits a knight of the realm of Albion.'

'Really? Did I do that? Jolly good show. Squire, bring me a cup of coffee and some water for the knight of the realm. Pray continue, underling.'

'There is a problem in the neighbouring republic of Smogdale where the good people need your protection, sire, your majesty, oh King of Albion and earthly incarnation of the divine, sire.'

'I think you said “sire” twice, but no matter. A thesaurus will sort your shortcomings before next you visit. Take care to heed my words.'

King Arthurs Knight discovers theothersaurus.jpg
Knight discovers Theothersaurus - comic art

'Thank you s ... King Arthur.'

'What exactly troubles the people of Wherever it Was, near your home, the great City of Whatever?'

'Wherewithal, s ... King Arthur.'

'Oh, I can see that must be a great worry to them.'

'No s ... King Arthur, that's the name of my home – the Great City of Wherewithal.'

'I know that, underling, but what ails them?'

'They are no longer able to use the public footpaths through the farmland, to get to market and such like, because the landowners, kiddies with small cars and aliens in 4x4s travel along the footpaths at 30mph. There are large notices reminding them that the speed limit for vehicles on the footpath is 5 mph, but the signs appear not to work.'

'A great vexation for the serfs of what's-his-name. What do you propose, underling?'

'A quest, sire, oops – begging pardon King Arthur – to tackle the miscreants with sword and pike. My horse might not be a match for the 4x4s though, so possibly several assistant knights or squires with giant nets of chain mail could be used to stop those kiddies with 4x4s and the aliens in bangers. Once they get their toys up to speed there's stopping them. It seems to addle their brains ... '

King Arthur scanned the screens on his mahogany table, and used his mobile phone to consult with his advisers, Gordon Bennett and Gore Blimey, apparently. The knight waited patiently, frantically trying to remember what a thesaurus was; was it usually known by a different name? Were they extinct?

'Serfs with brains,' King Arthur muttered. 'Doesn't sound very likely ... '

'I'm pleased to see that you agree with me,' said King Arthur, after listening to his advisers. 'Knight of the realm, your king and earthly embodiment of the divine has been backed up in his view by his consultants – the sale of 4x4s keeps the taxes coming in, which we apparently need to pay for sixteen year old unmarried mothers, whatever they are. Do call again when I can assist you.'

- - -

'Hello dear,' smiled Agnes Daily. It helps the poor children to make them feel at home if the neighbours are friendly, she thought.

Blonde and Witless - spoiled brat attitude
comic art - Blonde-maybe-Witless

Blonde-maybe-Witless slammed the front door and headed for the full length mirror to check her scowl. It looked pretty convincing to her. Her mother had used that scowl to good effect with her witless dad, and it seemed to work for her. She scowled at the light rain on her sunglasses – rain hadn't featured in their plans when moving near to the great City of Wherewithal. Blonde-maybe-Witless's practise of perfecting her spoiled brattitude were disrupted by the door slamming open.

'Do you have to slam the door?' she complained.

Oddly, Witless-maybe-Blonde, her flatmate, didn't respond. They usually practised their feminine wiles on each other in the absence of male mugginses, but hairstylist number two was clearly not in the mood.

'The old biddy next door said hello,' said Blonde-maybe-Witless. 'I don't know who she thinks she is, the crumbly old nobody. Anyway I ignored her.' Blonde-maybe-Witless didn't turn from the mirror to deliver this news. The spoiled brattitude was damn near perfection in her opinion – clearly the only opinion that counted - and what could be more important than style?

Her flat mate still failed to respond and Blonde-maybe-Witless turned from the mirror moodily. Witless-maybe-Blonde had collapsed into an armchair and buried her head (currently and temporarily not blonde) in her arms.

'Poor me!' she suddenly wailed.

'Ah,' thought Blonde-maybe-Witless, 'Attention seeking! Two can play at that game.'

'I'm bloody, fooking pregnant,' wailed Witless-maybe-Blonde.

'Two can play at that game, too,' she suggested, as a most gracious act of empathy. 'This must have been our second night here when those two dickheads in the little car with no exhaust took us to the pub via the public footpath? The pub ran out of beer just before the dickheads ran out of money, so the survivors claimed.'


'Those left standing, I mean. It didn't include you, so far as I recall.'

Blonde-maybe-Witless checked in the mirror that she looked empathic like the talk show nerdess on the TV, and was pleased to see that she did as well, maybe even a shade better, than the TV nerdess.

'Did the dickhead give his name and address?' asked Blonde-maybe-Witless. 'I know we talked about it at the time, but I can't remember now, what with the pressure of running a business and so on.'

'He did. They were both hanging around for weeks, if you remember, until you told them BOTH to f off!'

'Good riddance,' said Blonde-maybe-Witless. 'Let's get this weeks magazines and see what to do about it.'

- - -

'I'm so sorry to bother your majesty,' said his squire. 'I know the affairs of state test your patience, but we have another knight of the realm, from Smogdale this time, wanting your permission to boldly go where right thinking bigots wouldn't bother; I think that's what he said.'

'Show him in, serf. Any idea what the problem is? Forewarned is fore-armed, or thereabouts ...'

'Sorry sire, I don't know. Media and teen pregnancies were mentioned when he managed to get past the guards on the gate.'

'Ah, scandal! This might be interesting. Incidentally, I suspect that you mean “go boldly”, but never mind.'

'As you say, King Arthur.'

- - -

'Good King Arthur, wielder of Expeditor, defender of the realm and bane of all miscreants,' the knight began.

'Yes indeed. I do know the script,' replied King Arthur. 'What seems to be the trouble? And have you tried aspirin? If it can be solved, cured, forgotten about or made tolerable with aspirin then you don't need to bother me.'

'Er, I don't think aspirin works, King Arthur, sire. Do you happen to know if it's a contraceptive?'

'Blocks TV reception, d'you mean? I shouldn't think so. I believe the common people take it orally; the aspirin that is.'

The aspiring knight, who was rather young for the job, looked puzzled. He glanced back towards the great doors leading to the royal presence; the heavily built mammal on the door, probably a humanoid, recognised the poor knight's embarrassment and smiled happily and unhelpfully; so did the Dalmatian.

'Is it okay if I describe my concerns to you, Good King Arthur, wielder of Expeditor, defender of the realm and bone of all miscreants?'

'We could try it,' replied the royal one, valiantly suppressing the urge to take a few peanuts from the huge tub in the right hand door of his desk. Could one disguise the conveyance of peanuts to one's mouth as a yawn, he wondered.

'Are you still here?' he asked with a start. 'What did we decide about whereeveritis?'

'Smogdale, sire. You were deciding to let me relate the tale, I think.'

'Ah yes. One moment please.'

King Arthur picked a phone from his desk. A pink phone, as it happened, and requested aid.

Moments later, during which time the king appeared to yawn after struggling to open his desk drawer, a very large man entered the room from a side door behind the king.

'My wizard, Porky the Pink, will assist us in this urgent problem,' quoth the king. The wizard pulled up three stools to sit on and the youthful knight began his tale of woe.

'Sire, er sires,' he ventured. 'The female youth of Smogdale appear to be having children almost as soon as they learn to walk, and the fathers/sperm donors vanish, never being available to build the nest, grow the food, etc.'
King Arthurs wizard - Porky the Pink
wizard, Porky the Pink

'That is vexing,' said King Arthur of Cameldung. He looked to his wizard, Porky the Pink, for signs of agreement. Porky the Pink had one hand buried in his enormous beard, presumably scratching his chin somewhere within the depths, and his eyes were screwed up in concentration. I haven't a bloody clue what Porky thinks, thought King Arthur of Cameldung.

'Yes, sire,' said the youthful knight, by way of encouragement. 'I think they are somewhat corrupted by the media, King Arthur of Cameldung, now that they have 30 channels to choose from on the TV.'

'The Media,' mused King Arthur of Cameldung. 'Aren't they a tribe of infidels, non-believers, from the Orient?'

'Leyton Orient?' asked the bemused knight. He felt sure there were TV studios not far from central London.

'THE Orient, you numbskull!' bellowed Porky the Pink. 'You cross the channel, to Frogland, then head south-east, more or less!'

'Sorry sire,' muttered the knight.

King Arthur of Cameldung looked from one to the other. Deep in his subconscious an image of using Expeditor, his fabled sword, to cut the heads off both fools made him smile. Then he remembered the huge filing cabinet of laws relating to the behaviour of the King that successive Houses of Commoners had passed – apparently including himself - and he shook his head.

'He means the electronic media, such as your computers, King Arthur of Cameldung,' Porky the Pink explained. He took a glass sphere from his robes and peered into it, nodding his head and murmuring mysteriously in Anglo-Spanish – the preferred tongue of alcoholic tourists from Albion. The King was impressed and the knight maintained a diplomatic silence.

'The TV is produced in studios and distributed by transmitters,' said King Arthur of Cameldung after consulting the Google oracle. 'Couldn't we just flatten them with battering rams, then pour oil on it and have a bonfire?'

Porky the Pink shuffled to the end of his row of stools towards the king and whispered in his ear. King Arthur of Cameldung nodded and tapped irritably at his keyboard.

'Well I never,' said King Arthur of Cameldung. 'So many jobs in TV production. Film studios all over the place.'

'95% of the population effectively sedated by the box, and they PAY for their own sedation!' Porky the Pink gurgled. 'You know what huge debts we have, sire. Best policy is to keep things stable,' he whispered in the king's ear. 'Licence fees and sedation – bliss!'

King Arthur of Cameldung looked up at the knight to deliver his judgement.

'Er, knight ... ,' he said.

'Thank you for keeping us informed, Knight of the Realm,' the king's wizard interpreted.

'Um, yes,' said King Arthur of Cameldung.

'The complexities of a large kingdom rarely benefit from a direct solution to one problem, taken in isolation,' the king's wizard translated.

'Ahha!' said King Arthur of Cameldung. What a complex job I do do, he thought. Do do reminds me of a song; do do Ron Ron I think it was. Maybe Ron was one of the absent fathers?. He tried humming the tune and his wizard, Porky the Pink, coughed meaningfully.

'And they voted for you,' the king's wizard whispered in the royal ear.

'Thank you for calling, Knight of the Realm. Back to work eh!? Ask Jeeves for some oats and water and possibly also something for your horse before you leave.'

- - -

'Good King Arthur, wielder of Expeditor, defender of the realm and barn of all miscreants,' bellowed the knight of the realm as he entered the royal presence.

Bloody hell, thought the king. What an enormous fellow. Maybe we could find him a job booting journalists off the front doorstep?

'What ails you, Knight of the Realm?' asked the king. He leafed through 'Knights of the Realm' magazine which his wizard had bought him, seeking inspiration. The daft newsagents had delivered 'Woman's Realm' by mistake when he'd ordered it over the phone, so he'd ordered their beheading. His wizard, Porky the Pink, and his solicitors, All and Sundry – Solicitors, PR (and tax evasion) Ltd, had advised against it, what with the elections imminent.

The magazine showed pictures - apparently photographs, so you gotta believe em – of knights on horses (chargers, said the caption) spearing malcontents with their various pointy implements of law enforcement. The malcontents were easy to identify since they all had bad teeth from the age of about ten years, whereas the knights seemed to be well toothed into their eighties, judging by the seers and wizards present in the photos. Those were the days, thought Arthur, King of Albion, Briton and several small islands one of which offered tax free interest on his savings. A small voice in the rear of his mind voiced the doubt that he'd never really got beyond the polo field but he was sure he'd jousted, quested and what-have-you in his youth. Princess Petunia What's-her-name, for example. He'd lost a tooth in his battles to divest her of something precious when they were mere teenagers ...

'Ahem,' grunted the huge squire at the door.

King Arthur, wielder of Expeditor, defective of the realm and bane of all miscreants looked up at his squire, and the squire nodded at the visiting knight who was clearly unsure what to do while the king was alternately reading his magazine, gazing into space, tinkering with his new laptop and ferreting about in his desk drawer.

'Excuse me, knight. The pressures of affairs of state burden one at times,' he read from a note that his backup wizard Mandy the Magus had taped to one of the many monitors competing for the royal gaze.

'Of course, King Arthur, wielder of Expeditor, defender of the realm and bane of all miscreants,' bellowed the visiting knight, Darken Stormy, hoping that a powerful blast of sound might stimulate the king's, weary attention. It didn't.

The squire coughed – more of a bark.

The knight harrumphed – more of a gargle.

'Whassup?' quoth King Arthur, wielder of Expeditor, defender of the realm and bane of all miscreants.

'Social problems in the great City of Wherewithal, sire,' growled the knight. 'Can I flatten the perpetrators, by appointment to the king, as it were?'

The king looked around, apparently surprised by the immense height of the room. He picked up his pink phone; thought better of it and chose a black one with MM initialled in gold. 'Come hither, wizard,' he said. And was surprised to find that the wizard Mandy the Magus was already present, smiling horribly.

'What is the precise nature of the social problems, supposed-knight?' sneered Mandy the Magus.

The knight, an immense fellow not familiar with either lack of respect or suspicion, was taken aback. He beetled his brows, furrowed his forehead, regurgitated his elevenses – in part, knotted his biceps, cracked his knuckles, ground his molars, hunched his shoulders ... and found it all too much trouble. 'Yer what?!' he bellowed. Mandy was supposed to be a magus with the king's ear, though they looked nought like Arthur's lugholes to the knight, Darken Stormy.

Mandy the Magus thought better of further belittling Darken Stormy, just in case. He was a big bugger, and the King occasionally employed such people as bodyguards and refuse removal operatives – identical jobs in the opinion of King Arthur, wielder of Expeditor, defender of the realm and bane of all miscreants.

'Please tell us more, sir,' said Mandy. The microscopic sneer in 'sir' barely audible to the human ear, but clear as two fingers to the mammalian subconscious. He smiled vindictively.

Darken Stormy eyeballed the wizard meaningfully and recited thus, occasionally glancing at his notes which his little sister had typed for him.

'I was concerned to hear from a small, disabled lady who lives in the King's fair land that her taxes keep increasing. She earns her daily bread by hobbling down the street delivering leaflets to her neighbours. Her taxes appear to be paying for strapping young fellows nearly as big as myself to stay home drunk, smoking and minding the latest baby while their wife - sometimes married, sometimes not – works part-time for beer money. The poor little disabled lady can hardly keep her hip and knee joints moving.'

The king looked visibly moved by this tale. Mandy the Magus hid his feelings behind furrowed brows and beetled forehead, just to show Darken Stormy he could out-do him if he so wished.

'Bugger me,' quoth King Arthur, wielder of Expeditor, defender of the room and bane of all miscreants. 'Who lets their house to such rabble?

'Money and Son, Buy to Enslave Specialists, sire,' replied the knight.

'Hmmm,' said Mandy the Magus.

'Easily settled!' declared King Arthur, wielder of Expeditor, defender of the realm and bane of all miscreants. 'We'll give them a choice! Either enlist in the army or live in a tent!' The royal personage smiled in a self-congratulatory manner and began riffling through the paperwork on his mahogany desk. Mandy the Magus noticed that the riffling was in the general direction of King Arthur, wielder of Expeditor, defender of the realm and bane of all miscreants' top drawer – the one with the peanuts.

'After you with the peanuts,' whispered Mandy. 'I'm afraid we can't do that King Arthur. The peasants vote for you, you see.'

'We can't, knight!' hollered the king, pleased to have a straight answer for once. 'They v ... .'

Mandy the Magus coughed half-masticated peanuts all over the desk in his haste to stop the king in his tracks.

'A word in private, sire?' he stated – no, it wasn't a question.

The king grabbed the full bag of nuts from his desk drawer. 'Excuse us for a moment, knight. We have matters of state to discuss.'

'Should we leave him some peanuts?' the king enquired of his wizard.

'Only on pay day, your majesty.'


'It was but a jest, sire. Now we need to give the knight of the realm something energetic to do that will keep him well away from the voters ...'

intermission – peanuts optional ...

'I'm sure the royal tailor can make a uniform to fit Darken Stormy perfectly. Technically you will still be a knight on a quest. But you can fulfil your quest by keeping ruffians out of the palace of King Arthur, wielder of Expeditor, decorator of the room and bane of all miscreants, Imperial Majesty of the Britons, Lord of all Albion, Regent of Frogland. And a few other jobs ...'

'Am I really all those things?' asked King Arthur, wielder of etc. 'Frogland?!'

'Not yet your majesty, but wait till the next Six Nations Championship, then we'll see!'

'Could I send a letter of support to the lady with the limp? Asked Darken Stormy, the ex-knight.

'Certainly,' chorused the king and his wizard.

'Snap!' chuckled the wizard and his king.

'We'll deliver the letter by Royal Courier,' keen to make his new employee happy.

- - -

Darken Stormy's first job as Royal Bodyguard, Master of This, Supervisor of That, Not to Mention the Other, was to deliver a high priority letter, a sealed letter, to a lady with a limp in Wherewithal. He didn't mind, but in his new job he wasn't even allowed to speak to her, just make sure she got the package unopened. And he'd known her since he was a lad.

Darken Stormy drove the Royal Special Delivery Vehicle, a Ford Escort van cunningly disguised as a rust heap, into his home city – the great City of Wherewithal. The traffic was intense as usual, and came to a complete standstill before he reached Paradise Towers, the home of the disabled delivery woman and many a dosser.

An Argost delivery van, 'specialists in nature and countryside photos' it claimed, had collided with an express antidepressant courier on a huge motorcycle, a lift repair man in a Ford Escort van (cunningly disguised as a rust heap) and a freelance New Age bookseller specialising in affirmations that remind one of the illusions of the world and that all is basically well, happy and profitable.

The GP had legged it to the flats to see his emergency patient, and all the people involved in the accident had followed at speed to get out of the rain. Sadly the stair well was occupied by a large group of travellers who'd camped there as a protest because the disused railway siding they'd shared with a Conservative Club Allotment Association had been bought up by Money and Son, Buy to Enslave Specialists and they'd been turfed out.

The arguments became more complicated with the arrival of so many extra people, the truce of convenience between travellers and Conservatives was forgotten, the few people who lived in the flats were angry with everyone, and pointed to notices of a law enforcing nature which were promptly destroyed and the travellers used them to start a fire on which to cook their lentils. The NewAge bookseller wanted to perform a sacrificial rite with the lentils before cooking them; and the lift repairman wished to perform a pagan rite with her.

The GP had to fight his way through the arguments, accidentally knocking the lift repairman unconscious, before he could reach the lift. The lift was broken.

'We're waiting for a man to come and fix it,' explained a polite lady with a limp.

Illustrations by Marty Downs.

Related:  debt  fiction - Regenesis   humour - contemporary  kindness  leadbyexample  paradise  political satire - Brexit  politics  satire  short satire stories  Social media for good


  1. I've enjoyed reading all of this again...and I've forgotten every drawing...

  2. Me too. I replied about an hour ago and it seems to have vanished!


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