We live in an age of “fake” news. Or so we are told by all sides of the political spectrum. Was it ever any different? Of course not. The difference nowadays is that we all think we are more connected and more in tune with the latest news etc… We are not.
That aside there is plenty of scope for fake stories. Even those incorporating fake goods. There is a saying that “life is stranger than fiction”. Well sometimes even fiction can be stranger than fiction…
Tales Ad Lib…
Whenever I try to tell a story I often get interrupted. Other characters get thrown in by a little voice. By a little boy who is supposed to be listening to, not telling, the story. I welcome interaction in the story telling. Let’s face it we have all heard the tales so many times; they do get boring. Even the better fairy stories turn dull after the 200th telling.
The other day was a great example. When I tried to relate one of his favourite stories – The Elves and the Shoemaker – he insisted on including the Muffin Man. Whenever I got the part where someone came into the shop to buy the latest foot fashion (made the previous evening by the little helpers) he insisted that it was the Muffin Man doing the shopping. No idea why it had to be him but I could work with this I thought. Over-lapping characters from different tales or rhymes can be quite fun. It can quickly turn the story into a scene from that movie Shrek.
In this case it goes something like this…
I usually throw in three or four artistic cobbling night-shifts. Then once they discover who is making the shoes the shoemaker and his missus make their little helpers some Saville Row inspired three piece suits. The following mornings, each time a few fine pairs of shoes go on sale, in walks the Muffin Man. It turns out that the shoe shop is just around the corner from Drury Lane. I never knew that (he said, surprised). Did you?
The combination of good quality leather combined with the fine stitch-work and artistry of the nimble fingered elves meant that the shoes could sell for quite a sum. This wasn’t cheap bargain footwear or even mid-range. These were top end designer priced shoes. So, for three or four consecutive days Mr. Muffin Man splashed out top dollar – actually, pounds, shillings, pence, farthings and groats in this pre-decimalisation case – for the various elf made shoes.
The rest of the story was pretty much standard with only a few minor elaborations. Standard poetic license for any old dad.
On the final night of the story the shoemaker once again lays out the best leather he could find. Only this time he also leaves a couple of perfectly tailored suits for the elves. Just like the previous nights the elves make the shoes and then notice the suits. They try them on – perfect fit of course – and then decide to walk off into the sunset. Actually, sunrise in this case. Just like that. No explanation as to where they came from or where they are going. Nobody knows. It’s probably just an elf thing.
Meanwhile right on cue, some 10 minutes after opening time, in walks the Muffin Man. Only this time he is not alone. With him are two policemen; and they were not looking for new shoes.
It turns out that the Muffin Man had been working as an undercover Trading Standards officer and all this time he has been following a trail of high quality fake Jimmy Choo shoes. They were so good in fact It was impossible to tell them apart from the real thing. He had been following the sudden unexplained spike in fake designer shoes (and bags apparently) in different shops around the country. The only connection was that all the shops were owned and run by old couples who should have been retired but could not afford to. The elves had been moving freely from town to town spreading their high quality counterfeit wares upon the unsuspecting public. Seemingly with no care for the intellectual property rights of the designers or the statutory rights of the consumer. Yet somehow they were also like good Samaritans, helping hard up old age citizens. Quite a conundrum for any law enforcer.
Morals in the Story….
The more fake the story the more intently he listens. Maybe he is already a little bored with the routine versions and wants some taller tales. Now all good children’s stories should have at least one moral. This one is clearly no exception but there are so many and they are so complex. Where on earth do I begin? All help is greatly appreciated.