Monday, 7 August 2017

The ballad of Glum King Leopold

Here’s a story I’ve been told
About a king called Leopold:

“King Leopold of Far Away
Woke up and felt quite glum one day
Why it was so, he could not say.

He called down for his Jester
Who danced a jig from Leicester
But King was not impressed-er.

‘Begone,’ the glum king said.
‘I’d rather stay in bed.’
And thus the jester fled.”

The tale’s begun, I’ll carry on
Reciting this familiar song.

“The king got up at half past ten
And yawned and yawned and yawned again
He was quite bored, he told his men.

He sat with head in hands
Bored of his steel bands
Bored of the drummers’ clangs.

‘I’m bored,’ said the glum King.
‘I’m bored of everything.’
And thus it went for him.”

I know this tale is real because
I heard it from a man called Oz.

“It wasn’t right; it wasn’t funny
Even counting all his money
Couldn’t make his day more sunny.

The rubies and the gold
Ten generations old
Left the king quite cold.

‘Oh fie,’ the dull man sighed,
No matter what he’d tried
He felt so dull inside.”

Can you guess what’s happening?
In the song about this king?

“He summoned his physician
And laid out his position:
The doctor frowned, and listened.

‘You’re suffering,’ Doc said,
‘From hurting of the head,
‘I prescribe golden bread.’

And so the king ate some
But he still felt so glum
He cursed his own kingdom.”

It’s taking quite a turn, for sure:
Will the king ever find a cure?

“He had a thousand thousand horses
He’d ride them often, at his courses
And gather up his wartime forces.

But this time they just snorted
The king’s new plan was thwarted
No matter what he bought-ed.

‘This sucks,’ said Leopold.
‘I’m not even that old.
But life seems very cold.’”

What do you think the king will do?
Or what if it happened to you?

“His tapestries and art and trinkets
Adorned the walls; oh, you would think it
A palace plush and rich and link it

To the king’s broad happiness.
After all, to be a guest
There meant there was a manifest

Glory to the whole huge place
With lands and land that fair embraced
A hundred thousand miles of space.”

I can reveal the song’s quite right:
It was an awesome size and sight.

“King Leopold was truly down.
He took off his enormous crown.
He wore a quite enormous frown.

He looked out of his window
And saw big crowds there, down below
Happy, lively. No-one low.

‘What’s this?’ he asked himself.
‘They’re in such happy health
Whilst I am not myself.'”

The king it seems was hankering
For something else to succour him.

“The king pondered. What could he do
To rouse himself from doldrums? Who
Could bring him back? Oh, who? Oh who?

And then he had a thought:
If he could leave his court
Unnoticed, then he ought

To join the happy throng.
To sing the happy song.
To be – and to belong.”

The story’s rocking on, so, hey -
Let’s move ahead with no delay!

“The king went down alone to see
The laundry: it was there that he
Got dressed out of his finery,

Took off his crown and jewels,
His silk, his gloves, his mules,
(Those are a kind of shoe-ls).

He put on a rough robe -
The commonest of clothes –
It itched and had big holes.”

Do you know the king’s new plan?
Do you think it’s all in hand?

“Stealthily, King Leopold left
His palace by the back door, crept
Outside to mingle with the rest.

The crowd was laughing, cheering too.
And best of all, they knew not who
The king was as he struggled through

The rowdy-bawdy crowd
With all their noise and loud
Carousing, happy, proud.”

Oz told me stories often, but
This one of his has always stuck.

“The king observed the games around him;
The many stalls and crafts astound him
The traders, jokers, music found him.

And one man caught his eye awhile
And Leopold was quite beguiled
‘Ahoy there, friend,’ he said, and smiled.

The man smiled too. Amazing!
The king felt his luck changing:
He felt the glumness fading.”

Do you want to hear some more?
The next bit’s good – I can assure!

“His new friend had three playing cards
And set them down, and said, ‘On guard:
Just find the lady – it’s not hard.’

So Leopold watched as the man
Shuffled the cards round, and then
Selected the right card! What fun!

The man gave a little bow:
‘You’re so good,’ he said. Now
Let’s play again, you show me how.”

The king had never had such fun!
He’d never seen this card trick done!

“’Let us make it interesting,’
Said the man, to the credulous king,
‘Let us wager,’ and he grinned.

The king felt confident at this.
He’d found the lady, she was his.
He thought it was an easy quiz.

‘OK,’ the king assented.
‘Here is some gold, intended
To be saved or lend-ed.’”

It was from his vast store of course.
He had a million more, of course.

“’Let’s go!” the trickster said at last –
(the gold the king produced was vast)
A crowd had gathered, watching, rapt.

‘I’ll turn the cards again for you,
And if you win, you’ll earn what’s due!
I promise I’ll be slave to you!’

Leopold nodded, eagerly.
He’d win this game quite easily.
He’d find the lady, quite simple-ly."

I like this bit; it makes me smile.
Oz told it with such splendid style.

"So the card sharp shuffled once again
And mixed them up in front of him
‘Now find the lady; then you’ll win.’

Leopold pointed confidently
At the card he knew was she.
He was the king! Of course he’d be

The best at all games.
But this time, he failed:
The lady had sailed."

Can you imagine how he felt?
The disappointment in himself?

“He was aghast: how could this be?
He was quite sure of what he’d seen.
And that he’d found the carded queen.

‘Unlucky,’ said the tricky crook
‘She’s on the left, you see, just look.’
And so she was. And the man took

The gold into his pocket.
Leo frowned; what was this?
He couldn’t quite believe it."

The tale approaches its end, for
There’s not all that much more.

“’Hang on a moment,’ Leo said.
‘I’d like another game instead,
To win back what I’ve lost.’ Which led

To another shuffle, another draw,
More gold produced, a challenge for
Leo to find the fucking whore.

He lost again, and furious
Began to shout and scream and cuss:
‘I’ll have your head for this, you cunt.’"

Oh dear, the king has gotten riled.
Do you think his blood has boiled?

"The man smiled sweetly, took his leave
Though Leopold pulled on his sleeve.
‘Get fucked,’ the man said, ‘I believe

The game was fair and fucking square.
Your words are neither here nor there.
Do I look like I fucking care?

The king could not believe it.
He could not quite conceive it.
Who was this fucking eedjit?"

My word, what a palaver!
He’s getting in a lather!

“’Look, you maggot, scum-cunt fungus,
You dare to trick me? While among us
The king walks – yes, it’s me, you cum-suck,

I’ll cut your hands off, boil your eyes
Decapitate your pets and wife,
Sweet music to me all your cries,

Cause I’m the fucking king.
I can do anything.
You cunt, you’ll never win.’”

Good grief, the anger of the king!
He really is a silly thing!

"The man looked at Leopold’s clothes.
Looked down at the rough, holey robe.
‘You’re the king, you say? I hold

That you’re a lowly kitchen hand
Who stole this gold. I understand
The police are quite near at hand.

So get to fuck before I shop you.
You mad fuck, nobody can stop you
Saying you’re the king, you cock, you.’”

What fun! The trickster’s hitting back!
Oh Leopold – you’ve gone off track.

“And so the card-sharp left, with haste
And soon was in another place,
The crowd dispersed. The king was faced

With penury, at least until
He could return inside, and fill
His pockets from his endless till.

‘Fuck these fucking scum,’ he said.
‘I’ll chop off all their bastard heads.
I’ll kill their children in their beds.’”

Oh what a naughty little king!
He’s such a silly little thing!

“King Leopold of Far Away
Returned home, slipped in, and stayed.
He drank some mead, and fucked his maid,

Decreed his soldiers, fully armed
Be sent down to inflict true harm
To anyone they caught in town.

‘That’ll learn them not to mess
With me, the twats,’ Leopold said.
‘Those stinky little ants are dead.’”

The king’s in quite the mood!
Oh he is very, very rude!

“And so the rampage in the town
Lasted til it was all burnt down,
Corpses littered all around,

Pets dismembered, babies skewered,
Torture foul and rank endured
The fury of the tricked king poured

Through his fascist army.
Through their sense of duty.
Their bloodthirst for the booty.”

Oh me, oh my! What can you say?
What a king! Oh, what a day!

“The army was unstoppable.
Each man on speed, doped up, and full
Of booze, bravado, bile and bull,

They razed the whole place to the ground.
It was filled with the crackling sound
Of burning flesh; and pound by pound

The soldiers ate the people.
They raped and sliced the feeble.
The death-pits swarmed with evil.”

Oh those silly sausages!
They’re very naughty soldiers, yes?

“And when the population was annulled
The soldiers turned on each other, bored,
And fought and fucked in pools of gore.

When they looked up to the castle, then
They saw the king’s face watching them.
The army, drunk on death, again

Turned to the palace. The hoardes
Set their fires and drew their swords,
And scampered up the palace walls.”

Oh what is our poor king to do?
Do you think he will make it through?

“’Oh lads, oh lads, you’ve done me proud,’
King Leopold said, ‘So you’re allowed
To have time off to chill back out.’

The army didn’t listen:
They’d had enough of him.
They grabbed the king.

They chopped him up.
They ate his guts.
The king was dust.”

Oh no! To think the king is dead!
(I tell the tale as Oz once said.)

“The army took over the country.
Now with a population of nobody.
They’d killed them all, and ate them, see.

They saved the king’s cock and balls,
They were pretty fucking small-s.
Displayed them on the palace walls.

But cause they’d killed the women
There were no babies from the men.
They all died. No-one would miss them."

The moral of this story? Well,
There’s not that much that I can tell.

I spose you could say kings are twats
And so are armies, hmm, but that’s

Too simple a label to bestow.
Suffice to say that when you go

To bed one night and wake up bored
Try not to be like Leopold:

And if you want to go outside
Please steer quite clear of genocide.

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