The Dregs of History (4) - Helen of Tintagel

Written by George Fripley

Monday, 24 October 2011

Helen Cooper grew up in Tintagel on the picturesque north Cornwall coast. Being the daughter of a barrel-maker that supplied the local breweries and inns, it was no surprise when she became a barmaid. It was also not a surprise that she liked a drink, rum as a preference.

It was as a barmaid that she gained her reputation for having a quick temper and a foul mouth. It soon became clear that she also had a good left hook for those who argued with her. Her soft auburn hair, pale skin and slight frame belied the immense power that lay behind that punch. She was an angry girl, but nobody ever found out what she was she was angry about. Helen became known as 'The face that launched 1000 punches' or by those less charitable 'The face that launched 1000 shits' in reference to her constant swearing.

Helen was, according to Helen, the great grand-daughter of King Arthur and a person that Merlin looked over from afar. She said there was a direct line of descent and that royal blood flowed in her veins. Her customers often commented loudly that it must be pretty diluted by now, but once they had picked their teeth out of their ale, they would quietly agree that she did pack a royal punch. She found it difficult to get a husband. Eventually Tintagel became too small for Helen and in 1462 she decided to leave. It was time to go and experience the world outside Cornwall. She worked her way north from village to village and ended up in the Midlands during one of the livelier times in British history.

The Wars of the Roses were in full swing, and there were always pubs full of opinionated and drunk people. Helen fitted in perfectly, joining in the fights and swearing with the best of them. She endeared herself to Richard III when one of his attendants, Sir William Stanley, questioned her virtue and told her in no uncertain terms that he was not impressed with her unkempt hair and her propensity to drink and utter profanities. He was, however, impressed by her vicious and surprisingly powerful left hook that he didn't see coming. It is rumoured that King Richard offered to marry her on the spot and that she turned him down on the grounds that she would then have to deal with too many wankers like Sir William.

She was last seen in the village of Bosworth soon after meeting the king. This was the eve of the decisive battle in 1485. She was serving a group of soldiers, who were nervous and highly strung before the next day's fighting, when one of them made a lewd suggestion about how she could help them relax. By then she'd had several rums herself and she launched herself at the soldier swinging her famous left hook. She missed entirely, lost her balance, and went plunging down the stairs into the basement. It was here that she went headfirst into a full barrel of cider and then resisted all efforts to drag her out. This did not kill her because she had tremendous tolerance for alcohol, but it did cause her to become exceedingly drunk and to wander out into the fields for a snooze. This is the last anyone saw of her, but it said that King Richard tripped over her in the midst of the Battle of Bosworth Field and that this resulted in both his and her death. His last words to her were rumoured to be, 'What ho Helen! You were right about Sir William, the wanker changed sides!'

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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