The Emperor's new clothes

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ONCE UPON a time, there was an Emperor, who was so fond of designer clothes, that to fund his little whim, he raised taxes to the hilt, and spent every penny in dress.

“Ooh, don’t I look a picture in this little number,” he said, admiring his fine figure in the mirror, winking at his tailor, who he suddenly noticed had been spending a lot of time in the gym, and looked quite a picture himself.

“Too cool baby, I look divine. Run me up another dear boy, and have it ready by the end of the day," said the Emperor. "I think I’ll go for pink silk with tiny blue diamonds sewn on to the lapels and maybe on the pockets, he decided thoughtfully. Oh, and print some zebra patterns on the trousers. I’ll show that Elton John once and for all who is the best dressed man in the kingdom."

Now, he did not trouble himself the least about his armed forces - the gardener or the housemaid could look after them. If the rumours sweeping the palace were true, the housemaid was already doing a pretty fine job. The Palace guards sure grinned a lot lately. Come to think of it, so did the gardener.

Nor did he care to go either to the movies or the local disco, way too dark and dingy to be seen there. He only looked for opportunities that afforded him bright lights for displaying his beautiful outfits.

His show biz agent made certain he only mixed in the very best circles in the land, and that all the paparazzi in the country had regular tip offs as to the Emperor’s social calendar. The agent was determined to make sure his royal client made next week’s edition of Goodbye magazine, if it was the last thing he ever did. Knowing the Emperor, goodbye could well be the case for him if he didn’t pull his finger out.

The Emperor had a different outfit for each hour of the day, and as with any other King, Queen or Emperor, one is in the habit of hearing them say, "he/she is sitting in council," and so it was always said, The Emperor is sitting in his closet, but one of these days he is going to tell us the truth and come out."

Time passed merrily in the large city which was his beloved capital, especially for the housemaid and gardener who couldn’t quite believe their luck. Every day strangers arrived at the court, and one day two men calling themselves Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid arrived in town. They were tired of robbing banks so thought they would start on a new career.

They issued a news bulletin that they knew how to weave cloth of the most beautiful colours and patterns, and it had the most wonderful property of remaining invisible to everyone who was either useless at his job or a complete moron. They also slipped in that Elton John had already shown quite an interest in their designs.

“To hell with Sir Elton,” thought the Emperor. “These must, indeed, be the guys to work for me.” “I hear through the grapevine J-Lo is getting married again for the sixth time next week, and I do want to look my best. Not only will I look sensational, I’ll be able to find out which men in my realms lied on their CVs and are unfit for office. Even better, I’ll be able to dispel all the morons who have fooled me for years into thinking they are clever.”

And the Emperor hurried off to rig that night’s national lottery so that he was the only winner. Then he ordered Butch and Sundance to his palace and gave them a small part of his winnings so they might begin their work immediately.

Later, in another room in the Palace......

Sundance: (Sundance pouts, whirls around at the speed of lightening, fans his gun and fires off a round into the Palace walls. “Damn it Butch, is this really such a bright idea? Ya know I ain’t much good with a needle.”

Butch: “Don’t ya go worrying your head kid, this scam is bullet proof."

Sundance: (worried look) “Well the last one all but had us blown to smithereens.”

Butch: (chuckling) “Yeah, well I was gittin’ tired of raindrops falling on my head. Thought I’d give ya a bit of excitement. And remember boy, I still give the orders around here. Every man is entitled to one small mistake. Why this will be as easy as shelling peas in a pod, yes sir, it surely will."

Sundance: “You ever shell peas in a pod Butch?”

Butch: “Nope, but I’m telling ya, it’s as easy as that.”

Sundance: (Bored look) “Well like ya said, you’re the boss."

Butch: (Thinking hard) “Once this job is in the bag we’re gonna need to lay low for a while. Kind of thought we might head on down to Bolivia for a week or two.”

Sundance: (even more worried look) “Wanna keep thinking Butch? I have a real bad feeling in the pit of my gut about Bolivia. Couldn’t we shack up on the Costa del Sol for a couple of weeks?”

Sundance: (confident tone) “Shucks Sundance, that’s where all the hooligans head for their summer rampage. Have I ever let you down yet kid? Ya stick with me; everything is going to be fine and dandy in Bolivia. Just you wait and see.”

So Butch and Sundance set up the two looms and pretended to work their socks off, but really they did nothing at all except play with their guns and watch Baywatch repeats on TV. They requested for the best silk, gold thread and pure white diamonds for decoration, and put them all into their suitcases. They continued their pretend work, supping beer until after the 9 o’clock watershed, when there was sure to be some naughty scenes on the box worth looking at.

Now the Emperor was anxious to know how they were getting on with his new cloth, but he was concerned when he remembered that a moron, or one unfit for his office, would be unable to see the manufacture. All the people in the land had heard about the amazing property of the cloth and couldn’t wait to find out who would be identified as idiots, although a few of them had a pretty good idea. He decided it wouldn’t be worth risking his own intelligence, so after some deliberation he decided to send his Prime Minister instead.

“He will be the best judge as to how my cloth is coming along,” said the Emperor. “After all, he had been voted into office by all the people throughout the kingdom, and he is surely a man of sense, one I can trust.”

So the Prime Minister went into the great hall where Butch and Sundance were working at the empty looms. “What the devil is going on here,” thought the PM who couldn’t see a thing happening. I’ve seen more action watching paint dry then I’m seeing from these two.” However, he didn’t express his views out loud.

Butch and Sundance requested the PM move a bit closer; they’d only ever seen him on TV and wanted a closer look. Nope, he surely didn’t look much better up close they both decided. They asked him whether their wonderful designs pleased him, and pointing to the empty frames asked wasn’t the cloth they were weaving the most stunning colour he had ever seen.

Poor old Mr Flair looked and looked but he really couldn’t see a thing. “Is it possible that I am a complete moron”, he thought? “I have never thought so myself, and neither has my dear wife Cherry Berry, and no one must know that I am. Can it be possible I am unfit for my office? Maybe I should ring the President of the United States and ask for his opinion.” And then remembering what a fine mess the President had got him into last time they put their heads together he thought better of it. “I will never let on I can’t see their work."

“Well, Mr Flair,” said Butch, still pretending to work. “Ain’t ya gonna tell us boys if the stuff pleases you?”

“Oh, it surely does. Spot on lads, you are doing a marvellous job. I will report your progress to the Emperor immediately. I’m sure he will be over the moon with his fine cloth.”

“We shall be much obliged to ya,” said Butch, cracking open another bottle of beer with his teeth.

Then he named the different colours they had weaved into the cloth and described the pattern in great detail. Mr Flair listened intently, in order he might relay this vital information to the Emperor. Personally, he wouldn’t have been seen dead in what they described, but he was sure his master would love the sound of it. Then, pretending to work even harder, Butch and Sundance requested more diamonds which they claimed were necessary to finish the job.

The Emperor was pleased with Mr Flair's report, but soon grew desperate to know when his cloth would be finished. So he sent another minister, Mr Coward along to see how the men were getting on. Unfortunately, Mr Coward had the same problem as Mr Flair, all he could see was empty looms.

“Does the cloth appear to you as beautiful as it did to Mr Flair,” asked Butch?

Now Mr Coward had a devious plan, he intended to step into Mr Flair’s shoes as soon as he could wangle it, and he certainly didn’t want to be seen as an idiot. If Mr Flair could seen the cloth, then so could he. He’d back him all the way, well at least for the time being. So he praised the cloth he couldn’t see, and reported back to the Emperor.

“Indeed, your most gracious Imperial Majesty,” said Mr Coward sucking up to his sovereign when he returned, “the cloth which the weavers are preparing is out of this world.” Well out, he thought to himself.......

The whole country was buzzing with the news of the splendid cloth which the Emperor had ordered to be woven at his own expense.

And now the Emperor couldn’t stand the suspense another minute. He wished to see the costly cloth for himself. Accompanied by a select number of his Government officers, including Flair and Coward, he marched down to the Great Hall to see how Butch and Sundance were getting on.

As soon as Butch became aware of the men approaching he quickly switched the TV off, (right in the middle of a good bit too) and the two men rushed to the looms and pretended to be working more diligently than ever.

"Is not the work absolutely wonderful?" said Flair and Coward in unison. "If your most gracious Majesty will only be pleased to look at it! What a most exquisite design! What amazing colours!"

The Emperor was indeed perplexed. How is this possible he thought to himself? I can't see bugger all! This is indeed bad news. Am I the moron, or am I simply unfit to be Emperor? This would be very bad news indeed.

“Oh! The cloth is truly magnificent,” he said aloud. “It has my complete approval.” He looked around desperately trying to see what the others could see, but alas, it was to no avail. So he smiled graciously and waited to hear what his officers would say.

“Beautiful, magnificent,” said the officers who advised his majesty to have a special suit made from the splendid material, for the approaching procession.

“Wonderful! Excellent idea!” they all agreed, and everyone was uncommonly gay, which certainly put a smile on the Emperor’s face.

Butch and Sundance were each presented with an MBE, to be worn in their holsters, and the titles of “Sir Cassidy and Sir Sundance Kid, Weavers Supreme.” Despite it being a bit of a mouthful they were deeply honoured.

The little rascals sat up the whole night and pretended to be really enthusiastic about finishing the special suit. They pretended to roll the cloth, cut the cloth, and sewed it with invisible needles.

“See ya’ all,” said Butch excitedly. “The Emperor’s new suit is ready.”

And now the Emperor and his officers came to the weavers, and the little devils raised their arms, pretending to hold his suit up.

“Golly, gee, whiz,” exclaimed Butch, holding the invisible jacket high in the air. “Why it’s as light as a damn feather, ya might fancy one is as buck naked as the day he was born. Sure is some mighty fine material.”

“Absolutely!” cried the officers, although not one of them could see a thing.

“If your high and mighty Majesty will be kind enough to remove ya old clobber, we’ll fit ya new suit, in front of the looking glass,” said Butch.

The Emperor was delighted to undress in front of the crowd, and the little rascals pretended to arrange his new attire, the Emperor strutting around in front of the mirror as proud as a peacock.

“How frightfully splendid his Majesty looks in his new suit, and what a splendid cut,” they all cried out. “These are indeed clothes fit for any Emperor.”

“The parasol which is to be borne over your Majesty, in the procession, is up and ready,” announced the master of the ceremonies.

“I’m fit for my audience,” answered the Emperor, parading in front of the mirror for the final time. “Does my new suit look the business” he enquired?

“Quite remarkable,” said Mr Flair and everyone smiled in agreement.

So now the Emperor paraded the streets under his parasol, in the midst of the procession, through the streets of the capital followed closely by the paparazzi. And all the people standing by, and those at the windows, snapped their cameras as fast as they could and cried out, “Oh! How beautiful our Emperor looks today."

Nobody was prepared to admit they couldn’t see the magnificent suit, because in doing so, he would have been admitting he was a complete moron or useless at his job. The Emperor smiled broadly, he was certainly making quite an impression today.

“But the Emperor is naked,” said a little girl. “I think he is a royal streaker.”

“Cover your eyes at once child," exclaimed her father, suddenly realizing his daughter was correct. This was outrageous behaviour!

“Listen to the voice of innocence and wisdom,” exclaimed her father, and what the child had witnessed was whispered from one to another.

He has nothing on whatsoever,” cried out all the people.

The Emperor was furious. He’d be had! Although he knew the people were right, he had no choice but to continue in the procession.

Butch and Sundance laughed until they wept. Then they made a quick exit with their bulging suitcases and flew straight to Bolivia, where unfortunately they never lived long enough to tell another tale.

The Emperor made it onto the front cover of Goodbye magazine the following day, so he sacked his agent. The people laughed about the whole affair for months, and Mr Flair gained many new supporters. Everyone, throughout the kingdom, except the Emperor, was in very high spirits for a very, long time.


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