Can I bring the meeting to order?’ The Lord Chamberlain, Rodney Putupon straightened his papers and cast a jaundiced eye around the table. No one met his gaze. They wouldn’t, of course. The ordure, when it hit the air conditioning, would be heading in his direction, not theirs. ‘Let’s do this gentlemen,’ he bowed his head slightly to the crones to his left, ‘ladies,’ and then to the shelves behind, ‘and animated toys. Item 1, Prince Dribling’s indicative plans to extend the magical Schloss…’
‘I call it an outrage,’ a red faced troll banged the table, the steam from his ears inadvertently poaching the witch seated to his left, causing her to dissolve and reform three seats away, from where she cursed the troll rendering him both mute and arboreal.
The Lord Chamberlain rapped his gavel, ‘Dorothea Wisebuttock, would you please return Bertrand Gritbrain to us. We have to be quorate for this and you know hawthorns can’t vote.’
While Dorothea incanted, Rodney handed out sets of drawings. ‘These arrived today. They’re…’ he struggled to articulate his thoughts, ‘… oh see for yourselves.’
Heads craned for a better view. The silence lengthened and became deafening. Eventually a gaudy train with a missing eye spoke, articulating what everyone else was thinking. ‘These aren’t complete, are they?’
Rodney knew where this was going but he needed someone else to say it. ‘Apparently, this is what he has in mind.’
‘But, But,’ spluttered the 6-4-6 double O gauge, ‘there aren’t any turrets.’
Indeed that was exactly the issue, thought Rodney. Not so much as a keep, let alone a tower or a steeple and as for the requisite turret component…
Cretin the Unwise was drooling across the table, the pond of Spittle inadvertently reflecting the magnificently turreted Royal Palace and reinforcing this proposed catastrophe.
‘You need turrets, it’s… it’s not normal.’ Gritbrain ears started to smoulder and his neighbours began to shuffle sideways.
‘You’ve got to have turrets. Where will your abandoned princesses mope? Or your peasant girl, awaiting an amorous amphibian?’ Dorothea nodded. ‘And that Rapunzel. She’d have got away with a couple of French plaits and a strip of Velcro in this,’ she tapped the plans causing them, briefly to take the form of a stepladder, ‘diabolical monstrosity.’
Rodney looked at the unhappy and disbelieving faces. Slowly, he unfurled a scroll. ‘According to his royal prickliness, he understands how this might appear but asks us to allow this slight…’
‘Slight… it’s a slight, alright. A slight on our culture.’
‘Thank you. This slight modification to the norm.’
There was a growing muttering. A lot of head shaking.
Rodney sighed. ‘You want me to say no? To the heir to the Magical Throne? To the second most powerful person in the Kingdom?’
The noises stopped and the heads began to still. Eyes flicked back to the plans and up to the stern faced Lord Chancellor. An outbreak of compulsive swallowing seemed to grip the chamber’s occupants.
A small wooden toy, tucked towards the back of the shelf coughed. ‘Maybe if he agreed to include an attic…?’
‘Or a couple of gables…?’
‘With a skylight…’
‘Definitely a skylight…’
‘Or a velux…’
Rodney banged the table. ‘Are you telling me,’ he roared, ‘that you not prepared to maintain the standards that have served this Kingdom for generations? That you will not stand up to a petty tyrant with grandiose notions of his own self importance…’
His audience seemed to lean back, away from this ferocious outburst. One by one, the committee began to nod. ‘Yes,’ one said. ‘Exactly,’ said another. ‘Wouldn’t want to cause a fuss,’ said a third.
Rodney smiled. ‘Splendid. I’ll pass on the good news.’ And, he thought, I can order some scones, now it looks likely that I’ll still have a head come tea time.