The George v The Dragon; 23 April 2018

Once upon a time there's a dragon. Nothing else. End of story. Quite a dull story you might imagine.

Dragons are the lightest corporeal thing about & contain within their memories, surviving each transformation, all that is necessary for the creation of all the faeries, water & future organic life. In their natural state they each come into existence alone, but choose to exist as complementary pairs, way up in the aether, dancing beautifully symmetrical patterns. Their heads are mostly flashing violet fire, their bodies are spectral, but further towards their tails the more they become red, disintegrated & ultimately mostly dark, concealing earth. They breathe & exist by choice in a environment of fresh air, but the more oxidising conditions become, the more explosive their reactions are when they interact with others & ultimately they are all doomed to live & die for love & give themselves up for the greater good of the whole.

It’s the dragon’s fate to become love & love’s fate to become the dragon.

Try again. Once upon a time there's a dragon who finds itself all alone, but wants to play, feels a sense of yearning creativity, goes fruitlessly round in circles with it for a while, then comes up with a brilliant bubble, which like everything the dragon imagines, takes immediate physical form. Abracadabra; Compartmentalisation.

The dragon decides to have some dimensions, looks at its tail & thinks, I'm going to pretend this tail belongs to another dragon; that should be good for a laugh; let's see where this goes. The dragon creates & then loses track of time & space in all this black & white pulsating rhythmic tail chasing, swallows himself up, with the tail emerging anew in vibrant colours from inside the body of the dragon, inverting & twisting as it moults its old integument internally & begins again in an endless multidimensional lemniscate.

Now animate your internal MC Escher.

Oh, you already did.

Sweet.

The dragon creates recreation & then the whole of the evolutionary history of time & space, beginning with games 101, friends 101, coupling 101, biology 101, scent 101, geology 101, mythology 101, chemistry 101, magic 101, astrology 101, holistic architecture 101, bubbles 101, milk 101, birth 101, maternity 101, conception 101, dancing 101, music 101, cosmology 101, astronomy 101, physics 101, art 101 & maths 101, consciousness 101 & all at the same time, with sleep 101, imagination 101, memory 101 & daydreams 101 for company, & mystery, death & forgetting for regeneration in every revolution, works it into the rhythm naturally, has a go, forgets what they did, threw in language 101, accountancy 101, logic 101, philosophy 101, politics 101, religion 101, technology 101, currency 101 & light 101 as an afterthought to give the unimaginative ones some puzzles to occupy themselves with over the cold spells. Despite what he’s learned about pride 101, vanity 101, loss 101, upset 101, confusion 101, anger 101, pain 101, sadness 101, fear 101, inertia 101, stagnation 101, rage 101, oppression 101, doom 101, violence 101, tragedy 101, he somehow keeps getting up more resolute than ever to find a solution & becomes ever more aware of the love in his heart.

He prefers to let life take care of itself in the meantime, but intervenes whenever he’s aware of the call. It’s all recreation for the dragon.

So, as the dragon does that for a bit, giggling every so often & crying sometimes to remember how much it loved & missed water & the elves, it imagines all sorts of interesting possibilities for faery & elfin play companions; on all scales of bubble, who can play within & amongst each other while the dragon’s skin buds away living clones performing the same rhythmic dance & evolving as they travel through time & space.

Straight from the earliest days, deep & most precious to the dragon's heart is the place where he knows something truly spectacular is going to take place involving his weighty & intense young core that was always fixated with loss, doom & gloom, feared death & pain, & his lightest aetherial, gregarious eternal form, who would each start to spin around each other searching for the place called home in his dreams & he yearned to see where his ghostly winged charge would lead him to fly about the skies.

To make their common dream come true, they had a fair few friends to gather along their spiral spinning arms for the journey they had in mind.

Eleven seemed a good number for a Sunday, Johnagreed, & white ideal for keeping water out of the picture for the day, & not that darkest Plum was a bad colour for a Saturday, they were a bit concerned about overhead conditions, dodgy lbws, twitchy fingers, & tales about a bowlers’ union & batsmen going down like pearl divers.

(If the abrupt termination above was annoying, try this, & this & turn the volume up)

Maybe Strychnine for that if you want to be heroic, like in the raj, modern tonic water or Cinchona anyway, Burdock, Dandelion or Galium; best bitters, Artemisia….tarragon, absynthe (wormwood, ephesus), mugwort (thujone; men only; epileptics careful; likewise sage & juniper), Yellow gentians….that’s angostura, Zingiber or Curcuma for heat, depending on the seasons; there really is no shortage of bitter herbs, something’s bound to present itself; or hair of the dog.

They could imagine playing all week once they got spinning fast enough.

He sensed an opalescent pearl of perfect buffered temperature, climate & conditions, ideal for his story. Here was paradise, diverse in beauty, genius & originality, radiating fragrance, music, light, electricity, creativity, joy & a melancholy but haunting gravity, vibrating & resonating all across every spectrum wafting over to him, like a long lost love from across the other side of the universe & part of a deeply understood personal story he could only trust would work out somehow if he followed his heart.

A number of revolutions later the dragon reckons cuttlefish might be good to play cricket with; a bit of a genius in the creative department, can’t remember where he got the idea, but astonishes himself this time around. The dragon is particularly fond of this bubble & he ties his favourite one up with a flamboyant twist. The dragon plays an intense game of cricket with the cuttlefish for a few hundred million years, lets them win, but doesn't let them know that, & reckons it might make for better sport on land.

Either way, a nap is long overdue, the dragon is pleased with its game & believes itself to have come up with some quite scintillating material, loves all its new friends; & dozes off dreaming about a little creative volcanic activity & something waterproof to keep the ocean in, so the elves can bring it with them when they move. The dragon really likes to sleep, dream & imagine things, but not as much as it likes to play.

Next thing the earth dragon knows she's getting prodded rudely awake by a nightmare about a big rock that hit her square in her Ouranus & made her projectile vomit magic soup quite violently for quite some time afterwards, some of which made its way off on its own adventures, & the rest sought it’s fortune wherever it landed. She valiantly kept playing at an exponentially determined rate, despite the debilitating effects of the impact. However, by the time her insides settle & she’s had some very special Toba dark roast to help her out of her delirium & fully with it the next morning, there’s all sorts going on. The elves are singing & dancing & playing gloriously in the tropical glades.

Some man of the woods has come across a dragon scale, which the dragon had dreamed of shedding accidentally on purpose, & he’d only decided to eat it. Meanwhile, at the source of the Congo, Duryodhana awakens...

The dragon licks her lips. Well, the primate thought he was eating it; it was so beautiful & enchanting, but she ate him & he thereby discovers the dragon as he sheds her old skin.

Brilliant, says the earth dragon, putih, ungu, nila, biru, hijau, kuning, orange, merah, coklat, hitam, emas; who now found himself adorned with multicoloured feathers, & immediately exploded in fits of joyous avian laughter. Owls were woken up rudely, but hooted with delight; twit, said one, who? said another, let’s go back to sleep, already am, but the mynahs couldn’t wait to tell their friends.

Stone me, said Keith, I’ll get rolling on that, soon as I, & all the corvids set off to spread the joke, fly straight, with perfection, the big ones sang in their deep porcine patois, something better change, we are the meninblack, giggled Dave, then, take it Hugh, sang JJ; Indian summer, sang Jim, Gaia, sang Lovelock, I’m bold as love chorussed Jimi; never trust a hippie, it was on the good ship venus; no need for that John, stop listening to Malcolm & do it your way, like Sid; just remember your orange roots & don’t worry about the hello goodbye; career opportunist, straight to hell, strummed Joe & Mick, ah, but death is a star. Nobody paid any attention to the Outsiders, & you might have thought the Sound was quite a marketable name, but Ade & Colvin felt like fireworks was the way to spread the love, except for the Manor Park gig with the drongo which has been expunged from recorded history. We were there though; don’t forget something like that. Well spotted Wit.

Budgerigars thought a spot of drumming sounded excellent & mobilised in squadrons to get the message out; kookaburras & kingfishers laughed sarcastically at first, then actually thought it was genius & the funniest joke in the world, swallows left the happy prince out of it & kept asking each other how fast they were going with their coconuts, Patsy; ducks & drakes quacked knowingly amongst themselves, fully aware of their comic role in the game, but parrots couldn’t help but repeat the joke over & over again, psst, they’d start, nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more; the Norwegian blues killed themselves with laughter; Fred, Brian, Geoffrey & Sachin felt it tougher than anyone, pitches were all uncovered back then & they had to use rhubarb, but the albatross wasn’t quite as impressed, he preferred the sailor’s song & took off into the winds heading for Xanadu & his soulmate across the ocean. Galahead the cockatoo was overjoyed & raved about like it was the best thing he’d ever heard & particularly liked the one about the primates called Bruce, & obviously the macaws couldn’t contain their glee down at the clay dip, jungle fowl started singing extracts from last train to clarksville, morning, noon & night; lyrebirds & quetzals found it hilarious; blimey mate; when was the last time you looked in a mirror? they sang. Took you long enough to catch on; the larch, duh, Ginkgo biloba, classify that spanish inquisition, loves H-Bombs, release the balloons. Pop, went the weasel.

Widdershins now; I've been waiting for this:

So the dragon says to the elf, let’s play a game.....

The elf goes back to her primate community with news about the dragon & the game, which immediately upsets the ruler who has styled himself Chief I & thinks he's something very special. He suspects the dragon is a threat to his power, which he doesn't trust to share with anyone.

King Cerebral Cortex likes to grow; he likes being on top of things & separating things apart with nice clean straight lines; he likes dividing into 2s & then into 2s again, pretty much like the dragon, but unlike the dragon he often forgets something about his walls after making them, because he likes to keep fixed, consistent order, quite unlike the dragon. So when things become a little muddled sitting up up there on his precarious perch he finds it a bit disturbing, & he struggles to notice his lines are really circular & his position is becoming ever more precarious as he climbs ever higher.

He likes to call some things good, like him, though obviously none quite so good as him, some evil, unlike him, enjoys keeping tabs on the things that are important to him & believes being in control all of the time is the way a proper clockwork universe should operate. Emperor Brain likes dominating, calling things his, taking credit for everything, including consciousness (cogito ergo sum), memory (mine), imagination (would you believe it?) & awareness (it’s the enlightenment boys & girls) & really doesn't want to die or suffer pain.

Brain feels only antipathy towards the dragon, who he doesn't recognise at all & certainly doesn't accept that he should be subordinate to something that looks like a hairy bacterium to him. He reckons the world should be basically like him; & although it is, he doesn't like the idea of elves all over the place, thinking for themselves, deconstructing his walls & disrespecting his boundary markers, or of going to sleep & relinquishing command in case the unruly elves take over. He's also a bit annoyed that the news was brought by some insubordinate claiming to be an elf & that the dragon didn't come & visit him directly.

At first he doesn't want anyone to believe in dragons, or elves, let alone faeries, then after being presented with incontrovertible evidence, decides he wants all the magical dragon material for himself. So Brain starts up a propaganda campaign against the dragon, who this time round gets no sleep with all the sabre rattling, & by the time the dragon turns up to play the spring after, primates are going;

It poisoned one of my lands completely, all that’s there now are scorpions, other arachnids, venomous snakes & the most deadly, seductive & passionate of flamboyant flora; now it’s somewhere the hunter becomes the hunted;

Flew off with one of my unicorns, took it by the thigh, straight out of the undergrowth into a clearing in my woods, then like an arrow off away into the sky; all happened so fast I barely had time to perceive it;

The giant yeti threw my most insubordinate goat by its knee off my tallest mountain into the sea using a blackthorn club, & 3 seahorses washed in on the tide & lay there with their tails curled round into their bellies; the whole thing uprooted one my oldest trees, an ash, or rowan, looks like some sort of sinister fungus;

Well, your tsunami brought me a flash flood, which drowned a pair of my slaves on their return journey to the well, & production at the chocolate factory had to be halted, because the milk turned sour & two of the maids went skating & one axeled the other in the shins, just under the knee, but I suppose that’s human nature;

The pelican slow cooked my pedicure fish alive, right in there with it, chasing it round & round in the water in a figure of 8, faster & faster, transforming into each other & back again for 3 days until I couldn’t tell which was which. Weeping ecstatically & blowing steam, until it all became a foggy blur, seemed to take serene joy from the pain, completely bloodless, yet I was sure there’d been fire & blood to clean up, so weird; is that vinegar & mandrake or roast duck with brimstone I smell, maybe it was all a dream or deja vu. Wow!

At the spring meeting, it was Queen Oestre who declared that there would be no cricket match with the dragon this year as things were too serious & she had elfin infiltrators among her pretty maids, which she was thinking of tarmacing over. So events continued:

I saw it come out of the little fluffy clouds & take a feisty old ram, got its horns tangled up in barbed wire having a right old bounce off that skyscraper at that dragon; they went off together; I can only see one winner there;

Heard it took one of my cattle, milked it dry, then strangled it, wrapping its duplex coils ever tighter around the neck like a fiery bandana & shouting Yee Har! before milking it dry, swallowing it whole & slinking off into the shadows;

Oh, I’m gobsmacked; witnessed nothing myself, you understand, but it knocked down two walls in my language lab, melted two of my swords, burned two of my books; two of my, my, my, dear mynahs escaped & I didn’t discover until later one of my crosswords had been done;

Doom, I tell you; the wyrm came onto the shore, scooped up a brace of my crustaceans by milky moonlight, grotesque tumorous things they were; gigantic big one & a wee one; set them against each other in a ring, howling like a wolf, fight, fight, fight, right there in my home like some lunatic;

I swear I saw a bat in Whitby turn into a dirty dark gypsy from Transylvania, all smelling of fishy, dancing with my maiden daughter Lily in my temple & I’d swear they had relations; I suspect her purity’s been tainted now, maybe I should burn her as there’s some weird black microdots on the rye, not only that, I’d swear he pissed on my apples & pears, while singing a song & my vines are humming;

Funny you should say that, some plonker spilt my beer, got drunk & staggered about trampling my barley, schloshing my blackberries & juniper, then flew off haphazardly back home with one of my pigeons; now I just see mushrooms popping up in my field;

Well, it didn’t look like anything to me, but I sense this magnetic & mysterious fascination with caves & hidden treasure.

The dragon takes whatever form the play requires as the year progresses & it’s attitude is all about respect; it can starve itself for a while, but that ultimately only makes it all the more ravenous when the time comes to transform the elves, faeries & the odd primate; it has modest appetites though & can actually exist on pure aether if it has to, at least as long as it gets enough sleep over the winter & doesn’t get rudely awakened by avaricious treasure hunters.

In the hottest part of the summer, on the hottest day of the year, at the hottest time of day, Brain loses his best lion to the dragon in an attack of sunstroke while out at play chasing 293; ro...says the lion,....or…..; it appeared like a fiery crown had descended very deliberately & slowly, like a bolt from the blue, & frazzled his unprotected dry mane. Brain takes this as a personal insult & the dragon glows magnanimously, sprinkles some water on the lion & agrees to a cricket match the next spring, with life & death stakes.

Some of the elves are completely nonplussed, some are pretty chilled & unconcerned, others are crying hysterically, some start laughing but then see the Emperor is organising the construction of something horrifying made of dark bloodstone, is weaving incantations & has the dragon enslaved in chains & whips him brutally because he doesn't get the joke & thinks they're all laughing at him.

Fe is understandably nervous, but blushes & feels honoured at getting a starring role, so he can hardly contain his excitement & melts, but the elves as a whole are pretty upset with this development, petition the dragon & plead for a direct political intervention.

You know Red Fe means death for us & could mean death for you, they chorused, why on earth did you teach egghead about that?

The dragon gave them a hug & reminded them about the game, & even though they might be operating independently & have different assignments, not give anything away to King Brain, otherwise it would spoil the surprise. Red Fe said he didn't mind playing 12th man for the primates, he just hoped his siblings & all the elves would understand.

Elfin & faery numbers dwindled in the onslaught of the warm ups, but King Brain had to be allowed to win; the iron champion was named George after his mother, & was an all action archetype of relentless determination & bloodthirsty destruction; godhead of warfare, conflict, indiscriminate violence, tyranny, tuesdays, acting without consideration, bollocks & all things male; it had to win at all costs & would never accept defeat.

That's mine, this is mine, said King Brain as he sat on his Arian chariot pissing on everything within range, acknowledging the adulation of the lower castes of primates, who erected phallic monuments to their new iron based philosophy wherever they went. The more the elves protested, the more the primates misunderstood; some even tried to sell them rights & money & land & shiny things & all the glamour King Brain's people now believed belonged to them & made them important & successful. The primates knew they were right because they’d won every game so far.

The dragon could communicate in all languages, having invented all of them, but most elves preferred to use faeries as messengers, dancing around & playing cricket within & between the elves. It was only the primates who seemed to need everything to be translated into visual or linguistic symbols, being particularly poor at perceiving elves & fairies directly, one of the reasons being they had very rudimentary olfactory development, didn’t really trust their imaginations & could rarely find proof of meaningful elvish communication or sophistication.

They tended to perceive molecules & morbid anatomy as visual snapshots, & felt an understandable taboo about time travel, at least until the times of krishna, who does get about a bit & is apparently great mates with solomon, odin & nameless other absent friends who’ll turn up if you call them, so long as you’re respectful & sincere & keep your wits about you.

Nevertheless, perceive them or not, the primates enjoyed transforming, killing & enslaving elves & faeries in factories manufacturing muzak, chemicals, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals & life based foodstuffs, not to mention all the unmentionable shit, which they could then claim ownership of & convert into old Nick, since as no-one sees the faeries as still being alive King Brain could claim they never existed in the first place. King Brain found, the more patter he employed, the more the primates took their eye of the ball. They just couldn’t seem to help themselves & he just couldn’t seem to help taking advantage.

Those that communicated via faery or elf enjoyed developing relationships based on trust & mutual respect & found the whole notion of possession & will to win quite disconcerting; even Nasty Nick took up stealing & lying, found himself scapegoated & kept trying to visit Innocence to clear his name; everyone lost their ways in paranoia for a while there.

Shiny Sol; M; PC Moneypenny, who was beauty & glowing care personified, but didn’t feel she should rank 3rd in the hero’s affections, behind some ultrasecret quicksilver mystery agent called Titania & some glamourous Pussy Galore or other, could become envious, acerbic, hot, sour, develop verdigris & somehow our hero would always know & help her return to equilibrium with complete dignity & a joke; Red Fe generally played the macho villain, but could switch sides to imperial knight depending on the political situation.

Agents J & S, both gassy giants who reckoned themselves big stars, had flatulence & glamour issues & couldn’t agree over who did better comedy & who did better tragedy, who had the best poker face, who had the best timing, who was better at appearing tiny & invisible, who should do the deadpan gallows humour, who the killer punchlines, who open & who observe first ball, who should wear white & represent liberation, argued about whether magpies were good or evil then say how enlightening & suitable for children blue peter was & laugh about who was gonna chop the bollocks off the other & say call me daddy when no-one was watching. Crazy scientist Rude U, Wacky Psychic Agent Unity, codename Deadly Big C & even Agent Tina, though if you looked closely Tina Sterling seemed to play 95% of the roles, opinions waxed & waned as to the quality.

They could all get drawn into the conspiracy, any involvement from Darkstar & Persephone was barely perceptible & shadowy, reclassified as classified & the dragon has to sort things out, but Q ends up spinning & it takes her a while to settle down there after all her favourite white coats, bats, gloves, balls & pads get destroyed near the start just for comic relief.

Meanwhile the dragon's been enjoying all the games, in between snoozes & parties with the cuttlefish & orcas, but reckons it's all getting a bit grey, ugly, square & monocultural & it's about time to go in to bat for the elves.

The dragon goes in regulation size, but lets out a puff of smoke & puts on a really scary macho face, which he reckons might put off Lord Humpty's XI.

Although they're not really quite sure what they're seeing, the primates all boo & for a moment the dragon thinks they’re trying to scare him. King Brain is sat impatiently erect in his purple crown, on his regal gold deck chair in the private members stand; he reaches around & raises the flag to signal Lord Humpty to bring on his iron champion, clattering down the hill, off the full run.

The primates all cheer. Needless to say, he doesn't pay any attention to the dragon's attempt at a scary macho face, with the long neck oscillating around mesmerically in a figure of 8, but not wearing a helmet, George ruthlessly spies an opportunity & gets his clockwork synchronised.

It's a beamer first up, but the dragon is trying so hard not to laugh at the noise & sight of the red mechanical man he forgets to watch the ball that hits him square between the eyes, arguably in front of the stumps. The dragon falls down, still writhing a bit & knocking off a bail with his tail as he collapses to the ground. King Brain is convinced & the primates reckon he's a goner.

Howzat, clangs George, & after anguished cries of hysterical disbelief from the elves at the boundary's edge & extensive debate & attempts at reason from the umpire, it's starting to get dark, so up goes the finger & the dragon, who's still being dead, has to go so that everyone else can get back to playing.

The dragon winks to the elves just to remind them & they carry the dragon off the square & over the boundary edge in mourning. The primates claim victory once more & eagerly lay into the dragon's body, plundering it for riches, cutting out the tongue.

King Brain keeps all the dragon feathers for himself, but unnoticed, one of the elves happens upon the dragon's tongue & gets in touch with Polly & Cal, asks them to bring water & bucket without a hole in it, thank you dear Liza, & discovers a chai brewed from it can help the primates understand the dragon & all her offspring, so he shares it with them & although some are terrified by the experience, others are inspired to support the dragon & join the elves.

Breaking down the dragon's body is an increasingly messy & toxic process; bringing fire & local devastation, but through diligent use of Google Maps a new ground is found each year for the rematch.

Things carry on this way annually with the primate team defeating the elves every time. The dragon returns, appearing ever more scarred & mutilated, plays with more determination, a bit more aggressively & with better confidence on each successive occasion, but King Brain & Iron George always seemed to come up with a new advance, upgrade, ploy or tactic to kill the dragon just in time, claim another victory & reap the spoils.

Over the years the elves get better with each successive match & even enjoy very occasional victories, but the primates argued that these took place at times of civil war, when they had limited resources to spare for things like cricket, George wasn't available & no-one was paying attention, so they didn't really count & all memories of those games are covered in poppies & forget-me-nots now.

The dragon prefers to spend winters on holiday in the underworld, mainly dreaming & imagining what the match will be like next time round. Each year the dragon comes back essentially rejuvenated & better equipped; but each year he seems less popular than ever, & in accordance with Brain's propaganda, the dragon is being blamed for everything; even those that feel an appropriate sense of awe & respect are unconvinced the story is going to have a happy ending. Each year George comes back with added modifications & extra shiny weaponry manned by an increasing diversity of enslaved, oppressed & genetically modified faeries including Queen Titania herself; eventually he gets laser vision; the red style.

As this keeps happening; King Brain can't figure out whether the dragon was immortal & it was the same dragon & he just saw it evolving & behaving slightly differently each time, or whether it was indeed many dragons & this problem haunts him terribly, making him feel very melancholic, especially with the dragon's soulful, plaintiff banshee music going on in the background, just perceptible amongst the din of the iron warriors & their red paint.

The elves find themselves breaking into fits of tears spontaneously, increasingly mistrusted as mischievous, & failing to understand why the primates couldn't just loosen up, be natural & share everything as & when, the way they did, trying to escape the noise & mourning their mother's terrible desperate developments in taste on an increasingly regular basis. Thick, layered greasepaint makeup that would have been laughable, had it not been so tragic, cosmetic surgery that kept having complications; obscenely voluminous & hastily organised silicone implants, including a hideously scarring cowboy job in Xanadu, where there were once remarkably nutritious natural bubbles, & an extremely prejudicial pubic shaving regime that imagined itself somehow unrelated to paedophilia, with oil palm fuelling the fires of destruction, as all the soil washed down into the ocean.

But the dragon reminds them who they are & how they're all related & reassures them that if they just act naturally, be themselves & represent their true natures, everything will go according to plan. The elves understand, but the primates remain largely unconvinced & are understandably confused. King Brain's propaganda had become deeply ingrained & virtually none of them trusted the dragon any more, making the dragon adopt some terrifying guises in the understanding that the primates would each perceive it in a way that reflected their own passion.

It gets to the stage where the primates are cross breeding the elves & the faeries, & they are pretty much all enslaved, except for the really wild ones, who have had to develop increasingly cryptic & creative subversive skills to escape King Brain's iron warriors & for them the only game left around is orcas v cuttlefish, where the orcas still appear to be struggling with their understanding of the laws, are a bit too boisterous for the sensibilities of the cuttlefish & emotions are always a little heated. For one reason or another, the elves can't raise a team & we're down to the very last remaining cricket pitch....

With all the elven losses, & sick of King Brain telling them what to do all the time, eleven of the primates find themselves increasingly sympathetic towards the dragon & reckon they'd rather play for the elves, just so they can keep the game alive.

The whole process is pretty emotional for everyone involved, but when it's all over, they notice George has turned red where he should have been shiny & appears to have developed some rust damage with all the tears.George is actually relieved not to have to always be the one to kill the dragon, so withdraws from the match & lets everyone else have a go. Titania puts her finger to her lips.

Being an impulsive sort of chap, first thing he does is goes & apologises to the dragon for all the times he's killed it. No worries, replies the dragon, I can't really die, but I can take any form you like; it can be a bit painful. I'll make you a St & you won't even have to be martyred, I've dealt with all that; anyway, what else were you supposed to do?

Now that is a good question, said George. I've always had a fascination with S, said Fe, going way back to the Hadean, before the rust appeared when I got into this passionate relationship with O; I tolerate it for the sake of the animals but in my heart I still hold a torch.

Foolish faery, thinks George; there’s no turning the clock back, & doesn’t hear anything about any secret trysts in swamps, anaerobic parts of the soil & crust, & mostly hidden deep inside layers of elves, much as he had long wanted to converse with someone who knew his mother from the early days.

Give us some WD40 & a hand with this mower won’t you, it’s a bit heavy.

Yee har! Says the dragon.

No, not like that, those horns & hooves will make a right mess of the wicket, can’t you come up with something better.

And then it came to the match.

King Brain is a little paranoid & going under the pseudonym Macbeth this time round, not a happy bunny he eventually recognises the devastation, feels the pain of the dragon & knows he has to do it himself, but when he comes in to bowl something weird happens & he finds himself returned to the top of his mark in the form of Macduff.

The way the primates tell it, the process involved illusions with swords, charm spells, conversation, a handshake & ultimately looking into each others' eyes & recognising a long forgotten kinship, but you have to remember they were visually & logically biased. In fact the dragon communicated in all modalities at once, & the elves particularly enjoyed those involving consumption of some or other type of living faery essence.

The details of this match remain hazy, but at the end of it everyone gets to be alive, respected & liberated again.

Was it really worth all that? says the dragon to themselves.

Better than the first try I suppose.

Same time next year then? says Captain Malcolm. There or thereabouts, the dragon replies, setting off together into the sky & heading for the updraught.

Epilogue.

You know what; it was a funny story when you tell it like that; maybe it’ll catch the imagination, but I think ultimately, I preferred the first telling. That way everyone gets to imagine their own story.

You still can.

But that was no story at all.

Just as it was, is & will be. That’s the thing about a shaggy dog.

But just look at the state of this planet. You can’t let these guys write their own stories.

I most certainly can.

But what if they’d started out without any fixed story?

I think you can probably answer that one for yourself…….

So, spoiler alert, already did, still do & always will. Someone tells you otherwise, ask yourself why they might say that. I like to give everyone the chance to figure it out for themselves; I’m not the one with the megaphone believing in the stone tablets.

Ok, even if that was me, I’m continually misunderstanding myself once it turns into words; look, it’s your call how to recognise & manage the megalomaniacs; I’d recommend you tell them bedtime stories that remind them they have absolute power, because that’s the swiftest route to humility.

Don’t you mean, remind them you have absolute power?

Same difference.

Compassion beats humility; then no-one needs to be sorry.

It only works if it feels like a free choice. Whichever way you spin it, it’s a thou thing, not, do what you want.

Don’t you mean, whichever way, they spin it?

Smartarse.

Indeed, as in, slightly different meaning to you; analogous to how idea is slightly different to I. If I’m not alive within you when you employ words, you’re going to find yourself in a land of confusion. And only when you find me should you speak in my name. I’m not going to explain it all over again. It’s all me, I’m everywhere, always & everything depends on our relationships & I never lie & never say never.

Now you’re mansplaining. Sorry darling, but you are.

Don’t you mean, being patronising?

My point exactly. So, what’s your heart’s desire? Do you like hide & seek? Do you want to play or should we go over the laws again?

Words, words, words, don’t get me wrong, they can be fantastic & all that, but don’t get me started on all the ins & outs or we’ll end up having at bats, infield flies, stealing homes, slow changes up, anabolic abuse (oh my darling), statistical confusion, bad punning galore, vamanos cuba & forgetting to kiss the earth altogether. And don’t let’s get carried away; strap up; I believe I spy a cricket pitch yonder, or am I imagining it?