We all know the story of Sleeping Beauty
(Sorry but for fear of copyright rules and laws I have been obliged to redact the image)
And many of us have enjoyed the film ‘Maleficent’ starring Angeline Jolie
Well, look I’m sorry…You can’t be too careful these days and you all know the trouble I had with WP
Anyway where was I….
Oh yeah….Sleeping Beauty
As any writer, student of history, lawyer, reporter, tax industry worker etc knows there is more than three or four sides to every story……
This is one of them…..
Sleeping Beauty. As The Foot-Soldier Remembers It. (All Tale in II Parts)
The scene opens in an army recruiting office…..somewhere, somewhen, a long time ago
‘Yeh. Yeh that’s right. 18 years under my belt. I was a sergeant myself. What am I doing up here in the north-west? Oh boy! Just trying to get away from those flakes in my homeland, that’s what!
What did you hear? Uh-uh-uh. Yeh that’s right. Yeh the beautiful Princess Aurora. Cursed by the wicked witch, rescued by the handsome princes and they all live happily ever after. Oh sure, that’s the official line, trouble is they left out a few details. I mean, like Important Details. Lemme explain….
Going back to the beginning. I’d just put my first year in, place guard. Not so bad. Y’know the score, standing about like you’ve got a stick up your butt. Anyway, there’s been this big hoooh-hah on account of the queen finally getting knocked up. She and the King had been together for like fifteen years, and folk were starting to talk y’know? But I say what goes on in the royal bedroom is none of our business, how’d you like having a bunch of courtiers asking your old lady indelicate questions every month or so?
So, getting back to the narrative, the queen gives birth to a daughter, and she’s such a cute little button no one is bitching about her not being a boy and anyway she’ll be heir to the throne. All looks rosy and there’s gonna be the usual fancy ceremonies where all the nobility get to do their grovelling and pile on with the gifts.
Now this is when it gets tense, because the fairies have to have a look in. I don’t know what their like here, but in my home land we got these old biddy types see, nosing around and lecturing folk. Three of ‘em turn up and start with the wand waving and bestowing all the goodies, two of them are done with the usual stuff…. beauty, good nature, yadda-yadda, when suddenly the main doors burst open.
And in she comes! Tall, slender. A walk that shows off all the best features. Long black hair flowing out from under this horned helm, high cheek bones an’ smouldering eyes that could burn a carpet. Everyone is gasping, the women giving her ‘the look’ and the men all wishing they could be treated badly by her. Yep! That Maleficent was some package. Turns out no one thought to ask her if she wanted to be there, her being a witch an’ all, but it’s like I say ‘Ya gotta hear the other side of the story first,’ ‘Course she’s pissed, or maybe she was just looking for a reason to be pissed. Maybe she knew the king when he was still young and unattached, and, I mean…who’s to say?
She does a few crowd pleasers with lightening bolts, then launches into a curse on the kid, something about a nasty end, the usual drill. Well the third old biddy, she’s not got ‘round to her business. Now why she can’t undo the curse, I don’t know, like do I look like I got wings? But she puts a rider on it. She must have been getting soft in the head with advancing years, because, get this. She says, the only thing what would go wrong was if before Aurora got to be sixteen and she was to nick her finger on a spinning wheel, then she and everyone else would fall asleep to be awakened by True Love’s Kiss.. Yeah I know! Go figure!
By now our captain has decided he’d better show willing and gives us the order to charge Maleficent, but lucky for us the looker disappears in a cloud of smoke.
Then everyone gets to running about, and as much use as paper hats in a thunder storm. If this wasn’t bad enough the king, who until now been standing about like he was posing for a royal portrait has this idea. I tell ya, it’s a bad as the one the third old biddy came up with. He decrees, right there and then, without asking any advisors or running a focus group on the subject that every spinning wheel in the kingdom is to be collected up for the duration. I know, I know! Why did he and his wife just resolve to educate the kid not to go near the dam’ things.
And here’s the thing. Every spinning wheel in the kingdom? Who do you think has to collect them?….You got it! Us poor dog-faced grunts. I mean you can imagine, all the lumps we got! Those old grannies can be pretty mean where they jab you with their sticks. And of course, there’s always the farmer’s wife who is the village log-splitting champion! As for the guilds of weavers, spinners, and the whole clothing industry, we left that up to The Chamberlin’s Office, by then we were too busy patrolling for smugglers of clothing and yeh, you got it spinning wheels!….. Nah, we sure as hell didn’t get them all. What with the kick-backs and the girls who sweet-talk you into them keeping theirs…well pay and conditions weren’t exactly top-range in our kingdom, so you gotta get it when opportunities arise
There we are, us tramping up hill and down dale, in all weathers, and what else does the king do. Get this? He places the daughter in the care of those three old biddies! No kidding! Like his poor wife has only just got a baby and suddenly- poof gone! Needless to say, there were no more kids on the way out of that royal boudoir!
Now, this is where it really gets interesting. But its all on the hush-hush. You direct me to the nearest noisy tavern nearbyes where two old sweats can have a decent tankard, and you all truly gonna hear something!
(End of Part I)