Seriously folks… The Joys of Writing

Understandably those who write and (A)  Hope to make some income from their efforts or (B) Have received more rejection slips than is Just or (C) Cannot get their characters to do exactly as they would wish or (D) Are presently engaged in yet another re-write or (E) Staring at the blank page or half-finished paragraph OR any combination of the aforementioned will have looked at this title either screamed……  ‘Are you insane!’ Overreacting

OR ‘Oooh !…You smug, complacent…..(deleted)…..

Big Raspberry….… to You!!

Which is understandable….(If I wasn’t writing this I know I would resort to such). And yet even the most tormented, frustrated and wretched of us have to admit that from time to time during our journey on putting words from mind into a readable format we must have felt a small secret thrill of joy when engaged in the whole tortuous exercise.

Why? Oh Evasive and Yet Persistent Muse Why?

Gefühle-Die-Leiden-des-jungen-Werthers-676x884

For art there not many more rewarding and easier tasks?

Whimsey 2

No, we will not turn away to these delightful pleasures. We will carry on writing….

Just…Because.

And there within us lies the unknown factor, irrespective of whatever may come of it. Therein lies the sheer joy of seeing thoughts coalesced into ideas which in turn settle down upon paper or the electronic equivalent. The bright warm thrill of witnessing the finished work. To know this is something ***I ***created of my own volition and effort. My art, my striving, this is a gift which lies there’s quietly whispering away even in the most fallow of times.

Take it, embrace the warmth and the strength, let the feeling flow throughout you, see you through.

For you are a writer by choice or by design.

Uplifting

Aureyborealice. A Fable in Several Parts…Pt VI

Pt VI. Interesting But Not Really Jolly Developments

Lady Frastreiayal  (The one up a Mountain) was feeling more at ease. By the end of the second week following the wedding (now known by some as The Peculiar Incident  and others who thought Doctrindoss The Arch-High etc, etc could say no wrong by the more circumspect title of The Singular Incident) joy, happiness and the infuriating carefreeness were in quite short supply around the place.

King Genially had told his son and ‘the other two’ their plan was quite the biggest fool idea anyone had come up with since someone had raised the question ‘Should the Common People Be Consulted’? . On that occasion in keeping with the times everyone (ie the nobles) had laughed cheerfully and said ‘What a fine jest’ and so forth. Now that King Genially was in deepest sluffs of despondency he threatened to have the three of them locked up and stern letters being sent to Hulstrum and Hanselfrendlesten’s fathers explaining why. The High Diplomat reckoned that was the quite the biggest fool idea he had encountered in his long and distinguished career and he had encountered some wonderous wacky-doodles (a term he kept to himself). He advised the king it was time to be statesman- like and then to continue with his strategies of playing off Hasselduff, Moochenmuch and Grunzelpratz against each other, by suggesting unruly folk from the other two had started it with a view to seizing bits of ‘them’ while Dingledong and Trundlealong were otherwise engaged. Trundlealong was not bothering due to a sudden increase in speculation in the Lychee Market which was pleasing King Doodle (Unofficially known as The Inconsequential) and his cartel of mildly rapacious nobility to no end. Trying to be statesman-like  King Genially told the boys he would give it due consideration (that is-never) then told them to bide their time by trying to get those silly girls out of The Manse.

King Genially was inadvertently aided by one fundamentalist Bishop Twoodoodle (was never invited to anywhere) who presided over a very backward and remote part of western Dingledong. Upon finding out by secret message from a ‘secret true believer’ as to what had taken place he roused a lot of his generally not very bright congregation and had bade them march upon Genially’s Estates to burn Princesses Aureyborealice and Whinsome at a stake as being young women it was obviously all their fault. Bad news of course travelled fast.

Whinsome was much alarmed. Aureyborealice sighed and told her not be so, for she’d seen that coming days off and knew just what was going to take place.

Her brother Frendlehanz (handsome, gardens), Whinsome’s brother Hanselfrendlesten (nearly as handsome, adventuring warrior)  and Hulstrum (unable to discern the appeal of his features due to scowl; also warrior of the grim sort) had been positive pests lurking about her manse and getting around not being allowed in by calling out long and loud such things as ‘Girls! Will you see sense?’, ‘This is not longer funny’ and to passing bishops etc ‘Will you try and talk them out of this!’. They had been harassing servants with mild threats, scaring off the song birds, worrying poor Whinsome and stopping the two girls walking in the garden.  But on hearing of a rebellious and possibly murderous mob threatening the Royal Peace…. Why? It was quite the gift to the lads. And of course the king had no objections to that sort of war!

‘There they go,’ she said to Whinsome ‘Off to supress the rebels. And I daresay anyone who makes suggestive remarks about the relationship between my brother and Hulstrum,’

‘Oh dear,’ said Whinsome ‘Blood will be shed, won’t it?’

‘Aye. ‘Fraid so,’ replied Aureyborealice idly stroking one of her messenger hawks while considering the lands to the far north-east ‘But, come dear spouse Whinsome we must prepare you for the next group of Bishops and attendant clerks. You did very well with the first two congresses,’

‘Yes, but my dear spouse Aureyborealice, they were generally well disposed because you are kind to everyone, sings with birds, talks to small furry creatures, dances barefoot in gardens and will not be in line for the throne,’

‘And you dear spouse Whinsome are intelligent, polite in your discourses and so very well read, they could not help but see your point of view,’ Aureyborealice took Whinsome’s hands and twirled her about in a slight dance ‘ I know you are worried about the next lot, them being the Old Grumpies, but I have the greatest faith in you. Come now that the young pests have gone to war let us take the chance and dance in the gardens,’

King Genially on seeing the back of the three young idiots intercepted this more solid congress of bishops and clerics and told them there would be Grave Displeasure if they did not sort of those two ridiculous girls. The said bishops assured him not to fear they would teach the wayward young women The Absolute Insight in The Will of The Supreme Being (while intimating it was time for a sorting out of several of the nation of Dingledong’s own bishops and, yea, a new Arch-High Elect Supervisor ). These men were inspired by The True Faith, The Natural Order of Things, and having disposed of all their incomes and wealth into Lychee ventures could not be taxed on anything, anyhow. (So spiffle- a mild rude word used by children and clergy- to the Chancellor of The Exchequer).

Thus although there was much debate loud and vigorous across four of the five kingdoms over who was married if any unto whom. Also more importantly (to some) who had hit who first. Things were in some sort of balance as everyone waited to see what was going to happen to this physical threat to the throne of Dingledong by a loopy bishop and his rustic bunch. Even Lady Frastreiayal( The Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng) was content now to sit back and let everyone else make fools of themselves while surrounding herself in an air of detached innocence and apparent complete lack of interest in the whole thing. (While being secretly, in a slight way, jolly)

However in Chilbin King Vilfahengo (The Iron) had been waiting for his son along with that clutch of fellows who followed the lad around to return and tell him what was going on. Some locals had heard ‘something’ but no one dared tell Vilfahengo (King, Iron, not well disposed to bad news) lest they had got it wrong and suffered accordingly or worse got it right and suffered even more so.

Thus, as he was glowering over his breakfast of lumpy thistle porridge in flew a messenger hawk from his most secret of spies in Dingledong. Although very secret they were also usually very dull. Normally the news was along the lines of ‘Genially still jolly‘, ‘Frendlehanz constructs another garden‘ or ‘Aureyborealice danced barefoot in the snow‘. This time once Vilfahengo read the news he dropped his spoon in his porridge then threw the porridge around the room, then ran around the room throwing things at other things, then jumped up and down on the porridge bowl, then threw bits of the bowl and other things at the servants who poked their head around the door. Then he really got annoyed.

He cursed his son for being useless, he cursed his wife for being the mother of a useless fool, (had she been alive would have cursed him right backit had been a lively marriage) , he cursed all the retinue who had gone with his son for being even bigger fools (if that were possible-he added), he cursed their parents for birthing such useless fools, he cursed Genially for being a Jolly Careless King, he cursed Doctrindoss The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One (obviously), he cursed Prince Frendlehanz(for possibly being responsible; him and his gardens!), he cursed King Doodle of Trundlealong for being Inconsequential (which might have been valid action), he cursed Doodle’s wife (although he couldn’t recall her name), he cursed those folk of Dingledong who came to mind and he felt were to blame (quite a few actually) and he cursed random portions of Dingledong (honestly he was getting a bit carried away by then).

For good measure he rended his garments.

And then summoned, very loudly for his lords, while storming around his palace, shouting and rending garments of any courtiers who gave the wrong answers, which since the questions were incomprehensible meant a busy time for tailors (who as a result by Chilbin standards became reasonably jolly).

Chilbin was actually quite smallish, but the folk made up for this in ill-tempers when roused. The racket Vilfahengo (The Iron, King, and Noisy) carried both physically as well as allegorically and thus it did  not take long for his lords to gather. Being very loyal to both king and country on hearing his dreadful news they too cursed.  This cursing included the royal families of Dingledong and Trundlealong, the two nations in general and some folk in particular, Doctrindoss The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One and bishops in general (Chilbin having a non-conformist type of belief in The Supreme One). They did not curse Hulstrum, firstly not being sure whether they should, also because as a son, he was not a bad sort, just in the shadow of his father (a not uncommon occurrence amongst heirs to the throne- except in Trundlealong). Instead they offered sympathies. Being mostly short of spare cash they did not rend their garments, but did offer up fearful oaths of loyalty unto Vilfahengo and waved their swords to the ceiling (a quite acceptable custom in Chilbin).

With everyone fired up Vilfahengo had maps brought forth and he said (also with a fearful oath), it was time for the whole region to be sorted out and brought under sensible rule of one king. None of these sly Trade Agreements, Tax Unions and Understandings (he sneered at that point). In between his cursing, rending and throwing he had formulated a plan, he would gather the barbarians and set them loose upon Grunzelpratz, which bordered Chilbin to the east, this would distract everyone and he would then lead the whole Chilbin army into Dingledong and sort everything out. Everyone liked this idea; the folk of Grunzelpratz fancied themselves wits at the expense of Chilbinish folk with quite frankly not very good efforts at jokes such as:

‘How do you confuse a Chilbinish man? Put two shovels against a wall and tell him to take his pick!’  

Strangely enough the next day there came a delegation of barbarians. It was led by the fearsome Gurt Broadsword who was big and now did not care who saw him scratch his armpits. Eventually it was worked out he was saying the tribes had heard ‘much horrible news about Prince Hulstrum being trapped by those sly weaklings in the South to satisfy their lusts and  the tribes wuz willing to help,’

Whereas Gurt Broadsword was very big and did tend to be noticeable, some of the folk standing around the edges of him could not help but notice the impatient pacing figure of  his daughter, the flame haired and fiery Magnificalorin, a girl of some learning, muttering ‘When I get hold of that fool Hulstrum !’ while without asking permission kicking chairs ‘And as for those damn’d southern trollops he’s trysting with,’ Someone had told her, at distance the ‘trollops’ might not be….girls….she had just snarled and said ‘A trollop is a trollop,’

In the south Aureyborealice (still being a princess and still liked by lots of folk) welcomed back a messenger hawk and while feeding it bits of meat conversed with the bird in their secret way.

‘Oh dear,’ she said ‘That is a bit excessive. I must converse with The High Diplomat and The Chancellor of The Exchequer,’

And gazed thoughtfully in the direction of The Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng.

Aureyborealice, A Fable in Several Parts…Part I

Aureyborealice, A Fable in Several Parts…Part II

Aureyborealice, A Fable in Several Parts…Part III

Aureyborealice. A Fable in Several Parts…Pt IV

Aureyborealice. A Fable in Several Parts…Pt V

 

Aureyborealice. A Fable in Several Parts…Pt V

Pt V. Plans, Plots and Workarounds (With not evidence of much jolliness) 

A variety of  Stillness(es) settled over the area of Dingledong where the proposed wedding of Prince Frendlehanz (the presently Unhappy With The Whole Business) to Princess Whinsome (currently given to much thought and… in comparison to Prince Frendlehanz… mature reflection) was supposed to have taken place. There was the confused sort, the angry sort, the sullen sort and the downright ‘What The Frib’ (the mild oath) Is Going On’ sort. The older generation of nobility, royalty and clergy had repaired to respective apartments to have various bumps, bruises, and other attendant injuries seen to while insisting ‘someone’ without being specific on the matter would have to called to account; anything to cover up their distinct lack of dignity that day.

Meanwhile in yet another secluded apartment princes Frendlehanz, Hulstrum and Hanselfrendlesten gathered in a grim sort of fraternal acknowledgement that the others ‘had acquitted themselves, not so badly’ that day. Hanselfrendlesten was determined to find the jolly, albeit questionably, side of things.

‘In my experience this how weddings often go. Assassination attempts, kidnappings foiled or otherwise, sudden flight of bride or groom with secret lover and a subsequent war. In this respect things are so much simpler in the far away eastern lands,’

‘Attendant war?’ Hulstrum’s ears allegorically levitated, he had been trying to think of an excuse to avoid telling his father what had come to pass. In his limited experience of basic economies and barbaric societies wars solved problems. ‘How so?’

‘Well,’ drawled Frendlehanz who had been doodling out a plan for a garden so grand you could store a town in it and thus his mind turning to acuqesitions of land not that of his father’s or loyal nobles (cronies) ‘We could blame it all on Hasselduff, Moochenmuch or Grunzelpratz either singularly or in any sort of secret alliance. There was much supressed ill-feeling I was not hitched up to any of their daughters,’ his expression suggested no enthusiasm for any of the proposed selection ‘We could claim they were seeking revenge,’

‘Ah,’ said Hulstrum with the closest he could come to in terms of a smile ‘Since that old fool,’ he cleared his throat ‘The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One was heard to exclaim ‘Fel Beasts’, we could say there were definitely magics, and blame shamen from the barbaric north, hired by agents or agencies from Hasselduff, Moochenmuch or Grunzelpratz, in any combination. These shamen are rascals, all dressed in immodest rags, waving sticks with bones and speaking in unnecessary heavy accents made worse by gibbering and capering. They will suit the purpose fine,’ he glowered into a large wine cup ‘Probably true anyway,’

‘Now that is splendid thinking friends!’ exclaimed Hanselfrendlesten ‘All we need to do is announce we have uncovered this evidence, gather up our own retinues, a few companies their nobles don’t want to pay for, for a short time and some witless types who think they’d make good soldiers. We then cross a border, doesn’t matter which one. March up and down in a stern, restrained way, it’s called a Demonstration. Someone will get nervous, hand over a few folk they don’t like as scapegoat hostages and let us have the said dupes’ properties. We go return, honour satisfied and by then the girls should have come to their senses,’ he swilled wine ‘I like it!’

‘Indeed!’ exclaimed Frendlehanz, thinking on a nice piece of northern Hasselduff which would suit his purposes for his large garden with a town ‘In the morning we shall place this before my father and his nobles. Let us to rest gentlemen!’

‘Will you two be sharing a bed?’ Hanselfrendlesten, asked, smirking.

‘Stretch not your good fortune, brother,’ Frendlehanz retorted with a sardonic emphasis on the last word.

 

In other apartments a serious discussion between The Chancellor of the Exchequer, The High Diplomat and the princesses Whinsome and Aureyborealice had gone on long into the night. The men had listened intently to Whinsome, rarely had they been privy to such intelligent and well-reasoned discourse, as she explained why Arch-High Elect Supervisors for The Supreme One said what they had said and the underlying ramifications upon the various religious services and ceremonies of ignoring anything said by The Arch-High Elect Supervisor. In the light of this she then went on to explain just how binding the wedding pronouncements were.

‘Would that you could be allowed to address our bishops and clerics,’ said The High Diplomat. ‘And make them see the sense of the predicament ,’

‘They would not listen to a woman,’ lamented Whinsome. ‘They will be telling each I have lost my reason and am but an hysterical woman. Even if they agreed with me, they wouldn’t want me to be seen to be convincing them. They would have to have a conference, the sort that lasts a year and everyone gets crosser by the day,’

The Chancellor of the Exchequer was forming words into what he thought was an acceptable form of solution, when Aureyborealice who had been finished off a cream cake said thoughtfully.

‘Dear Chancellor of the Exchequer? Art not the bishops and various senior clerics exempt from taxation? Yet if things go badly and lead to war, might you have to turn to them for taxations to pay for said war? Yet if they were listen to dear Whinsome, who is quite the cleverest when compared to them, might they find it in their,’ she coughed politely ‘Hearts and minds to consider the points she had raised and thus the immediacy of such a war be avoided?’

The Chancellor of the Exchequer having heard from Aureyborealice exactly his line of reasoning, was impressed. If he had ever had the time to have a daughter, he wished they would have been blessed with the same insight as this most fayre of princesses. Indeed there was more to her than the singing, dancing and discousring with creatures and flora. 

Aureyborealice concluded the meeting by saying everyone must be so dreadfully tired and she and Whinsome were going to repair to her apartments, being a modest sized Manse (a manse being a Mansion that wasn’t allowed to reach its full potential) to repose.

‘Princess Whinsome?’ asked The High Diplomat in all solicitude ‘Might you need to be covertly escorted back to your parents,’

At this Aureyborealice frowned but said nothing.

‘I fear not,’ Whinsome said with a sigh ‘My parents have long cherished this idea for an independent income by growth and harvesting of Lychees which would flourish in the unusually subtropical climate and mild winters in the region where lies their castle and estates. They plan to sell them as an exclusive product for the general health and well being of the wealthy. Thus from the day I left they will have been busy converting my apartments into offices and storage houses while my private Garden of Repose and Reflection will be dug up for planting purposes,’

‘Digging up a garden!’ Aureyborealice said, for once sounding a little vehement, she gave Whinsome a sympathetic pat on the shoulder and escorted her away murmuring sympathies and solicitudes.

‘Lychees,’ The Chancellor said, speculatively to himself despatches to agents and merchants in other nations forming in his head.

Aureyborealice gathered the staff within her manse together said they should now go to bed and not bother trying to get up early in the morning as everyone would be far too tired, or fuss about her and Whinsome as they were quite capable of looking after themselves; adding

‘These are singular times,’ she said, but brightly ‘I daresay if everyone acts in a sensible and calm manner it can all be sorted out. If anyone bothers us, I will tell them the entire manse is in a state of religious reflection and repose. In fact with the aid our goodly own priests Whinsome and I will place the necessary scared ribbons across the doors, then good gentlemen you too can have a very long lie-in tomorrow,’

When all was done Aureyborealice nudged Whinsome into the bedroom, Whinsome being very shy.

‘I think you are my husband,’ Whinsome said ‘At least from the general theological and church law this must be so,’

‘Well I could be yours,’ Aureyborealice observed ‘There does not seem to be any guidance on that topic. I think it best if we say we are each other’s spouses otherwise people will get in such a tangle if one claims traditional titles,’

‘Very wise dear Aureyborealice. We should say Spouse By The Will and Wisdom of The Supreme Being, As Declared and Witnessed By The Arch-High Elect Supervisor. If we say it quick and coherently enough it will fuddle most folk enough into acceptance,’

‘Quite so dear Whinsome. Let us then prepare and get into bed I don’t know about you but I am so tired,’

Whinsome was rather glad to hear bed being associated with sleep as some girls of free and unconventional spirit…..Well you could never tell.

She was even more relieved when no sooner than they were in the large bed did issue from Aureyborealice‘s side a long series of snores.

Sleep did not fall upon Whinsome quite so quickly, for truth be known, there in the dark and alone to herself she admitted the whole business had become rather exciting.

Lady Frastreiayal  of the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng went to bed, puzzled. She had been looking forward to viewing all the fuss on her mirrors, now she felt rather anxious to see what was taking place.

Was something unforeseen taking place?

Aureyborealice. A Fable in Several Parts…Pt IV

 

Pt IV: An Officially Not Jolly Aftermath 

What indeed did happen in the immediate following the exit of Doctrindoss The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One, other than a lot of folk ran this way or that( depending on their circumstances)? Firstly, there was much talking at once. Secondly lots of urchins took the opportunity to snaffle as much of the several laid out wedding feasts, so much so they took a great deal back to their families, and at least that usually unfortunate section of society were jolly.

Thirdly King Genially, promptly stopped being jolly, as did most of his court, some of whom being more athletic hauled a few bishops and clerics over to demand what the fornacazoni (a dreadful oath) was going on….meanwhile the Chancellor of the Exchequer and The High Diplomat repaired away to a quite place to discuss matters.

As regards the four young folk:

‘What has come to pass!’ demanded Hulstrum (currently ,the exceptionally bothered) , for now he had no one to legally hit and since the fog had cleared so he couldn’t thwack Hanselfrendlesten (the slightly concussed) anymore. Thus Hulstrum was very cross

‘I’ve been heavily struck in the old gazongas,’ complained Frendlehanz (the presently incapacitated).

‘I’ve got a piece of earth in my ear,’ announced Aureyborealice (still very beautiful but then in a rustically ruffled way) clearing it out with the very unprincess-like application of finger to ear ‘ole.

‘What are the ‘old gazongas’?’ Whinsome( of the somewhat sheltered life) enquired, via the girl’s clean ear of Aureyborealice (the more familiar with Nature) who  whispered discreetly back Remember that of which I explained to you concerning Men and Women…well….’

‘Oh,’ responded Whinsome ‘What a dreadfully vulgar statement to make out loud,’ and thus became quite stern about the whole business.

‘In answer to your question Prince Hulstrum,’ said Winsome quite firmly while, consulting her small book of prominent theological points, she always carried with her, because one never knew when it would come in handy ‘It is definitely the case that you and Prince Frendlehanz have been married unto each other, while I,’ she glanced to Aureyborealice, currently engaged on cleaning out the other ear ‘Am married to Aureyborealice,’

The three other gave out with various expressions of surprise, meanwhile her brother Hanselfrendlesten said.

‘That’s what I thought. Thank Frib’ (a mild oath) for that. I thought I might have been knocked quite out of my wits,’

This statement was not of any use to Princes Frendlehanz and Hulstrum, far from it. They both stood up and goggled at the women, Frendlehanz’s normally equitable mood prejudiced by the previously mentioned injury.

‘Yes. Very funny joke. Ha-ha-ha,’ Frendlehanz said, truth be known at the time not feeling jolly, in fact not even the least bit jocular ‘Now come sweet Whinsome and take my hand, dearest wife,’ at which the princess recoiled, actually into the arms and earth stained hands of Aureyborealice (the now bemused)

‘Nay good sir. I beg you not,’ cried Whinsome in all sincerity and now, not caring much for a fellow who used vulgarities out loud within earshot of young women ‘For our unions have been commanded unto us by The Supreme Being through His Wiseness Doctrindoss The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One, and are thus sacred,’ these words she said with such intensity that Aureyborealice thought what she had initially believed to be a big ol’ helping of gooseberry gurgle pudding (a rather sticky bowl of goo beloved by peasants but also a metaphor for a mess) was actually the truth, the whole truth and nothing but a chuckling sort of truth. She patted Whinsome on the shoulder.

‘Well versed(ed) in the laws, theology  and wisdom of The Supreme Being and his allotted, or whatever,’ Aureyborealice said, for although she loved her brother, she also thought he could be a bit of smug stiff-neck at times and needed taking down a bit, adding ‘Is my beloved wife,’ Whinsome’s eyes widened a bit; for she had not thought of that implication, was Aureyborealice her husband then?

‘My Lady!’ cried Hulstrum at Aureyborealice, determined not to let the blonde weirdo  get away with that ‘Thou art now my spouse, won in fayre contest, defending your honour!’ and stepped towards her ‘Now behave as a goodly spouse,’

‘Brother!’ cried Aureyborealice in horror (much feigned) ‘How can(st) you let your wife so speak(eth) thus to me, currently second in line to the throne of Dingledong,’

At this Whinsome sternly regraded Hulstrum and said.

‘Wife knoweth thy place. For The Supreme One hath bless(ed) you with the state of matrimony,’ quoting from some Holy Book or other; having taken something of an instant dislike to Hulstrum; truth also be known, not a too difficult task.

At this the previously non-contributory Prince Hanselfrendlesten broke into a snort of laughter so loud even some of the closer hub-bubing folk noticed it. He thence commenced to roll about the ground holding his sides in gleeful amusements; happily for those of delicate sensibilities his laughter and chortles masked up some of the ribald suggestions he was making to his two fellow princes.

Frendlehanz (the now huffy) feeling that maybe Hanselfrendlesten had certain shallowness to his character he did not care for turned to Hulstrum and said.

‘We shall repair to my father and explain these three have been struck witless and all is null and void due to whychteri craft. It will be an inconvenience of course to have to go through the ceremonies again, but good Hulstrum my sister will be your wife by the end of the month,’

Hulstrum’s previous lack of enthusiasm was burnt aside by the very audible dismissive and vulgar ‘sound’ from Aureyborealice. He would soon show the uppity twitess! And off he stomped, Frendlehanz due to the persisting effects of his recent injury hobbled in his wake. Hanselfrendlesten calling after them ‘but you have not kissed the bride yet,’ being of no help in mollifying matters.

King Genially was still clinging to the notion that it had been but a simple whychteri attack by fel forces intent on disrupting the wedding. He wished everyone would stop talking at once, waving hands and Holy Books in the air, adding to this was an outer circle of those parents who could only account for ten and five out of the twenty and six bridesmaids. What really set the whole business up into quite another level was the arrival of the two aggrieved princes and their announcement as to just what the two princesses were asserting. At this point some of the bishops and clerics tried to sneak off.  Once more they were detained by those of the athletic part of the court and told with a sort of rough civility to explain matters, sensibly, without a load of theological incomprehensibilities.

‘Tis an unfortunate-ness,’ dithered the one shoved forward by his associates ‘There maybe, based on the theological principal of Devine Wisdom a certain validity to their statement,’ at this point for similar reasons to those of Queen Domesticia’s (remember her- currently being tended to by ladies in waiting) he too fainted.

‘Come hither daughter!’

That shut most folk up they had never heard there previous jolly and easy going Good Ol’ King Genially boom in the manner of one of those vulgar nobles, (thankfully from other places).

With an infuriatingly placid and sunny smile Aureyborealice while holding Whinsome’s hand skipped (barefooted- her ornate wedding shoes had been pinching her toes and heels all the morning) over the sward (a fancy name for grass) or in Whinsome’s case ‘dragged a bit’ to her father.

‘What is this foolishness!’ he demanded, to which Whinsome shocked by this display of unjolliness  hid a little behind Aureyborealice, having a crouch a bit being one thumb’s (average) height taller.

‘Dear Father and Dread Sovereign . ‘Tis not foolishness. ‘Tis unusual I will admit to thee. Yet by my troth I wilt take honoured oath unto thee I did witness’ when Aureyborealice particularly wanted her way she was inclined to lapse into annoyingly correct courtly language which folk found difficult to argue with ‘That which hath taken place was indeed by act and wisdom of the Supreme One by and through his representative of Earth Doctrindoss The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One,

At this Whinsome peeked around Aureyborealice‘s shoulder and with slight nervous smile squeaked.

‘ Tis so,’ and waved her small book of prominent theological points, the reading from it said.

‘Question ye not The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One, when he speak(eth) on matter of belief for he is but the voice of the Great Wisdom of The Supreme One,’

She did have a few more things to say to elaborate on that statement but all the men assembled gave out with many loud cries of outrage and argument and as a group set forth to seek out the fellow Doctrindoss (now being referred to by that subsidiary title of Old Fool)  gathering others as they went. All either having an opinion or demanding to know what was going on. The delegations of the three smaller kingdoms of Hasselduff, Moochenmuch and Grunzelpratz piling in, intimating none of this would have happened if one of their relevant daughters had been chosen; this affronted those of Trundlealong who turned to their prince Hanselfrendlesten (the now reasonably conscious) for guidance. He being fearfully loyal to his sister took a simple solution and punched someone from Hasselduff in the face. Hulstrum seeing a fresh opportunity to thwack Hanselfrendlesten again strode into the situation, only to get accidentally struck on the jaw by someone from Moochenmuch to which he responded with greater vigour than his hapless assailant. Somebody from Grunzelpratz labouring under the delusion that they were a wit called upon Frendlehanz ‘to control his wife’, Frendlehanz having heard that line already and not restrained by family ties set about the fellow. Thus did the three princes of Dingledong, Trundlealong and Chilbin form a hasty alliance against the small hosts of Hasselduff, Moochenmuch and Grunzelpratz, AND retinues of all sorts piled in. Bishops and clerics were blamed by some and since (in those times) no one could assail with sword or fist religious folk the unfortunate men  had trifles and cream cakes smeared on them. King Genially being shoved, elbowed, trod on and poked demonstrated how really, very unjolly he now was took sides with his son and kneed a very loud duke of Grunzelpratz in the butt.

Aureyborealice escorted Whinsome away from this. As they journeyed away they were approached two calm and composed men each escorted by two soldiers in dark armour, surcoats and visored helms.

‘My ladies,’ one said. ‘Our Masters, The Chancellor of the Exchequer and The High Diplomat would like to speak with you. Please do not be afraid. They require only your opinions,’

In a smallish discreet apartment introductions were made by Aureyborealice to set Whinsome’s slightly palpitating heart at rest, and the two men both very composed and not the least bit threatening simply asked her if she could please explain from her viewpoint just what had taken place. While she explained the theological interpretations based on the circumstances, legal applications of said interpretations and academic opinions on possible factual basis pertaining to events of yore, Aureyborealice munching on a snaffled piece of cake gazed out the window and noted it was suddenly pouring down with rain turning the neatly cared for sward into a muddy, very slippery field and so the eruption of violence was turning into something quite comic as many a self important fellow fell down on their well-flesh(ed) hindquarters, to be tripped over by those athletic types.

‘Hmmm,’ she said unto herself as she studied the skies.

Meanwhile the author of the sudden downpour, Lady Frastreiayal  of the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng, sat under a vacant awning seeming to comfort a duchess (who had misplaced her bridesmaid daughter) all while thinking it was a morning’s good work of mischief.  ‘Them and their smug, complacent jolliness….hah!’ (she thought unto herself) She would return to the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng and from a distance via a magic mirror or six enjoy the whole aftermath.

Aureyborealice, A Fable in Several Parts…Part I

Aureyborealice, A Fable in Several Parts…Part II

Aureyborealice, A Fable in Several Parts…Part III

State of Southeast Asia: 2020 Survey Report

A reminder to the West . ‘It’s not all about ‘us’ and how we view the world

The Human Lens

                                                                                                                ASEAN Countries

The Asean Studies Centre at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore has published the survey report on the State of Southeast Asia: 2020.

The ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute is an autonomous organisation established in 1968 that studies the socio-politicial trends in ten ASEAN member states. The 2020 figure was up from 45.9 per cent in the previous year’s poll.

This survey was conducted during the period of November 12 to December 1, 2019 with a total of 1,308 respondents.

Overall, the think-tank said domestic political instability, including ethnic and religious tensions (70.5 per cent), economic downturn…

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Aureyborealice, A Fable in Several Parts…Part III

Part III: The Jolly Wedding

As High Spring Observation Day approached with joy, merriment and happiness reaching such levels in Dingledong that even the revered village grumpy old men, (a position of much diligence) were seen to secretively crack their faces and mutter ‘Yeah I suppose no harm will come of this particular tomfoolery’. And tax collectors were observed saying to the poor ‘Pfft! Like the King is gonna miss your six bronze pfennies? It’s writ off. Have a nice day,’

Prince Frendlehanz (The Handsome Groom, general all round nice guy, and an interest in gardens) spoke with his many young male friends and official Witness To The Groom Prince Hanselfrendlesten (Also handsome, brother of the bride, liked warfare) and said:

‘Ok guys. We’ve had some laughs of late, but tomorrow is going to be kind of solemn and means a lot to the parents, and the ordinary folk, so let’s tone down the ribald stuff, keep your hands off the girls, until party time that is, and I know this is tough but try and be nice to the Chilbin lot, y’know how touchy they can be, particularly Hulstrum ; looking at you there Hanselfrendlesten,’ he said these words in such a good natured way that every young man including Hanselfrendlesten, laughed, toasted his health and got the last few ribald remarks out of their systems.

Now as was the custom Princess Aureyborealice (beautiful, kindly, delightful to folk and the environment, artistically gifted etc) being sister of the Groom was designated Companion to The Bride; being , Princess Whinsome (reasonably beautiful; possessed of russet hair, kindly,  good at needlework and theologically astute). Thus as was the custom they were locked up together (in a civilised and restrained way) in a comfortable apartment for the day prior to the wedding. Ostensibly to rehearse their duties at the ceremony and mediate on the correct and goodly ways of a wife or young maidens who weren’t wives yet. This was their first meeting but kindly Aureyborealice being uncaring of etiquettes and decorums in general stuck out her hand and said.

‘Hello I am Aureyborealice. Nice to meet you Whinsome. I am so happy we’re going to be sisters. This is a nice apartment but it is so stuffy on such a sunny day. I know a secret way out to a very small garden no one cares about. Do you want to go for a walk?’

Whinsome  as a result of much attention to needlework and theology was somewhat reserved, but being just as kindly as Aureyborealice took her hand survived the enthusiastic shake and in a polite soft voice said.

‘Oh that would be nice. I would like some fresh air,’

Thus Aureyborealice showed Whinsome how to sneak unseen in and out of the apartments; for unbeknown to the whole kingdom Aureyborealice had a sweetly mischievous side and as long as no harm was done to anyone had a very flexible approach to rules, regulations and conventions. Thus did she show Princess Whinsome that it was perfectly fine to walk barefooted in the grass, sit down in and upon places which were not artificially crafted and scrupulously cleaned by diligent servants and also how to converse with things not people. They got back in time for a luncheon after which Aureyborealice and Whinsome were slightly dutiful by going through their required nuptial rehearsal, albeit (at Aureyborealice‘s instigation) with the bridal crown worn at somewhat comical angles two impromptu dances and a few funny faces.

‘Oh thank you sister to be,’ said Whinsome ‘You have put my mind somewhat at ease, I can cope with the ceremony, ’tis no worse than the ten extremely dull and convoluted ceremonies of obligations the Bishops of Trundlealong have thought up to secure their jobs, but I am nervous about our wedding night, for no one has explained anything to do about what passes twixt a husband and wife,’

‘How very remiss,’ said Aureyborealice with concern ‘Whereas I have no direct experience I have sneaked into parts of the Royal Libraries I am not supposed to read many of the books which go into great detail on the subject; why so book many I cannot think there seems to be some repetition. Anyway in addition from inadvertently chancing upon places where servants and lesser staff go to indulge in each other it would seem the whole business is enjoyed by both parties. Let me explain,’

‘Oh my,’ said Whinsome afterwards,

‘Worry not sister to be. For I have overheard some of less prudent of the young women of alleged noble birth say of my brother ‘No complaints there,’ which I did feel a trifle vulgar and inopportune. But let us not trouble you any further, let us sneak away into the garden to watch the sunset,’

Meanwhile unbeknown to both bridal and groomal parties Lady Frastreiayal watched them with the aid of small magic mirror, which she had cunningly disguised as a small mirror and did smirk unto herself at the trouble she was about to bring unto them. She was, truth be known, not a particularly evil person and there were some rugged folk who had felt IF she had done something to her cheatin’ father and his fluffy little schemer then her only crime wuz being caught out. That night she gathered unto herself all the spells, magics and magiks she needed for the next day.

And did the Great Day arrive. Because the weather was so pleasant it had been agreed on an outdoors ceremony as that many folk crammed into a church was not conducive to the maintenance of jolliness. Everyone was dressed in their finery, or in the case of the peasants clean common cloth with some ribbons. With the aid of functionaries, servants and soldiers selected for exceptional reserves of patience all the nobles and folk with money  were put in their right places. There was the expected small problem of Hulstrum (For Diplomatic Reasons The Mostly Morose and Only Slightly Fierce) who insisted he had to sit at the very front row of guests because his father had told him to demand so, personally he couldn’t have cared less. He was accommodated as Aureyborealice was nowhere near him.  There was music, ceremonial pre-ceremonies, various religious folk walked up and down doing religious things while servants and others made sure Doctrindoss The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One was escorted to a dais which had a conveniently high and plush back to it designed to look as if it was NOT propping him up.

There came the expected murmurs of appreciation as along in a tasteful restrained stride came Prince Frendlehanz (benign smile to everyone) escorted by Prince Hanselfrendlesten (also tasteful stride and trying not to smirk at Hulstrumcurrently stiff-backed and grim faced). After a suitable pause thence to the audible gasps of delight (and relief of the wedding planners who had been hoping for this reactions) came Princesses Whinsome and Aureyborealice whose dresses were long and flowing, flowery, and very white; both maids were pictures of innocent beauty and dignity and trying not to remember after a few glasses of wine last night’s Who Can Do The Best Vocal Impression of Farm Animal competition. In the very farthest of back rows sat Lady Frastreiayal (vengeful if in an ironic way-wait and see)

All went acceptably well for a while as Doctrindoss (ponderous and determined) went through all the preambles, aided by a mechanical device which made his voice boom out and stop folks falling asleep while the four young folk were stalwart in standing, with straight faces Whinsome and Frendlehanz doing the covert glancing thing.

Then Frastreiayal, eyes ever on Hulstrum struck. She made small, deft gestures as if wiping from her eyes sentimental tears and whispered incantations under the guise of small phrases of delight at the ceremony.

Firstly the clear bright sky was gloomified by a sudden mist which fell as a thickish fog about the place.

‘Fear not and stay in place,’ mechanically aided Doctrindoss boomed out ‘For ’tis naught by a blanket of softness bestowed by The Supreme One to shade all from the heat of the over generous sun. What hath commenced(ed) shall not be stopped(eth),’ And he carried on, even if everyone was having problems seeing everyone else. For as was the regionally accepted  belief of those days once The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One had started not even kings nor queens could stop This Servant (or The Old Fool as some would have)  of the Supreme One. The four young folk managed by whispers, nudges of feet, tentative grasps of elbows etc to keep in contact.

Meanwhile Frastreiayal(having fun) by secret means sent messages into the mind of Hulstrum (militarily alert for nonsense) to beware for evil plots that none of the rest (all foolish) seemed to be aware of. He took these as instincts warning him. He would not have been surprised if some barbaric shamans had sneaked in, actually he was pretty certain of it, particularly when Frastreiayal conjured into the murky process some largish, slightly brutal and very clumsy creatures from the flatish places of The Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng who she had during her tenure there treated in a fondish, pettish sort of way. All they did was lumber, blunder and bray- which quite frankly was enough. But Frastreiayal added her crowning touch into Hulstrum’s mind she whispered ‘Now is your chance. Save everyone and win the hand of fayre Aureyborealice,’ . Well, personally, he still couldn’t have cared what happened to the annoying little freak, except a paternal order was a paternal order, and anyway he was in the right mood to hit things. Thus knocking the squawking old fool next to him off of their chair, he broke off a leg of said chair and waded into the confusion (of course he should have used a leg of his own chair, but he was in that sort of mood).

As Frastreiayal  had planned all was chaos. Doctrindoss would not be stopped and boomed out ‘The Supreme One’s Hand will not be stayed. Away with these fel beasts,’. Hulstrum taking advantage of a perfectly good opportunity thwacked Hanselfrendlesten on the head felling him before the fellow could get started, then went about crying ‘Away ye creatures! Begone!’  Frendlehanz (as befitted a prince of a realm) cried out ‘Fear not I will save you!’ until some panicked bishop accidentally  caught him in the ‘delicates’ with a staff supposed to be for religious purposes, and the poor lad doubled up. Aureyborealice used to evicting from her gardens straying cows, ill-tempered cats and animals bent on mischief called ‘Don’t have fear sister to be, I will see these silly things off,’ and grasping the downed staff while yelling ‘Go on! Shoo! Shoo!’ held their bit of the field nobly. Whinsome, wisely hunkered down and prayed. Thus did three young folk call out defiant words to the attackers, one groaned ‘Oh my wedding night,’ one sat holding his head and saying impolite words until Hulstrum thwacked him (Hanselfrendlesten that is) again, for the heck of it. All the while Hulstrum cried out (in a less than enthusiastic manner) ‘Fear not Princess Aureyborealice, by fealty and traditions you are safe with me, thus I do swear(eth)!’ This was a sort of hasty proposal made in extreme situations such as battles, severe weather or if the father of a young woman caught her with a young man in a particular situation and the young guy wanted to keep his delicates intact. Actually Aureyborealice, defending her sister to be wasn’t paying the least bit attention, while on the question of tactical deployment Hulstrum didn’t have any idea where she was and in trying to locate her tripped over someone, scrambled up and mind now set wholly on battle set to defend his piece of turf.

The struggle was frenetic and frantic indeed, blows were landed on the beasts, who didn’t notice much, calls were heard from males to maids to not be afraid, maids were too busy giving account of themselves or praying to notice, Bishops and their clerics were not a lot of use, members of the congregation, functionaries and soldiers all got in each others ways, some subsequently happy bridesmaids were carried to secluded safety by brave young fellows and from time to time everyone fell over. Doctrindoss deciding the obvious, that this was all detracting from the solemnity of the situation made a theological decision and called out:

‘The Will of The Supreme One is not to be foiled by evils. Begone fel beasts!’ Frastreiayal having seen her scheme going well assisted him and the beasts went back home, which made the old guy think he still had it and continued  ‘Thus Let it be known,’ he peered into the gloom and feeling there had been too much familiarity between four young folk during a wedding ceremony, but having quite forgotten names and faces called out ‘You and you AND you and you be judged by the Will of The Supreme One married!’ and as the mists wafted away made the most solemn and scared sign of matrimony over…

The somewhat sprawled figures of  Frendlehanz AND Hulstrum, also Aureyborealice AND Whinsome. They all stopped scrambling and shouting themselves hoarse, looked at each other then at Doctrindoss, who regarded the two couples with a bemused remoteness.

‘Thus has the Supreme One decreed,’ he boomed in one last statement, looking to Frendlehanz AND Hulstrum then Aureyborealice AND Whinsome. He closed up the relevant Holy Book and walked off, with bishops and assorted clerics who had not fled rushing after him dithering, calling out objections and waving pages of other Holy Books to him and each other. He cared not. Under extreme duress he had carried out not one but two marriage ceremonies and driven off fel beasts all at the same time. Not so bad for someone of three and eighty years of age. Minor details were of no concern to The Supreme One and thus not to him.

In the aftermath the two couples, still sprawled on the grass, continued to stare from one to another. Prince Hanselfrendlesten sat and said nothing because seeing and hearing what he thought he had seen and heard made him feel maybe that second ‘thwack’ had addled his senses completely.

Queen Domestica’s fortitude already stretched to breaking point by getting Doctrindoss there in the first place and then the day before the wedding’s attendant hoo-ahhs, simply fainted.

Frastreiayal who had merely intended for a lot of chaos, cancellation of the wedding, a  few minor injuries, the exquisite family and societal embarrassment of Hulstrum rolling all over Aureyborealice while arguing he had made a goodly proposal and the resulting political implications could not believe her good fortune and slipped quietly away under cover of  the greatest of hub-bubs ever witnessed in Dingledong.

Aureyborealice, A Fable in Several Parts…Part I

Aureyborealice, A Fable in Several Parts…Part II

Activist Ilham Tohti: Voice of Dissent For Uyghur Rights

Here is some sobering news.
Although this seems to be something on the other side of the world, never forget the same basic mindset of the Chinese Government could come knocking at your door.
Maybe not in a form as stark as this, but nevertheless the forces which disapprove of your personal choices and outlooks are always out there.

The Human Lens

Uyghurs, alternately Uygurs, Uighurs or Uigurs, are a Turkic minority ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the general region of Central and East Asia have been settled in China since long. PRC has been under fire for suppressing the Uighur community in the country’s western Xinjiang province as evidences pile on the human rights abuses.  

Today we will bring the story of an Uyghur activist who has been persecuted for speaking out against these atrocities. The Uyghur economist and activist, Ilham Tohti, 50 was sentenced to life in prison in 2014 as per China’s laws for “separatism charges.”

Coming from humble background where his widowed mother brought up the four siblings, Tohit excelled in his schooling and was supported by his family for continuing his academic aspirations. He attained master’s degree at Minzu University in Beijing, where later he became a professor in economics and social issues related…

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Aureyborealice, A Fable in Several Parts…Part II

Foreword:

Due to the increasingly complex interplay between characters and the national stances both socio- economic and political from henceforth italics will be used in the summaries of the various characters, national stuff, etc.

Part II: The Jolly Wedding-Based Economy, The Geo-political Situation,The Arrangements Stuff and the Socio-Cultural Impact.  

Now that the wedding of Prince Frendlehanz (handsome, noble and fayre to the lesser classes) of Dingledong to Princess Whinsome (The reasonably beautiful and possessed of russet hair; kindly and compassionate nature, wonderful at sewing and dutiful at prayer) of Trundlealong  had been verified by treaty, exchanges of  gifts, officially sanctioned plighting of troths (or trothes-depending on regional variations) and all the rest, a date had been set for the event. It was to take place on High Spring Observation Day. Dingledong and to a lesser extent Trundlealong’s economies geared up. This made The Chancellor of the Exchequer of Dingledong quite satisfied; he tried to avoid being happy as it marred his judgement. The High Diplomat was more sanguine as he had to keep an eye on the three smaller kingdoms of Hasselduff, Moochenmuch and Grunzelpratz for any sustained rumblings on account of  various daughters, nieces etc not having made the cut in the marriage scene.

There was thus much wedding-based industry in creations of  catering, memorabilia celebratory songs, poems, woodcuts, suitable clothing etc. All this resulted in an even more jolly atmosphere, giving rise to a a slew of pre-wedding celebrations, parties and harmlessly boisterous events. The combination naturally increased the working populations and placed coin of various types into the economic infrastructure. The Chancellor of The Exchequer aided by his own para-military tax officials worked long hours to ensure inflation was kept under control by arranging for the imprisonment or disappearance of profiteers; this served to make the population even happier (and amazingly jolly)

To ensure maintenance of the high levels of joy and merriments and thus economic activity, Princess Aureyborealice( beauty beyond compare, long flowing blonde hair, was kind to everyone, sang with birds, talked to small furry creatures and danced) had been allowed out of her garden and set free to sing and dance at carefully organised official events at which socially acceptable children were selected to join in with her. Most folk thought she was even more incredibly lovely than they had heard tell and also the daughter they wished they had; in the case of younger males they were advised to keep their thoughts to themselves, younger daughters set upon to trying to look and act like Aureyborealice which when carried on in numbers did cause some social disfunction, but most of this was covered up under the guise of Celebration.  Anybody found making misanthropic comments about her was arrested on some knocked together charge,  thrown in prison for an unspecified duration and told they would not be let out until they could prove to a local committee that they had become very jolly and happy for the royal family. Most being tiresomely self-aware preferred to espouse martyrdom- no one cared, except for those charged with jailing accommodation.

And so the day of the wedding grew closer. Where there was absolutely no merriment was in Chilbin. There King Vilfahengo (The Iron) had to deal with his brooding son Hulstrum (The Fierce ) who was not displaying any enthusiasm about trying to woo Princess Aureyborealice (beautiful, kind, dancing etc) while many of his lords and ordinary folk were asking why they couldn’t invade the insufferably smug place like used to happen in the Good Old Days. King Vilfahengo (The Iron) resolved to have more schools in which the principal lessons would be Politics and Economic Strategy and so save him the bother of having to repeat himself explaining to what he realised was a kingdom of lunkheads.  As a short term policy he sent some of his more bellicose lords north to deal with a sudden outbreak of shaman(capering, gibbering and waving sticks with bones on) inspired revolts by the barbarians who, truth be known, didn’t need much encouragement. This had the unfortunate side-effect of making Hulstrum even more surly as he wasn’t allowed to go north with the armies because of The Wedding and Princess Aureyborealice, so he could not sneak off to tryst with Magnificalorin (flame haired and fiery, daughter of Gurt a barbarian of some standing ).

In her tall, sombre palace and tower which many a thoughtful observer had wondered how she’d managed to get built so quickly up the windiest side of The Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng  Lady Frastreiayal (sister of Domesticia, wife of King Genially of Dingledong and not invited to family events due to suspicions surrounding their father being made their Late Father years before his time  ) continued with her elaborate scheming . For most of the time, of late, she had studied long and hard on Weathers and The Metrological Implications of Doing Things With Weathers. When not involved in scientific research she reviewed the geo-political and socio-economic situation of the region. For mild amusement she had journeyed (on a flying horse called ThunderMane) to the barbaric north and  appeared in slightly hideous disguise amongst the previously pacified shamanic class (see Part I – King Vilfahengo-Iron & Son Hulstrum- The Fierce currently converting to The Brooding) in the guise of Frizgrunstar Wydle Wyfe, Spouse of  Thugnnorran The God of a Thousand Peaks)- (she in barbaric folklore and affiliated beliefs being the one who encouraged folk to get killed in battle, her old man being responsible for delegating out deity-oriented jobs to their children and the relatives). In the guise of flowing and ragged blood stained clothe-tastefully covering up most of her body she had chastised (verbally) the menfolk for being so supine and the womenfolk not shoving their idle men out to war.  With everything moving along at a goodly pace she just hoped her sister Domesticia (gracefully aging queen of Dingledong and of many happy years marriage to King Genially) would not suddenly spoil everything with a fit of sisterly reconciliation and invite her to the wedding. She need not have worried.

Queen Domesticia had had her own challenges. Doctrindoss The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One; (The Church of the Supreme One being the region’s acceptable religion), had taken a specific interest in the wedding. Normally he left his bishops to get nobles married to each other but one involving Dingledong and Trundlealong’s most eligible youngsters obviously required The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One. Since he had been The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One for thirty and three years and could, without invitation or warning  recite whole chunks the Ten Holy Books while concerning footling points of theology argue anyone into stultifying insensibility, the two royal families could see no way out of the matter. Thus Domesticia was obliged to make sure the journey from his small but highly independent city state of Turgidan was free of any travel problems, unseemly heretics, herds of animals to market and pot holes. She then had to arrange the very best of accommodation for him and his travelling retinue while mollifying the injured egos of the five and ten bishops of both kingdoms. Her opposite number in Trundlealong, Queen Fashionelle (always well dressed and ever sociable)   ducked out of the whole business citing arranging her daughter Princess Whinsome (The reasonably beautiful and possessed of russet hair; kindly and compassionate nature, wonderful at sewing and dutiful at prayer) and the six and twenty bridesmaids into presentable order. Princess Whinsome was no problem, the six and twenty bridesmaids, their mothers and a few aunts who’d managed in stick their noses in were. By mutual consent of both Queens their husbands were deemed of no use whatsoever in either matter and the men were left to get entangled in the political, diplomatic and economic ramifications.

Thus came the Tenth Day before the wedding and four days following the settling in of Doctrindoss The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One and his indifferent but unavoidable retinue. At this stage both King and Queen of Dingledong and most of their governmental staff still had to shoe-horn all the guests and their own crowds into suitable lodgings, therefore they left the escorting of Princess Whinsome to the joint efforts of her brother Prince Hanselfrendlesten (an adventuresome warrior prince) and her betrothed Prince Frendlehanz ( handsome, noble and fayre to the lesser classes,). Despite his best efforts Hanselfrendlesten could not convince Frendlehanz to go on a post-honeymoon military campaign; it was possible his failure to literally map out an exact location for said campaign might have been a contributory factor. Likewise Frendlehanz had not made a strong case on the joys of garden landscaping. However those two small points aside the two young fellows got on quite well, could discuss hunting, horses and also share many a young manly jest on their respective experiences with women who under no circumstance could be considered as having wife-potential, the latter comments were best not overheard by folk of delicate sensibilities.

Amongst all the comings and few goings, celebrations, catering arrangements, scantily attended gatherings of local religious folk and parading of military units who had been lucky enough to be selected out of usual patrolling, cleaning barracks, tax collecting escorts, guarding in remote and unsanitary keeps and chasing evasive malcontents duties no one noticed the arrival of an unescorted middle-aged woman of unprepossessing dress and polite but little conversation. Most folk who bothered to witness her assumed her old man must be about somewhere and she’d been arriving late because of the securing of recalcitrant children with other relatives.

No one ever, ever thought, not even The Chancellor of the Exchequer that Lady Frastreiayal of The Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng was in their midst, her plans of mischief all in place.

Meanwhile Princess Aureyborealice ( beautiful etc… you should know the rest by now) despite the concerns of some of the fussier of her ladies in waiting and her two physicians in attendance as to her general physical state of health, she still maintained her eager good-hearted joy at the coming celebrations while her feet showed no signs of any injury or even abrasion or her voice wear and tear on the vocal chords. For so pure was her dear, honest heart, she was somewhat exempt from the depredations caused by the commonly shared less pleasant emotions and ill-humours of the usual human set-up.

Aureyborealice, A Fable in Several Parts…Part I

Aureyborealice, A Fable in Several Parts…Part I

Part I: A Happy Kingdom and Plans for a Jolly Wedding

Preface: I like writing Fantasy and do try to keep it serious. I also have a generally censorious view of the events in the News but try never assume one side is all good and the other all bad (only certain groups and individuals). Sometimes the strain of keeping perspective on the latter has a tectonic shift into the former creating an urge to write something less than serious….. Hence the following.

Once upon a time there was the land of Dingledong ruled by King Genially (of late middle aged years) who was a jolly and generous fellow as long as things were uncomplicated

Everything in the kingdom was happy and the peasants didn’t have to pay much in taxes. This was because Chancellor of the Exchequer of Dingledong was a crook; who juggled the books while keeping everything looking fine, for he knew the dark magic secret that Economics was not based on facts but on what folk thought and so far no one had out-thought him. In this venture he was aided by King Genially’s High Diplomat to whom he channelled much gold to pass out to important folk in the neighbouring kingdoms. This made them so happy they did not stop to think they had been channelling gold to the Chancellor of the Exchequer of Dingledong in the first place. The whole process was known as Trade Agreements and Tax Unions.

As the jolly king (of late middle aged years) relied on his Chancellor of Exchequer and his High Diplomat he didn’t worry at all and remained very, very jolly. 

Now jolly king Genially (of late middle aged years) and his beloved Domesticia (gracefully aging queen  of many happy years marriage) had two children. The elder was Prince Frendlehanz who was handsome, noble and fayre to the lesser classes; he liked to ride, hunt and design gardens, the former two being requisites of his status, the latter a side-source of income to the royal household as everyone who was anyone in the kingdom wanted a garden designed by Prince Frendlehanz. The younger child was his sister Princess Aureyborealice, her beauty was the necessary beyond compare; she had long flowing blonde hair, was kind to everyone, sang with birds, talked to small furry creatures, danced barefoot in gardens and since she was the younger of the two no one worried about her possible mental state. Both children were very happy and dutiful to their parents who in return loved them both equally.

Whereas Everyone in the kingdom was so happy the said joy, unlike the trade agreements and tax unions, did not translate into everyone in neighbouring kingdoms. More than one royal (and dysfunctional to varying degrees) household found the whole thing rather grating on the nerves, if not downright insufferable but since the kingdom of Dingledong was seen to be so durn wealthy and necessary in the complex regional matrix of politics every other royal family had to put up with it and allow the kingdom to be the senior partner in all economic arrangements.

Of all who was most miffed was King Vilfahengo (The Iron) who ruled the most northern and wintery land of Chiblin. He, had spent long years subduing the barbaric tribes of the even farther north all of whom wore unsanitary furs and had lacked any social graces. The survivors now paid tribute to Vilfahengo (The Iron) and had been made to cease to scratch under their armpits at the dining table. Vilfahengo (The Iron) thought after all this effort the other kingdoms should look to him in the north even if Chilbin had no discernibly strong economic base other than tribute from those even more northern and also still socially awkward folk. He wished have his son Hulstrum (The Fierce ) to marry Princess Aureyborealice and thus gain politic transaction. Hulstrum (The Fierce)  although strong, brave but ruthless feared his father and supposed he would have to marry Aureyborealice, even if he was secretly unsettled by the thought of a wife who never mind if she was beautiful beyond compare and had long flowing blonde hair she was blasted well kind to everyone, sang with birds, talked to small fury creatures AND danced barefoot in gardens. After all how could he maintain societal standing amongst his friends and carry out his task of cowing those very northern barbarians with such a bride? He supposed he would have to  bend her to his husbandly will, which truth be known was a distraction from cowing barbarians. Actually, the true reason why he kept on going north was to tryst with the flame haired and fiery Magnificalorin; daughter of Gurt a barbarian of some standing (and scratching of armpits when with his own folk).

While Vilfahengo (The Iron)  brooded and plotted in the north, Genially the jolly king (of late middle aged years) with the aid of his High Diplomat did make overtures to King Doodle (Unofficially known as The Inconsequential)  of neighbouring  Trundlealong that Prince Frendlehanz ( handsome, noble and fayre to the lesser classes,) should marry Doodle’s daughter, Princess Whinsome (The reasonably beautiful and posssed of russet hair) who was of kindly and compassionate nature, wonderful at sewing and dutiful at prayer. Neither Frendlehanz nor Whinsome felt they ought to have any opinion in the matter and on meeting three formal times thought things could be worse and resolved to be obeyful to their parents. As did everyone else. Three other kings were disappointed one of their daughters or nieces had not made the cut but there again a new resultant trade treaty and formally mutually binding security pact would ensure the two largish kingdom of Dingledong and Trundlealong would be willing to assist the three smaller kingdoms to make sure everything continued in a conservative manner. Princess Whinsome’s slightly elder brother Prince Hanselfrendlesten (an adventuresome warrior prince) was giving the task of being her formal escort to the marriage ceremony so he could get a look at Princess Aureyborealice and hopefully take his mind off of small adventuresome wars in far away places. He was not very enthusiastic about local weddings as unlike in far away places they did not lead to wars,  but having run out of small adventuresome wars in far away places agreed because Dingledong bordered Chiblin and for some time he had been trying to find a reason to square off against Hulstrum (The Fierce)  who he had met once and didn’t like.

The feeling was mutual.

Both The Chancellor of the Exchequer of Dingledong and The High Diplomat knew Hulstrum (The Fierce)  was bound to turn up at the wedding as the official representative of Chiblin and there could be trouble with Prince Hanselfrendlesten (the adventuresome warrior prince)  or at least unwanted attentions to Aureyborealice (beauty beyond compare, long flowing blonde hair, kind to everyone, sang with birds, talked to small fury creatures, and danced barefoot in gardens) . So to various noble families who, previously, had been secretly financially embarrassed by Chancellor of the Exchequer of Dingledong, were sent smallish bags of gold on the understanding they ensured their daughters attended the wedding and heave their bosoms at Hulstrum (The Fierce) 

But everyone had forgotten about or just plain overlooked Lady Frastreiayal  of the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng.

Lady Frastreiayal, practitioner of magiks and nurser of grudges.

And sister of Domesticia (gracefully aging queen of Dingledong and of many happy years marriage to King Genially).

Now they had been daughters to Grand Duke Snork  (nervous and mean spirited) and Granduchess Dutiful(placid and fatalistic) of the usefully independent Duchy of Taxhaven. Snork though was worried at not having a legally presentable son so divorced Dutiful on Taxhaven’s law of Grounds of Conduct Unbecoming (in this case, not having sons) and packed her off to a remote religious retreat for Noble Women Deemed Unsuitable (by their husbands, that is). He then married a fluffy curvy little schemer. Both daughters had loved their mother Dutiful and were very unhappy. To stop the elder one moping about the place Snork had  Domesticia quickly married off to Genially who in those days was very lively as well as jolly so she didn’t get a chance to mope.

Frastreiayal was the younger. Now because of her age it was assumed she would mope anyway so she was left to her own devices. She, however, had always been studious and intense which meant she’d been reading stuff everyone else, being more interested in tax laws, had forgotten about. Now these books of hers were the genuine books about hard magics and not just ones describing card tricks or how to get flags of all nations to appear out of the left ear. Thus without having to resort to reading crushingly dull tomes on Economics she learned of other dark powers which could twist realties.

One day while Grand Duke Snork ( at the time only- not so mean spirited) was taking his fluffy curvy little schemer of a bride for a walk in the ornamental garden he had had built for her and with a view to slipping into the summer house when along came a freak wind which deposited a large and understandably ill-tempered bull upon the couple, one of whom may have survived had not the bull ill-temperedly rolled all over them both before getting up and rushing off, adding to the tragedy by on the way demolishing the summer house.

As there were no legally and thus presentable male heirs the usefully independent Duchy of Taxhaven was absorbed into the benevolent suzerainty of Dingledong by virtue of Domesticia being there already, although its unique regional financial status (who pays taxes?) was maintained.

Several astute folk including Domesticia  (who had begun to feel a certain sisterly queasiness) had noticed the normally solemn face of Frastreiayal  was betraying the faintest of grins, thus she was told she now ruled the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng and please go there. Since the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng was devoid of any permanent population and those who passed by were wont not to stay long, she recognised she had been rumbled but fortunately for everyone involved decided she would take up the career of brooding and studying more magics. Thus taking up a with serving staff of specially selected malcontents and misanthropes she left for her new home, there to spy on everyone and nurse grudges against those who led happy lives.  

Upon hearing of the news of the wedding of her irritatingly affable nephew Prince Frendlehanz she decided it was time everyone south of the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng sampled her magics. She had been practicing on those north of the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng who being barbarians hadn’t counted much, unless you were one of them and she felt pretty confident she could finally bring the whole shebang into chaos.

End of Part I

Plots and Things That Might Be Plots…or Not

I suppose the basic idea of a plot is broadly linear. A narrative starts at A with an intention to end up at at, shall we say D with diversions at B & C and there it does end at D. Fine, because so much can happen in between those four points of juncture. If however I were to continue along this thread and assert this is basically what all writers should strive for if they want to be succesful in their art then I might as well suggest we have a National Let’s Be Mean To Children day for the amount of rage and controversery resulting.

Basically ‘What is a Plot?’ is a question no one is ever going to answer successfully. If someone not a writer were to ask that question in a room of say six writers, the said person would end up (A) Having to break up at least one fist fight (B) Pick up the chair when one writer stormed out asserting everyone else was a twit before slamming an innocent door (C) Make a cup of tea or coffee to soothe the one who was having existential crisis because they couldn’t answer the question (D) having listened to the remaining two come away with the idea there were at least ten different answers (E) Wished they’d never asked the stupid question in the first place and (F) Wondering if they will ever be able to read fiction again without twitching.

And that’s before we reached that most volatile and dangerous of statements

‘It is the melding of words which matters. Who needs a plot?‘ (NB. An Innocent to the world of writers should never ask this question. It’s like starting a discussion on Religion, Politics or Sport; it never ends well., Even if the said Innocent does try keep the assemblage supplied with tea, coffee, biscuits and cookies)

Basically I would suggest one answer (out of an infinite number of answers and permutations of answers with or without qualifiers; ipso facto, quid pro quo-one should always try and throw some Latin into a debate it looks good) is:

The plot is what the reader discerns it is.

Any quick sift through books, articles, reviews, criticisms etc about other books, articles, reviews, criticism etc will reveal that there are inventive folk out there having tremendous fun (and making a living) out of telling you what the author of aforementioned books, articles, reviews, criticism etc was actually saying in the first place AND are not they (ie the inventive folk) very clever was discerning this. Such a statement will be followed by other inventive folk saying in books, articles, reviews, criticisms etc  how wrong the first inventive folk was/were and actually the message/theme etc of the orginally cited books, articles, reviews, criticisms etc was….

This unsettles some folk who just wanted to sit down and read a book, etc and not have their worlds upset by strident assertions. This is why you should never read any review on any books, articles, reviews, criticisms etc, without your ‘Oh Yeah. Says You,’ monitors and response metres tuned to full strength. I proclaim this in advance of the next part of this post which I, (only me, that is) look at some works from the perspective of plots, or not as it were….

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf 

mrs-dalloway-virginia-woolf-9781781398197 Now it could be excusable on a first brief glance to think ‘A day in the life British upper class woman organising a party for that night. So? Is it going to be a comedy like P G Wodehouse with things going wrong. It’s not? Huh! That’s going to be dull’ Where in actual fact the party is but a backdrop to varied interactions between people, none of whom do run off with each, even if there is a subtext some want to. At this stage it can be argued there is no particular linear plot. However it is what it is; which as I see it is a view of the complexity of people’s lives, the appeal lying in the use of language and juxtapositions of past and present. You will have another view. We could discuss…hopefully not argue on the subject. Anyway just bear with me, I’m not done yet.

Moby Dick (or The Whale) by Herman Melville

Moby Dick Entire literary or academic careers have probably been built around this novel. ‘Ahab a sea-captain has had his leg bitten off by a whale, Moby Dick and wants to seek revenge on the said whale. But consumed by this obsession ends up being bested by said whale’. Is that the plot then?’ Well not really because, Melville fills up the book with all sorts of information about whales and the history of whaling, it’s told from the point of view of Ishmael the only survivor, Ahab the captain doesn’t turn up for quite a while and Moby Dick in terms of wordage nearly at the end. So who or what is the book about? And does it have a plot or is it a commentary about things deeper? Personally I don’t know, it overwhelms me, like a huge whale rising out of the deep. One thing is certain the whole work has and will continue to intrigue and captivate. No doubt there are legion of opinions are to what the actual plot is (or not as the case may be)

Having thus skirted around the dangerous area of whether one may or may not need a plot, or part of a plot I will comment on safer ground for me anyway….. Fantasy novels. Most of the best selling having plots. In these following examples Plots are strong factors, but the telling of how they work out are the most important features.

The_Lord_of_the_Rings  Now this one needs no introduction or detailed explanation does it? Very simple outline- throw the evil ring down the volcano, good defeats evil. Tolkien doesn’t just go from A to D via B & C though, he goes through the entire alphabet upper and lower case for good measure. Small wonder many folk say ‘This year I shall I read Lord of the Rings, properly and in depth’, because it will need that length of time to appreciate all the histories, nuances and colours. Simple premise while allowing whole swathes of detail, proving you don’t need a complex plot.

Best Served Cold by Joe Ambercrombie

Best served cold Joe Ambercrombie does not write subtle, nor simple, nor good over coming evil. But he does write plots. This book set in a world familiar to his readers is one of basic revenge. Monza Murcatto a ruthless mercenary is betrayed and left for dead, she gets up and seeks revenge; there is a conclusion. On the way though there are many characters some of whom people other books in the series. Monza is not nice at all, in fact you might think considering her background she had this coming and you might also feel sorry for some of the folk tagging along with her. In fact it is very hard not to get engaged, if bloody, unsentimental, colourful alternate worlds (approx. 15/16th Century Italy) are to your taste. One with twists to the plot which are not of Monza’s plan or even foresight. Plot figures strongly, fleshed out though with strong characters. No particular moral other than in this one Survival is Everything.

The preceding four books were taken as random examples of just a few of the facets encountered when talking about The Plot (or not). You will have your own examples and permutations. I tried to steer clear of the issue of Complex, Tangled or Obscure plots as these tend to be a matter of perception and some folk get quite upset, nay even insulted if you suggest one is, or isn’t when they have an opposite view and we are back in the world of heated arguments.

Basically to underline the issue it would seem we must always consider this.

It is how the piece is written which counts.