The King’s Speech

Young Chipwood, Governor of the Colonies,

Had sailed for many weeks from the Antipodes

To attend the Crowning of the King.

He moored the Ship of State HMNZS Call Me Loyal

And strolled whistling through the fields

Of Merrie England.

But when he arrived at the Castle,

A gloomy shadow lay upon the deserted tower

And the doors swung wide, eerie in the mist.

Chipwood turned to a nearby gent of foreign airs.

“What ho, fellow? What say you?”

The foreign gent grinned and bowed.

“Francois, Ambassador of Greater Europe,

At your service,” he purred, peeling a bulb of garlic.

Young Chipwood frowned and saluted,

Then ventured within the creaking ruins.

A motley gang of villains and rogues occupied the Great Hall,

Swigging cheap gin and rolling in the muck.

“Good lord!” Exclaimed Young Chipwood.

“Where are the Ministers? The Guards? The Bishop?”

Francois the Ambassador grinned even wider.

“These are indeed the ministers, guards, and bishop,”

He replied, tossing the clove into his mouth.

“Where are the servants? The waiting girls? The cooks?”

Demanded Chipwood in dismay.

Francois twirled his moustache.

“Alas for pernicious Albion,” he smirked,

“They are all currently on strike.”

Young Chipwood stumbled into the garden.

There in the distance, obscured by empty chip packets

Blowing in the wind, he glimpsed

A lonely figure in a greenhouse.

“My King!” Cried Chipwood, dashing forward,

“What has become of your magnificent realm?”

The old man smiled in confusion but did not reply,

But instead turned to address his attentive audience.

“Subjects, countrymen, to you I pledge

My service and my sword! Rule Britannia!”

And Young Chipwood stared in dumb wonder,

For no man or woman stood before them,

And the King addressed only his silent and leafy companions:

A crop of tomatoes.

Victor Billot has previously felt moved to write Odes for such luminaries as Tova O’Brien, Christopher Luxon, and Mike Hosking.

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