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Lord Edmund Blackadder was concerned about the state of his tights. Written for Yuletide 2005.
Of course, it wasn't by any chance the top. To reach such exalted heights it would need to pass by such splendid examples as, "After four years working in Mrs. Miggins' pie shop", and "Following his marriage to Lord Percy", and "During the coronation of King Baldrick I". "He was summarily executed after a sham trial for a trifling crime which he did not commit" was also to be avoided, but then again, so was "He was justly executed after a well-considered and thoughtful trial for a heinous crime which he had absolutely committed" and, indeed, any permutation of "he died". Even in the face of such competition, however, the tights sentence held its own.
Nevertheless, Lord Edmund Blackadder was concerned about the state of his tights.
He'd sent Baldrick away to have them cleaned and, for a miracle, it had worked. Blackadder had wondered about that - Baldrick's own total lack of competence regarding everything seemed to at least triple the moment one brought in hygeine - but the tights practically shone, and not for the reason Baldrick's tights practically shone. However, Blackadder's tights were now apparently sized to fit a six year old.
Blackadder could have asked why this was, or asked what Baldrick had done wrong, or cast aspersions on Baldrick's ancestry, comportment, and general mental faculty. Instead, he chose to hit him.
"Good morning, fellows!" the never-welcome Lord Percy announced, coming in through the door. "And I do hope we're all ready for... good Lord, Blackadder, what's happened there?"
Blackadder held the sadly reduced tights up to the light. "The result of Baldrick's experiment with cleanliness. I rather think I understand why he's always so filthy." He sat, discarding the trousers. "I can't wear these to court, obviously. There are things I'd rather the Queen didn't see, because she'd laugh and then she'd have me executed, and I can't decide which would be worse." A pause. "Actually," he finished, "being executed would plainly be worse. I'm not sure why I was confused."
"You know," said Percy, "those tights would be very tight." A moment, and then - unfortunately - the similarity in words occurred to him. He brightened. "You could call them very tights! You'd say, I'm wearing some very tights, and people would say, I can see that! And you could call them veries for..."
"Percy," Blackadder said, "please stop talking before I am forced to kill you."
"My Lord," Baldrick began, "I have a..."
"No good has ever come of those words, Baldrick."
"You didn't let me finish, my Lord."
"No, no, I didn't. Carry on, then."
"Ah." Blackadder leaned forward in his chair, placing his temples in his hands. "Now there's a shock."
Baldrick leaned conspiratorially close, which did nothing to improve the atmosphere. "If you get a cucumber..."
"I must say!" Percy interrupted. "I would never have considered you capable of such crudity, Baldrick!"
Baldrick continued, unhindered. "And then you unravel the cucumber, and you use it to sew a new set of tights, and then everyone in court would say look at Lord Blackadder's tights, they're so stylish, where did he get them, and you could tell them that you'd made them yourself out of a cucumber, and then you could sell extra pairs and sort out all your money matters as well."
After a pause, Blackadder said, "Yes, Baldrick, I'm afraid that was exactly the cognitive level I thought you'd rise to. I'd hit you again but I'm afraid it would lose its savour." He stood. "But there's nothing to it, so I might as well get a cucumber regardless. If nothing else I could pass it off as a rather bad joke, which will distract attention from other matters."
"But, my Lord," Percy said, as Blackadder headed out of the room, "what's wrong with what you're wearing now?"
Blackadder stopped. "I was wearing this /yesterday/, Percy," he said. "Good Lord, do use your brain once in a while."
After he left, Percy surreptitiously confessed to Baldrick that, "Honestly, I can't tell his clothes one from another."
"Ah, well," Baldrick said, "you've got to look at the snake on his right arm."
"It's a different design?"
"Well, no, but sometimes its name is Martha and sometimes its name is Thomas..."
"I think," said Percy, completely abandoning previously stated notions of propriety when there was a chance to ingratiate himself with someone - even if that someone was Baldrick - "that Lord Blackadder would rather everyone wasn't looking at his snake."
"Why?" Baldrick asked. "They afraid they'll get bitten?"
"Well, no, but..."
"Maybe they're afraid it'll spit poison at them," Baldrick said. "Some snakes do that."
"I think it'd be worst if you got it in your eye," Baldrick opined. "Then you'd have to go around going, oh no, Lord Blackadder's snake has spit in my eye. And everyone would say, well, you shouldn't have teased his snake like that, should you. And you'd say but I never teased Lord Blackadder's snake and they'd say oh, right, we don't believe that, everyone knows about you and Lord Blackadder's snake, Baldrick."
Percy decided at that moment that he would never attempt off-colour jokes around Baldrick again, and for the rest of his life he was better for it.
"And now," said Melchett, "I think we should address the issue of taxation to the colonies."
The Queen of All England gave that matter the consideration it deserved, placing her chin on her hand, and finally opined; "Boring."
"Your Majesty," Melchett said, thinking this might be one of the moments where one could maybe slightly contradict the Queen without losing one's head, "it is a most important matter."
"But it's /boring/," the Queen said, again. "I think we should play charades instead."
At that, Nursie clapped her hands together in genuine excitement. "Ooh, yes, please!" she announced. "I could..."
The Queen made a /moue/. "On second thought we'd have to include Nursie and I'd rather not. So let's talk about taxation. What do you think, Melchie?"
"Madam, I think that this is a prime opportunity to show the velvet glove of the monarchy. If we choose not to tax heavily, I think we shall see much greater loyalty; not to mention an increase in real income. Might I add," Melchett finished, knowing his audience, "that your nose is particularly dimple-wimple cute today."
"Hm," said the Queen, unimpressed. "Edmund, what do you think?"
"I think that if I have to pay thousands of pounds every year then so should all the knobs in the diamond mines," said Blackadder, rather distracted from the important job of vitriol by focusing on standing in such a way that no vegetables slipped out of his trousers.
The Queen nodded, thoughtfully. "I agree with Edmund. Tell them they have to send me their money and nyer nyer to them."
"As you wish, your Majesty," said Melchett, profesionally calm as ever. "If I may take Lord Blackadder aside for a moment?"
It was difficult to follow Melchett without losing his cucumber, but by adopting a long, low stride, Blackadder eventually managed it. Melchett was waiting in the hallway, the very picture of his usual calm, and when the doors shut behind Blackadder Melchett very politely reached out, very tactfully grabbed him by the ruff, and very firmly dragged him to within an inch of his own face. Blackadder couldn't quite tell what Melchett had eaten for lunch, but he doubted it had been pleasant.
"Lord Blackadder," he said, in his gentlemanly, urbane manner, "may I ask you exactly why our Queen has agreed with you on the past six different issues?"
"Couldn't say," replied Blackadder, doing his best to scoot out of Melchett's way. "Possibly it's because I was right."
"But, Lord Blackadder, you were not only very plainly wrong, but your arguments were fallacious and often barely existent. I believe you opined on the issue of farm tarriffs with 'arseholes to the lot of 'em'."
"Well, I do have a certain charm. Might I trouble you to return my neck?"
"Lord Blackadder, if you are indulging in some kind of sorcery..."
"I think that's a bit of a stretch."
"...then I shall have no compunction whatsoever in having you turned over to the proper authorities and tortured to a horrible death."
Melchett released Blackadder, who stepped backwards and plumped out his ruff from its sadly mangled position."My great grandfather was once accused of witchcraft, you know," he stated, mostly to make conversation.
"How these things do go in circles."
"Yes, indeed. The man who accused him later burned to death."
Melchett smiled a very, very thin smile. "Shall we return to Her Majesty's presence?" he asked.
When they returned, the Queen looked up from admiring the daintiness of her hands, and asked sweetly; "Is there anything else?"
"Well, your Majesty," said Melchett, "there is the matter of..."
"I agree with Edmund," said the Queen.
"My position on the matter..." Blackadder said, and paused.
Now, I must be careful here, he thought to himself. Can't be too obvious. Don't mean to break the spell.
"My position on the matter," he repeated, "is that I be given a huge bag of money every day for the remainder of my natural life."
Perfect, he thought.
"We'll have it arranged directly," the Queen said.
Blackadder smirked. Melchett seethed all the harder.
"Oh, and Edmund," said the Queen, "I'm going to have you executed now."
Melchett smirked. Blackadder was rather too thrown to seethe. He took a moment to compose himself, and then said, "May I ask why?" with only the barest minimum of a shriek in his voice.
"Because I've been staring at your trousers for the last several hours, and it's most rude of you to make me do that. So I'm going to chop off your head and that'll fix everything." She smiled, in her intentionally as-adorable-as-possible way, which Blackadder just realised he'd seen far too much of when the Queen was ordering executions (every other day). "It's clever, don't you think?"
"Oh, yes, of course," Blackadder said, mostly out of reflex, and after that point there seemed nothing more to say than; "Bugger."
A few days later, Baldrick was wiping the floor. Admittedly, the rag he was using to wipe the floor was only slightly cleaner than a dead rat, and his water bucket was slightly less clean than the average outhouse, but in the end it was the thought that counted. He managed to do a good quarter of the room before realising that Lord Blackadder was sitting in his chair, something that surprised Lord Blackadder not in the least.
"Hello, my Lord," said Baldrick. "I thought you were going to be executed today?"
"Yes, that was the case," Blackadder said. "I believe the appointment was at noon."
A pause while Baldrick thought, and then; "Well, you'll want to get a wriggle-on, then! You wouldn't want to be late for that! Not with you being the guest of honour and all!"
"Actually, I believe it's off," said Blackadder, with an undeniable air of satisfaction.
"Oh, that's a shame," said Baldrick. "And you having gotten all ready for it, too. Why'd they call it off?"
"Well, Melchett showed up the next day in tight trousers with a truly enormous radish down one leg, and the Queen decided that if she killed us both she'd only have Nursie to talk to, which put her off the idea. I can understand the logic. I appear to be losing out on the huge bag of money front, but I'm ahead of the game in terms of keeping my head on, which is all that's really important." Blackadder stretched out, safe and secure in the knowledge that he would not be killed for at least another day. "I'd rather not think about vegetables ever again, though."
"I believe the cucumber is not a vegetable, my Lord," Baldrick stated, "it's a frond."
Blackadder sighed. "Possibly you mean a 'fruit', Baldrick."
"Nah, it's a frond. Like palm trees. 'Cause, see, you can tell cause cucumbers are green, and /palm trees/..."
"Thank you, Baldrick, I believe I've heard enough. Well, vegetables, fronds, fruits, whatever, I'll hear of none of them. I hereby relinquish all link to the kingdom of the plants."
"Not even turnips, my Lord?" Baldrick asked.
"Not even turnips, Baldrick. In fact, especially not turnips."
"Because I've got a lovely little poem about..."
"Baldrick, do you remember when I said that I wasn't going to hit you any more, for fear it would lose its savour?"
"Yes, my Lord." Baldrick smiled toothlessly. "I made a little note in my diary."
"Well," said Blackadder, "sometimes you've got to risk it." And with that, he cuffed Baldrick very hard across the back of the head, and everything returned to its normal, natural order.
So every mighty knight of lance,
or earl of court or jack of lumber;
Must keep secure his pair of pants,
and just in case, a ripe cucumber.
Once headed for a fall!
I'd guess he's rather small!
Lord Percy! Lord Percy!
So full of jokes and dares!
Lord Percy! Lord Percy!
A shame that no one cares!
That afternoon, Lord Blackadder chased a minstrel around an ornamental fountain for two hours.