Tuesday, 4 June 2019

It's a Fairy Tale Conceit...



It's a fairy tale conceit, isn't it? The complacent people start listening to the wicked blandishments of tricksters and goblins, who tell them that their wise protectors have been playing them for fools. They can get a better deal, a better relationship with the gods, elsewhere, somehow. The kingdom decides to invite in the terrible ogre and they cower and act craven around him. He comes to the castle and eats with the princesses and princes and king and queen and seems quite civilised, for a day or two.

Oh, the kings and queens are so old and snowy-haired. They look tiny and shrivelled beside the ogre and his unsmiling fairy queen consort and all his doll-like children. The royals are weighed down by crushing diamond crowns and weighty orbs and sceptres. They look so bony and stringy it’s like the ogre could grab them up in his fist and crunch them between his jaws. They shuffle about and show him all their jewels and pictures and priceless things and he nods his craggy head and drools.

The witch who invited him to this land jerks her shoulders gleefully. All she can think about is how she’s gonna dance right out of here any day now and leave them all to it.

Some of the peasants shout and complain outside the palace walls: You have let in an ogre and his whole family - can't you see? They will eat us all. But those inside don't listen, and the ogre looks over the battlements and frowns: 'There's no one out there. No naysayers. All I can hear is grateful applause.'

Well, the old wizard is at the head of the crowd outside and he’s happy shouting here beyond the palace walls. He’s a loud shouter and he loves shouting, but only loud enough so that everyone who already agrees with him can hear. Then the people in the palace say, 'Why don't you come inside to our fancy dinner and talk to the Ogre yourself? You're posh and you've got a golden invite on your mantlepiece. You're the magic wizard, and you're best placed to give him a piece of your mind. You can tell him how you think the world should be.' But the wizard shakes his grizzled head, 'No thank you, I'll stay out here in the rain, shouting at my friends, about how I'll make the world a better place sometime soon.' And the Ogre catches a whisper of this and he says, 'Who..? Did someone say something?

Then the ogre gets up on the banquet table to speak and everyone cringes at what he might say. And like ogres always do, he says: ‘You've let me into the castle and you think we can have a special relationship. But like ogres always do, I'm going to throw my weight around. I'm gonna tell you who should be in charge here, in your funny little kingdom. I'll take my pick of which foolish popinjay will lord it over you lot. And then, I will ask for the thing that you prize most of all, and you will give it to me. Simple as that. Didn't you know, didn't you remember, that's how these tales always go?'


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