Amidst reports of a young lady being constantly immersed in water and thrusting a pointed sword into the air in a vain attempt to save herself, I head to the Somerset Levels near Glastonbury in 421 A.D.
I am walking by a small lake when I see a young woman standing up in the water and watching me.
“Hello,” I said, “is your name Vivian, the Lady of the Lake?”
“It is,” she said, accompanied by some celestial music that began to entrance me, “are you Merlin?”
“No,” I said trying hard to resist her charms.
“Are you Arthur, because if you are then I have something for you, something hard and pointed and extremely strong.”
“I am not Arthur, either,” I said almost completely overcome by her beauty.
“Oh, then just who are you?” she asked. The music stopped. The spell was broken.
“I am Brian Snell, from the Health and Safety Time Executive.”
“Well, Sir Brian of the Haste, how can I help you?”
“I have a report of a young lady standing in water all the time. I presume that is you, so who is your employer? I should speak to them about your working conditions as you shouldn’t be standing in water wearing a revealing dress all the time. You will catch your death of cold.”
“I am self-employed and this is my home, I am used to the conditions I find myself in. You see this dress – it’s a special kind of samite – a luxurious and heavy silk fabric of a twill-type weave, including gold and silver thread. It’s also waterproof and so I don’t really feel the cold.”
“Well that’s as maybe, but you are still in contravention of the law regarding the wearing of appropriate clothing when working in water. You should be wearing a diving suit or some other rubber suit that prevents you catching cold. I shall have to issue you with an order to comply with the regulations within seven working days or you will have to pay a fine.”
“I am not wearing a diving suit, although I suppose I could wear it under my dress, and just have my head sticking out of the water, because it would not look sexy and alluring to either Merlin or Arthur when they come by, if I was wearing a dark rubber suit.”
“Are they due to come by in the near future?”
“Merlin is already overdue and I was hoping Arthur would have dropped by as he will need his sword Excalibur to show his leadership qualities.”
“I just passed a young man who was trying to pull a sword out of a stone.”
“Where was this?”
“A few minutes ago, just the other side of that hill where I parked my vehicle.”
“Oh, that means he will be here soon, when he finds out that sword is just a fake – it’s a sword handle glued into place.”
“Whereas your sword is real?”
“It is – look I will show you – here it is.”
“Whoa, you could have someone’s eye out – do you have a license for that? It’s a lethal weapon and should be kept in a locked cabinet. Where do you keep it?”
“Just here under the water – in a hole in the lake bed.”
“What would happen if someone stole it?”
“They wouldn’t be able to – it has magical powers and can only be used by the once and future king, if you see what I mean.”
“What happens if someone, who isn’t the once and future king, tried to use it?”
“It would become incredibly heavy and they would not be able to lift it from its resting place.”
“That’s by the by. I will still issue you with another order R445-9822 to obtain a special license for the sword within 7 working days, otherwise the weapon will be confiscated by my colleague who will be conducting a further inspection in the next two weeks. I will attach both the orders to the end of the sword.”
“Thank you, Sir Brian of the Haste, but I sense the sword will not be here in seven working days, as I believe Arthur, the once and future king, is on his way.”
The music of the spheres started again and a figure, wringing his right hand as though he’d injured his wrist, came into sight. I sensed it was time to vacate the scene, although I was still worried Vivian would catch a chill if she continued to wear just a dress in the cold waters of the lake.
Extract from the Diary of a Health and Safety Executive