, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.svg

Murgatroyd was contemplating the crest over his lintel.  As in so many Border

areas, it featured a lion and a unicorn.  Pity the unicorn was losing its gilding.

The lion and the unicorn were fighting for the crown;

the lion beat the unicorn all round about the town.

Some gave them white bread and some gave them brown;

some gave them plumb [sic] cake and drummed them out of town.

recited Diana.

Murgatroyd’s curiosity was aroused.  What’s all that about?

Oh, it’s an old nursery rhyme.  I think it refers to the fact that the Union was

less than amicable.  There are various stories about which animal achieved

ascendency.  Like a certain First Minister, the unicorn believed its horn-oil?-

was a universal panacea.  I think it was the poet, Edmund Spenser, who

relayed how the unicorn was trapped in a tree and impaled itself by its horn

when it made a rash assault on the lion.

Murgatroyd looked thoughtful: I think that George Orwell published

something called ‘The Lion and the Unicorn’, come to think of it.  He thought

that the conflict between them would create a new kind of democratic

socialism.  I seem to remember that he wanted to retain the Royal Family,

though, and he cautioned that everyone considers themselves British, as

soon as the need for defence arises.


Hmm, interesting, replied Diana.  Lewis Carroll in ‘Through the Looking

Glass’ referred to the rhyme.  Both heraldic beasts belong to the same

king and are supposed to be on the same side, making their rivalry

absurd.  The Unicorn, like the Adam Smith wannabe, the Great Narwhal-

-cum Pinocchio porky pie eater, nay porcine teller himself, appeals to Alice,

aka the electorate, for mutual trust.  David Cameron seems to be positively

leonine, as he asks for the cake to be handed round first and cut in slices


Oh, I remember that, enthused Murgatroyd.  The cake kept returning to its

unified whole, didn’t it?  Even when divided into three.

Mrs Connolly came out into the garden carrying a tray, very much in the

manner of Mrs Overall from Acorn Antiques.  A pot of tea and a fine plum

cake was sliding precariously to one side.

What do you know about the lion and the unicorn, Mrs C? asked

Murgatroyd, relieving her of the weight of the comestibles.

Weel now, my understanding is that they represented the union of two

warring nations and they showed that the natural order was supported

by the balanced forces of Nature-ie/ the sun and the moon, held in

harmony.  Individually they are imbalanced, but together no other creature

can match their strength, because they are a union of opposites.  Their

styles of sovereignty may be different, but they are complimentary.

Well expressed, Mrs C! cheered Murgatroyd, pouring the tea himself and

forgetting that she liked to play ‘mother.’

Encouraged by the response, Mrs C continued:

Wert thou the unicorn, pride and wrath would confine thee,

and make thine own self the conquest of thy fury.

Who said that? asked Diana.

Och, The Bishop of Rochester, when he recorded an obscure Aesop’s

fable concerning the twa beasties.  Aye, the lion can be tricky when he

appears to be conciliatory.  The unicorn should never relinquish its horn

to him, even on the appeal for a crutch.  She’ll just be hoisted with her

own petard.  They should all listen to Her Majesty and think very carefully.

Well, it’s late in the day now, Mrs C, volunteered Diana.  But the White

King had the last word in Carroll’s story:  ‘Fair play with the cake!’  If they

don’t justly divide the spoils they’ll both be drummed out of town.

Very true, agreed Mrs C.