Sunday, 26 April 2009

Ancient lineage

Fictional characters are rarely the subject of genealogical research, but the ancestors of Pilot-Officer Prune were thoroughly investigated in a scholarly 1942 treatise by Anthony Armstrong.

Percy Prune was a World War 2 fighter pilot who was noted for his fatuous exuberance and utter boneheadedness. These qualities he inherited from a line of forebears who exhibited them in spades, all of them being either affable dimwits or unpredictable lunatics; it is remarkable that any of them lived long enough to reach maturity and procreate.

The recorded history of the family began with the Piltdown Prune, about which little is known except that the small fragment which was discovered showed that the all round thickness of his cranium could not have allowed any room at all for anything in the nature of brain; later it was suggested the fragment was part of a hoax and was actually a lump of rock. Another early member was Proon the Druid (circa 100 B.C.), who died owing to a mishap with his last sacrificial victim; while explaining the sacred rites Proon gave the man his axe to hold and when he asked for it back he got it, but not just where or how he wanted it.

And so the family tradition of outstanding idiocy was established, and was continued by, among many others, Persius Prunius (A.D. 92 to A.D. 141), Sir Percivale the Prune (circa A.D. 450), Beowulf Prun (circa A.D.50), Percy de Prohun (1099-1120), the crusader Peregrine de Prunne (1166-1221), the illiterate poet Philander Prunne (1276-1322), and then on with a succession of useless idiots throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

In the Civil War two Prune ancestors, cousins, fought on opposite sides. In infancy the Roundhead Pruin (1622-1679) was patted on the head by Praise-God Barebones, who broke a finger, and was named, after the religious fashion of the day, Praise-him-all-ye-works-of-the Lord Pruin.

When Charles I heard that the royalist Percivall Pruin (1620-1671) had taken up arms on his behalf he at once expressed grave doubts of ultimate victory; later Percivall attached himself to Charles II and when captured by the forces of Cromwell was severely mishandled for refusing to betray the King's whereabouts, though actually he would have given away the hiding-place if he hadn't forgotten where it was. But he went down in history as one of the Pruins that Cromwell knocked about a bit.

In the second half of the eighteenth century Paul "Beau" Prune (1740-1786) spent most of his life hanging around Bath hoping make the acquaintance of the influential socialite and dandy Beau Nash, but on the only occasion when they came face to face, in the Pump Room at the Roman Baths, Nash, then in his dotage, was heard to remark "Who is that demmed scruffy nincompoop? Throw him out at once." and the relationship did not develop. Pruin died later in Penury, where he had gone for a holiday.

Thus ended the line of famous Prunes. The family is still extant but most of its members are extremely obscure, none of them ever having summoned up the energy or initiative to make any interesting mistakes, let alone to commit the monumental blunders which gave their illustrious forebears so proud a place in history.

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