In The Socks Of The Mighty

“Behold the socks of the mighty!”

These were the words I heard declaimed in my dreams, in the moment before waking on a windy winter’s morn. It was later, as I was scoffing breakfast (eggs, plus a surfeit of lampreys), that I realised their significance. I slapped my forehead and went to retrieve, from the cupboard under the sink, my battered tin crown. The time had come to stake my claim to the Iron Throne. I would reign o’er the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros!

First of all, of course, I would have to eliminate all the other pretenders to the Throne, of whom there were many. Oh!, many, so many, I had not thought death had undone so many. But for all the corpses piled up along the pathway to the Throne, there yet remained innumerable claimants who were very much alive, alive and in brutish good health, and heavily armed, and of psychotic temperament. If I was going to take my rightful place sitting on that Throne, with my bauble and sceptre, I was going to have my work cut out.

What I needed was a troop of minions. The presence of minions lends a kingly air even to the weediest of Throne-claimants. Straight after breakfast, then, I popped to the newsagent’s to pick up the latest issue of the directory or register or whatever it is, that invaluable publication which lists, in alphabetical order, with contact details, and accompanied by skilful line-drawings with much cross-hatching done in a spidery pen, all minions currently available for hire. Sitting on a municipal park bench, buffeted by the wild winds, I leafed through the lists and plumped for the Minions Of The Pointy Sticks. Alas, on closer inspection, this turned out to be “a knitting group composed of some wild and crazy folks”. The last thing you want in a minion is wildness or craziness. Rather, what you are looking for is slavish devotion, slobbering, and a propensity for violence. Being armed with a pointy stick is a definite advantage, which is why I had been initially attracted to the knitting group. In the event, I picked some other minions from the directory, and gave them, as their first task, the foraging from forests of sticks, and the sharpening of those sticks, until they were pointy.

I accomplished all this while still sitting on the park bench. The wind, as I said, was wild. Wild was the wind, and I heard the sound of mandolins. The sound grew louder, and I realised that, across the park, on the other side of a swan-mad lake, came the approaching forces of a pretender to the Iron Throne. It may have been Stannis Baratheon, or possibly Balon Greyjoy. Whichever one it was, his army was strumming frantically at mandolins, playing, I think, “Listen, The Snow Is Falling” by Yoko Ono, which I recognised as the B-side of “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”, recorded with that Beatle she married.

“Ha!”, I thought to myself, or rather spoke aloud, in a kingly way, knowing my minions would hang on my every word, whether it made any sense or not, “This puny pretender’s army sings of the snow falling. Windy it may be, and wild may be that wind, but snowfall there is not, not here. As any fule kno, snow falls far north of here, by the Wall. Clearly the army is geographically obtuse and disorientated. They will be easy prey, particularly as they are armed only with stringed instruments.”

And then I issued a command to my minions, ordering them to rush at the pretender’s nincompoop army, and poke at them with their newly-sharpened pointy sticks. Thus was the scene set for what history books would call the Battle of Blister Lane Municipal Park. We routed the enemy, and I was one step closer to the Iron Throne. It was time for lunch.

I headed off to a nearby stable, tore the heart out of a living horse, and gobbled it down while it was throbbing and hot and bloody. Unfortunately there were no barbaric Dothraki present to witness this gustatory feat. We are not all as media-savvy as the Khaleesi, who had the cameras present during her own horse-heart-eating lunch scene. But I was not troubled by her, far away in the Red Wastes with her grunting savages and baby dragons. Other claimants to the Throne had to be dealt with first, not least Robb Stark.

It was at this point I realised the knitting group could be of use to me after all. Who would dare to stop me, I reasoned, if I came bashing upon the city gates of King’s Landing wearing a pair of socks emblazoned with a knitted motif of the Black Bat of Harrenhal? Truly, so attired, would I walk in the socks of the mighty!

So cheered was I by this thought that I took my minions to the tavern for some celebratory carousing. It was only mid-afternoon, but they had acquitted themselves well, and were deserving of reward. Little did I know that, shortly before we fetched up at that snug rustic hostelry, the Unreconstructed Stalinist, creeping away from it in his asp-like way was Petyr Baelish, the Lanisters’ Machiavel. He had dripped poison into the ear of the taverner, and the taverner in turn dripped poison into our flagons of grog!

By teatime, my minions lay sprawled in the sawdust dead and dying, and I myself was so sick I could barely bring myself to scoff a second horse-heart for dinner. But I forced it down, and set off alone for the castle wherein the Minions Of The Pointy Sticks did their knitting. But in my weakened state, I became hopelessly lost. Lost, too, is my memory of what happened. All I can remember (I remember) is standing by the Wall. The guns shot above our heads, and we kissed as though nothing could fall (nothing could fall). Who was I kissing? Why, a Minion Of The Pointy Sticks, a knitwoman who had rescued me from a ditch somewhere along the way, and had brought me to the Wall.

And it is here at the Wall I have stayed. I no longer stake my claim to the Iron Throne. I am happy here, fighting off wolves and wildlings, listening to the falling snow, while my knitwoman, the Minion Of The Pointy Sticks, knits me sock after sock after sock after sock, each emblazoned with a motif of the Black Bat of Harrenhal. I am no king, but I trudge through snowdeep in the socks of the mighty!

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