HEN THE FIRST
Inspired by a major royal wedding, and Shakespeare, one-time playwright to the court
ENTER LADY BUNBURY solus.
[Bun.] Now is the winter of our disconnect
Made evident by our social network woes;
And all the friending efforts made by serfs
To penetrate our sovereign’s chilly gaze.
Enter Queen Elizabeth II, briskly, carrying her open laptop.
Bunbury, good day. What means this pesky Facebook page of mine?
It says I have been Friended. Where’s my guard?
BUNBURY opens the laptop and looks at the Queen’s page.
Your Majesty, this Friend is no true threat;
’Tis merely grandson William, that sweet prince.
He asks that you might also Friend anon
His true love, and intended, fair Kate M.
Queen. True love? Pish posh! As if, and all that rot
I’ve kingdoms to run, that’s the truth of it
I haven’t time for discourse with his maid
I would have thought he’d understand a bit.
Bun. But Your Maj, Kate will one day rule the land
If not in law, then couched behind the scenes
Now is the time to influence her deeds
So England’s not turned over to the Greens.
Queen. Oh, all right, let the strumpet be my Friend
Along with Willy, but they’d better not
Be plaguing me with silly games and notes
Or begging me to teach them to gavotte.
BUNBURY presses Accept.
She is so Friended. Madam, there’s a message.
Queen. Does the insidious Facebook never rest?
Bun. Shall I read it, Your Majesty?
Queen. Bunbury, d’uh.
BUNBURY reads from Her Majesty’s Facebook page.
Thank-you for being my new Facebook friend,
Your Majesty, this really means a lot.
I wanted to invite you to my “Hen,”
To take place at the swingingest hot-spots.
We’ll start off at the Crusty Mustard pub
And, after drinks, go to Shenanigan’s
An Irish joint, you’ll really like the grub
It has a throne we’ll take turns sitting in.
QUEEN throws up her hands.
Ignorant girl! She doesn’t have a grip
On superior verse! Zounds, Bunbury!
And forsooth, dear lady, what is a Hen?
Bun. Your Majesty, a party for the bride
A way to bid her previous life adieu.
Queen. There’s no nostalgia there, I guess, for Kate
Born in Reading, bred of – ugh -- millionaires.
Bunbury, can we get some subsidy
For rescuing her from the horrors there?
Bun. I think not, mi’lady.
Shall I respond on your behalf to this?
She’s thought to be a friendly, pleasant sort.
Queen. You know, Bunbury, I have never been
To Crusty Mustard or another pub
Perhaps I could inch into my old jeans
And, anonymous, join the Hen hubbub.
Bun. Ah, like a royal in a fairytale.
Kate Middleton would be flattered indeed.
Queen. I sometimes think on Shy Di’s demise
And wonder if we could have shared a spa
Was I a real gorgon in her eyes?
Or simply errant Charlie’s bossy Ma?
Bun. Your Majesty must never think on it.
What’s done is done, there’s nothing else to do.
Queen. And yet, I cannot help a bit of rue.
Perhaps a hand extended to her son
Through his fiancée will repair the breach.
Bun. Your Majesty, I, too, hail from Reading.
Shall I perhaps enlighten you re: Hens?
Queen. Yes. At what time will we gather the eggs?
Bun. Actually, real poultry’s not involved.
It’s called the Hen because it’s girls gone wild.
Queen. Alack. What strange fun is that, Bunbury?
Bun. Inhibitions set sail, egged on by drink.
’Tis best these antics never reach the groom.
He’ll have his own rebellion at his stag,
And briefly thwart his own march to his doom.
Queen. I fear a Hen is not my cup of tea
But must do something to extend a hand.
I’ll send instructions on how to curtsey.
And mayhap show her that I’m not too grand.
Bun. Madam, if I may –
Queen. Speak up Bunbury, lunchtime comes apace.
Bun. Perhaps you ought to think of something fun
A jaunt to put a smile upon her face.
A shopping spree to Asprey, GH Mumm?
Queen. Shopping?! I suppose then we’d take the tube
Pausing for foamed cafés at Starbucks Inc.?
Dear Bunbury, you aren’t usually crude
But your ideas, frankly, seem to stink.
Bun. Madam, forgive me.
Outside the palace, I am but a mum
Whose daughter herself lately tied the knot.
I tagged along on my eldest’s Hen night
And, truthfully, enjoyed myself a lot.
Queen. Oh, heavens, Bunbury!
Did you dance on tables, common barmaid style?
Queen. But do explain to me, was that required?
Bun. I wouldn’t say required, but t’was welcomed.
Queen. Out with it, Bunbury, what else did you?
Get toenails painted, drink out of a can?
Did you eat shepherd’s pie upside down, too,
Show knickers to every breathing man?
Bun. I ate Cornish pasties and showed them my Cox’s Orange Pippins.
Queen. Odds bodkins!
Bun. No, Orange Pippins. They’re a kind of apple.
Queen. I know what they are, Lady Bunbury.
I keep mine fully swathed in fragrant crepe.
Bun. I didn’t drink a spoonful of Guinness
But indulged deeply in fermented grape.
Queen. And what was your young daughter up to, pray?
With mother dear cavorting like a goat?
Bun. Now, that I cannot divulge, come what may.
She had her fun, my queen -- that’s all she wrote.
Queen. Are commoners discreet then, at these Hens?
Bun. Your Majesty, they stay close as the grave.
Queen. An invitee might do whate’er she liked
And not be outed by some callow knave?
Bun. Let’s say a queen’s invited to a Hen
She dresses up and can’t be recognized
She dines on greasy foodstuffs, meets new men
The kind, say, who might compliment her eyes
And, say, the queen indulged too much in beer
Removed her stockings, threw them up a tree
Sang World War One songs with a cocky leer
Lent out her jewels, for fun and a small fee.
Even if, next day, press banged at Kate’s door
Claimed William’s bride had taken larks too far
She’d roll her eyes, say that’s what Hens are for
And she did not know where the hell you are.
Queen. Bunbury, find me an ensemble -- bold.
A snazzy pantsuit, say, from Marks & Sparks
And a good face mask from Madame Tussaud’s.
Bun. Any particular face, Madam?
Queen. I rather fancy Carla Bruni’s, dear.
Bun. A most amusing thought, Your Majesty
Great kick-start to the wedding of the year.