Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. A story about the Tower of London Ravens begins after the photo.
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Humor
A Dressing Down
It is said that, “if the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it.” The birds are named, cared for, and well known to visitors, but what is not well known is that the birds are enlisted as soldiers of the United Kingdom. Even less known among humans but amply understood by the ravens, is that Colonel Raven Harry runs a tight ship. Birds like the infamous Grog, found at a nearby pub, receive harsh reprimands as evidenced by the following
Colonel Harry landed beside Raven Privates Rodney and Nelson. The two were staggering a bit as they pecked at a chunk Connage Dunlop cheese provided by the Yeoman warders. The pair were clearly in their cups.
“You’ve been drinking haven’t you?” accused Harry with a baleful look.
“Wot? Just a nip, sir,” admitted Rodney.
“A nip? A NIP is it? The pair of you are bloody bladdered!*”
“Awfully sorry, sir. It won’t happen again,” said Nelson.
“You’re bloody right it won’t. A dressing down from me will be the least of your worries. You could be dismissed from service to the Queen. No more lamb’s meat. No more chicken livers. An end to those lovely Stichelton and Cornish yarg cheeses. And wouldn’t that be bloody awful?”
“Yes, sir,” said the privates in unison.
“Right. We’ll not go traipsing off like that again, will we?”
“Never again, sir!” said Nelson,
Harry tossed a black marker to them. “Next time, blacken out your colored leg bands so you can’t be identified as a Tower Raven. And by the way, how’s the Givens’ Honey Meade this year?”
*Bladdered – British slang. An impolite term for drunk.
From Wiki about the Ravens of the Tower of London:
In 1981, Grog the raven decided to leave the surroundings of the Tower for those of a pub, after 21 years of faithful service to the Crown.
“Each Tower raven has a different coloured band on one leg, to make it easier to identify individual birds. Ravens in captivity in the Tower grounds have had lifespans of over 40 years.
The Tower’s ravens are given individual names, and are all under the care of the Yeomen Warders. The diet of the ravens is carefully maintained; it includes fresh fruit, cheese and fresh meat, as well as vitamins and other supplements. In 2007, the Ravenmaster Derek Coyle commented: “I buy fresh meat from Smithfield – liver, lamb, beef, chicken…”
“During World War II, only one raven was able to survive the hardships of the bombing during the Blitz, so the Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, ordered more ravens to be brought in, in order to bring the flock up to the correct size. The Tower ravens are enlisted as soldiers of the Kingdom, and were issued attestation cards in the same way as soldiers and police. As is the case with soldiers, the ravens can be dismissed for unsatisfactory conduct.
Most Londoners are fond of the ravens, but sometimes an individual bird will fall out of favour because of inappropriate behaviour. For example, “Raven George” lost his appointment to the Crown, and was retired to Wales for attacking and destroying TV aerials.”
The difference between Ravens and Crows
Join the writers of Sunday Photo Fiction and give us your story about this week’s photo. The writing prompt can be found here: http://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/sunday-photo-fiction-february-15th-2014/