by Terry D. Watkins Many stories of this fellow thru the ages have been told But, sad to say, they're very rarely true. It's time to set the record straight, tell it how it really was" And that is just what I intend to do! So... In days of old when tights were sold For men, (and known as 'hoses') It came to pass, the ruling class Got right up people's noses. That rotten lot kept bringing out a new tax every day, 'til, after buying ale and fags, folk simply couldn't pay. Now... In the Yorkshire town of Doncaster On the banks of the river Don, In a pub run by a stoutish chap By the name of Littlejohn The local peasantry looked up From a game of 'shove a groat When Littlejohn came round the bar And loudly cleared his throat. Spake he, "Now then lads, this concerns us all So listen up.. This letter here has just arrived and it's bound to spoil your sup! It seems that lot down London need Parliament House Re-thatchin' So they've put another penny tax on a packet of pork scratchin's!" "Ooh! The rotten lot!" said a mincing Alan Dale, "I'd go and scratch their eyes out.. If I hadn't just done me nails!" Littlejohn read on and the others saw his ruddy cheeks turn pale. "There's even worse to come lads" There's a penny more on ale!" Old Bill Red stood up and said "Enough! I've had my fill!" (Bill Red was his given name but they called him Scarlet Will!) "Now come on lads.." Will went on "Together we all must stand!" But they'd learned to count in card schools So no-one showed his hand. Just then a stranger entered, all clad in emerald hue. "Hello, you lot, I`m Robin Hood!" he said, "How do you do!" Said Littlejohn "No tramps in here. You'll spoil the social scene.. With feathers stuck out of your hat" and dressed in blinkin' green!" Rob grimaced. "Ah! The grass stained suit.. sleeping rough accounts for that". I spent the night in a chicken coop" hence the feathers in my hat!" Spake Will, "Up here in Donny, a stranger isn't trusted, Especially with an accent that sounds all upper crusted!" Confided Robin, "To be truthful, just twixt you and me, I'm on the run from Lincoln.- Didn't pay me tax you see!" Then everybody cheered him, Robin thought, "New friends methinks!" Said Will, to put him at his ease, "Aye, we'll let you buy the drinks!" When Robin complained about the bill, they cried "Blame the government!" And showed to Robin the letter that said government had sent. Said Robin "They daren't try this back home!" Will scoffed, "It wouldn't matter" Who'd drink that stuff you brew down there? I've had stronger Yorkshire watter!" We're talking Yorkshire bitter here" Brewed with Yorkshire craft. If they think we'll stand for taxin' that them London folk are daft!" Said Robin, "Let's send a letter by return of post, to tell them we won't pay the tax!" To that they drank a toast. Robin told how his mother's washing fell in the mud one day. The line was full and the pole had snapped and there'd been heck to pay. So Robin had bought a brand new pole, got it upright in the ground, but before he'd time to tamp it firm, the taxman rode around. "That's ten groats for the pole tax!" cried he, and pulled his rein. "Never!" answered Robin "I'll take it down again!" He kicked the pole in anger, not intending so much force, The pole fell down and knocked the tax inspector from his horse. He dropped his bag of money and it split at Robin's feet, Where it was quickly pounced on by the people in the street And so it was that Robin Hood, inadvertently, Robbed the rich to pay the poor and henceforth had to flee. Now... The man in charge of England then was a knave named John, but since, his dad would have preferred a dog was given the first name 'Prince'. (He was only standing in as ruler for his brother, who'd gone abroad with an England squad to cause a bit of bother.) Well... When Prince John received the letter that Robin and co. had wrote, He cried, "Page! We're off to Donny! Pass me crown and get me coat!" They trooped off down to Tower bridge where the Royal Barge was tied. Price cried "Skipper! Wake the crew! We'll catch the evening tide!" They rowed down the Thames for hours and made a mile at most. Prince yelled, "Row harder you lot! We'll never reach the coast!" The steersman checked his rear view glass and said, "Glad I'm not rowin', No wonder this lot's shattered". That's Tower Bridge we're towin'!" After cutting the line they made good time and were soon in open seas A 'Galley dolly' came around with drinks and duty frees. By dawn next day they'd gone some way, when Prince came over queer. Passing 'The Wash' he cried, "I'm sick.. Turn left.. We'll pull in here!" The steersman checked the rear view glass and stuck his hand out wide, Just as Prince stood up, and knocked his crown over the side! Prince John, (being pro-Europe), cried, "Mien Gott!" and "Sacre Bleu! I've lost me jewels in 'The Wash'. Now what shall Adieu?" "Fret not my liege!" the skipper said, "Without it you look taller!" "You really think so?" preened Prince John. The bosun muttered, "Crawler!" Said Prince, still green, "I've had this sea" I can't take any more! I've lost me crown,.. I feel half drowned.. Just get me ashore!" So, Prince, accompanied by his page, Set out on foot for Donny. He swore, "I'll get that Robin Hood.. I'll teach him pinch my money!" Meanwhile... At the River Don" Folk had turned up by the cartload" Word had spread that this Robin Hood was a dab hand on the dartboard! His skill with the 'arrows' was a joy to see, he beat them to a man, And won special admiration from a maid called Mary Ann. 'Twas the way he flicked his feathered flights that really made her 'latch on`, and when he saw her double top he knew they had a match on! Just then entered another man with a somewhat generous waist. He was clad in a greasy sack-cloth smock of somewhat dubious taste. He cried, "Come Landlord, Bring me ale and stick it on me slate!" He scratched the ring of greasy hair surrounding his bald pate. Littlejohn licked his chalk and said "Now lad, What's the matter? Is the Grimsby fish cart late again or hast run out of batter?" Took, the chip shop fryer, supping froth from off the top, Said, "It's this new tax on chip fat," I've had to shut me shop!" Robin Hood, craftily, Then took Took by the hand. "Come good fryer," he clucked at Took. "Come join our happy band!" The flowing bowl had flowed all day, they were all flat broke again. Robin spotted quick that Took had 'tick', now they'd all be merry men! Meanwhile.... On a dusty road near Grantham, Prince John had got his back up. When stopping for a bite to eat, found his page had scoffed his pack-up! "Aw Heck!" moaned Prince, all sulky like, "I'm absolutely starving!" Then, groping round inside his tights, he found a mouldy farthing! It must have been in there some time, not only was it green" According to the 'heads; side Bodicae was still queen! At Much the Miller's bakery on the outskirts of the town, Prince asked for a farthing bun. "With tax, that's half a crown!" "I'll pay one farthing!" said Prince John, "I think it's only fair... The tax would have been mine anyway, so we'll call it square!" "The tax," said Much "is for good Prince John!" and mockingly he smiled. "May the Stone of Scone chill his throne and give the blighter piles!" "Have a care!" said Prince, "Beware!" the latter with a frown. "I am that very same Prince John. Observe my friend, the crown!" He pointed to his naked head. "What do you see up there?" The miller scrutinized the scalp. "A mop of greasy hair!" "Oh,"Yes" stammered Prince. "It's in The Wash" We've not yet got it out!" "Well this here ain't no laundry.. Scram! Shut the door on your way out!" At length Prince came to Lincoln, all tattered and forlorn, Muttering, "Curse that Robin Hood! He'll wish he'd not been born!" They reached the gate of the castle, the dust had parched their throats, So, lying on the grassy bank, they drank deep from the moat. 'Twas then the castle drawbridge fell beside them with a clatter. The Sheriff appeared, "Bring that lot here! I'll teach 'em drink my watter!" (The Sheriff was a Yorkshireman posted down to Lincoln, He sometimes let his accent slip when he wasn't thinking!) The sheriff's men dragged them inside and stood them in the yard. The sheriff said, "For drinking moats the penalties are hard!" "Do you know who you're dealing with?" Prince john did protest. And showed to them the tag his mother had sewn inside his vest. "Oddsboddikins! 'Tis good Prince John!" the sheriff then did say. "How come you here to Lincoln sire? And in such dis-array?" Said Prince, "Did you not know me? Not been to court perhaps?" "Only once"" muttered the sheriff, "when me crossbow licence lapsed!" Said Prince "I haven't eaten Not even a farthing bun! First food and wine, and then to horse.. Come on then! Let's be on!" Several hours later, after soaking in a tub, while a Lincolnshire-opodist gave his aching feet a rub, Prince John emerged all spick and span And climbed upon a horse. "Come Sheriff, Let's to Doncaster!" "What? Me as well?" "Of course! With you and half a dozen men of Lincoln Yeomanry, we'll nail those Yorkshire upstarts and be home again for tea!" With horses fresh beneath them, Princes party moved much faster, And pretty soon, just after noon, were entering Doncaster. Prince said, "Right lads, before we start to ferret that lot out, We'll pop into this hostelry, you can treat me to a stout!" But... 'Twas this very pub where Robin Hood was sitting supping ale. Most folk had gone, save Littlejohn, Took, Will and Alan Dale. Oh, and of course Mary Ann, herself somewhat unstable, Calling for her lover who'd slid underneath the table. A familiar voice sobered them up, Robin shot up like a rocket.. Prince John called, "Come Sheriff, get your hand into your pocket!" As they walked toward the bar, Littlejohn asked their pleasure, But realizing who they were, gave them both half measure! Now... Neither Prince or Sheriff had laid eyes on Robin Hood They had no clear description, and asking did no good. So they quietly settled down, one lot not knowing the other, But Robin's lot knew the other lot and knew that lot meant bother. Here Robin could have slipped away, but it was his sad fate, That the landlord decided no-one left until they'd cleared the slate. Then the sheriff from his tunic took some darts with golden flights, "Anybody for a game? We could be here all night!" No-one took the sheriff's challenge, everyone was keeping mum. Said the Sheriff, "I'll put up one gold piece, now that's a tidy sum!" "Enough to settle that Landlord's slate," thought Robin, "and see me clear" I could settle me score, be out that door And simply disappear! "'Tis clear that they don't know me, so there should be no trouble. O.K!" said he, "501 up! Starting on a double!"" One arrow each for the nearest 'bull' to see who gets first throw!" The sheriff won.. then double one.. and on the game did go! The game went to the sheriff. Robin was looking haggard. "Double or nothing!" he blurted out. "Why not?" the sheriff swaggered. To Robin went the second game, he led right from the start. "Right!" cried the sheriff angrily. "Beat this!" and threw one dart. Everyone stared in disbelief, Robin's eyes near left his skull. The Sheriffs single arrow had struck dead centre 'Bull'. The room fell deathly silent. No-one spoke a word. All eyes, that still could focus, were focused on the board. Robin took a careful aim,- the sweat stood on his brow, 'Twas then that Mary Ann called out "Go on lad! Show him how!" Robin, put off, said, "Shut your mouth!" At this the maid turned red, and snatching a dart from the sheriff's hand, Threw it at Robin's head. Now, no-one saw her throw that dart, if they had they would have laughed. To this day 'tis thought 'twas Robin's arrow that split the sheriff's shaft! Prince John sneered, disgusted. "You've been beat by a Yorkshire Pud!" Alan Dale waved his pink cocktail. "Hooray for Robin Hood!" The sheriff's mouth dropped open, his chin near touched the floor. It was he that tripped poor Robin as he dashed toward the door. Prince John looked down at Robin, "Now here's a bit of luck!" "It is! Now he can settle up before he goes!" said Took Said Prince, "I think you lot should take a little walk with me!" And had them bound in chains they found in the lavatory! "To Lincoln!" cried the sheriff. "There we'll have a trial. Robin Hood won't bother us again for quite a while!" "Whoa! Hang on!" cried Prince John, "In Lincoln, Hood's got mates! They're bound to hear we're coming and be waiting at the gates! Just north of Lincoln," he went on, "There's a village known as Ingham, My cousin has a castle there" into that we'll fling 'em!" Robin and co., quiet 'til now, not wanting any hassle, Now all groaned in unison, "Oh, no! NOT INGHAM CASTLE!" So it was that Robin Hood, along with all his peers, Were locked in Ingham Castle and left to rot for years. Until... Came the day poor Robin lay dying in his cell. He called to Took the fryer, and said "Now listen well" To throw a dart through yonder window I will do my best, Wheresoever it shall fall, there lay my bones to rest." Now... Twenty yards from the castle wall by the Express Mail Coach stop, There lived a maid called Shirley Wood who had a flower shop. Well... Shirl. was partial to an egg of the goose variety, and she had this huge one on her plate, about to have her tea, - when suddenly she dropped the spoon, her face as black as thunder as a dart came flying through the air and burst her egg asunder. So... The dying wish of Robin Hood was carried out as promised" His body lies 'neath a MIGHTY YOLK Somewhere in SHIRL WOOD'S FLORISTS!
The end