Christopher Antony Meade (Laughing a lot)
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Date Posted: Thursday, September 04, 06:50:51am
While browsing through an old, cluttered antique shop near Glastonbury, England I absently ran my hand over an enormous, ancient round table and instantly was transported to King Arthur’s court. This was so not what I was expecting to happen, that when I found myself lying in the centre of a huge celtic-romano great hall, it took me several minutes just to get my breath back. I had only gone into the shop to steal any easily portable valuables I could lay my thieving hands on. I’m a specialist shoplifter, you see, and my specialty is antique jewellery or any gold or silver, such as cups, candelabra etc. There are always plenty of crooked dealers, who will give a fair price and not ask too many questions about my sources of supply, so business was pretty brisk. My usual field of operations was in London and the Home Counties but after being arrested in Bedford and a period spent as a guest of our gracious sovereign in a, less than salubrious prison, I had decided to move my activities to a different part of the country. This was my first visit to Glastonbury and the encounter with the time-transporting table seemed to indicate that it would probably be my last, in the twenty first century at least.
So there I was, lying in the centre of this enormous room, not really knowing where I was or how I got there. I got up and decided to have a look around anyway. Who knows? There might be something stealable, even in this strange place and, as an opportunist of the first rate, I wasn’t prepared to let any chance of enriching myself pass by.
The centre of the chamber was occupied by another gigantic round table, similar but a lot larger than the one in the shop. A series of high backed chairs encircled it, and an extra-large canopied one indicated, that its occupant must be the leader. The remainder were taken up by a collection of bearded men and they all seemed to be arguing at the very tops of their voices. I had been an attentive student at school, (before I was expelled for stealing the headmistress’s gold watch), so immediately recognised King Arthur and his knights. I listened for a while to find out what on earth was getting them all so hot under the collar. Surprisingly, their speech was perfectly intelligible to me. As well as operating as a time machine, the table must have given me the ability to understand strange tongues, otherwise their squabbling would have just been so much noise and nothing else.
The jist of the fall-out seemed to be, that the knights were fed up with looking for the Holy Grail. There was only so much dragon slaying and maiden rescuing, that they could stand. They had looked on the top of mountains and in the deepness’s of chilly caverns for the illusive cup and not a trace of it could they find. Enough was enough. It was time to abandon the useless quest and put their knightly feet up.
I was beginning to sense an opportunity opening up for me here. How much would the king offer for the grail and would he accept anything? Just before casually rubbing the table top, I had cleverly deposited an antique silver cup in my capacious inside pocket and it was still there. Maybe now would be the time to sell it on.
King Arthur cut across the shouting of his unruly retainers with a final offer.
“Half my kingdom to whosoever shall bring me the grail.”
I seized my chance. It was now or never.
Marching up to the table, before the astonished assembly, I reached deep into my pocket and pulled out the silver cup.
“Is this what you are looking for Your Majesty?”
Twelve bearded faces swivelled to stare at me.
“Who is this stranger” the king said “and how did he get into a locked room”?
“If it please Your Majesty. I’ve brought you the Holy Grail and I would like to claim the prize” I said. I thought it best to press forward. “Who dares wins” and all that.
I noticed that one of the beardies was looking at me in a less than friendly manner. An old git, on the king’s right hand, was staring at me as if I were a dog turd on the heel of his boot.
“Could I intervene Your Grace” this elderly “ratface” said. “We all know that the Cup of Our Lord was just a plain wooden one. An itinerant preacher would not have been drinking from a silver cup. This man is evidently a fraudster. He must be a magician as well, since he materialised within a locked room. We all know the punishment for such servants of Satan, as he is.”
“You are of course right Merlin” the king said. “It’s been a while since we had a good burning.” I’m beginning to feel excited already.”
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