Saturday, 25 June 2011

Better living through crime as long as you don't mind only stealing porridge.

Ok, this is going to be a tough one. Allow us, for the space of these words to picture a reality in which a family of bears are able to
 A: Live in a house and B: prepare hot food for breakfast.
 If we can do this then I think we'll be able to get through this one without poking gigantic holes in what is essentially a very flimsy story.

The Story:
There are three bears, they live in a house and prepare porridge for breakfast. When the food is served the father bear pronounces it to be much too hot and they all go out for a walk to allow it to cool down [1] which is fair enough.

Enter Goldilocks, so named because of her hair, she rubs shoulders with other imaginatively named fairy tale people like Snow White, Rose Red and Little Red Riding Hood but I digress.
Now in some versions of the story she has been walking a long way and is tired and hungry which might go a little way to justifying her actions here today [2]. She knocks on the door of the bears house and, after finding that nobody is home she proceeds to break into the house for no other reason than simply because she can.

The porridge is quickly sampled, as are the chairs and the beds. Each is rejected in favor of the baby bears things which are found to be just right [3]. She makes the mistake of going to sleep and nobody is surprised to find that she is still there when the bears return home.
They lament in general and describe what has happened to their food and chairs presumably so that the child listening to this story doesn't forget [4] and then they go to the bedroom and discover the culprit asleep in bed.

Essentially this is where the tale ends. In some versions she runs back home. In others she gets eaten by the bears. In at least one she stays and plays with the family.

  1. Why didn't the bears phone the police?
    They live in a house with all the mod cons, presumably they have a telephone and even if they don't how hard is it for one of them to run down to the village and come back with the local policeman. If the police wont come because it's a family of bears then the story becomes Goldilocks, The Three Bears and The Three Ring Media Circus.
  2. Why Goldilocks why?
    Something I've never been able to understand is how Goldilocks justifies entering the house in the first place. I mean it's clearly breaking and entering and based on the way she runs away you can't expect me to believe that Mr Bears wallet suddenly became too empty and Mrs Bears jewelery was just right.
    Even if she knew the bear family and this whole thing started out as a social call surely the correct thing to do when nobody answers the door is to simply have her say “Oh nobody is at home, I will call again later” and then go off skipping down the road [5]
  3. What exactly was in this porridge?
    Consider this. She has just broken into a house and her adrenaline levels are going to be soaring because at some level she knows that it is wrong. Then she eats the food and is suddenly tired enough to not only go to sleep but also enter a sleep deep enough that she isn't awakened by the bears not only returning but making a lot of noise about how things are eaten, broken etc. 

Given that porridge, whatever the temperature, is not found in the normal bear diet we are forced to conclude that the food is bait and the entire setup is nothing more than an devious trap. Think about it:  
  • The unusual addition of the porridge to the bears diet is surely something that would be remarked upon in the community. 
  • Any burglar will relish the opportunity to actually stake out a house before breaking in so as to avoid any unpleasant surprises and, having watched the bear family leave, loudly talking about their morning walk the burglar enters[6].
  • The burgler makes the mistake of eating the porridge.  Since it has already been remarked on in the community he samples some to see what the big deal about it is. He finds out that the porridge is laced with a powerful sedative.
  • The bears return home and take care of the burglar. Nobody comes round asking questions because the burglar didn't tell anyone what he was up to.[7] 
The top speed for a fully grown bear is around 30 km/h and anyone that's just come home to find a burglar sleeping in their babies bed isn't going to hang around listening to explanations. This puts a nice end to the versions where she runs away from the bears when they discover her.
But even if Goldi is suddenly gifted with the winged sandles of Mercury, god of messengers and thieves which grant her the speed to outrun the bears she never gets into trouble for her actions. Her parents never quite get round to asking why she ran into the house so very fast nor does PC Plod give her a stern talking to at any stage [8].

In those versions of the story where she is eaten nobody seems to remark on the fate of the girl who was last seen going into the house of the bear family [9].

Other than “Don't take things that don't belong to you” there doesn't really appear to be any kind of moral in this story. I would add “Don't break into peoples houses [10]” but I would like to think that it is redundant.

  1. There must be massive amounts of porridge if they need to actually leave the house while it cools down. 
  2. This is not always so. Sometimes she's just out walking and comes across the house by accident. 
  3. So she's not only a housebreaker but she's a fussy housebreaker. The worst kind 
  4. Even though they were only told a few minutes ago. 
  5. Yes skipping. Nobody that goes by the name Goldilocks is going to move in any other way if she can help it
  6.  Through a door that is either not locked or locked with something that a little girl can crack. 
  7. Egad. The perfect crime! 
  8. Breaking and entering, destruction of private property. Emotional damage A creative policeman can come up with more. 
  9. The police know where she was there thanks to some rather inconvenient witnesses, but nobodies saying nothing. 
  10. Especially when its a family of bears.

A niggly bit:
I was doing a bit of writing at work last night, one of the reasons that I like working saturday nights is that the whole factory is shut down and it's just me and my laptop all night long.  less the patrols that need doing of course but I scribbled out this conversation in my head and as much as I like it I can't get it to fit anywhere in the story.  Thus I release it out into the wild.

One night Leonia “just happens” to be passing that night and drops in for a visit as the priests move amongst the crowd organising them into their proper placings for the service in homage to the great sky crocodile. She hands out some twists of herbs for use in their food.
Horrible doesn't go wild but presses into Evelyns side
Knowing that it will prickle Leonia asks if Evelyn isn't going to join them and make her devotions at the foot of the Great Sky Crocodile.

Naturally Evelyn rises to the bait and says “why don't I just make a devotion to you instead?”
“You could. We both know that you wouldn't be here if it wasn't for me and, quite frankly theres a better chance of your prayers being answered” Evelyn didn't respond but poked at the fire with more force than necessary “what of you Ambian? I admit it has been far too long since I haved walked upon the shores of your homeland. To whom do you offer your devotion?”
“Nobody and nothing” Toryan replied bluntly “I was the youngest of three brothers and to pay off his gambling debts my father sold them to the navy. They didn't want me because I was too small but the drumbanger didn't care. My brothers and I prayed to every god in the village but none of them chose to intervene.”
“What happened to your father?”
“He kept on gambling. He kept on losing.. The last I heard he was spending some time in the stocks” Toryan shook his head in disbelief “I don't know why they kept letting him through the door. Everyone knew full well that he had nothing left”

A loud horn is sounded in place of Cambions great bell but before they move one of her priests moves towards Leonia
“We are ready to depart great champion”
“Then depart as you will. I find myself faced with a theological challenge of the greatest kind”
“As you will it great champion” The priest frowns as he bows and the procession moves away slowly
“Are you going to attempt to convert us?” Evelyn asked “braver men have failed”
“They leave to worship my worst enemy little blind monkey. To fix a religion takes time and the lightest of touches”
“Little blind monkey. Why do you call her that?”
“Because it is a fitting name for her even if she doesn't not know it. I pulled her out of obscurity and made her to be my own little blind monkey”
“Hardly obscurity” Evelyn scoffed “and just what kind of monster is a monkey anyway?”
“It's about as far removed from a monster as you are from me. It's a small furry creature that lives in trees and eats fruit”
Leonia settled down by the fire and waited till the four of them were comfortable
“Now in the days of before when man walked with the animals”
“Those days are now thanks to you and Tygen”
“Those days are over and so is this story if you don't stop with the interruptions. Now, as I say, in the days of before when man walked with the animals”
Leonia paused significantly and looked at Evelyn before continuing “there was a monkey who tried to steal the moon” she pointed into the black sky where the moon, was covered with heavy clouds and no amount of dramatic neccesity could convince it to show itself “Your priests call it the eye of the Great Sky Crocodile” she smiled benevolently at the eternal folly of youth
How are they explaining the presence of another one in the night sky?” asked Toryan with interest
Leonia shrugged “the same way priests explain anything. It's clearly a call for more sacrifices and incidentally we should be running the country”
“You don't have much respect for the priesthood” Toryan noted
“They are clay” Leonia stated “with time and patience I shall mold them properly” [nw: good but this last bit needs to reveal that Leonia has plans for her priests]

Why did he steal the moon?”
“Tried to steal it. I would have thought that a thief could appreciate the difference. There was a woman, today she would be called a princess, she had been locked in a high tower by her jealous husband.
When she wept from her window the king of the monkeys climbed the tower, he asked what he could do to make him happy and she asked him to bring her the moon”

“Really? She couldn't have asked for the key to the tower?”
Leonia shook her head “she asked him for the moon”
“She doesn't sound very smart to me”
“For the last time the monkeys are the clever ones”
“So this monkey king goes off and steals the moon for Princess Clever” Toryan interjected in order to head off another argument “and he reminds you of Evelyn?”
“No she is the little blind monkey. Not the Monkey king. After he left the princess he went to a tiger” she held up her hand to prevent the inevitable question “it's a fierce animal. Very large and very fond of monkeys”
“Is everybody in this story crazy?” Evelyn asked “I wouldn't have gone to anything like that if I were a monkey, I'd stay away”
“Baron Trailin would disagree” Toryan said with a smile

“If I might continue. This tiger was different, it was ancient and all knew that he was wise because he ate only flowers”
“Eating flowers doesn't seem wise to me”
“It was wise enough back then”
“I remember eating orchids when I was a boy. They made me throw up”
“Obviously you weren't wise enough Ambian” Leonia sounded pleased to have finally sored a point “but wise or not the Monkey King went to the ancient tiger and told him of the princess

'I want her to be happy'
'Many want to be happy. What does she want?'
'She wants the moon'
'Many spend their lives seeking to capture that which will always remain out of reach'
'How would you capture it?;
'In my young and foolish youth I would have hunted the moon across the sky and when it stopped out of exhaustion I would pounce. In that way I would capture the moon. But I am too old for such foolishness now'
'But I am no hunter' admitted the Monkey King
'Then how would You catch the moon?'
'We are nimble and our fingers quick. My own hands have stolen the spider from its web and the teeth from the snake. Some name me thief but none can deny that what we want we take'
'Do you want the moon?'
'I do'
'Then take it' the tiger said and the Monkey King knew that he was wise”

“That was his advice? Just to take it?”
“Thats what it boiled down to. I'm just giving you the very quick version. The Monkey King gathered his people together and selected his ten fastest and best but before they left the palace they were confronted by a small blind monkey whose white fur had marked him as cursed from birth” she pointed needlessly at Evelyn “this is your namesake”
“I think I want to be the tiger. He seems to have his head screwed on properly”
“You'd have to eat flowers all the time” Toryan pointed out

“If I might break up the comedy routine?
'Why should we allow you on this mission?' asked the Monkey King 'you're blind'
'Perhaps' said the white monkey 'but I see further than you'
'You're small' another pointed out
'There are some times in life when to be the biggest is not the best thing'
'You're a fool'
'We go to steal the moon. Is this not a fools errand?'and the white monkey bowed a mocking bow as only monkeys can”
“Why did they let this monkey go with them? If he was cursed it doesn't seem clever at all”

The king thought to outsmart the little blind monkey and said that he could follow for as long as he could keep up. But the little monkey kept up easily and the group was forced to accept him. Now to tell of their many adventures would take much too long. One found love, two found betrayal and abandoned the quest. It's easier to say that by the time they found the moon only the king and the little blind monkey were left”

Right. So they've found the moon and they steal it just like that?”
“Not just like that. They found the moon sitting at the top of a tall tree and they climbed it because if there is one thing that monkeys do well it's climb trees. At the top of the tree the moon sat and watched their progress and that night it had pleased her to take the shape of a monkey.

'I'm here to take you to the princess locked in her tower' The Monkey King said 'she is sad and wishes to own you'
'Foolish King' the moon smiled a monkey smile and swung from her tail 'I watched her laugh when you left. Her sadness vanished when you left with the task of hunting me'
'She'll not laugh when I give you to her' the Monkey King said 'she will know that I love her'

“Oh now it all makes sense” Toryan said
“What does?”
“That the king did all this because he loved her. If he'd only wanted her to be happy he would have laughed at her request. I suppose the moon went with him?”
“Far from it. The moon could not be lured out of her tree and in his rage the Monkey King set fire to it. The moon escaped the flames by jumping from the tree and landing among the clouds but when the Monkey King tried the same he missed and crashed to the ground killing himself instantly”
“That's a horrible ending”
“Don't blame me. This is how it was told to me only without all the interruptions”
“What about the little blind monkey?” Evelyn wanted to know “did he end up stealing the moon for the princess?”
“Why should he? I was always assured that he held on tightly to the moons tail when she jumped and he landed in the clouds with her. And that's where the story truly ends”

She looks up at the returning priests and their crocodilelines of faithful. “with perfect timing I see” she gets to her feet, “Good evening to you both”


  1. Great post, as per usual.

    By the by....
    Is this sort of a morsel of what your book will be about (the part with Leonia and the rest of the gang)? [gush] If so, I do so hope you finish it. You're a very good storyteller. [/gush] :-)

  2. Danke. Danke very much

    I'm in the middle of totally bringing down and building up the worlds religions.

    Man how often do you get to use that sentence?

    and this brought the whole "little blind monkey" thing to the fore. LBM is Leonias nickname for Evelyn since she saved her life way back in chapter one.

    This LBM story was based on the witty banter between David, a co conspirator in madness, and myself since whenever I would tell a joke he'd attempt to derail it and I would try to answer the questions while keeping to the joke. Of course it stretched out the punchline and made for some insaaane leaps in "logic"

  3. It worked quite nicely, that formula. The whole conversation was thoroughly enjoyable...funny in places because of the two with their interruptions and Leonia's gentle impatience. But then, there's a story within it, about the Monkey King...and that just plain rocked.