Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Penny and the Mistique “beautiful Bastage!”

“It near be St. Krispin’s day I do believe!” squeeked the lil voice of Ermes Butterswoon.. “Ah can’t help but hope for some horse stained hard candy!” Ye Ole Penny Fathrington come to help all us orphans!” The only thing more distinguishing than Ermes sweet plaintive faith was his lack of hygiene and lazy eye. He was an orphan after all. Every year lil Ermes cockeye, as he was known,would put a radish in his burlap cap and hope for a visit from the wondrous Penny Fathrington!
It’s said that when Penny shakes his head his locks dropglittering angels and the angels drop pennies which Penny Fatherington puts in his pockets. It’s not an exciting story, but that’s what happens! 
This year Ermes had nary a radish. The cruel chants that would ring through Ermes coliflowered  ears “cockeyed Butterspit ain’t got no radish in PIP!” It was true, and it HURT! What Ermes did have was a small potato. It was a potato like any other and he just knew that Penny Fathrington, patron saint of peasants, would understand his sacrifice and accept his offering. It was a confident little urchin that went to sleep that night.
Oh how foolish he was! It was that very night that Ermes dreamt that he could smell horse hair and cinnamon, the tell tale signs of Penny! Unable to sleep any longer the little Butterswoon awoke mouth open and tongue tasting the ground searching for that sweet striped candy. What Ermes failed to realize was that Penny Fathrington was really craving that radish and was sorely disappointed to find a potato, his potato. The potato was nowpartially smashed and looking as sad and dejected as the orphan who had put it there. His lazy eye watered until he cried. He cried until he vomited. And his vomit landed on his potato, ruining it. St. Crispin’s day had truly become St Pissy day.
What would the kids say now? Drowning in a despair as dark as molasses, which he had never even tried, which made his despair even worse, Butterswoon heard a sound! A sound so full of cheer, so full of hope and healing that Ermes lazy eye corrected itself and one ear went from colliflower to mild broccoli! A pure women’s voice whispered into his ear “no need for tears, no more need for fears!” Looking up Ermes saw a face as true as the first snow! Thiswoman was reaching towards him offering him his first ever steamymeat pie, and as if she could read his mind, a hot cup of molasses!As he reached heavenward with the three sausages that he called fingers he smelled a smell….a smell familiar, like a favorite song caught upon the wind…What was it? Horse, cinnamon and…chagrin! Before Ermes could blink the meat pie and molasses weregone and a gruff voice was heard to say “what do you think you’re doing here ya beautiful bastage?” A big red hand, beefy enough to match the voice, was suddenly hauling the kind woman away, with a small push the woman was sent on her way. The real Penny Fathrington, turning his majestic head and spilling angles everywhere looked upon the lil orphan and said “there be only room for one patron in this town and he be me!” With a smile as big as his heart Penny threw a two bit copper dill towards the young orphan and went about his way. Ermes swears to this day that Penny turned once again towards the angelic woman, pointed towards the outskirts of town and said in a voice as true as the northern star “Keep following your feet”….and then a little more quietly, “you beautiful bastage.”

Ye olde bric-a-brac

“But guvnah, last time I…me hand you see!”

Little Pipwilliams Fitzwinkle held up the bandaged stump where his fingers used to be.

“You’ll do it and you’ll be happy for the tuppence you earn at the end of the day”!

Pipwilliams worked in a sooty factory that produces bric-a-brac and assorted widgets for those wealthy genteel members of society that have recently added bric-a-brac rooms in their homes that needed filling. Pipwilliams and the other street urchins were employed because their nimble little fingers were just small enough to clean the broken pieces of widget that often got stuck in the gears and chompers. However, as young Fitzwinkle has learned, sometimes it is dangerous work. Dangerous work indeed, unless of course you think it a mere trifle to lose your fingers one or two at a time until you can no longer spin the slodgepotter or play a game of catch-the-pigs ear with your friends.

“I’ll be back and you had better retrieve that widget piece or you will be paid nothing,” said the foreman, giggling with glee because he had already started planning on buying toffee taters with Pipwilliams’ tuppence.

After Pipwilliams finished wiping away the tears with his stump that had the most fingers left, he got ready to put his fingers into the works. Among the hissing, and clanging and acrid smell of the widget making gears he thought he caught a whiff of, could it be horse sweat and…candy? No thought he. Not here. Then a shadow came over little Pipwilliams. He looked up and saw a man. His face was hard to make out but he thought he caught the twinkling reflection of a bronze monocle.

“Ahoy there young master Fitzwinkle! You canna be putting that stump in there!” 

“But Sir, I must. My sister needs the money so we can buy her a new tooth. You see she needs at least one so she can eat her porridge!”

“Aye. Well if ye must, ye must! Allow me to shake your wee hand. For luck!”

Ashamed, Pipwilliams put his best stump forward. It still had a thumb and ring finger. He was startled when the gentleman grasped it vigorously and shook it all while laughing. “Fear not Master Fitzwinkle, for today is a new day! Let ME give YOU a hand!”

Pipwilliams removed his hand from the man’s grasp and saw a beautiful ruby colored hand that smelled like Christmas morn! Twas a candy hand with 3 candy fingers where before it was but bloody stumps! Immediately he thrust his candy hand into the widget wacker and before you can say “happy day!” there was ribbon candy spewing forth from every machine in the factory! Bric-a-brac shaped ribbon candy! Widget shaped ribbon candy! Ribbon candy in all shapes and sizes! “Huzzah!” cried the children! “Huzzah!”

Pipwilliams immediately stuck his candy fingers in his hand and sucked on them merrily! He turned to thank the stranger but he was not to be found! On the ground there were traces of lint stuck to the factory floor. Thank ye Penny! Thank ye, indeed!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Real Legend of Loch Ness!

This tale is as old as time itself, and I can confirm that yes, something special, full of surprise and benevolence does live in the depths of that enchanted body of water that we call Loch Ness, and tis far from the realms of make believe. It might not be the size of a double decker tour bus, or look like a dinosaur under the water, but some say it is capabable of magic nonetheless. And tis of that grand magic with which I'll regail ye all today!
I was on my way from Urquhart Castle to Whitebridge, for there was to be a grand feast in the highlands that night, I -- being the bread winner of not only my family, but primarily of my clan as well--, needed to show up not only with something in hand but with enough to make my family and clan proud of their son. My clan in and of itself was rather geriatric, I was the first to be born in my clan in nearly 60 years. Some said it was the curse of the English scurvy, but I always had a feeling it had more to do with the extremely sulfuric bog which our clan had established as a living place and a place of natural defense; twas indeed a place of natural defense, no clan or animal in their right mind would ever wander within 10 stones throw of the place, this natural defense also made it nigh impossible for me ever to wed. My now wife, was a resident of Urquhart Castle, I met her on a quest that would de-stink me filffy sulfured skin, and it was rumored that in Urquhart Castle such a pumice grew on the west bank of the Loch Ness. Thankfully said rumor twas true. I was born to a woman named Aengus, whose name means unusually strong and that she was; indeed only hours after giving birth to me she was back to the fields digging out big rocks, getting ready to plow. From birth I was fed a steady diet of mothers milk and horse hoof. My father was a man of cunning whit, and true love, but he passed only days after my birth. His name was Lachlan, meaning from the lakes, and mother always told me quite simply when I asked her where papa went, "that he had gone to the lakes to fish" and that "he'd be back soon". I guess it was eaiser to put off then to explain to a now 25 year old man. Back to the story at hand. I knew that within hours if I didn't come home with plenty of fish, aye so much fish that not even me extra pockets sewn into my britches could hold them, that not only would we be the laughing stock of the other clans, but that my two children would likely never be accepted by the others thus making it impossible to marry. They were already at a distinct disadvantage, that is being beset by a thin brown green crust about their skin caused by the sulferic bog stank, I did not want them to have to marry the sea witch, come to think of it, I'm not sure she exists, however, my mother always assured me that if I could not find a suitable mate, that I could always marry the sea witch. Whatsmore the salty sods of my clan depended on that food, for sweet oh so sweet life giving sustenance, without it undoubtedly wee little shrivled Duncan and Alistar would not make it through the next week. Times were tough and we'd been living off of potatoe water and filth. Not the best tasting, but those of us who were young enough had the strength and acid left in our bellys to break it all down, as for those pushing 90 and 100, they'd long ago traded the acid in their stomaches for the salt in the sea's air.
I was getting ready to abandon all hope when I heard a voice on the wind tell me to check my pockets and remove my belt. Who was that voice and why should I take off my belt? It'd been there so long that it was now more of an adornement on my burlap britches than it was an apperatus to hold up my many pocketed leg and waist warmer. With nothing to lose, except maybe the ability to keep me pants up I obeyed the voice. Digging into one after the other finding nothing after checking all but my last pocket, I all but abandoned hope, and there twas in pocket number 18 down by my ankle, I first felt it, it was sticky, then I smelled it and it was sweet, like mothers onion candy. As I produced it before mine eye I realized that it was a piece of copper coinage full of luster and light, but indeed no regular piece, for one end was bent up, fashioned as it were in the form of an anglers aide, but this I knew was a special hook.
My eyes started to well up with filffy sulfer tears, but I caught myself, I now knew what I had to do, I peeled the belt from me waist and threaded together six pieces of the sinewy yarn and then cast off, I just knew that the coin was sticky, shiney and sweet smelling for a reason.
Not a thern had gone by, (in your modern reckoning that woud be 30 seconds) and I pulled up a pike, and as quick as I put it back in, I landed a char, and then a brown trout, and then a salmon, and then an eel. I could not believe my eyes, I actually poked them both several times to make sure I was seeing things right, (my eyes were much stronger than those of a normal man, I guess living next to a bog of stank has its pros) alas I was. This process was repeated nigh up to five more times. On the last cast I heard that voice again and it told me to leave the coin in the in the mouth of the next fish so that someday others might be served by its good fortune. That I did, and on that next toss, the fish or blessed repository of the sweet, sticky, and shiney anglers aide surfaced and on his back I swore I saw a man, not of great height, but of grand moral stature and a benevolent heart of gold. What he said was simple, and to this day I'm not sure I understand it with my mind, but with my heart it was understood instantaneously. He said, shiney, sticky, and sweet always purified and made ones clan more neat". and with that, and a wink from both him and his might aquatic steede, he cried mightly YAHHHR Nessy, and Nessy YAHHHRED back with "aye Penny" and they disappered back into the depths of the Loch Ness.
Could it have truly been? For as long as I live I will remeber what I heard, and now know, Penny lives and not only in our hearts.
Never in his life had a Scotish lad listed to obey the wind but I knew the times were changing and that no one would poke fun at me or my family for this tall tale, for on this night, not only did I come to the feast with my pocket laden britches bursting at the seems with fish, but with the pride of knowing that my clan would no longer be the laughing stock of all the other clans. On that night, I was blessed with many gifts. Primarily, both of my children would not have to marry the filffy sea witch; I found out that the brownish green filth acts as a great adhesive and in the abscense of a belt you could rub it on the brim of your britches and they were nigh impossible to take off, but more so than that, I was blessed with the affirmation of Sir Penny Fathringtons benevolence and his reality!
Long live that Penny!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A tale of Penny Knighthood and the case of the banger burglar?

Aye, it had been years since anyone had heard from or seen Ole Penny Fathrington, but there was something that always told us that he was but a stones throw away, always looking out for us; after all, how else could one explain sticky copper pennies found in the passageways of Parliament?
Tensions had begun to rise steadily in ye ole Parliament ever since the ground meat pasties and the boiled bacon bangers began to disappear.
Wild accusations were thrown around without any proof or pretense. But one thing was for sure, M.P.'s were going hungry for lunch, and every Briton knew what that meant, higher taxes on tea and meat.
Now the average citizen of ye ole England, but loved and loathed several things; to mention them all would be impossible, but to mention a few would be integral to the story.
First Britons loathed paying more then two bits for a shave and a shine, however, they loved stories of trolls and banshees, and a hot spot of tea to go with'em. But there is one thing that hated more than anything, and that was taxes on there most coveted of all tasties, bangers and pasties.
Now for them to hear that the taxes on bangers and pasties was nigh to rise, they would assemble and protest such political hijinks's.
It did not take long for Penny to come into play as if he was a mere whisper on the Northerly wind.
All the M.P.'s could sense a special air about Parliament throughout the next couple days, but not a single one could place a precise finger on what or who it was, even though many had inklings on who it might be, or at least hope against hope that it was Penny Fathrington.
Now Penny was not simply looking for an orphan to help this time, but instead was in hot pursuit of the banger burglar. Penny's tactic was more complicated then one could ever have guessed. He left copious amounts of sticky change near the ole ice chest, by this all the M.P.'s started to believe that it was Penny himself who was the banger burglar. Oh how wrong they were, had not they learned by now that Penny was without guile? That the only chapter in the book of Penny was the chapter HONESTY?
Penny was smarter than them all, by doing such, he made the banger burglar feel as if he was free to take whatever he wanted.
Penny laid in wait one early afternoon, knowing that he would catch the banger burglar if he could just resist helping out the orphans for but one afternoon.
His premonition proved spot on when I saw the banger burglar stroll in with a empty satchel girded about his waist. As the B.B. (so was the name Penny had given him, because of his hatred towards the fiend, Penny did not want to dignify him by pronouncing his whole name) placed the last of the pasties in his satchel, Penny with his lightning fast pirate bounding skills grabbed the man and hog tied him. Then with that same speed, Penny quickly carried him over to the House of Commons, for he knew the House of Lords would now show him as much mercy as the House of Commons would.
As the M.P.'s of the House of Commons came to their meeting chambers, they saw what looked to them like knight in shinning armor, all it really was however, was Penny making his escape through ye ole ventilation shaft, lubed up with all the grease from the pasties and bangers to help expedite his getaway. The shine they saw was due to the sparks in their eyes reflecting off of the greasy coinage that Penny had left behind on accident as he made his escape.
Now you ask, who was this villain, the banger burglar? I would tell you except, Penny thought it would be best if we left his name out of the story, suffice it to say, it was one of the local museum curators.
Later that same day, Penny Fathrington was unanimously voted into knighthood by both houses, although the House of the Lords vote seemed to be a tad more snooty then that of the Commons.
Because they knew they would never get a real appearance from Penny, they instead gathered as many of his sticky coins as they could find, and the Queen knighted them, thus making Penny, Sir Penny Fathrington.
And that is How Sir Penny came to being!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Genesis of a Legend

Come now, my children, come. For you who would know the truth behind the legend of Penny Fathrington, the time has arrived. Legion are the tales of his legendary largesse, but from whence did it spring? The seal is finally lifted (though not entirely). And, I swear by Merlin’s Beard to the truth of it all:

This is the story, first, of the Irish waif known then by her Christian name of Felicia Fathrington, torn from the bosom of her family on the Isle of Mann by the pirate band of the North Sea, known amongst their kind only as The Black Patch. She was raised according to the ancient code, first against her will but then fully embracing the same, proving her metal step-by-step until she finally found her true calling as the fearsome Tempest Queen (or, said some, the White Witch of the Waves).

It is the story of her fateful, short-lived union (under the numbing influence of dark highland grog) with the larger-than-life Wee Willie Wheatley, King of the Northern Leprechauns, and their only offspring, who was known then only as Red Rupert, a stout, blue-eyed lad possessed of a surprisingly gentle nature, and endowed with flaming red hair and certain magical gifts of the leprechauns, though marred by a disquieting “mad eye” that was perpetually drawn to the nearest body of saltwater.

It is the cautionary tale of the boy’s wild, yet magical, upbringing, partaking of the best (or, as some would have it, the worst) of both the pirates and the leprechauns, and his obsession with the coins of the realm – how he would dare, connive, deceive and wager with his fellows to acquire by any means, fair or foul, all the pennies he could, and how he horded the same in a well-concealed cave high above the crashing surf by Garrickfergus on the Northern Shore (and far more than a few farthings, I might add, and later on even more by way of the leprechauns’ magical minting of the same).

It is also the story of sweet Erin of Edinburg, she of the flashing emerald eyes and the heart of gold, who first saw the good in the pirates’ apprentice and whose love finally turned him to his life’s work – sharing his wealth in his own quixotic way with the poor orphans, street urchins and others among Britannia’s deserving poor.

And it is the story of Penny’s trusty steed, Balthazar, his loyal hound, Beadlebarf, and his life-long struggle with the adversary of his youth, the dark wizard of the fetid Inland Bog, he of the withered, hoary hand – Malovious (one of many tales for another time).

It is, finally, a story of redemption – the long (and ofttimes sad, sometimes joyful) odyssey of the lad’s private path of penance – learning to share his fathomless wealth with the poor in hopes of compensating, before his Maker, for the pirate excesses of an ill-spent youth; taking upon himself his mother’s maiden name (and adding thereto, with a touch of whimsy, his nickname among the leprechauns), as he grasped for his roots and some respectability; and how he, at long last, succeeded, being knighted secretly (for such was his modest wish) by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Yet try as he might, Penny could never entirely escape the wild ways of his youth and his strange fascination with the magical properties of Scottish red squirrel pelts and sparkling Welsh ribbon candy – vestiges of his arcane training amongst his leprechaun brethren during the cold, yet often merry, winter months of his adolescence as he grew in stature and acquired the hard-earned wisdom that “a penny saved is a penny earned, but better yet is a penny shared.”

Alas, I have perhaps revealed too much concerning the great Penny. Perchance, the muse will bid me to further illuminate his legend at some future time, but for now this must suffice. Long live Sir Penny!

W. t. W.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Not e'en the balm of Gilead

Even now as I recollect what took place with me all those years ago, I can still feel the health that flowed into me body as I was nigh about to pass on from this dreary existence. If my memory serves me right this event took place back in the time of highlander rule. Those were the days, when man was not confined to the restraints of canvas briefs, just the loose rough wool of his tartan wraparound. Why me could not've been older then there are wolves to a pack, but I was a tad precocious for a man in his mid thirties. It was time for me to fulfill my birthright as the fifth child in a brood of six. I was off to slay a terrible foe, one of which I had only heard tales about through my older brothers. On their manpaths, each one had come back with the foot of this monster. It never seemed odd to me that there lived a monster with six feet, at least my brothers kept telling me that there was one more foot for me if I could get it. While on my manpath, I encountered what looked like a woman trapped between ye'olde apple cart and a jumping-juniper shrub. As I approached, the woman beckoned me come to her aid. As I got up to the cart I realized that those apples were not apples at all, but red painted dingle-whoppers. It was then that I knew I had been tricked, it was too late. The woman was Germanian, hence not very womanly, all it took was a swift sweep kick and a punch to neck and next thing I knew I was face down, mouth open in the back of the dingle-whoppers. What followed next was only part of the miracle that happened to me that day. Due to violent vomiting and my new found foul stench, the Germanian wench released me to fend for my self. But she exacted a price that left me without me tartan wraparound and a broken leg, that's right, that wench broke me leg. There I was, embarrassed to go home without a monster's paw, and even more embarrassed to go into town without me britches. I had to make do with some maple leaves and my hair to fashion a new pair of britches. I was off again but this time I realized that something was amiss, my trustee scabbard was gone, but wait, what was that noise, it was the monster. I had no time to prepare myself, so with one hand I covered my eyes and with the other I started to punch. Instead of receiving a beating I smelled something sweet, sweet like ye olde ribbon candy from yonder times of yore. My mouth was open and then it happened sweet ecstasy, better then the balm of Gilead it was. As I opened my eyes I caught a fleeting glimpse of what I knew to be was Penny Fathrington. Not only did he revive me with his sweet ribbon candy, but he left me a prize. A monster's paw. I'd never been so happy as I was at that moment, that mysterious benefactor. Not only did he save my life from the monster, but he also cured my body with the healing sweetness of ribbon candy. Thank you Penny, because of you I have secured my birthright as the fifth born.

Monday, May 5, 2008

One hundred weight and penny pound

Haallo Govenah! A penny for me troubles Govenah?! The young urchin scurried past the Governors guards. "Mister Govenah, please, tis Christmas time and me mates at the orphanage and I are painfully hungry". The guards finally caught up to the coarse haired orphan.

"You're ruining the Governor's parade ye filthy li'l orphan. I've got half a mind to make ye into a mince pie! Now get ye back to the orphanage ye li'l red-headed bastage!"

The urchin slinked away. Dejected at the prospect of returning to the orphanage empty-handed on Christmas Eve. A block away a shadow disappeared down the alleyway. "A penny fer yer troubles eh? Hah haaa", the shadow bellowed.

As he trudged up the stairs to the front door of the orphanage their could not have been a portrait of sadness more heart-wrenching in all the queen's land than the one painted on the face of ye red-headed bastage. "They're right they are. I'm nothin' but a worthless urchin! Why, me can't even find a penny for me fellow orphans on Christmas eve!" He flung open the the large iron door and began to shout, "I'm sorry. I failed all of ye's this Christmas Eve. I don't even deserve the holiday porridge head-mistress Quiddleton tis brewin' this very minute! I'm nothin' but a red-headed bas..." He stopped. This was not the reception he had expected. Why, all the orphans were in a perfect state of happiness. There was singing and playing. Children were sliding down the giant bannister one after the other, squealing with delight.
"He came, he did!", shouted li'l Billy Bailey as he slid off the bannister.
"Who came?", yelled the urchin, trying to be heard over the giant rush of noise.
"Why it was Penny Fatherington it was", was the reply from a chorus of orphans.
It was then that he noticed it seemed to be raining drops of gold. Wonderful, magical droplets of gold. But, it wasn't gold. Those raindrops were pennies. In fact pennies were everywhere; children were diving in and out of the huge piles of pennies that now filled the great dining hall. Look over there and you'll see li'l Lucy filling her britches with pennies. Over there Laddy and Darby are filling their little orphan mouths with great heaps of pennies. Never before had such a scene of happiness been witnessed in the lowly orphanage.
But, where's Penny Fatherington? The urchin looked everywhere, but there was not a trace. The only sign that he had been there was the note left on the great iron door.
"A penny for ye troubles ye big-hearted bastage - PF"