Colin: The Grumpy King

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Colin the Grumpy KingSometimes it seems that people the whole wide world over are divided into two sorts: fans of Prince Bertie the Frog, and fans of Colin the Grumpy Carp.

Are you a Colin sort of person?

Or a Bertie sort of person?

Or does it depend on what sort of day you are having?

For those who have been leaving messages demanding that Colin features in another of his own stories, thank you for your patience... here it is. The true story of how Colin became king for a day - and didn't rule as people expected... not at first anyhow.

Lovers of fishy stories will also enjoy How Colin Became Grumpy and The Golden Fish.

Read by Natasha. Proofread by Claire Deakin. Duration 20 minutes.

It all began a week or so ago, when the wicked queen who turned Bertie into a frog was taking a walk by the pond in the palace gardens. She stopped by to have a long chat with Colin – they get on rather well you know. Colin asked how her Royal Wickedness was doing, and she started on every such a long grumble. She moaned about the little children who are always leaving their toys lying around the throne room, and Barker the stupid palace dog who runs up and slobbers over her hand, even though she doesn’t like animals, and above all she complained about the king.

“He just isn’t royal enough,” she said. “He’s so disgustingly nice. He’s always showing mercy, when what’s needed is a good bit of old fashioned punishment.”

“Oh yes, your Gracious Wicked Majesty,” agreed Colin, “You are so right. There’s not enough flogging these days.”

“Quite. Quite. That’s just how I feel,” said the queen. “Only the other day the cook brought me a plate of spaghetti bolognese, and when I tried to eat it, the spaghetti was all in knots and the tomato sauce squirted over my new dress. I screamed, “Off with her head, right this minute!” and the king said, “No, no my dear. Show a little mercy." Mercy! How I hate that word!"

"Exactly. What use is mercy to anybody? If I were king I would make sure things were done properly.”

“You seem like a jolly sensible fish. I’m sure you would make a fine king.”

“In fact I often wish that fine fish like me could be king. Then everything would be right in the world.”

“Well in that case your wish can come true.” And with that the wicked queen took out her magic wand and started to mutter a magic spell.

“Abracadabra fishy stew, Colin shall be king, and the king shall be YOU!”

The sky went dark and a chill wind blew over the pond. Big waves buffeted the frogs and tadpoles and sent the ducks and swans squawking onto the banks looking for shelter.

As for Colin - he found himself sitting on a throne studded with diamonds. “Can this be true?" He said to himself. “I’m all horribly dry and I’m breathing air and… I’m, I’m human. Oh my head feels jolly heavy. That must be my incredibly clever brain. Fish are known for big brains, you know, even when they are turned into humans all of a sudden. ”

But it wasn’t Colin’s brain that weighed so heavily on his head - It was a golden crown, for the wicked queen had turned Colin into the king! The real king was swimming around at the bottom of the pond. It took Colin a little while to realise what had happened, and just as he was still feeling a little confused, a servant in red livery announced that the lovely Princess Beatrice was about to enter the chamber leading a group of the smallest and sweetest little girls who lived in the palace.

“I know just who Beatrice is," said King Colin. “It’s that frilly fluffy-brained princess that Bertie’s always going on about. I better she’s not lovely at all. I bet she’s really snotty and horrible.”

But when the lovely Princess Beatrice kissed his hand, wished him good morning, and said how handsome he was looking that day, King Colin thought to himself, “Actually, she’s not so bad after all,” and found that his face was smiling back at her. Smiling was rather strange to him, because when he was a fish, all he could do was gawp. Smiling felt, well, rather nice.

The little girls who had come with Beatrice were all wearing pink dresses and they all did pretty little curtsies. Just then, Colin realised that the wicked queen was sitting on a throne next to his. She learned over and whispered in his ear, “Don’t you think those little girls are perfectly revolting? Let me turn them all into tadpoles and send them to eat slime in the pond.”

“My dear,” said Colin, “You can’t do that. Children are the future of our kingdom.”

“Well, all right then. I suppose you are right, unfortunately,” and the queen slipped her magic wand back into her handbag and told the children to be off to their lessons right away.

When they had gone, Colin said, “I think I shall be called King Colin the Wise. Because you see I’m jolly brainy.” And the queen pulled a face at him when he wasn’t looking.

Next the Chamberlain came in and asked His Majesty what he wanted for lunch that day. “The cook recommends either sausages and beans or fish fingers and chips,” he said.

“Fish Fingers!" spluttered King Colin, and then he remembered that after all these were only foolish human beings who did not know any better. He calmed down and said, “Tell the cook never to make fish fingers again. I’ll have flies for lunch, lightly fried with a little butter and with a touch of green algae on top.”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” said the Chamberlain, rather puzzled, and went away to tell the cook.

Later in the morning, the Chancellor who was in charge of all the gold and treasure in the kingdom came to consult with the king. He said that they had collected more money than expected, and he was wondering what they should spend it on.

“Oh that’s wonderful,” said the lovely Princess Beatrice. “Now we can afford to build a new children’s hospital for all the little ones who are poorly.”

When the wicked queen heard this, she was furious. “You stupid girl!” She screeched. “What on earth makes you think we would want to waste good treasure on a some snotty nosed kids who were silly enough to get sick? Let’s spend the money on a new palace. This one’s getting shabby.”

“No, my dear,” said King Colin. “The lovely Princess Beatrice makes a good point. This palace is splendid enough. We shall build a hospital for the children, and while we are about it, let’s make sure there is an underwater wing of the hospital especially for sick fish.”

As both the Chancellor and the Lovely Princess Beatrice said that King Colin was extremely wise, the decision to build the hospital was made.

And so the day went on, until King Colin went out in his golden carriage drawn by six white horses and was cheered by all the people who saw him drive past. Colin waved back at the people and practised smiling. He thought how pleasant it was to be so popular, and to be loved by one and all for his generosity and wisdom. It was far better to be known throughout the ages as King Colin the Wise than King Colin the Grumpy. He drove to the Prime Minister’s house and told him that he wanted to make a new law right away.

“The new law," said Colin, “is that fishing is banned with immediate effect.”

“How very wise you are, Your Majesty,” said the Prime Minister. “Fishing is such a cruel sport.”

Just then Colin heard some more cheers – even louder this time. “Ah my people are hailing King Colin the Wise,” he said.

“Actually,” said the Prime Minister, “they are cheering the palace football team. It sounds like they’ve scored a goal in the cup final.”

“Bah!" Said Colin. “Football’s banned. The people are only allowed to cheer me.” And with that, he strutted out of the Prime Minister’s house and drove home to the palace in a huff.

The cook served flies for lunch. King Colin thought they were a little overdone and not as juicy as they used to be in the pond, but he did not say anything because he was enjoying watching the Foreign Minister putting the flies on the end of his fork and looking rather queasy. The queen secretly made a magic spell and turned her own flies into chocolate truffles while Colin wasn’t noticing. She mentioned quietly that she had heard a rumour that some of the people were a tiny bit unhappy about football being banned.

“I’ve an idea,” said Colin to the Foreign Minister, “Let’s have a short glorious war. That will cheer the people up.”

“Who against?” Asked the Foreign Minister.

“Oh just anyone,” said King Colin. “Just as long as they are smaller than us.”

“That is very wise,” said the Foreign Minister.

As they were finishing lunch, an angry great roar could be heard all around the palace. There was the sound of battering on the front door and a shot or two was fired in the air.

“Oh dear,” said the Foreign Minister. “It sounds like the people are pretty angry. ”

“Angry?" Said Colin. “How dare they be angry? I’m the most popular king in all history. I shall go up on the balcony and address my people. They will calm down when hear the words of King Colin the Wise.”

Up on the balcony, Colin saw a vast ocean of angry faces surrounding the palace. Many of them were wearing blue paint on their faces and waving flags – they were football supporters you see.

They began to chant:

Nick knack paddy wack
Give a fish a throne
Splish splash wacky thwack
Send him splashing home.

“Friends, humans, countrymen, fish,” called out Colin. Before he could finish his speech he was pelted with rotten eggs and tomatoes.

But King Colin the Wise was was brave and steadfast. He continued with his speech. "Football is a noble game. Football is a beautiful game, played on the field of honour!”

At this the people were a little quieter, because they liked football, and some of the teachers in the crowd told everyone to hush and listen to what the king had to say.

“I am building a bigger and brighter future for the kingdom. There will be sweeties for the little children and moist lettuce leaves for the fluffy bunny rabbits.”

Now most of the people were listening, but a little boy at the back of the crowd called out something very rude about Colin. Can you guess what he shouted? You can’t? Well I’ll tell you. He called King Colin the Wise, “Cod Face!”

“Cod Face?” Exclaimed King Colin. “I’ll have you know that I was once a champion carp!”

When they heard this, everyone laughed, because although Colin was a human king, his face did look rather, well, fishy. His skin was somewhat scaly, his eyes where big and bulging, and his throat was droopy. In fact, when the lovely Princess Beatrice had told him that he was looking handsome, she had been telling just a little white lie, because as always, she’s ever so kind.

Colin grew very angry when the people laughed at him and he started to splutter, “Well the least you could do is stop kicking a stupid football around and go back to work to earn some taxes for the treasury.”

The wicked queen who was listening to all this and she could not hold back any longer. She picked up a microphone inside her chamber and shouted into it so that every body could hear her voice echoing around the palace grounds and even in the town square.

“Too right everyone should work harder, you lazy ungrateful lot. I want a new palace!”

Now there was uproar. The crowd was turning very, very, very angry.

“Okay, okay, you can have your lovely game of football,” shouted Colin, but nobody could hear him. Some of the most angry people were climbing up the drain pipes of the palace and onto the balcony. King Colin became frightened and rushed back inside. He saw the wicked queen and called out to her, “My dear queen, save us! The People are revolting!”

“They are perfectly revolting!” Agreed the queen, but then she added, “The old king might have been a nincompoop, but at least he knew how to score goals for the palace football team,” and with that she pointed her magic wand at King Colin and shouted, "Fish! Flash!"

And Colin found himself wet once again, and breathing under water. He heard a squeaky voice saying, “Colin, what’s your favourite colour?”

He turned around and saw a silly little tadpole called Tim. Normally he would have been highly irritated by such a pointless question, but today he found it rather comforting to see little Tim.

“I dunno,” said Colin. “In fact, I don’t know anything very much. I’m just an ignorant old fish, you see. All I do is go for a swim all day.” And with that he managed to turn his gawp into almost a smile.

And that’s the Storynory of The Grumpy King. Bertie says that the moral of that story is that if you put a fish in charge, that’s what you can expect: nothing but trouble. Frogs are much more royal, says Bertie. And perhaps he is right.