‘The big education for me is that civilisation is fragile and can be destroyed in a heartbeat' - Jeremy Brade, former peacekeeper in Sarajevo.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Will Straw's Saga (2)

Source: Huffington Post

Making friends with the elves

"The people of Heathdaele[1] are fickle[2]," said Jóhann. “Their speaker Jakob[3] is of the Íhaldsflokknum[4], but those who study such things think he will be ousted at next year’s Althing[5]. Our Party, Verkamannaflokksins[6], is expected to lead by 40 farms[7] and become the new government at Kirkjan Vestur[8]. If you succeed in seizing Heathdaele, you will be seen as helping in the victory and your ship will be launched on a favourable tide.”
“How can I achieve this?” asked Vilhelm, whose father’s analysis had made him more eager than ever.

“The people of this country have no understanding,” replied the other. “If they had, they would have hanged most of the inhabitants of Kirkjan Vestur long ago. But they have no brains. Appeal to their hearts; in other words, befriend them. Say you like the things they like, especially their elves."
"I know nothing of elves," replied Vilhelm, "but I am willing to learn. Should I go to Elf School?[9] "

“I am saddened that your memory is so poor!” retorted his father. “I have just told you that you do not govern by knowing things, but by knowing your fellows. There are thirteen kinds of Huldufólk[10] and only a fool would waste his time studying them. “
“Is that because they do not exist?” asked Vilhelm, chastened by his father’s reproof.

“They certainly do exist[11],” said Jóhann, “but they do not vote.”
 “Then why are they important?” asked his son.

“The Spring is a season of celebration,” came the reply. “Your neighbours dress like dark elves, dance and drink ale. You will gain their affection if you share their company, however briefly. But you must do this in a careful way. Some will try to pretend that the dancers’ appearance is a mockery and shows that your neighbours have bad feelings about elves. You will prevent criticism by saying immediately that it is a tradition and those who do not like the dancers do not like the common people.”
Vilhelm followed this suggestion, and all went well. But that was not the end of the matter. The local speaker Jakob tried to take the wind from his rival’s sail by naming a Heathdaele ale as his choice for the tavern in Kirkjan Vestur. The ale came with a picture of the dancers as dark elves.

“You watch,” said Jóhann to his son, “this will not turn out as he hopes. In the first place, he is making his gesture away from the people he wishes to impress. Secondly, there are many more malicious tongues in that town than here, and they are far sharper. He has forgotten to dull their edges as you did.”
So it turned out. The gossips made it seem as though the dancers were elf-haters, and so the picture had to be changed[12]. When the farmers at Heathdaele heard, they were doubly offended, both for the implied slander and for their speaker’s failure to defend their good nature, on which they prided themselves. Their response was to drink so much of the ale at the festival that it won the prize.[13]

"From the Burnley and Pendle Citizen)

“By this time next year, all the details will have been forgotten,” said Jóhann to Vilhelm. “The people have even worse memory than you. But the heart remembers what is essential.”
“All this, over elves and ale?” asked Vilhelm.

“This is chess played with feelings,” replied his father. “Every move counts.”

[1] Rossendale (and Darwen)
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rossendale_and_Darwen_(UK_Parliament_constituency)
[3] http://www.debretts.com/people-of-today/profile/26895/James-Jacob-Gilchrist-(Jake)-BERRY
[4] Conservative Party
[5] See swing prediction here: http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/gainloss.html
[6] Labour Party
[7] http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/homepage.html
[8] West Minster
[9] Álfaskólinn - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icelandic_Elf_School
[10] “Secret People” - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hulduf%C3%B3lk
[11] http://www.elfmuseum.com/?q=contemporarytales
[12] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2619267/Race-fear-Commons-Parliamentary-PC-brigade-refuses-let-bar-sell-ale-featuring-black-faced-Morris-dancers-cause-offence.html
[13] http://www.burnleycitizen.co.uk/news/11199803.Britannia_Coconutters_have_last_laugh_as_controversial_ale_a_hit_at_beer_festival/


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