Prince Doily I

Tank Green/ April 13, 2024/ Writing Walking

Photo of a paper doily on a bare soil path. The doily is shaped like the head of an Indian prince replete with turban.

Photo of a paper doily on a bare soil path. The doily is shaped like the head of an Indian prince replete with turban.

He’s lost his feather, but I am sure you can tell that this is Prince Doily I. Just in case you were wondering, he’s originally from Rajasthan, but I found him on a stretch of the North Downs Way near Borstal in Kent. He’s only recently escaped from a locked drawer where he’s been kept prisoner for a century.

Prince Doily I said we can call him Pridi for short, because it sounds a bit like ‘pretty’, which he most surely is. Pridi smiles when you say stuff like that to him, because he’s well into manners and enjoys a good fluff of his ego every now and then. Floral language is one of his specialities: he learnt the intricacies of it during a secondment to an illustrious Iranian court six hundred years ago.

Pridi said he was glad to have met me and particularly commended me for my maxim: ‘manners are free and get you things’. In fact, he said that’s why he bothered to speak to me at all. He knew that I was a kindred soul and would enable the assistance he required. I am nothing if not a facilitator of other people’s dreams, so I curtsied, bowed, did a flourish with my map and bag of Serious Pig rosemary cheese balls, and offered my rather impressive list of services to him.

It turns out that all Pridi needed was for me to get the legend going again. Magic spirits of all varieties draw their power from our imaginations, and since he’s been captive in a drawer for so long, our collective story-telling has forgotten him. So please carry on reading to learn the legend of Prince Doily I, so that we might revive and reinvigorate him. After which, suitably nourished, he will arise from his muddy grave and begin haunting us in earnest once again.

Oh there I go spoiling it all, but it is true that he is a spectre, or a doilydaitya as he is more properly called in his homeland of Rajasthan. However, only the uncouth and the profane need to fear Prince Doily I; the rest of us can breathe a collective sigh of relief, as he is here to save us from ill-manners and all forms of disrespect.

Prince Doily I is actually an historical figure who died an early and untimely death thirteen days after his return from the flowers, cordiality, and wine of the aforementioned Iranian court. Pridi was in the middle of a particularly poignant and heartfelt recitation of a poem he had learnt in Shiraz, when his cousin-third-removed, jealous of the crowd’s attention and affections, stood up, shouted rude words, and threw a dagger right into Pridi’s heart. Tragically, Pridi immediately dropped down dead, but the ungracious, ill-mannered disruption of poetry, coupled with the crowd’s righteous uproar, is what secured the nature of Pridi’s haunting.

Due to the timing of Pridi’s sad death, there remained the vestiges of a sentence or two in his mouth at the moment of expiration. These sentences, imbued as they were with emotion and heartfelt poetic language, absorbed a part of Prince Doily I’s life-force energy as it departed his corporeal body. In turn, the sentences used this energy to burrow deep down into Pridi’s teeth to live out their lives as tooth worms. It is from these celestial, poetic, fanciful beauties that Pridi’s ghostly power draws.

Ever since that fateful day, Prince Doily I has travelled the world seeking out the uncouth and ill-mannered upon whom he extracts his revenge. He has traversed every nation on this globe and, by Jove!, he says that he’s golly-gosh-darn-shocked by the myriad bad-mannered fools who walk this earth. (Present company excepted, of course.)

When Prince Doily I spies a rude and impolite person, he first fills his mouth with air and then releases it gently right into the ignoramus’ mouth. Through the vapours of Pridi’s exhalation, one of the now legions of tooth worms which occupy Pridi’s chops, will hitch a ride and burrow into a tooth in the vulgar one’s mouth. From this vantage point, Prince Doily I is now in a position to control the fate of the churlish individual. He has four stages of torture. The first is simply to give the indecorous one a tremendous toothache every time they are not cordial to another person. Should this fail to coach them into manners, then during the second stage, the tooth worm will rapidly multiply into all of their teeth, and from there, wire their mouth shut.

If the discourteous fellow is so committed to vulgarity that they take some kind of psychic, or literal, hacksaw or wire-cutters to their mouth to carry on being rude, then the tooth worms will burrow down into their jaw. From there, the tooth worms will eat through the marrow of all their crude and boorish bones, until Master or Mistress Rude collapses down into a skin-bag on the floor. After which, in the final stage, the tooth worms swarm about the uncivil one’s heart and brain, stabbing at them with tiny daggers until they are well and truly dead. The end. Amen. Rest in unpeace.

Once Prince Doily I is certain that the formerly walking manifestation of ill-manners has received their just deserts, he nods, adjusts his turban, rubs his hands together three times, and then leaves to find his next victim. As I say, when I met him he was in Kent, but he could be anywhere by now. Ergo, my strong advice to the people of Britain is to always remember your manners. You have been warned

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