Percival Bickerdyke painfully eased his bottom once again. The chair, the only one in the waiting hall at the Palace, was made of hard English oak. It was not made for comfort a fact made obvious by the carved inscription on the seat which read ‘Nothing Comes to he who waits’
Percy, well into his third day of waiting, now had the imprint of this misquote permanently embossed on his posterior, though painful at the time it would later serve him well as a talking point for post-nuptial gymnastics in the bedchamber.
King George the Third placed his seal on the death warrant and selected a rosy peach from the bowl at his elbow. The Lord Chamberlain relieved the king of the roll of parchment with a thin smile.
One down and two to go; he told himself.
“Thank you Sire; a public execution I think would be appropriate. May I suggest the Arsenal Football Stadium? There is no match this weekend.
“As you wish” grunted the king spitting the peach stone at a large brass spittoon several feet away. He missed.
The door at the far end of the royal chambers opened and the Master of Arms entered, after bowing twice he stood nervously fiddling with his staff of office.
“Well? Inquired the Lord Chamberlain.
“He’s still here sir”
“The peasant sir, the one that requests an audience with his majesty”
“Let him wait”
“Yes sir, only---“
“Well sir he’s started to- er smell”
“Well it’s been some time now sir and he wiffed a bit when he arrived”
The Lord Chamberlain turned to the king.
“Tiresome I know your majesty, but The Magna Carta----”
“I know, I know, damn nuisance everything I don’t want to do is in that rag. Ah well bring him in”
Percy was escorted into the king’s presence knuckling his forehead
“You have two minutes peasant, and stand to one side your spoiling my aim”
Percy cleared his throat.
“It is rumoured, your majesty that you have trouble with our colonies”
“And what’s that to you little man?”
“Well my liege I have a cunning plan”
King George threw back his head and roared with laughter.
“Tell me peasant, this plan of yours, does it involve sending four young wenches on a world tour to serenade the natives to soothe their savage breasts?. It’s been tried old son. What did they call themselves Clarence?”
The Lord Chamberlain sniffed.
“The Spicy Girls Sire”
“Ah yes the Spicy Girls and a fat lot of good they were. Three days in our American Colony and they eloped with four handcows”
The Lord Chamberlain gave a polite cough
“Its cowhands I believe sire”
“Cowhands, they are called cowhands. They look after cows so I’m told”
“Well they do now, all four of them”
Polite laughter and handclapping from the courtiers.
The king helped himself to another peach.
“So tell us little peasant about your cunning plan”
“Cricket my liege, we teach them to play cricket”
“CRICKET?” the king exploded “Listen wretch I’m the one round here that is supposed to be mad”
“Hear me out sire I beg you. Cricket is such a slow boring game that after a mere hour of watching the crowd falls into a stupor, indeed half are reduced to sleep. Now if cricket became the principle sport of the colonies Sire, it would be sure to render the population of the colonies into a much more languid frame of mind and less inclined to harbour thoughts of rebellion”.
The Lord Chamberlain leant over and whispered in the king’s ear.
“Shall I have the Master of Arms throw the idiot out Sire?”
“No wait; the peasant may have something here. I remember being dragged down to Lords cricket ground a few years ago to watch the The Gentlemen of Kent play The Gentlemen of Cambridge. God’s teeth, I suffered such an adrenaline loss, I had to take to my bed for two days”
King George remained deep in thought for a while, and then reached for a small pouch on the table beside him.
“I like it; yes the plan carries a certain merit”
“Here peasant” he threw the pouch to Percy. “Here’s Five hundred Sovs you sail tomorrow from Chatham dockyard, report back to the palace when you return”
A year and a day had passed when The Lord Chamberlain entered the king’s chambers.
“The peasant Sire, he has returned from his odyssey”
“Well show him in Clarence, show him in”
The Lord Chamberlain turned to the open door and beckoned.
The king’s entourage gasped in surprise; the ladies of the court shielded their eyes to protect their modesty. Two collapsed with an attack of the vapours.
Percy had divested himself of his doublet and hose and now stood before them dressed in a colourful Hawaiian shirt, a pair of Bermuda shorts and sneakers.
“My God” exclaimed King George “What have they done to you little man?”
“Do you like it sire?” inquired Percy, executing a pirouette. “Present from the Yanks Your Majesty”.
The king turned to the Lord Chamberlain
“They indeed have a lot to answer for. They try my patience and I won’t have it, double their taxes”
“I’m afraid there is only the tea tax left your highness”
“Don’t bother me with details Clarence. See to it. Now little man, how did your trip go, well I hope”
“Indeed it did your majesty I first sailed to our territories in the West Indies”
“Oh they lapped it up. Do you know that they are so taken with the sport they even organize games on the sandy beaches”.
“Strewth” exclaimed the king “I thought it was slow enough on grass”.
“Next onto India and I’m pleased to report that they took to cricket like ducks to water. When I left they were down to only two riots a week”
“Splendid, splendid” cried the king clapping his podgy hands together.
“Then onto Australia, a small problem there I fear
“They didn’t like the game?”
“Oh no sire in fact they are so good at it I fear they will beat us one day”
“No worries” replied King George “I’m thinking of making a decree to insure that we loose at all sports when we play the colonies. Keeps them happy, beating the Mother country”
He selected a large pear from the fruit bowl.
“I note that you have left our territories in America till last little man”
“Ah, a problem there sire.”
“They laughed at the idea?”
“Hysterically I’m afraid my liege, but I put my second plan into operation. I offered them a selection of other games.
“Rounders, and Netball They fell in love with them at once Sire.”
“Excellent my boy; both are gentile games for young maidens.”
“And lastly Rugby.”
“RUGBY? You idiot that’s a macho game, organized assault and battery, tell me, have you seen a rugby player who is in possession of his own teeth? You were supposed to calm them not to rouse them to a fit of frenzy.”
“Wait please your highness you see they alter the game.”
“Typical I give them the sport of kings and they mess it up.”
The Lord Chamberlain coughed.
“Ah hem, I think that the Sport of Kings refers to horse racing your majesty.”
“Shut up Clarence.”
“Now, how do they alter the game of Rugby?”
“Well they keep the pitch, the ball and goal posts.”
“Then they dress up in armour topped off with a large helmet and divide the pitch into a sort of grid. Oh, then they stop the game every ten seconds.”
“Why the hell do they do that?”
“Something to do with getting the Advertisements in, whatever that means.”
And so it came to pass that was how the noble game of cricket was spread far and wide across the globe and how America came to rule the world.