Monday, 21 April 2014

The Analysis of: The Golden Goose or How to pick up birds



As amazing as it sounds it would seem that there are some people in the world who think that stealing is wrong. These radicals seem to believe that those who take things which don't belong to them deserve everything they get.

Thus it is that tonight’s tale is one of crime and punishment or at least it would be if it were not for the fact that nobody actually manages to commit a crime which, logically speaking, means that there can be no punishment.

Hmm, well it could be that, rather than being a rather ham handed story about a non existent crime and an equally non existent punishment, this could actually be a carefully crafted story about the dangers of abducting people, except that nobody was ever in any kind of danger.

Wait, lets think about this again. Maybe the story is just about what happens when people get together and go for a walk. But that doesn't exactly sound like the most exciting of adventures to me.

Nope, not exciting at all.



Once upon a time, when this sort of thing still happened, there happened to be a woodcutter named Thaddeus who was unique in the field of woodcutting in that he didn't make a habit of bursting into random houses on the off chance of catching any cross dressing wolves. In truth Thaddeus had a reputation around the lumber camps for being prone to daydreaming which isn't exactly a survival trait when you spend the day surrounded by a myriad of blades and the kinds of trees which will topple exactly the wrong way despite all the careful calculations (1).

One day his father sent him off to a distant wood with the kind of instructions that you get when you've got an advanced degree in lumberjacking (2).

.... or possibly.
The sun was high in the sky by the time Thaddeus reached the woods in question but thanks to thorn bushes, slippery undergrowth and several things with glowing red eyes it wasn't surprising that by the time he'd even managed to make a dent in the smallest of the trees it was almost sunset.

Eventually he looked up at the tree and put his axe down (3).

“Sod it (4) time for dinner” but then he remembered that he hadn't had any lunch “that is to say, lunch” but then he thought some more and realized that he hadn't had breakfast “I meant to say breakfast. Wait a minute, if I recall properly, I didn't have any dinner last night which means that this is actually dinner, just not today's dinner”

While he got the much debated meal ready a strange looking man emerged from the bushes and asked Thaddeus for a bite to eat. Without hesitation the two split the dinner down the middle and did the same when the stranger produced a bottle of wine. (5)

“I'll tell you something mate” the stranger began “I'll tell you something. Of all the woodcutters that have come to fell my trees you're the first one that's been kind to me which means that you deserve a reward. If you cut down that tree in the center of the woods you'll find that all the others will fall down by themselves and if you peek in the roots of that tree then you'll see that there's a gift for you”
“Gosh really?”
“I'm the wizard of the woods mate and what I say goes. I got the pointy hat from me dad and the sparkly wand from mum who's a professional godmother. So if I say that all the trees will fall down if you chop down that middle one then that's what's going to happen all right?”
“But” Thaddeus pointed out rather sensibly “you've just told me exactly how to clear cut a large section of your forest in hours rather than months.
“Have I?”
“Shouldn't I have done that?”
“Probably not”
“Damn. Look I'm a bit new at this job, you see what I really wanted to be was a chartered accountant but my parents were always on my back about continuing the family business which meant that here I am out in the middle of nowhere with a pointy hat and a degree in accounting”
another possibility occurs.
the wizard conjured up another bottle of wine and began drinking without even looking at Thaddeus which was easy because the woodcutter in question was already making his way to the center of the forest with a determined expression and a freshly sharpened axe.

The tree in question proved to be all but inaccessible and the wood was of a type that was very hard but through perseverance and a complete lack of anything else to do Thaddeus was able to overcome the tree and after one final thwack! He managed to turn a rather impressive forest into an equally impressive collection of lumber.
“This will please dad and no mistake” He felt around in the roots of the tree and brought forth a goose with golden feathers “but you I'm keeping for myself”


Now it may have been too much wine or just the fact that he was new to these parts (6) but what happened was that Thaddeus got lost and it wasn't until the dead of night that he came upon a small village with an inn that was still open.

“I'll take food and drink merry innkeeper” Thaddeus announced to all and sundry as he slammed the door just to make certain that anyone who had actually been sleeping wasn't actually sleeping anymore. “a plate for me and a plate for my goose”
“Why is it sir” the innkeepers daughter dared to ask as they were bringing him a second helping of, certainly not goose liver, pate “are you being so very kind to your goose?”
“He's no ordinary bird” confided Thaddeus “what I have here is a magic goose and he's worth a fortune. Now I shall stay the night in your most secure room since I don't want to be robbed” (7)

With that extremely contrived setup out of the way one of the innkeepers daughters decided, in a move that surprised exactly zero people, to pinch a feather based on a rather shaky logical process. To whit:
“This bird is magical ergo the feathers of said bird are likewise magical. Thus if feather is obtained I shall qualify as a person of magic, get my Hogwarts acceptance letter and be dating that Malfoy dreamboat inside a week” (8)
Of course it all went wrong in the most spectacular way since the second that her hand touched the goose it stuck there and no amount of pulling could free her. The innkeepers daughter called to her sisters urgently but they became stuck as well and Thaddeus awoke to discover three women stuck to his goose (9)
“We're so sorry. How can we get free?”
“Not my problem” said Thaddeus who didn't actually know but wasn't about to admit it “it's too bad for you if you're stuck to my goose since it means that you'll just have to come with me!”
When the innkeeper saw what was going on he grabbed his daughter by the arm and was amazed to find himself being dragged along as well.
As Thaddeus journeyed through the village he picked up a nosy village NPC, a banker, a bank robber, three guards and an off duty policeman who had attempted to stop this conga line of disorderly conduct. Soon crowds were flocking the roads to point and laugh at what was going on because there's no problem which can't be fixed with public ridicule.

Close to the village stood the royal palace and in that particular royal place there lived a royal daughter who was always unhappy. In keeping the traditions of sad princess's in fairytale lands there was a long standing proclamation which promised the daughters hand in marriage to whomever could make her laugh. Thus far nobody had succeeded because this entire story takes place at a time when standup comedy was in its infancy (10) which meant that they were all farting and falling down sideways rather than making clever commentaries on the state of the world (11)

Now we mention the whole princess thing due to the fact that she just happened to be crossing through the square as Thaddeus, the goose, the unhappy line and the crowds trailing after them were entering. It was such an amazing sight that she stepped out of her carriage in order to get a closer look and before anyone could shout out a warning she found herself giving a permanent high five to the man stuck on the end of the line.

Suddenly the crowd was silent. The rest of these people weren't actually important enough to care about but this? This was not only a princess but this was The princess and if there wasn't a way to get OUR princess unstuck then everyone was in for a world of trouble.
Thankfully this never came about because just as everyone stuck to the goose was thinking variations of “Oh heck” the princess began laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of the whole situation. They all headed up to the castle and left the crowd behind because nobody wanted to be remembered as someone who would laugh at a princess (12).

When the king looked out over the ha-ha of his castle as kings are wont to do and saw his daughter bent double in laughter he could hardly believe it. When he received Thaddeus and heard about what had happened he still could hardly believe it. But he remained serious in spite of the mirth because that's one of the things that you have to do when you're a king.

“As I see it young man. Short of loosing a hand, It would seem that there is no way to get any of you free” he stroked his beard and looked thoughtful “maybe if we kill the goose”
“No need sire! No need” from the back of the court came the Wizard of the Woods, wearing much finer clothing than before, he snapped his fingers in a particularly magic way, cried “Hoopla!” and suddenly everyone was free (13)
This is how the simple woodcutter set out to chop down a tree and ended up married to the princess who couldn't laugh.


  • Thaddeus the Lumberjack:
    “Just go out and chop some wood. Far far away” This makes it sound like his dad just wanted him out of the way for a while. Presumably he'd been trying to help and it had gotten away from him in a manner reminiscent of Frank Spencer.

    So he's walking around the place with a long line of people stuck to each other and none of them are pulling the other way? Unless this lumberjack is actually an elephant if it's a tug of war with 8 vs 1 then the 1 is going down.
  • The Goose:
    The bird in question is always presented as a nice bird but this is a calumny of the foulest (14) kind. Anyone who doesn't believe geese are cunning sods has never attempted to walk past a pond while carrying bread, or even looking as though they might be carrying bread.

    We don't actually know that the goose is magical I mean it skirts the shoals of cruelty to animals but we could achieve everything mentioned in this story with half a can of gold spray paint and some slow drying glue.
  • The Wizard of the Woods:
    Dare we ask why the Wizard of the Woods is conveniently at the royal court at the end?
    Its clear to me that with no woods to look after he was finally able to follow his dream and had gotten a job as the royal accountant. At no point do I suggest that he was merely stuck in the crowd as a last minute dues ex mechinae because The Grimm Brothers had painted themselves into a corner re everyone being stuck together. 
Thus we come to the end of the story and I have to say that I don't think much of the lesson that is generally presented to the little children to whit:

“You see what happens when you steal things?”

I hasten to point out however that the only reason I don't like it is because nothing in terms of consequences actually happen to anyone. Everyone gets to go home and this lumberjack who has abducted a large group of people ends up with the princess. The princess!
Which is why I gave it some thought and happened upon the other lesson of this delightful story. To, once more, whit:

“Hey kids. If you talk to strangers then magical things will happen. Maybe you'll get a surprise! (15)

Which, now that I am typing it out, isn't the best of lessons to teach kids. Better to stick with don't steal stuff one.

  1. Vindictive botany being one of the lesser of the dark arts. Hogwarts do not, to my knowledge, offer classes at this time.
  2. Step 1: Find a tree. > Step 2: Chop tree down. > Step 3: Repeat Step 1.
  3. Those with sensitive eyes might wish to look away at this point.
  4. It's alright, you can start reading again.
  5. A loaf of bread, a flask of wine. All this story needs is some Barry White and no child will ever be allowed to listen to it ever again.
  6. Personally my money is on the fact that he just altered the landscape in a somewhat significant way
  7. “...which is why I'll speak in a very loud voice and announce to everyone I've just woken up that I've got a magic goose”
  8. I feel that she may be expecting slightly too much from a single feather of dubious magical ability and a single blogger of equally dubious logical processes.
  9. A quaint turn of phrase which sounds much dirtier than it really is.
  10. “I don't want to say the rooms were tough but the hat check girl was a gorilla!” <Business with bladder on stick> - If you get both of these references then leave a comment and I'll start looking round for somewhere that'll do the reception.
  11. Bill Hicks we miss ya.
  12. It really is amazing how polite people are to you when daddy has a brute squad.
  13. Everyone except, I feel it should be mentioned, for the aforementioned bank robber.
  14. Or possibly fowlest but I refuse to sink to such terrible puns and have only inserted into my notes because otherwise I'd get letters from people letting me know that my writers missed the opportunity to make a truly sidesplitting pun at this point.
  15. “... maybe it's in my van and smells of chloroform!”

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