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KING ALFRED BURNS THE CAKES
by
Ivan Bennett

When Aethelwulf were king o' t' West Saxons
He decided his sons should succeed t' throne
Each in his turn as the last one died
Cos t' Vikings wouldn't leave 'em alone.

T' Saxons weren't 'alf getting through Kings
'Cos t' Vikings kept bumping 'em off
So his grandkids would have to wait
Until they grew big enough.

In 871 at the Battle of Ashdown
King Aethelred put up a fight
With his younger brother Alfred in tow
They fought with all of their might.

Aethelred and Alfred fought fiercely
And Aethelred he were cut down
So now it were young Alfred's turn
To wear the West Saxon Crown.

Some seven years later, King Guthrum
Leading one o' them Viking hordes
Attacked at Chippenham in Wiltshire
Routing both peasants and Lords

Guthrum fought a really fierce battle
He gave folks a whopping big fright
And them that didn't surrender
Buggered off to th' Isle Of Wight.

Alfred, too, soon did a runner
To Somerset he went and he hid
And mooched around in t' tidal marshes
Where he played when he were a kid.

He knew he'd a Palace somewhere nearby
And decided that he'd take a look
But as he got near he heard Danish voices
And found t' Vikings his castle had took.

Alfred really needed some shelter
Some cottages nearby he did spy
So leading his horse quietly to t' nearest
He asked if there was somewhere to lie.

T' owd woman as answered the door
Of the swineherd's cottage he chose
Thinking he were a knight, not Alfred at all,
Said "Aye yer can sit by the fire and doze!"

She hid his 'orse in her pig sty
And told Alfred to sit and to wait
And asked him to watch her cakes
As they cooked on top o' the grate

She went off to look for her husband
And Alfred began to ponder and wonder
Trying t' work out how best ter beat t' Vikings
Wrapped i' thought he didn't notice his blunder.

The cakes? Well they were past saving!
And the woman by now had returned,
The room were all black and stinkin' o' smoke,
"Just look at me cakes as yer've burned!

"You couldn't be bothered to take 'em off t' grate
Are you trying to starve us to death?
Them cakes were all as we had in the house!"
And then she took a big breath:

"You stupid great lummox!" she shouted
And chased Alfred all round the room
"Get out!" she said "You lazy young sod!!"
And whacked him ower t' head wi' her broom.

So now Alfred he hadn't no option
But to go and sleep with his 'orse
Th' 'orse weren't his only companion
There were pigs in t' pigsty of course.

'Starve to death?' pondered Alfred, starting to think
And when Alfred had thought it all through
He called together not just his Knights
But all of England's finest and true.

They surrounded t' Vikings in Alfred's Palace
For a fortnit they laid siege to the castle
Alfred knew t' Vikings would starve to death
Unless they gave up without hassle!

Well, Guthrum and t' Vikings surrendered
And promised to stop being rude
By calling round uninvited
So please could they now have some food?!

Some say Alfred got his nickname
As t' Sovereign of t' first English State
But it's really because he burnt the cakes
That he's known as Alfred the Grate!
 
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