The Siege of Pugglemunt Pt 4 (musical number)

Chapter One

What? Don’t look at me like that. I’m the King, if I want to suddenly introduce chapters, that’s my prerogative and if you disagree then you can just – well, you’re not allowed to disagree so DON’T EVEN BOTHER THINKING ABOUT IT OR I’LL PACK YOU INTO A TREBUCHET AND SLING YOU INTO THE MOUNTAINS. It just makes sense to segment things a bit. Builds a sense of momentum, but at the same time, gives the readers a bit of a rest – a chance to go shuck a turnip or whatever the foisty masses like to do with their spare time. You know my peasants have the attention span of a gnat. Hang on did— did you write that down? No? Promise? Okay, good.

And yes, before you say anything, I know it’s meant to be a news pamphlet. Pamphlets can have chapters. Yes they CAN, damn you. No, I know you didn’t disagree that time but I can read it in your eyes. Change your eyes — make them kinder. Kinder! No, now you just look sad. LOOK AT ME LIKE YOU ADORE ME. I’ve read loads of pamphlets with chapters. And yes, it does have to be chapter one, alright, because we haven’t introduced chapters yet and we can’t just start at chapter two, can we? They’d think I’ve lost the plot. 


My first port of call was to call on my portcullis. I could have left Sir Sleeves to do it, but I realised shortly after everyone left the War Chamber that I’d over-delegated and now had nothing to do myself. I went back to sit on the throne for a while (swinging my leg over one arm, in my usual charismatic manner), but it’s just no fun when there’s nobody else in the Great Hall. You just end up getting cold and fidgety and cracking your knuckles a lot and clearing your throat.

I jogged through my corridors and caught up with Sir Sleeves as he crossed the courtyard of the keep.

“Hello, my good knight,” I said, appearing next to him, slightly out of breath. “I have decided to accompany you.”

Sir Sleeves, clad in a full suit of armour and with his visor down, nodded politely to me. I liked that he didn’t say anything: sometimes it’s nice for two chaps to simply exist together in a nice masculine silence. We strolled together beneath the keep’s gate in the comfortable quiet of two old war brothers.

The masculine silence began to gnaw at me as we weaved down the hill and into the city. I began to worry why he wasn’t saying anything. Perhaps he thought I was boring? Perhaps he thought that I wouldn’t understand his conversation? Perhaps he felt reluctant to bond with me because I was his boss? The fear gripped me, and I found myself speaking aloud, alone, in a bid to draw him out of his conversational hidey-hole.

“Whew, these clouds today. They are just so fluffy, you know?”

When Sir Sleeves neglected to answer, I was annoyed to find myself filling the silence with laughter – unnatural laughter and idiot statements.

“I always wonder what’s on the top side of clouds,” I said. “You know, we only ever see the bottom. And of course we know that the Rain God and her Droplets live on top, but what do their houses look like? Is it sunny all the time if you live on a cloud? Or do clouds have other, smaller clouds above them? Maybe it’s clouds all the way up. Cloud after cloud after oh shut up you idiot.”

I hoped Sir Sleeves didn’t hear that last bit. In fact I hoped he hadn’t heard any of it. Why did silence make me so jittery? I hate it: I am incapable of enduring even thirty seconds of shared silence without being overcome with the urge to fill it. And I never know what to fill it with! So I just start talking, wittering, saying whatever comes into my head, and usually of course it’s something mortifying and unKingly, like talking about clouds. Soldiers don’t talk about clouds! What did soldiers talk about? What did men talk about?

“Gods, don’t you just love a good pair of knockers?”

Nope, that wasn’t the right tone either. Sir Sleeves’s silence somehow deepened and I knew I’d shocked him. He was losing respect for me by the second, my regal air dissipating around me like smoke. Soon I would be naked – a nude beggar, lying on the floor of the fish market, writhing and begging apologies. Oh, he was spinning me right out, the arse hole.

“Do you like to sing?” I asked. “Let’s sing a song while we walk, hey?”

In a fair, clean theatre voice (I had lessons for seven years), I began:

T’was on a fine spring morn
That I didst see thine garden,
Thine shrubs, thine trunk, thine peaches,
Didst twirl, I beg thy pardon

Mayhap thine rosy bushel,
May cross the garden wall,
And chubby lads in pantaloons,
Collect the petals, all

I glanced across at Sir Sleeves but he wasn’t singing or even clapping along. I redoubled my efforts with a key change.

Fair lady of the garden,
O rippling pond of yore!
Bring me back mine eyes to light,
Return to me once more

A couple of peasants passing us by joined in at this point, and together we hit a mighty chorus:

Hey! Say nonny-trodden
Leave loose, my hamstrings flew!
Hey! Say nonny-trodden
A priest, a twig, a pew

With a flourish, I leapt up and twirled myself around a sign post, swinging my arm out over the crowd that had assembled. There were dozens now, all raising their flower baskets and waving loaves of bread back and forth. Windows above us opened, and chesty milkmaids leant out to lend their soft falsettos to the mix.

And Hey! Say nonny-trodden
Sparrows love the dirt!
Hey! Nonny-trodden
A nun sat in a yurt!

Cartwheels! Wagons! Backflips! Flower petals tossed in the air, raining o’er us like candle wax! O! Hundreds in the street now, Pugglemuntians all, my adoring public — and Sir Sleeves watching me from the back of the crowd – I’d show him! Look at me SOAR—

Nonny trodden, nonny trod
We douse the child in wine!
Nondiggedy nondig, nondiggedy trod
For now, it’s harvest time!

My sword said that last bit as I took it out and hoisted it aloft, glittering in the sunlight. I held this position for several seconds, sweating moistening my brow, my chest rising and falling as I regained my breath. The peasants held their poses too, panting, and then when I holstered my sword they all clapped politely and went back to their chores. I hopped down from my pedestal and clomped across the muddy street, into the blacksmith’s.

“Oh, hello Sire,” said Sir Sleeves, standing at a workbench with the blacksmith. “What brings you down here?”

I stood still and looked at him.

“Where’s your helmet?” I said.

“What? I left it up at the castle when I set off down here, about an hour ago.”

My eyes ticked between Sir Sleeves and the blacksmith. Then I looked behind me, at the door to the street, now closed. Then I turned back to the two men.

“Then who— who the fuck did I just sing t—oh nevermind, dammit. Where’s the portcullis?”

The blacksmith (who had a big curly moustache) pressed his hands together and bowed to me. You’re not meant to press your hands together when you bow but I wasn’t in the mood to correct him.

“My King, I’ve just been telling Sir Sleeves that it’ll take two days to mend it good and proper. I’m a blacksmith, not a miracle worker.”

I looked at Sir Sleeves with angry eyes.

“You were meant to shove him around until he agreed to one day.”

Sir Sleeves clapped himself on the forehead.

“Sorry, Sire. I forgot. Here.”

He shoved the blacksmith into a table.

“Hey now,” said the blacksmith.

I looked at Sir Sleeves and jerked my head towards the blacksmith to indicate that he was due another shove. Sir Sleeves stepped forward and gave him a second push; he stumbled and fell over onto the rug, his legs kicking up in the air like a beetle on its back.

“Blimey!” he said, slowly standing up.

Sir Sleeves set about pushing the blacksmith all over the shop: he rebounded off tables, chairs, bookshelves, cauldrons and mannequins. The red-faced smith spoke between shoves:


He didn’t meow like a cat, just FTI*. He was saying the word ‘me’ and then it got interrupted by a secondary word from his lungs which was ‘ow’ because he’d just trodden on a little chunk of iron someone had left out.

*For Thine Information

“Alright,” said the blacksmith, panting, once he’d been pushed in a full circle around the room. “I’ll have it ready and back on the front gate by tomorrow.”

“Excellent,” I said. “End of Chapter One.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *