Tuesday, 1 September 2009
BABBO - The true(ish) and somewhat sobering story of how the Camel really got his humps.
There was, a long, long time ago,
A little camel called Babbo.
Now in those days, odd it may seem,
A camel's back was smooth as cream.
Though fair to say they looked like chumps -
This tale tells how they got their humps ...
In Babbo's day there lived a King
Who, so it seemed, owned everything.
Kind Randor, it was true, had never
Worked a single hour - not ever!
So slothful that he would no longer
Even tally up his wonga.
Now the Royal Lazy Toad
Sought further to reduce his load ...
"I know!" he cried "I'll give a prize
To any man who'll guess the size
Of all of my enormous wealth ...
This way's much better for my health ...
WELL!!? Come on up!! Each man - two tries.
Come! See if you can win the prize ..."
He'd put his servants to the test,
Though they were clearly not impressed.
Sheik Ahlegg, Keeper of the Rod,
Had simply muttered "Silly sod!"
He sent his servants far and wide
And out into the countryside
They spread the message everywhere ...
"ROLL UP! ROLL UP, SIRS (if you dare)
Guess how much gold the King had got
And WIN the silver in this pot!!"
Of course, nobody could resist
An opportunity like this.
The silver pot was such a size
They scarcely could believe their eyes.
They came from miles to have a go
To see if they could win the dough.
'T'was at this time young Babbo came
Tied to a Merchant's camel train.
The market place was well a-wash
With talk of Old King Randor's dosh.
Babbo stood close with pricked up ears,
That silver would feed him for years!
One guess was all he'd need to take ...
It really was a piece of cake!
So, off he trotted 'cross the yard
Toward King Randor's Palace guard ...
Two burly guards barked "YOU! This way!"
Poor Babbo dared not disobey.
Outside the throneroom he could hear
The sound of voices, hushed in fear.
All but for one voice - loud and shrill
(Enough to make an ice-cube chill)
King Randor sounded cold and cruel
As he screeched "Bring out the next fool!"
"Must be a hundred quid or more ..."
Said one, but he was 'shown the door'.
"There's Fifteen Thousand and Forty-Two ...
... AND fourpence ... give or take a few ..."
King Randor had this daft old clot
Beheaded, right there, one the spot.
The King, after what seemed like weeks
Of pouting lips and puffing cheeks,
Exclaimed "That's IT!! I've had ENOUGH!!!
I'm FED UP with this guessing stuff.
Fed up with fools all day and night ..."
He whined "Will NO-ONE get it right?"
"We have one more, Sire. Never fear!"
"Yes, Majesty. He's just in here".
Again, Randor began to shout
"Well don't just stand there ... BRING HIM OUT!!!"
The guards rushed in and grabbed Babbo
And dragged him out to have his go.
Well, there he stood, in finest dress,
Before the King, to take his guess.
Poor Babbo all but froze in fright
(His collar now felt very tight).
"Oi! Randor! What's with the Giraffe?!"
The Courtiers began to laugh.
"But ... I'm a Camel" he lamented
"I don't fink G'raffes have been invented".
He stared up at the throne in awe -
He'd never seen a King before.
Randor's impatient fingers drummed
As Babbo "Ooh"ed and "Aah"ed and "Umm"ed.
No mortal messed with such as he
"WELL!!? Come on man! What will it be?"
Babbo now shook from head to toe
His poor knees knocked like billy-ho,
He, stammering and turning red,
Just yelled the first thing in his head.
The courtiers shrieked with delight
At last!! Someone had got it right!!
HOWEVER ... there's just one more thing
That you should know about the King,
He was exceptionally mean
And rarely parted with a bean
If he could find some way to flout
And save himself from paying out.
The joyous courtiers had erupted,
'Til the vile King interrupted ....
"Yes, well done, laddie" Randor said
"But don't let this go to your head ...
Before the silver gets you hooked ...
There's one small point you've overlooked ...
I said that I would give the prize
To any MAN that guessed the size
Of all that's in my treasury ...
That's MAN not CAMEL, Do you see?..."
Even the servants boo'ed and jeered
While from the angry throng, there peered
One little camel, quite bemused
At why on earth he'd been so used.
Poor Babbo cried "This just can't be!
Kings don't behave like this, you see...
Kings are noble, fair and kind ..."
(And don't look like a hog's behind)
"... They're dashing, handsome, lean and trim ..."
(Not like the OAF in front of him)
"Kings shouldn't cheat and sneer and shout ..."
BAA-DUMPHH!! Too Late! They'd chucked him out.
With shoulders stooped and head hung low
(And pockets empty) trudged Babbo.
So badly did he get the hump
That on his back appeared a lump!
Astonished people stopped to stare,
But Babbo was beyond all care.
For shame, the worst was yet to come,
For this was only Number One!
Blinking back his tears in vain
He headed for the Camel train,
Bout found each step became more bold
As thoughts of sweet revenge took hold.
How often have you heard folks say
That "Every dog must have his day".
The stingey monarch should have noted
How this proverb's been misquoted -
If you look back, I'm sure you'll find
It once said "camel" - not canine.
A jaunty camel now retraced
His steps back to the market place.
He'd had this wizardly idea
And deftly whispered in the ear
Of every man he came across -
Though some were clearly at a loss -
Do you know what he told the men?
You don't?! Well sit and think again!
Randor had said he'd give the prize
To any man who guessed the size
Of all the valuables he'd got -
So Babbo told the bloomin' LOT!!
Oh BOY! Did Randor get a shock
When, shortly after five o'clock,
Six HUNDRED men - both rich and poor -
Came crashing through the Palace door,
Each screaming out the correct sum.
He had to pay them - every one!
'T'was fair to say the King was cross -
You bet your cotton socks he was!
'Cross' is a wee bit optimistic ...
The man went totally BALLISTIC!!
Veins standing purple on his brow
He screamed "BRING ME THAT CAMEL NOW!!!"
Babbo had hardly gone ten yards
When he was knobbled by the guards.
Out-numbered more than 10 to 1,
He simply had nowhere to run.
Then, just to broadcast his defeat,
The hung the beast up by his feet.
He truly looked a sorry soul,
Suspended from that wooden pole.
The guards did not dare hesitate -
No mere man caused the King to wait -
They banged and jostled through the door
And dumped the poor beast on the floor.
(Babbo bruised far more than his pride ...
It was a very bumpy ride!)
The King looked worse from upside down
Biting huge chunks from his gold crown
"You treacherous scurvy little crow!
I ought to slice you head to toe!!
And disembowel you - just for fun
Right here - in front of everyone!"
The camel gave a nervous cough.
He didn't want his bonce chopped off!
Or split in two, nor - even more -
His gizzards strewn out on the floor!
"Here!! Take your money!! Take your prize!!
Begone foul beast ... and Damn your eyes!!!"
The King, now screaming fit to pop,
Stood up and hurled the silver pot.
It Babbo with such a CRACK!
It left a huge bump on his back.
Then Randor leaned to grab his stick,
So Babbo legged it, pretty quick.
"There goes he who aspired to sting
ME! Randor! His most gracious King!"
When out the gates young Babbo ventured
(A lot more quickly than he'd entered)
His gait, to say the least, was spritely -
Relief at having got off lightly.
He made his way (despite the pain)
Back down towards the camel train.
Alas, the traders laughed and jeered,
"Oi! Push off, Hump-frey!" One had sneered.
('T'was odd to name him thus, mind you -
You see, he only had the TWO)
"Now where're we gonna put yer pack
Wiv those two fingeys on yer back?
You'd only have ter give a cough
An' ev'ryfin'd just drop off!!
Nah! Sorry, mate. But, no can do!
I mean ... look at the state of you!"
Babbo trudged sadly down the road
Oh what a silly little toad
He'd been. To go and throw away
His job ... His life! And what for, eh?
There is, of course, a moral here,
A wiser one you've yet to hear.
I hope that each of you has learned
A lesson with each page you've turned.
If you're inclined to court despair
By buidling castles in the air,
Just stop next time, when things go wrong,
Don't let your face hang quite so long.
Take care when things don't go your way.
Don't get the hump ....
It just might stay!!