FAIRY TALE

quite a long post this time, but I hope you won’t be disappointed.Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 20.14.49.png


BACK GROUND

My email server went down but I thought it was something I’d done. By the time I’d finished trying to fix things everything was now a real mess; and in the course of tidying up a few hundred thousand loose ends I happened across two stories I wrote a couple of years back in another time and place.

Here’s the first, I hope you like it—

 

Little Olivia and the Vikings

‘Daddy!’

‘Yes, little Olivia?’

‘Please tell me a story! You owe me a story, I’ve been good for a whole week.’

‘Then climb upon my knee, bonny child, and I’ll tell you a tale of the fish of the sea—’

‘Can them fish, Pops! I want economics, and thrilling stuff like current affairs and world events—’

‘—or, if you like a tale of the Viking hordes—’

‘Yay! Oodles of rape and pillage, bloody violence, an ‘X’ certificate?’Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 20.45.36.png

‘Hmmm … too much television and sugary drinks, I might have to censo—’

‘No, Daddy! Newspapers and Time magazine; and the other kids at school. You can learn a lot in the playground—’

‘Okay. But we’ll have history, a moral, current affairs, politics, lust, debauchery … actually just social commentary on human values but with an ancient nautical theme. Comfy?

‘Let ‘er rip, Daddy! Please.’

‘About a thousand years ago when the world was much warmer than it is now—’

‘Has Al Gore approved this?’

‘Hush child. All will be revealed in the fullness of time.’

‘Popcorn, Pop?’

‘When we get to the intermission, not before. I’ll make coffee, you pop the corn. Now, once upon a warmer time the Scandinavian races we now know as Vikings created an absolute masterpiece of a vessel they called a Dragon Ship’.’

Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 20.44.56.png‘Oooooh …’

“It was made with overlapping planks and because of the lack of a solid internal framing it was very light and flexed to the mocean of the otion—’

‘Daddy, I heard that! You’re setting me a bad example.’

‘—and in them the Vikings spread out far and wide, taking with them peace, trade, goodwill, freedom, and democracy everywhere they went—’

‘Setting the precedent, Daddy?’

‘You’ve got it, Toots … they even crossed the Atlantic as far as mainland America.’

‘Wow …’

‘They settled Greenland too, you know—’

‘Oh come on, Daddy! Greenland is all ice and snow and melting glaciers and stuff! Nobody could ever live there, especially without central heating and polyester jackets over polypro thermals—’

‘Settle down, Pest. Don’t just take my word for it, go look it up. Much warmer then! But this is an allegorical story—’

‘Allegorical, Daddy?’

‘Means concealed message.’

‘Oh. You didn’t say I’d have to think, Daddy, I just want to be entertained.You know, mindless pap sort of story. And no commercials.’

‘So like all my stories you can take it entirely on face value and just enjoy. Anyway, this expedition’s leader was a Viking called Knut. A swarthy chap, jovial, real optimist, nothing ever fazed him. If anything got in his way he’d just hack it aside with his trusty sword or chop it away with his battle-axe called Peacebringer.’

‘I like him, Daddy.’

‘Good girl. And Knut had advisers, too. The one he listened to most — actually, the power behind the throne, as it were — was a bald-headed man with a beard called Baen the Cranky. Baen kept the accounts and handled finances, which freed Knut from having to think beyond handling the ship and the next conquest.’

‘Sounds like a good team, Daddy. How many in the crew?’

‘This ship had woollen sails and single shielded bank of twenty-two oars on each side. It would go like the wind with the wind and in adverse conditions the slaves would row—’

‘I thought Vikings were free men, Daddy?’

‘No, Child. They were all slaves, they just didn’t know it. What they didn’t know didn’t hurt them and they worked all the harder for it … and look at the savings in whips.’

‘So that’s forty-six souls on board, Daddy?’

‘Clever girl! But wait, there’s more … two banks of twenty-two making forty-four, plus a couple of cooks who also helped with the accounts, one seer who did the navigating ‘cos he had the lodestone and the quartz, and a minstrel who also helped keep the ship clean.’

‘Counting Knut and Baen, that’s fifty, Daddy.’

‘Well done, child.’

‘So where does Al come in? You only mentioned climate briefly and even then you got it wrong.’

‘Wrong?’

‘You said it was warmer back then but it couldn’t have been—’

‘Little Olivia, please let your Daddy finish! So they set sail to the west, for the fabled Vinland where grapes grew in rapturous abandonment and the Skaerlings fired arrows at any Norseman bringing them freedom—’

‘That sounds a bit antisocial, Daddy.’ Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 20.44.14.png

‘It worked though, Toots. Knut’s ship—’

‘What was its name, Daddy?’

‘How about Phaedra? We can call it Phed, for short; but I have reservations—’

‘Phed will do, Daddy. Please get on with it.’

‘Now the ship to all appearances was magnificent,the biggest and most powerful ship that ever floated—’

‘Goody! I feel safe with the Phed, Daddy.’

‘—but the previous captain (who was famed for his magnificent bushy beard) and his adviser a guy called Allunna Greenbridge (he got seasick a lot) had several near disasters with rocky shoals and actually hit some highly visible rocks. Despite half the crew shouting warnings they drove on ahead, luckily it was just a glancing blow but the damage was done below the waterline. They were actually very happy to pass the ship on to the next officers—’

‘Knut and Cranky?’

‘That’s them. They knew, of course, but so long as the minstrel kept plugging the leaks when they opened and the bilges pumped the crew didn’t care. All they cared about was plunder, mead, and forcing their attentions upon damsels wherever they could—’

‘Oh!’

‘But as soon as they set sail for the west this time the seer became all agitated and started predicting doom, gloom, and disaster—’

‘A Jonah? You don’t need one of those on a ship do you, Daddy?’

‘Not when they’re right, my Cherub. But Baen shouted much much louder so the crew listened to him and they ignored the seer completely, even when the water started lapping round their feet. Actually they amused themselves by mocking him and pointing out all the many reasons why the ship couldn’t possibly sink — it’s made of wood, for one thing, and everyone knows wood floats — even when it started settling by the bows—’

‘Settling, Daddy?’

‘Sinking, Babe. It began sinking at the sharp end and everyone had to move down the back toot sweet—’

‘Were they saved, Daddy’

‘There was nobody to go to their aid, Kid. Strangely enough the same thing happened to every other sea-going vessel in the world at the same time; all were going down, some faster than others. The Greek triremes were having a very rough time of it, such as were left; poor design and stewardship. Knut’s only hope was for them to save themselves.’

‘Poor Phed! Did they, Daddy?’

‘They stayed afloat by cunning stratagems, Child. The worst holes were of course underwater at the bows but Cranky had the crew use their battle-axes to chop the thwarts into little bits to plug them—’

‘Clever, Daddy.’

‘Yes … but it only worked until the patches were blown inwards by the overwhelming power of the sea—’

‘Then what, Daddy? Do please tell, I’m all agog.’

‘So Knut and Baen came up with another plan to bail them out and prop them up. The back end of the ship was sticking out of the water by now—’

‘Oh, I don’t think I’m going to like thi—’

‘—so they got the crew to chop pieces out of it to refill the holes in the front; which they did with all the enthusiasm generated by utter blind faith in the wisdom of their expert leaders—’

‘But Daddy! That means … … and it’s inevitable!’

‘Yes, wee Olivia; you can see that and I can see that but they couldn’t … anyway, we shall have to leave it here, my leg is going numb and it’s time for our popcorn.’

‘So we’re going to leave them sinking in a shattered hulk? Daddy, I don’t like this story after all—’

“I offered you fish, Child, but you wanted chips. And now, our coffee. You’re on popping, Poppet, don’t forget!’




Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 20.27.10.png

—and if nobody throws things at me I may just post you the other (it was written when I needed some extra cash and took a temporary job on a farm.)(The Guys in the US Fed solved their needs the easy way by pumping endless ever-devaluing dollars into the system)(they should have gone a-milking)kismet

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