This is a story for Tara, who asked to hear about the adventures of Mr Muscle, and so now I will tell you the story of him and his high deeds. Far, far away and long ago Mr Muscle was famed for his bright soul and his clean mind. He rode a plumy white horse and ventured into the lands ruled by a Dirty Durty Knight. Everywhere he went he sang like a meadow pipit and all the maids would come out to sigh over his love spots, and all the thrusting young men would admire his gorget and his bevor and his cuirasse.
The maids loved him because he would go into their houses and, with one flash of his smile, all their pots would shine, and with one keen stare, the vegetables would cut themselves up and go into the pan, which meant the girls could spend much more time reading and singing and playing football with the young men.
But the young men weren’t so keen on this. Because the girls sometimes beat them at football, and laughed cruelly at the young men’s ineptness in the penalty box.
‘We must do something,’ said one young Man. ‘We must stop these girls from having so much time to practise their ball skills. They beat us 3-2 last week.’
‘It’s all the fault of that Mr Muscle,’ the other young men shouted. ‘He must leave this land, and take his gorget and his bevor and his cuirasse with him.’
But Mr Muscle wouldn’t go. ‘The girls all love me,’ he said. ‘And besides, they’re brilliant at football. Did you see that goal that Princess Mellicent scored last week? From the half-way line? It was on Match of the Day.’
And so the young men narrowed their eyes, and turned their backs on the shiny Muscle Man and his brilliant smile and his plumy horse, and went to see the Dirty Durty Knight, who was known far and wide for his black-hearted, dastard magic, and generally mysogynistic behaviour.
And the Dirty Durty Knight lolled on his stained chair, and picked his fingernails and listened to the woes of the thrusting young men.
‘Yes, I will help you,’ he said. ‘I hate Mr Muscle. I hate cleanliness, and I can’t stand that feller’s shiny teeth. I can reduce him to a pasty mess. But you won’t like it.’
‘Do it,’ said the men.
And so the Dirty Durty Knight tempted Mr Muscle to clean his scummy, cobwebbed castle, and Mr Muscle strode through every revolting room and sprang up and down every slimy step in his gorget and his bevor and his cuirasse, smiling and smiling until his cheeks hurt. And everything that he smiled at shone in return; even the Dirty Durty Knight’s fingernails. And at last, when the castle was glowing like a flushed pearl in the sunset, the Dirty Durty Knight asked an exhausted Mr Muscle to sit down to a dish of tea.
‘And there will be cake too,’ said the Dirty Durty Knight. ‘Which hasn’t got my thumbprints on it anymore, now that you’ve smiled at it.’
‘Oh rather,’ said Mr Muscle, ‘I love cake.’ And the poor, innocent, handsome lump downed his tea and ate his cake, which the Dirty Durty Knight had poisoned. And before Mr Muscle could say ‘Bang!’ he was gone, turned into goo, the whole shiny lot of him; sliding off his chair into a silent silver puddle on the floor.
‘That’ll teach you for smiling willy nilly in my house,’ snarled the Dirty Durty Knight, and he scooped the goo into a spray bottle, and flipped the lid to ‘off ’.
Loud was the wailing of the young girls at the news. And the rending of the garments and the heaping of the ashes upon their heads was terrible to behold. For now, instead of getting Mr Muscle’s favours for free, the young women found they had to pay £2.99 a pop (or £9.76 for the washroom cleaner, available on ebay).
And they had to go out to the corporate jungle to earn the money to afford his services; and the thrusting young men were left to play football by themselves and, on odd occasions, even to do a spot of cleaning.
The Dirty Durty Knight had been right. The young men didn’t like it at all. They missed the girls with their careless hair and their silky ball skills. But Mr Muscle was gone forever, along with his gorget and his bevor and his cuirasse.
And what happened to the plumy horse? The Dirty Durty Knight painted him black and rode miserably about the countryside, not wanting to go home. He had not managed to scoop up all of Mr Muscle, you see, and his dirty, durty, days were over. His castle and his fingernails were doomed to be forever clean, and there was nothing he could do about it.
Picture courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight_of_the_Swan via Creative Commons