Henry VIII and Mary Poppins
Mary Poppins and Henry VIII by Nick Hornby.
Mary Poppins was fed up. She was looking after two terrible boys, a nine-year-old called Lowell and an eight-year-old called Jesse. Jesse could never find his schoolbooks, or his trousers. Lowell spent all his time on YouTube, looking at goals from old football matches. Even Mary Poppins couldn’t get them to do what she wanted them to do, which was to comb their hair and play Snakes and Ladders and read story books. She liked old-fashioned things. They made her feel more like herself.
Anyway, Mary finally had a DAY OFF from her terrible job. She decided that she would visit Kew Gardens, where Henry the Eighth lived. Henry was in his dining room, eating his lunch. He liked lunch. On the day Mary was visiting his house, the menu was:
TEN BREAD ROLLS WITH PORCUPINE SPREAD
FIFTY PACKETS OF LOBSTER CRISPS
A WHOLE DEER
A WHOLE PIG
A WHOLE FLOCK OF PIGEONS
TWENTY BLACKBIRD PIES
A SUET PUDDING THE SIZE OF A CASTLE
It was only a light lunch, because Henry was trying to lose weight.
He looked out of his dining room window and saw a lovely-looking wench with an umbrella, and fell in love.
Henry had already had five wives, but he’d had a lot of bad luck with them. He had accidentally divorced the first one, and by accident had chopped off the head of the next one. The third wife died after a terrible accident with a bow and arrow. The fourth one he accidentally divorced – WHY DID THIS KEEP HAPPENING TO HIM? – and the fifth one, would you believe, accidentally got her head chopped off. Anyway, to cut a long story short, he wanted Mary Poppins to be his sixth wife.
He sent out one of his courtiers to ask her.
“You are commanded to be the sixth wife of Henry the Eighth,” said the courtier. “Here is your ring, and you must sign the marriage certificate on the dotted line.”
“I BEG your pardon,” said Mary Poppins. “Manners maketh a king.”
“What does that mean?” said the courtier.
“It means that kings should be seen and not heard.”
“But he’s the king of the entire country,” said the courtier. “You must do as he says.”
“Doing says as doing does,” said Mary Poppins.
“So…What should I tell him?” said the confused courtier.
“Tell him that everything comes to he who waits. And that if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. And that handsome is as handsome does.”
“He’s not handsome. He’s fat. He’s eaten a whole deer and a whole pig and seven ducks for his lunch. And loads of other things.”
“Healthy body, healthy mind. And if a wife’s worth marrying, then he should ask her himself.”
Henry wasn’t happy to hear any of that.
“BUT I’M THE KING OF ENGLAND” he roared.
The courtier was more scared of Mary Poppins than he was of the king.
“I’m not going back out there to tell her that,” said the courtier.
So Henry accidentally chopped off his head, too.
This left him with a problem. How was he going to ask Mary Poppins to be his wife? He thought about it for an hour or so, while Mary Poppins explored the maze, and then he came up with a plan. Even though he was fat, and even though he was the King of England, he would waddle downstairs, out of the front door, over to the maze…..AND ASK HER HIMSELF! BRILLIANT! He deserved to be king, he thought, because he was a genius.
“Mary Poppins, you are going to be my sixth wife,” he said an hour later. He’d been slow getting across the grass.
“What happened to the other five?” said Mary Poppins.
“Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded….and I’m looking for something that rhymes with ‘died’ for you, my darling sixth wife. Sighed? Cried? Fried, maybe?”
“Go and tidy your room,” said Mary Poppins.
“Tidy my room? But I have people to do that.”
“A stitch in time save nine,” said Mary Poppins. “Look after the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves. Just enough is plenty. And also patience is a virtue. To be or not to be, that is the question. And remember, remember the Fifth of November.”
“You know why you’re still single, don’t you?” said Henry. “Because NOBODY UNDERSTANDS A WORD YOU SAY.”
“Misery loves company,” said Mary Poppins. “And a cat can look at a king.”
And with that, she opened her umbrella and floated away, while Henry watched her.
Henry the Eighth chose someone else to be his sixth wife. She survived, which rhymes with ‘died’, almost. Mary Poppins never married.