Open-access content Monday 19th December 2011 — updated 2.38pm, Tuesday 5th May 2020
19 December 2011
The two men mounted up and left the castle. Crossing open ground beyond the moat, they heard the drawbridge pull up behind them, chains rattling.
Once inside the forest they relaxed a little, confident that there was no sign of pursuit. "Come," said the first, "let us find our companions and return to make our report to Colgrin."
Their return to the ancient hill fort that Colgrin had made his base for this expedition against the Britons was greeted with minor celebration and a small feast was set out. The mixed band of Saxons, Picts and Scots was in a sour mood, far from home and, so far, denied the fight that they had assembled for. They had hired this pair of mercenaries, disguised as knights, to infiltrate the enemy camp of Camelot to learn of its strengths and weaknesses. Casting aside the shank bone of mutton that he had been gnawing, Colgrin, leader of this band, roared: "Your report!"
Stepping forward, the two men dragged with them one of the surfs. Turning his back to the audience a sheaf of large scrolls was attached to his shoulders. The smaller man unfurled these to reveal two rows of symbols. "What is this?" thundered Colgrin. The taller man responded: "Well, my liege, William of Gates has not yet invented PowerPoint, nor do we yet have a Staples nearby wherefrom we could barter for a flip chart, so we must improvise to provide our report."
"Scurvy dolts! You know that we do not read nor write! Speak your report. How may we compete with and defeat King Arthur?" The tall man sighed. The client is king, literally, in this case. "We have indeed benchmarked the facilities and have to report that Camelot is far superior. It is a proper castle, unlike this open set of ditches left over from the Bronze Age. Its walls are strong and thick, its security is strong with moat and drawbridge to provide access control. It has a fine conference room with round table for meetings and morale there is high among the team due to the warm, dry and safe accommodation."
"What?! Are there no weaknesses?" enquired Colgrin. "Arthur will not come out to fight in the open and so we must find another way to defeat him. You were tasked with finding that and you have not earned your gold so far. In fact it is more likely that you will be feeding the crows!" he raged, waving his axe for emphasis.
The shorter man spoke: "Well there is a way that we can have them forced into the open and that is through non compliance. You see, there are a number of health and safety breaches. For example, although they have issued some people with protective chain mail and armour to reduce the risk of broadsword accidents, they have no risk assessments in place. Routine activities such as jousting practice and for the raising of boiling oil to the ramparts have inherent risk."
The taller man took over: "They are also polluting a local stream with human and food waste from the castle. For all of these offences, Camelot could be closed and its occupants will be at your mercy as they leave."
"When can this be?" asked Colgrin?
"Well" the tall man replied, "In about 1500 years when health and safety has been invented."
But King Arthur had followed the intruders and as the two men were chased from the camp near Badon, his knights fell on the distracted Saxon army, defeating them for good in the 12th battle of Arthur's reign.
Read more of John Bowen's blogs at That Consultant Bloke
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FM World Blog: A new Arthurian legend?
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