Being an inventor is generally thought to be a scientific-based process. After all, to invent something you generally have to know how things work and how to do Maths, and how to hammer things together without damaging any part of yourself in the process. Unless you are a writer, of course. Then you invent stuff in your head and just write it down. It's a pretty safe process as far as inventing goes. Frustrating, but safe.
But sometimes science will let the inventor down. I imagine the first parachute jump wasn't without its dangers, for example. And thus it was -scientifically stranded - that Mrs Drosselmiggins found herself following the turning of Princess Pearly Pants into a pug-ugly NutCracker.
'How,' she said to herself, 'does one go about finding a cure for a curse? Does one spend years working in a laboratory, growing cultures and testing them on mice (which, let's face it, following recent events wouldn't be a wholly bad thing) or does one go down the 'alternative' route?'
She pondered on the conundrum (a small ornamental Victorian lavatory after the Gothic persuasion) for a while and then she paced the halls and pottered the gardens hoping that the fresh air and exercise might excite her scientific bent. But it didn't. It made her calves ache and gave her a spot of earache but that was all.
So what does a puzzled hen do in times of scientific wilderness? I'll tell you what she does. She consults the Court Astrologer, that's what she does.
Now the Court Astrologer, whose name was Mrs Jane Elizabeth Mary Kitty Lydia Alan Bennett,was jolly pleased to have a customer, even though she was of the opinion that Princess Pearly Pants was a spoiled brat and got what she deserved.
'I know what I'll do,' she said. 'I shall cast the Princess's horoscope. I tried to do it on the day she was born but their Royal Highnesses are very progressive people and said it was a load of superstitious and archaic mumbo-jumbo. It was a bit of a bother really, because I was hoping to give it as a christening present. I ended up spending out a small fortune on a silver money box in the shape of an armadillo instead. Apparently,' sniffed Mrs Bennett, 'armadillos bring good luck to Royalty.'
'How ironic then that it didn't,' said Mrs Drosselmiggins.
'Indeed,' said Mrs Bennett. 'Now, you just sit there a while and I'll work on my maps and horologirorologiroroscopy thingyummy do-dah. It won't take long. I can't imagine a child like Princess Pearly Pants is complicated in the auspicious life department.'
So Mrs Drosselmiggins drew up a chair, quaffed some tea, nibbled some gingerbread and read the latest edition of the Palm Reader Times and hoped, just this once, that mumbo-jumbo might succeed where science had failed.
'Well,well,well,' said Mrs Bennett eventually. 'Who'd have thought it?'
'Thought what?' said Mrs Drosselmiggins.
'There is actually a cure for the NutCracker curse highlighted in Princess Pearly Pants' horoscope,' said Mrs Bennett.
'And what is it?' said Mrs Drosselmiggins, hoping it was something simple like rubbing her head with a raw onion, or spraying her green and making her recite 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' in her pyjamas.
'Well,' said Mrs Bennett, passing the horoscope parchment to Mrs Drosselmiggins, 'all I can say is read it and weep.'
Later, at the Palace, Mrs Drosselmiggins thought the King was going to have an apopleptic fit.
'Are you mad?' said the King, waving the parchment in the air. 'Are you telling me this is the process needed to be performed to return my daughter to her rightful state?'
'I am afraid so,' said Mrs Drosselmiggins.
I expect you are all on the edges of your seats, aren't you, wondering what dread secret had been revealed in the Princess's horoscope? Well, because it is almost time for a jolly good film on the telly, I shall rush it quickly by you...
...apparently (and believe of this what you will) the ONLY way to reverse the curse was for Princess Pearly Pants to eat the extremely rare nut called the Crackatook, which MUST be handed to her by a man who had neither shaved nor worn boots since his birth. AND he had to hand it over with his eyes shut tight, then take seven steps backwards without stumbling.
I know what you are all thinking. Okay, apart from what a load of drivel this is. You are thinking, Princess Pearly Pants needs to be presented with a nut by myopically challenged goat. Never shaved - tick. Wears no boots - tick. Sure footed - tick!
The King said,'Do we have a myopically challenged goat in the Palace?'
'No,' said the Queen. 'Not since that trouble with my best hat, anyway.'
The King thought. 'In that case,' he said, turning to Mrs Drosselmiggins,'you will have to go and find such a goat, I mean, man. And take Mrs Bennett with you. And don't come back without him. Or this Crackatook nut. What's wrong with an almond, that's what I want to know.'
(The King also said at this point that if Mrs Drosselmiggins and Mrs Bennett failed in their quest there would be a death sentence involved on their return, but as I am a pacifist vegetarian I am using my writerly artistic licence to ignore this horrid part of the tale. Also, if you knew there was certain death awaiting on your return, well, you wouldn't return, would you? Of course you wouldn't. You'd run off forever and set up a bun shop in Bath. Or a bath shop in Bun, if such a place existed.)
And so Mrs Drosselmiggins and Mrs Bennett set off on their quest, grumbling a bit, but when you've a curse and an astrological prediction against you, what choice do you have?
('It is tricky, isn't it?' says Camilla. 'I mean, a fortune teller once told me my lucky stone was rolling. Caused quite a mix up at Mick and Ronnie's Christmas do, I can tell you.'
'I am sure Mrs Drosselmiggins and Mrs Bennett will find what they are looking for,' says Primrose, who is hugely optimistic about these things.
'It could be interesting if they don't,' says Camilla.
'We might to change the rest of the story,' says Primrose.)