Hi. Thanks for dropping in again. It really helps to pass the time when I have my chats with you.
It’s the time that’s the worst part of serving a prison sentence in Fairyland. I have this friend who’s been cooped up in a tiny lamp for hundreds of years. He only gets out when somebody rubs him up the right way and, even then, he has to obey every command that he’s given.
My mate Ariel got banged up in a tree for a few years by a witch. You may have heard about that. It caused a bit of a storm at the time and William Shakespeare wrote about it. Ariel eventually got let out by a magician called Prospero but, even then, he had to do community service for a while before he was completely free again. Fell on his feet, of course. After all that publicity, he got quite a few sponsorship deals, including a major detergent company, and now he’s awash with money.
Saddest case I ever knew was the Magic Mirror. He spent hours every day telling a wicked Queen a few home truths with no thanks for his efforts at all. Eventually it got to him. We used to go out for the odd drink and he always ended up right off the wall and completely smashed, Finally, he cracked completely and had a run of several years of really bad luck. When he managed to piece himself together, he retrained, taking an advanced course in mendacity with the world’s greatest liar, a Mr Blair. He passed the course with Honours, but sadly, with his background, the only job he could get was with Blair’s wife. Now he’s in a living hell, stuck in her boudoir and assuring her that she is definitely the fairest in the land.
I’d been lucky with my boss in terms of punishment. There was, of course, the Bottomgate affair which Shaky Billy wrote about as well. Typical journo! He got a few key facts completely wrong. For a start, I did not give Bottom an ass’s head but an altogether different piece of a donkey’s anatomy much lower down, if you know what I mean. Oberon was not happy, but I got no complaints from Titania – lots of moaning, but definitely no complaints.
I got off that one with a warning and the company ticked over nicely for a few centuries. Then the boss went on a business development course with Puff the Magic which was held in a cave in a land called Honah Lee. Smaug was the keynote speaker. When he came back from the Dragons’ Den, Oberon was breathing fire about the need to expand our core business and to diversify. He employed a Management Consultant (a fussy little madam called Goldilocks) who came up with three possible business plans. One was quite soft, one was quite hard and the other, to be fair, was just right. Basically, she suggested that we should tap into the fact that every little girl wanted her very own Handsome Prince.
Now, the logistical problem with this is that there is a very limited supply of Handsome Princes who have been turned into frogs by wicked witches. All credit to him, the boss came up with a spell which turned ordinary frogs into Handsome Princes who were virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. We naturally had to put it in our Terms and Conditions that:-
‘any oscular interaction with this product by an unmarried female member of the true blood Royal may cause unwanted amphibian reactions for which we can not be held liable in any way.’
That done, we launched the website ‘Oberon’s Rainbow’ with its memorable catchphrase ‘Dreams Really Can Come True’. It was an instant success. We were swamped with orders.
That’s where the trouble started and I really Pucked up, if you’ll pardon the pun. The spell ingredients were all simple and easily obtainable and I am a quick worker, After all, you’re talking to a spirit who once put a corset on the Earth in 40 minutes. Got a lot of flak from the AGW brigade and Greenpeace for that stunt, by the way. No, the problem was that I was short-staffed. Moth would only work nights and Cobweb was on long term sick leave, having been in the wrong place when Snow White took off on one of her OCD spring-cleaning blitzes. So, I was having to make do with Pease Blossom, Mustard Seed and temps. I decided to cut a few corners by ordering the ingredients online.
I had heard of a company called ‘MacBethWasUs’ so I decided to give them a try. The broadband connection was down because one of the temps, Dopey the Dwarf, put his pickaxe through the line in the fond belief that he had found a copper seam. I had to use my mobile to place the order.
I realise that I should have checked their ‘Witch’ review but how was I to know that the fly by night bunch of hags had outsourced the telephone ordering to trolls? Moving on, the signal in Arden is poor due to all those trees. Add what sounded like herds of goats thundering across the bridge above the trolls’ call centre and the fact that your average troll is not very bright. On reflection, the whole thing was, I freely admit, a recipe for potential disaster,
We got the ingredients and Dopey mixed up the spell. Our newest customer was a tall Italian lady who came in and picked out her frog. I administered the spell and nothing happened, except that the frog got a bit smaller. When we checked, we discovered that the troll had written down ‘claw of stoat’ instead of ‘claw of toad’. Not only that, the witches had run out of stoat claw so had substituted claw of ferret.
It all got very messy, very quickly. The frog was hopping mad and the big Italian, Carla something, was not best pleased. The ferret was seriously angry and peculiarly and singularly adept at letting us know this. The foremost fairy legal firm, Grimm, Tinkerbell, Andersen and Grimm had the writs served on us quicker than you could wave a wand.
I tried to tell the Boss that I thought we had a chance of defending said writs on the grounds of troll stupidity and because everybody knows that the ferret is much more closely related to the badger than it is to a stoat or a weasel. But, when we went for trial and Oberon saw the Queen of Hearts on the Bench with a face like she’d been chewing a lemon for the past week, he panicked and settled out of Court straight away.
Everybody came out of it pretty well. Carla married the littler frog anyway, although, from what I hear, they’re not living happily ever after. The ferret was made for life, becoming one of the most respected and feared commentators of the blogosphere.
Everybody except me, of course, because the Boss decided that I should carry the can. He is a great G&S fan and had just seen ‘The Mikado’, so he came up with the idea that he should make my punishment fit my crime by reminding me which claw should have been supplied. That’s why I’m now stuck down here in this dark, dank place, covered in warts, a mouth on me like the aforementioned Mrs Blair and a strange craving for slugs.
Hang on a second! I think I see that smarmy little do-gooder up at the mouth of the well preparing to rescue you yet again. Take my advice, Tiddles, and get out of this game. You do not want to spend all of your nine lives being chucked into this well by Johnny Flynn just so that Tommy Stout can pull you out. Talk to your agent. I hear Dick Whittington’s cat is looking to retire or you could have a word with that guy Eliot who’s always churning out feline poems.
I’d miss you, of course, You’re the only company I ever get and it would be lonely without you. Still, I suppose I got what I deserved, even if it was just one lousy, wrong toenail.