Friday, 12 May 2017
Castles in the Air
I met a man on a train. He had travelled far and wide, crossed the oceans, roamed the lands and he had spoken to its peoples. His eyes, set in a deep-lined visage which nevertheless shone with youth, burned with a fierce intelligence. Slight, almost frail in appearance, his firm grip belied the slender frame as he clasped my hands in his and besought me to listen. “Hear my words, friend, that you may be cured of your woeful cynicism. I have seen many things on my travels. Such wonders have I to impart.” And he told me his story.
“Once were thieves, forty strong in the land of the sea of sands, where they roamed and robbed and amassed a great fortune. I happened upon them on a dusty trail leading through a deep wadi and hid in the meagre thorn scrub as they approached. They dismounted their horses not twenty feet from where I was concealed and I was sore afraid they would find me and kill me. But their leader made a mystical pass at a blank wall of rock. He spake some words and the rock opened to reveal a vast cave within. Filled, it was, with gold and jewels beyond imagination!
"I returned after dark and filled my pockets with treasures, making a map so that I may return and take the rest. But, so as not arouse suspicion I took only what would not be missed, then covered my tracks and boarded a steamer. Presently we came alongside in a land of wonders, a land where I was, quite literally, a giant! The natives were tiny by comparison, so small that a fully-grown man might have ridden in my pocket, as if a mere mouse! Such sights I have seen, my friend.
"And then, I found myself in a land where I was but the mouse, wherein a giant inhabited a lonely castle of grey granite, accompanied only by a goose; a goose which laid golden eggs which the giant guarded day and night. I fell in with a lad named Jack who told me how he had reached this castle in the clouds by climbing a giant beanstalk, grown from magic beans. Jack and I hatched a plot to separate the giant from his eggs of gold and duly whisked them from his grasp, goose and all.”
I tried to get a word in, but the little old man just carried on, telling tales of castles and princesses and treasures; treasures beyond imagining, riches to end all the suffering in the world, the wherewithal to cure disease, end war and bring plenty for all. “But, who are you?” I asked
Grimm... up north
“I am ancient, I am wise beyond philosophy, I am counsel to kings, advisor to administrators and I keep the secrets of the aristocracy. Rulers come to me when they seek knowledge and power and the learned sages of the epoch bow before me as I spin gold from the humble straw of mortal discourse. I make the ordinary extraordinary, I am the kingmaker, the power behind the throne, I...”
“Oh, wait,” I said, “I know who you are. You are Rumpelstiltskin... and you are Jeremy Corbyn’s speechwriter.”