Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The King's Head

Many of us have drunk in pubs called The King’s Head or The Queen’s Arms. But have we ever given any thought as to why they're so named? This question occurred to me this morning, so I went to Hertford Library’s local history section to do a little research. My results are, I think, quite interesting and reveal that, until just a few centuries ago, all pubs were in fact required by law to call themselves after a monarch or nobleman's bodily part.

This was all well and good for such places as The Duke's Head, The Prince's Knee, and The Queen's Arms. The yeomanry of Olde England drank ale to their hearts' content in these inns, and helped enrich their local economies as a result. Unfortunately, not all pubs were so blessed. In particular, establishments like The King's Cock and The Queen's Tits.

The main problem here was the painted sign outside. Every inn in the land had to have one in order that the illiterates, who then made up the majority of the population, could identify where they were getting pissed, so that their designated postillions would know exactly where to pick them up afterwards. But this caused the sign painters no end of grief. How were they expected to paint an accurate representation of the monarch's member or mamilla? Unless the regent in question had previously moonlighted in the area as a flasher or strippagram, obviously no-one had ever beheld the sight.

At first, therefore, they would request a private audience with the King or Queen. Once they'd been ushered into the royal presence, the monarch would say, “Arise, my good sir. Is there some way we may assist you?” At which point, the sign painter invariably answered, “Yes. Can I see you cock?” Or “Show us your tits, please.”

After the first couple of dozen executions, the remaining sign painters realised that it maybe wasn't a particularly good idea to ask such direct questions. So they settled on what they imagined was an acceptable alternative: They painted pictures of their own cocks, instead, on the assumption that these would be more or less identical to the royal organ. Unfortunately, it was rarely so.

Artists all have small cocks. It's a well-known fact. So pubs throughout the land started displaying signs that were largely blank, except for a little picture of the teensiest, most flaccid looking pink, wiggly thing in one corner. Naturally enough, when word got through to the Palace, the monarch - who usually prided himself on being well-hung - flew into a rage and ordered troops to destroy the offending inns and beat up their regulars. Vast areas of the country were subjected to reigns of terror.

After a while, pissed off landlords came up with another solution: They ordered the sign painters to use shire horses and elephants as their models. Thereupon, hostelries the length and breadth of England sprouted signs with pictures of penises the length and breadth of England. They were really humungous. They made the royalty in neighbouring countries quite jealous.

The reigning monarchs were, of course, delighted. Many a King's Cock played host to the royal family for the weekend. The village in which the pub was located benefited enormously from the royal patronage. All was sweetness and light. But disaster was not far off.

One day, Anne Boleyn was visiting England, on holiday from France. She chanced to stop off at a King's Cock near Dorset. On seeing the sign, she exclaimed, “Fuck me! King Henry's hung like a fucking wildebeest!” Thereupon she resolved to have him for herself.

Well, we all know what happened next. Anne Boleyn went to the royal court, said to Henry VIII, “I want to suck your massive, throbbing cock till it bursts, then I want you to fuck me with it”, and pleaded with him to marry her. Naturally enough, Henry was quite charmed by this and got a raging hard on. So he decided to divorce his Queen, Katharine of Aragon, and marry Anne. This caused the reformation, the dissolution of the monasteries, and the Protestant work ethic.

Sadly, things didn't go too well thereafter. On the wedding night, Henry VIII stripped off and revealed his erect member to his new Queen. She was most unimpressed. Compared to the painted sign she’d seen in Dorset, it was as nothing. “You are fucking tiny!” she exclaimed. "I have seen bigger things chewing holes in a lettuce leaf!" Consummation of the marriage was an embarrassing affair, and the King never forgot this insult. Indeed, soon after his Queen gave birth to the future Elizabeth I, Henry flew into a small cock-induced rage, complained that it had been big beforehand but, because of Anne's witchcraft, it was now much diminished, and so charged her with high treason and had her executed at the Tower of London.

So as this sort of thing could never happen again, Queen Mary decreed that all pubs called The King's Cock should henceforth rename themselves The Red Lion or The Slug and Lettuce, or something equally innocuous. Likewise all the other silly sounding places, like The Queen's Clit, The Duke's Scrotum, and The Prince's Rather Loose Bowel Movement. At a stroke, much of England's heritage disappeared.

Anyhow, after this, never let it be said that you don't learn something of value when you read this Journal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hertford Library history section consists of a mouldering copy of Spillane. Yes the small cock routine must have been troublesome. Hence the number of "Princes very small penis" pubs in Eaton Socon but this may have to do with the thriving gay BNP scene. As for Boleyn & wildebeest the fuckers were not discovered til the Stuarts so you lose 5 points.