"The Pyjama Pilferer"
A Flintloque Tale by Tony Harwood
Photograph, Miniatures and Terrain by Tony Harwood
Orcs in the Webbe regular and storyteller extraordinare, Tony Harwood, turns his attention to another of Foul Mouth Freddy's posse for this years Advent tale in honour of the memory of the last of the colourful characters who have inspired the many wonderful tales we've read these last seven years.
As regular readers will know the character of Foul Mouth Freddy* is based on a family friend who had many different jobs during the time that I knew him. The remaining characters of Freddy’s notorious posse are also based on relatives or friends of my father, each with their own unique story to tell.
Earlier this year Richard (Dickie) passed away and I am sorry to say that he was the last of the colourful characters on which I have based these short stories. I have therefore broken with tradition and will be writing a short story featuring ‘Tricky-Dickie’ and not Foul-Mouth Freddy for this year’s Advent Calendar.
Miniatures and Terrain Painted, Based and Photographed by Tony Harwood
For most of his military life Tricky-Dickie was either scamming some unfortunate recruit or planning some ‘big score’, a capper so outrageous that Freddy, Kenny and Dickie could retire in comfort back to Albion and put the years of service to King Gorgie Porgie behind them, in fact Dickie’s plan was to own and run a pub and we can only imagine what sort of a mess he would have made of that particular venture.**
While resting, well what I actually mean is spending time in the ‘Black House’, Slammer or Regimental Guardhouse, Dickie overheard some of the other inmates bragging amongst themselves - in which each prisoner tried to outdo the other with feats of derring-do. One such conversation discussed the most difficult scam that could be played on Sim-San, the un-liked bully that commanded the 24th Regiment of Foot in Catalucia. It was well known that Sim-San was fond of a particular pair of blue-stripped pyjamas that were a gift from his wife and brought back from goode olde Albion. Sim-San would change into the said pyjamas just after his regular nightcap of best Ferach Brandy then when he awoke in the morning the pyjamas were cleaned, folded and secured in his officer’s campaign chest.
Surely the ‘tealeaf’ who could steal Sim-Sans pyjamas was the most resourceful thief in Catalucia.
I’ll do it said Dickie…
…for a price.
But instead of a simple monetary bet, the half dozen prisoners – possibly the best thieves in the whole of Catalucia - decided that whom so ever possessed the said pyjamas by the next full moon would receive a ‘Hogs Head‘ of ale from each of the other thieves and more importantly be declared Master Thief amongst Thieves.
A challenge that our Dickie was very much up for.
As you can image during the next couple of weeks there were many attempts at securing the stripy pyjamas, but all of them failed and Sim-San became ever more paranoid about security, placing the garments in a metal bound and triple locked wooden chest. Then to make sure that nothing untoward could happened to the much prized pyjamas, an armed sentry*** was posted to guard them until they were needed for the next slumber. One evening while the sentry watched over the locked chest Dickie placed some ground up rosehip into Sim-San’s empty camp bed and waited.
Sim-San finished his Ferach Brandy and made his way into his officer’s tent. Soon after this the many oil lamps were turned off and the whole camp was quiet. However it wasn’t long before the stillness of the evening was broken by cries and agitation from the commander’s tent. Soldiers woken from their slumber looked towards the centre of the commotion and saw their commander in chief frantically running from the tent, scratching and tearing at his beloved pyjamas. Dickie was there to catch the flung garments and offer Sim-San some soothing balm to relieve the itching. As a naked Sim-San was found hopping and jumping around one of the many camp fires Dickie calmly picked up the offending night clothes and proceeded to collect his wager from the brow-beaten thieves explaining that rosehip is a powerful and natural itching powder.
Freddy and the posse very much enjoyed the Hogs Head of ale that Dickie gave them. So much so that they also found themselves on-charge and locked up in the slammer for a short time…
As you can imagine Sim-San was not amused and every Red Coat in the regiment soon found that the temper of this unhinged officer was not something to welcome. On the plus side the image of Sim-San running naked through the slumbering soldiers was a story that was regularly told and re-told in both The Grande Army and The Armies of Mordred. It became one of the great Urban Legends of the War in Catalucia and was in part responsible for the fall from grace of General Sim-San and his ultimate replacement.
As a bonus, it is Christmas after all, here is a second Tricky-Dickie short story.
Much later Dickie was once again ‘on charge’ and while being escorted to one of his many court visits he was to be accompanied by a newly arrived Provost recruit. On the way to the hearing, Dickie asked if he could stop by a local bakery and purchase a loaf of fresh bread. Yes said the provost and Dickie then asked for some money as being a prisoner he had none. The provost gave Dickie a ‘Gorge’ (a half-crown coin) and waited outside. As time passed and Dickie did not appear, the young provost went into the bakery only to find that Dickie had exited through a back door (with the half crown and a stolen loaf which the provost then had to pay for - again). When Dickie was found (as he always was) he was taken back to the provost’s tent and the same young provost was told to make sure that this time he arrived at the hearing.
On passing the same bakery, Dickie once again asked if he could have a fresh loaf of bread but this time the ‘green’ provost said I’m not being caught out again, you did that to me once and ran away. I‘ll go in this time and you can wait outside. I think we know what happened next.
Tricky-Dickie had many such fall-ins with the Provost General but he had one ‘Ace up his Sleeve’, Dickie was an expert forger and in between writing letters of commendation (for the price of a drink or two, many of which made their way back to Londinium and may in part be the reason that Foul-Mouth Freddy was so well liked back in Albion). Dickie was very good at forging Wheelingturn’s signature – a skill that allowed him to get out of many career threatening scrapes with the regimental authorities.
* Wellington once called General Picton a “Foul-Mouthed Devil”. Obviously he was thinking of our Freddy.
** In later life, Dickie did indeed own his own pub.
*** The sentry was given a special medal with a blue and white striped ribbon, that mirrored the pyjamas. The said medals are some of the rarest medals ever awarded and can fetch considerable prices when they come up for auction. The order of the stripy pyjamas!
Rest in Peace Dickie and thank you for all the stories.
This article was written exclusively for Orcs in the Webbe and was first published on the 5th December 2017 as part of its 2017 Advent Calendar.