Simple Simon

Key's Cupboard

In this week’s cupboard, some sort of yarn or fable, or what have you…

Simple Simon met a pieman.

“Hullo! I’d like to buy a couple of your pies, please,” said Simon, slobbering as he spoke, as is the way with simpletons.

“My pies are not for sale,” replied the pieman, “But you may rent them. I charge a very competitive rate, which compares favourably with that of other players in the rented pie sector.”

Simple Simon, being simple, failed to spot the flaw in this scheme, and rented two pies from the pieman. I am afraid I do not know with what juicy fillings the pies were crammed.

Shortly thereafter, Simple Simon sat him down upon a stone, took one of the pies from its paper bag, and prepared to take a bite. This being the kind of story in which birds can speak, a crow, or possibly a robin, or a starling, at any rate something beaked and feathered, flew down and cawed or chirruped a warning to Simple Simon.

“Do not eat even a crumb of the pie! Remember it is rented and you must give it back to the pieman at the expiry of the agreed rental period!”

Simple Simon was downcast as he put the pie back in the paper bag.

Later, as he roamed the hills and dales, Simple Simon’s hunger grew, and he sat him down upon another stone and took a pie out of its paper bag.

“Surely just a little bite will do no harm,” he thought to himself. But as he opened his mouth, salivating, a bird, a rook perhaps, or a linnet, or a sparrow, swooped down and spoke.

“Do not eat even a crumb of the pie! Remember it is rented and you must give it back to the pieman at the expiry of the agreed rental period!”

And so Simple Simon put the pie back in the paper bag and trudged on o’er hill and dale, growing ever more famished. Eventually he became so weak that he could walk no more, and he collapsed upon a hillside and took a pie from its paper bag and proceeded to stuff it down his gob. And then he took the other pie out of the other paper bag and stuffed that down his gob too. And no birds came to warn him, for he had wandered all unsuspecting into a bird-free zone.

And when, several days later, Simple Simon bumped into the pieman at a social gathering, there was a terrible fracas. And the pieman arranged for hired ruffians to beat Simple Simon insensible with baseball bats at dead of night in a disreputable alleyway. Poor Simple Simon!

And the moral of this story has something to do with rented pies and talking birds.


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About Author Profile: Frank Key

Frank Key is a London-based writer, blogger and broadcaster best known for his Hooting Yard blog, short-story collections and his long-running radio series Hooting Yard on the Air, which has been broadcast weekly on Resonance FM since April 2004. By Aerostat to Hooting Yard - A Frank Key Reader, an ideal introduction to his fiction, is published for Kindle by Dabbler Editions. Mr Key's Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives was published in October 2015 by Constable and is available to buy online and in all good bookshops.

8 thoughts on “Simple Simon

  1. Worm
    April 20, 2012 at 11:19

    I’m surprised that Ricky Gervais hasn’t made a series out of this premise yet

      April 20, 2012 at 19:32

      Did you see ‘Derek’? Jeeeeez….

  2. Frank Key
    April 20, 2012 at 13:47

    Clearly, my blanket ban on any mention, anywhere, ever, of R—- G—— has not yet taken effect. Remember, kids, if we just ignore him he will go away!

    April 20, 2012 at 16:13

    Glaringly allegorical and, if I may say, a Sewellian tilt at those doyens of all things crusty, the two hairy bikers.

  4. Gaw
    April 20, 2012 at 19:07

    Renting pies? Sounds like another tax dodge by the likes of Greggs.

    April 20, 2012 at 19:36

    I’m very pleased to find some correct Fable terminology in use here, particularly “sat him down upon a stone” and “at dead of night”, but it’s disappointing to see the modern “eventually” used instead of the proper Fable form “by and by”, as in “By and by he happened upon an old woman of the woods.”

    • Frank Key
      April 20, 2012 at 20:22

      Excellent point regarding “eventually” / “by and by”. I hope I made up for that lapse with the inclusion of the traditional “other players in the rented pie sector”.

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