A Family Secret

The exercise at Holmfirth Writers’ Group on Monday asked us to reveal a secret – or make one up.  Thus forcing me to divulge a little-known falsehood about my family history …..


I’ve got to reveal a secret, you say? Must I really? Well, I’d been hoping to keep this quiet, but you’ve given me no choice but to let the cat out of the bag. I don’t like to talk about it but …. I’m actually twelfth in line to the throne of Albania.

There, I’ve said it. I don’t want you to treat me any differently. Well, I suppose a quick bow or curtsey when you come into the house would be nice, now you know. And in future, when you come round for a cup of tea I’d be grateful if you could sit on the sofa and not on the throne, as I like to call it. Yes, that’s it, the armchair over in the corner with the Paisley pattern on it. But other than that, just think of me as the same old person I always was. Just an ordinary member of the public, not the scion of an ancient royal house dating all the way back to 1928.

I’ll bet you’d never have guessed this about me. Though I suppose it may help to explain certain things, such as why I like to wear that papier mache crown on special occasions. And why on Albania Day each year I dress up in military uniform and fire a cannon in the back yard.

Now you’re in the know, you can consider yourself part of my Court. I might even make you a privy counsellor, if we have such things in Albania. But, as I say, I don’t want my friends to treat me any differently. I’ve always prided myself on having friends who are of the Common People, and I’ve made it my business to come down to your level rather than be aloof or patronising.

But the Council, though, that’s a different matter entirely. As an official body, they need to know who I am, but they persistently ignore my diplomatic status as a foreign dignitary and keep sending me rent demands and parking tickets. And do they respect my polite requests to refer the issue to the Albanian embassy? Oh no. Those people have no idea how to treat a member of a royal family. They’re far too puffed up with their own self-importance.

By the way, since you know the truth now, I was wondering if you’d like to contribute to my campaign fund. To restore the Albanian monarchy and allow my Aunty Mavis to claim her rightful throne. It’s the coin jar on the mantelpiece, next to those plastic tulips. It will help us put an end to an injustice that has been festering ever since my glorious great-great grandfather, King Zog, was forced into exile all those years ago. I’m sure that, when the great day comes, Queen Mavis will be happy to grant you an Earldom or something in recognition of your support.

Please don’t grovel like that. As I said, a simple bow or curtsey is perfectly sufficient. I don’t like to stand on ceremony. Why are you giggling? I assure you, protocol is no laughing matter. And don’t call me ‘Your Majesty’. The correct salutation for a prince of the blood royal is ‘Your Royal Highness’.

WILL YOU STOP LAUGHING!! Right, that’s it, I’m banishing you from Court. And you can forget about that peerage. Oh, why does no one understand the burdens of greatness? I bet William and Harry don’t have to put up with this crap.


The Haunted Menagerie

I was disappointed not to be able to go to Write Out Loud in Marsden tonight.  It’s a monthly gathering where people gather to read poetry and chat, and is always a great evening.

So to cheer myself up, I thought I’d post here one of the poems I had been planning to read.  The theme this month was ‘animals’ and this is one of a very few pieces I’ve got on that subject.  Just a bit of fun, really.


The Haunted Menagerie


The shriek of gate on rusty hinges

wail of wind through broken glass.

Ivy grasps in tendril fingers

relics from a glorious past.


Children used to point and wonder,

lions paced around the cells

that now lie vacant, hidden under

strange cacophonies of smells


Where are they now, those agile cheetahs

rhinos, prowling jaguars?

They are still here, free of their fetters

no more imprisoned by their bars.


You cannot see them, but at night

you’ll hear the monkey’s ghostly calls.

The roar of bear and shriek of eagle

echo round these crumbling walls.


So are they free, these undead creatures,

disembodied feral minds?

Not so, they pine for distant lands

their lost souls cannot hope to find.


Should you come here to tread once more

the paths of this forbidden zoo

beware; within these empty cages

are things that might still feed on you.


Picture:  (c) Tekashifuka 2013