“…then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in”, bellowed the big bad wolf in the most ferocious, and gruffest of voices that he could muster. This, he did to the first, the second, and the third little pig. Such is the stuff and nonsense that fills children’s fairytales some may say, but not I and maybe not you either. Most of the tales, stories, and fables we heard as children, and in our turn tell our own children have an important message rooted somewhere within. Something that needs to be said but in a way that young minds can relate to. Oftentimes, the message is crystal clear quite early on, and near the beginning even.  At others it is for the reader to discover as the story unfolds word by word, page by page, picture by picture.  Stories are repeated, over, and over again, and possibly, and most likely become ingrained in the young subconscious mind, a seed waiting to grow and realise the lesson when the lesson needs to be learnt somewhere along the line that is life. Let’s face it, most children love being read to. Many parents and children of all ages get to share a special time, with storybook characters who may be good, bad, beautiful, ugly, and changeable.  Story time is a time for make believe, play and characterisation. There’s many a parent out there who puts on their best funny, happy, angry, sad voice. I know I did, and my husband too. Our children loved all the verbal playacting and if we did the voices differently as happened on occasion, the little loves would say “no, not like that, like this” as they piped in with how you had said it last time.  It’s part of the fun!  Part of the ritual.

So where was I? Oh yes, I was talking about the inherent lesson that lurks within, between and beneath the lines. In the aforementioned tale of ‘The Three Little Pigs’ which was accredited to James Orchard Halliwell (later Halliwell-Phillips) the lesson is about how hard work pays off, and how by working hard, putting in the time and effort and building strong foundations, you can achieve a safe and secure world for yourself where you can ‘keep the wolf from the door’ as it were. Of course, it is a good lesson, and there is much to be said for working hard, and reaping the rewards of one’s efforts, and the idea of a sound structure speaks for itself. However, you must remember that this story was supposedly written in the mid 1800s, therefore Victorian times. People, or at least the working masses did have to work hard in those times to literally put bread on the table.  If you did not work hard, you may starve. So, in this particular story the message is clear. That said, I think if the story had been written today, there may have been another angle that said that yes, it’s good to work hard but that play is just as important. I think today the onus would be on striving for and achieving balance. We all want to avoid the clutches of the big bad scary wolf which may appear in many guises, but all work and no play pushes us too far near the edge, and if we are not careful, we may trip over and fall into a quagmire.

Another thing that springs to my mind regarding the ‘fantasy’ of fairytales and may be food for thought is how much a story can change through the telling as it is passed down from person to person or from one generation to another. In one version of the above, the antagonist is a cunning fox rather than a big bad wolf. There is, it seems a version too where the three little pigs have names, and individual personality traits but that is another story. Where the changes in stories take place is often not known and is lost somewhere in the telling. My point is that stories whether fairytale, fiction or reality should be told. We are the storytellers, and it is for us to ensure that those who follow in our footsteps know the stories so that they too can pass them down when it is their time to tell. So perhaps today or tonight put down that extension of your arm that is your mobile phone, pick up a storybook and share it with young ears. In years to come, you will be glad that you did! 

© Liola Lee 2019


Scapegoats & Witch Hunts

‘It’s always darkest before the dawn’ ~ Florence and the Machine

As Florence quite beautifully sings, “…it’s hard to dance with the Devil on your back.” I have to say I agree, though that Devil sometimes shows up on your shoulder, whispering in your ear. You name it, that Devil can pop up all over the place, and sometimes those damned devils, demons and dark lords are in disguise and don’t look or sound like devils at all. In fact, often they look rather respectable and sound uncannily convincing, and sometimes they are friendly and seemingly charming but in reality, so two faced. You must be a bit savvy about such things. Sometimes those devils look disarmingly un-devil like but then of course it largely depends on what your notion of a devil is. I’m thinking here of a Devil in disguise.

That’s the thing about disguises! Note the definition of disguise, and I quote is, ‘give (someone or oneself) a different appearance in order to conceal one’s identity’. It can be literal, figurative, metaphorical. We often trust those who look the part, who hold positions purportedly of trust, and who ‘act’ as though they have our best interests at heart BUT and here’s the thing, they don’t have our best interest at heart at all. In fact, they misuse us, accuse us, abuse us even. They target us, single us out, alienate us, isolate us, segregate us, lie to us and when push comes to shove, they do their best to turn us in to scapegoats to save their own skin for their own systemic flaws. 

I am thinking of uniformed bodies. Corporate Wolves in Sheep’s’ clothing as it were. You know, those Corporate Institutional establishments in our society that hide behind a badge, acronym of some sort that they think somehow means they can instigate a witch-hunt whenever they feel threatened, when they fear losing face. They are not transparent and can be seen in their true colours when they find themselves cornered. Now, I’ll not mention any specific organisation. I’ll leave it up to your imagination to come up with an example or two. 

You’d think that Witch Hunts were a thing of the distant past, belonging to bygone eras but I can tell you that they are still very much a thing of our current times. Witch Finder Generals move among us looking to point their long pointy finger at you in accusatory fashion. It’s a way of deflecting attention away from themselves. Often a fall guy or girl is needed as a sort of sacrificial gesture to maintain the status quo. The status quo needs shaking up and shaking out! Bringing down and booting out!

Membership of ‘old boy networks’ have them hiding behind a facade of Officiality and officialdom, fabricating fables, and fictitious claptrap, to cover up their own tracks, their cracks, burying their BS and diverting attention elsewhere for fear of being found out for the conniving, cowardly hypocrites they are, covering up their own inadequacies. Furious, fuming; ready for a fight anyone? Someone must stand up to a system, a failing system at that! A system which allows the top brass to close ranks and select someone to shoulder the blame for their own shortcomings. These persons of rank and privilege select their lamb for the sacrificial slaughter and determine that said lamb is expendable, replaceable and of no real consequence being but just a lowly lamb. As long as they save face.

If you’re anything like me, you try hard to be specific, stick to the details, the facts, the figures, and the reality behind the letters, and in between the lines. Some things are listed and twisted. Some things are pure conjecture. Some things are set to confuse, and unfortunately some things are set to create a smoke screen away from what is really going on. 

Let’s return to the Witch Hunt. If you’ve ever born witness to one of these, you’ll know that the Accusers know no bounds and will go to great lengths to burn, drown, or hang the Witch. I studied the History of The Witch. We use to hang witches, or should I say women and girls, and men and boys too. Didn’t matter that they were innocent and had committed no crime. Hanging is another issue I could discuss regarding the Witch Hunters but that’s perhaps for another time.

For now, I just want to re-emphasise the existence of modern day Witch Hunts. They’re real, they’re happening. The burning, the drowning and the hanging take on a different slant, though not always, in our so called civilised society, but the gist and the fallout remain the same. Tears are shed, lives are destroyed, careers ruined, trust diminished and all in the name of what? So, that some corrupt corporate entity can uphold a reputation that is in fact imagined rather than real. 

I mention no names. I’ll wait and see what the Witch Finder General comes up with next, and I’ll be waiting in the wings ready to defend the truth. 

© Liola Lee 2023