Tag Archives: Musketeers

One Less Gruff Billy Goat

The idea of fairy tales is one full of intrigue and mystique, almost all of us will have read a fairy tale at some point in our lives and without question every one of us knows of a fairy tale character. With the smallest amount of legerdemain the entire premise of a story can change, heroes can be either unlikely children or charming princes, villains can be witches or trolls. The possibilities within fairy tales are endless and the message is always one of hope.

The very first fairy tale that I can remember from my childhood was ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff’. The premise is that three goats, discovering that where they live no longer has any grass for them to eat, set out to find new pastures so that they can become fat. However, their journey must take them across the river, where dwells a troll under a bridge. The first goat passes over the bridge but gets stopped by the troll who threatens to “gobble him up” (gobble him up is one of those lines that makes me laugh for no apparent reason) however the goat persuades the troll to wait for the second goat because he’s bigger and more of a meal so the troll lets him pass. The second goat comes along and the same thing happens as before and so then the third goat enters. I’ll stop it there, because I think that most people know how ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff’ ends, if you don’t then go and Google it.

Of course all fairy tales end with the standard “happily ever after” although recently I read “Arabian Nights” which is a collection of Asian fairy tales and they end with “they all lived happily until there came to them the One Who Destroys All Happiness” which I found odd yet poetic. ‘The One Who Destroys All Happiness’ meaning Death, the Grim Reaper as he’s also known. I was slightly taken aback at first, here were some fairy tales full of hope and suddenly they were cementing the fact that nobody lives “happily ever after” because death catches up to everyone.

The very first fairy tales are attributed to Aesop who lived in Ancient Greece around 620–564 BCE (slightly before our time I imagine). The power of fairy tales is so strong and so resilient that over two thousand years later some of Aesop’s’ tales are still being told to this day. I’m sure you will have heard of at least one of them, the main one that I can think of right now is ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’. That story became so popular that two hundred years after it was written it became one of Zeno’s paradoxes (Google them, extremely interesting and thought provoking, the Arrow paradox is my personal favourite)

The Brothers Grimm famously wrote some of the most celebrated fairy tales in our history. Two German brothers, who were academics and even lexicographers, crafted some of the worlds greatest imaginary and magical characters. Although The Brothers Grimm did centralise their fairy tales on more darker hues they still resonated through the years with so many different people, even psychologist who felt the need to analyse them.

The fairy tale is an escape from reality, like most forms of entertainment. I do believe however that fairy tales give more power to the reader and open the imagination slightly more than any other form of literature and I’m saying that as an avid science-fiction fanatic. Whether it’s something written by Alexander Afanasyev or Hans Christian Andersen, fairy tales have the power to take you to a place where good almost always wins. The fairy tale is a door to the unknown world of endless possibilities where life feels good, Walt Disney realised that and that’s why he cashed in on so many popular fairy tales.

Nowadays people don’t write fairy tales, it’s somewhat a thing of the past which saddens me. My Dad used to make up fairy tales for me each night and they always made me so happy. They were tales of a young boy called Billy who lived in a house with a green roof. Billy went swimming with sharks and had magic powers, he loved ice cream and was my hero. My Dad doesn’t remember how any of those stories went and I was too young to retain the proper memories of them which is a crying shame because I would love to remember them in full.

The power of fairy tales will live on because they should live on. Albert Einstein once famously said “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Can anyone really disprove that? Fairy tales are more than just true and not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten. Every fairy tale has meaning and every single one is based on the same idea, the idea that peace and happiness can exist no matter what stands in your way.

“In a utilitarian age, of all other times, it is a matter of grave importance that fairy tales should be respected.”Charles Dickens

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The pondering coffee cup…

As I dropped the ground coffee beans from the silver spoon into the bottom of my “With all due respect, fuck off” mug this morning I stared out in to the ocean of passing children making their way to school. I saw a plethora of things walking past but the main thing I noticed were the smiles.

Was I ever that happy to go to school? Especially on a Monday morning?

It then occurred to me that those were just childrens natural smiles. A child hasn’t yet been corrupted by the wickedness and ungodly nature of the world. While they may be unhappy to go to school, they’re not unhappy with life.

That coffee was to try and awaken me from both a mental and physical slumber. For it was one of those mornings where I just couldn’t shake off  the fatigue, even after a lengthy sleep. I then discovered that I was not alone in this, so I refer you to my post from a few weeks ago where I described a Science Fiction plot which lulled the country into a fatigued state before aliens invaded. It is the imagination of one who is currently writing a novel that devised this theory. In my normal “reality” I simply put it down to either the moon cycle or the late night for the Superbowl.

I often wonder what my normal reality is. Is it the world that I’m currently living in, with my flat and my newly shaven head or is it the world that I create with magical trees and passages created by temporal physics? The truth is, I know that it’s the shaven head reality but that doesn’t prevent me from wishing that occasionally I could cross through the void and into the fictional reality that started in my head. If, like so many others, you subscribe to the “many worlds theory” then you may agree that my fictional reality does in fact exist in another dimension.

Of course I realise that everything I have just written makes me seem a little bit  unhinged. I however would argue that point, owing to the fact that I am perfectly aware of what exists and what doesn’t exist.

I know that at this moment and for most of this year, there exists a battle of wits for Scottish independence. In this battle, for many months, I refused to take a side. However as I posted previously I have now woken up and smelled the coffee in my “With all due respect, fuck off” mug. I will be voting ‘Yes’ and I will be doing so for a number of reasons.

If we become independent then we would officially be one of the world’s richest countries – ranked 6th in the OECD compared to the UK’s 16th place. There are  twenty four billion barrels of oil remaining in the North Sea, according to industry body Oil and Gas UK. That’s roughly around £1.5trillion in today’s prices – half as much in value as has been taken out.

The truth is that an independent Scotland would prosper. We would become a self sufficient nation. The above reason is but one of many reasons why we should be independent.

For me, this has nothing to do with the Scotland/England divide. Anyone who looks at this as a battle of the nations, should have their right to vote revoked. This is about the future of our country and not about past relationships.

As I stood there this morning staring at the waves of children making their way to school, I wondered what they’re being taught about the referendum. I realise that they are too young to vote but this concerns their future just as much, if not more, than ourselves.

On 6 May 1999 there was an election to decide on a Scottish Parliament. When I was at school, we were taught nothing about that. It was mentioned very briefly but we were never really taught about what it meant. I just hope that with something as huge as the referendum, the schools are educating their pupils accordingly.

On another, semi related note. While I was doing my research, I discovered that there are approximately 1036800 cans of Irn-Bru sold per day. I find that extremely impressive. Irn-Bru is a wonderful drink and even though I have refrained from drinking any carbonated juices for the last 7 weeks, it still holds a place in my heart.

Before I take my leave for today, I urge any of you who haven’t yet watched it to sit down and watch The Musketeers on BBC One. It is so refreshing to see a portrayal of The Three Musketeers which isn’t overly camp and high on comedy. The original novel by Dumas was never written that way and so I’ve never understood why that’s how it was portrayed in film. However BBC have nailed it in my opinion. While it may not be Doctor Who, it is most definitely worth a watch.

Friday my old friend….

Friday and I used to be old friends. As a day that is named after the great Norse goddess Frigg, who herself was the wife of Odin and thus the Queen of Asgard, I had more respect for Friday than any other day of the week. Across my lifespan Friday and I have been through many things together and even though she has often plagued me with a hangover to meet my mate Saturday, we never had any disagreements……….until now

You see today, the name that was given to my dear friend Friday by the masters of the sea back in times of yore seems much more appropriate. For today “Dies Infaustus” is a much more suited name as she has brought me nothing but bad luck. I have lost a bank card, had a power cut, stubbed my toe, smashed a mug and fallen off of a bus. Of course these may not sound like the worst luck in the world and you would be correct in thinking that. However, all these incidents happened before 10am this morning and as a result I am afraid to move for the remainder of the day.

I have experienced bad luck days on a few occasions in the past, the worst being back in 2006 when I lost my job and my place to stay in a matter of minutes (I was living in the same house as my boss) on that occasion I also lost my bank card. Fortuna clearly has no place in her life for me and also , it would seem, has a strange fascination with removing my  bank card from my possession.

I suppose that a lack of sleep could be causing some lapse in  concentration today, last night I found it impossible to sleep, no matter how hard I tried. A phenomenon which has apparently affected more than just I. I have spoken to seven or eight different people today who all had the same problem. I suppose this could be down to our nearing another full moon on the 27th or perhaps there’s some other strange reason behind it, I’m going with the full moon thing though.

In my  attempt to avoid moving in fear of more bad luck I’ve been reading the Three Musketeers. I picked it up the other day after watching The Muskeeters on BBC One on Sunday night (might I add I didn’t only watch it because of its ties to Doctor Who and Peter Capaldi as someone accused me of, I watched it because I’m a Musketeers fan). I haven’t read it in over a decade and I actually forgot how great a book it actually is.

Many people who have read The Three Musketeers find the idea enchanting. A story about friendship, loyalty and courage. D’Artagnan of course being the hero throughout. Myself, as much as I love D’Artagnans’ tale, I have a different hero in the story. Captain de Tréville for me is a fantastic character, who defends his Musketeers to the hilt. Strict and at times coated in a strange maniacal essence, he is the character who really pulls me in at certain points. I think that everyone needs to have someone like de Tréville in their life, someone to keep them out of trouble and make sure they’re towing the line (even  if they’re not).

I have looked out both Twenty Years After and The Vicomte de Bragelonne to re-read once I have finished with the Musketeers. The Vicomte de Bragelonne of course featuring The Man in the Iron Mask. The D’Artagnan collection of books is almost 200 years old and yet it’s amazing that when you read it, there are certain things that really haven’t changed all that much in the society of today.

As for my old friend Friday, I sincerely hope that you are merely in one your passing moods and that this type of behaviour will not carry on through to next week, otherwise we may have to have a heated conversation. Friday today you are a wretched wench…….