A story of Aspiration and Failure (If nothing else the legacy of wind will be a rebirth of story telling and tall tales – The Shenachie is back!)
Once upon a time in the land ‘Far Far Away But Not Far Enough’ there lived a small, insignificant troll named Wee Shreek. He had a companion – a nodding donkey he fondly referred to as Swhinny. Wee Shreek was not loved much by his neighbours near and far, except for one ‘lady-friend’, Fishwife Fearona – a grizzly gnome that had failed in early life to make friends and influence people. She had been unable to snag herself the position of queen bee in any of the lands she visited and was becoming frustrated. Disillusioned with the way her life was going, she started spending her days sipping slurry with Wee Shreek and Swhinny, and wallowing in Shreek’s architect designed jacuzzi swamp, fondly referred to as ‘Mud Sticks’. The three were young, happy, and beginning to have fun! What harm could these wee bairns do?
After several years in the thick of it (the mud, that is), Fearona, Wee Shreek, and Swhinny got bored playing the games that had once made them so happy – kings and queens, kiss chase, cowboys and Indians, etc. Games of power, conquest, defiance, and unilateral equality. Now they wanted to experience the real thing. But three was becoming a crowd. Somebody had to go, or a new friend was needed – one with new ideas and a fresh perspective on the mess they were making at Mud Sticks. They decided to look for someone new to join their ‘gang’. They knew pretty much everyone in Far Far Away But Not Far Enough, and to be honest, they were all boring and unadventurous, many content with the way things were in their green and pleasant land. Also, Wee Shreek had problems making new friends in his land because he was fairly arrogant, a bit of a big mouth, and his physique was not too dissimilar to Jack Sprat’s wife. But Far Far Away But Not Far Enough was not all that far away from other places. He would seek friends in places where no one knew the real him!
One day whilst the three were walking through a distant land north of Far Far Away But Not Far Enough, they stumbled across a groundhog. His fur was tufted, his paws were dirty, and his pouches were filled to the point of bursting from all the nuts and berries he had greedily stuffed into them. He had this idea that there would always be enough nuts and berries for all the animals of the forests of the land in which he lived. His greed was getting noticed. Little did Groundhog know, living in cloud cuckoo land as he did, that soon the animals would rebel against his hoarding once their winter stores became empty and their bellies began to growl! When he saw Wee Shreek and friends, he swiftly dropped back into his hole, for his timid chubby-cheeked self was, frankly, afraid of his own shadow. But the really big shadow in Groundhog’s life was Mama Groundhog. She hovered above him, commenting on his every move, making him do things he was not yet grown-up enough to handle. Groundhog was a push-over mama’s boy. She never taught him the etiquette required for living amongst all the other animals of the forest! But this did not deter Wee Shreek and friends from seeking Groundhog’s companionship. They saw his lack of life experience, his sly moves, and his nonchalance as qualities that would spice up their recipe for imperialism! With promises of more nuts and more berries, along with the power to control who was allowed and not allowed to have the nuts and berries in his land, Groundhog finally crawled out of his hole. He could hardly contain the collection in his pouches as he beamed, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, at the prospect of being prince of all nuts and berries!
Some time passed. Wee Shreek, Fearona, Swhinny, and Groundhog spent their days stomping in and out of Far Far Away But Not Far Enough proclaiming that they were ‘the kings of the castle’ and all others were ‘dirty rascals’. But very few took much notice of them. Who would? They looked a mess and talked of friendships with rather dubious rulers in lands across oceans and continents. Old King Cole (a religious nut who had merry old soul), Prince Charming (who hailed from the land of Manhattan), and someone who had the audacity to regard herself ‘Queen Maleficent’! Even the mirror on the wall had something to say to the four – ‘Every time you look into me I break. You have clocked up 1,707 years of bad luck. I can do nothing for your image. You will need to buy everyone in the lands rose tinted glasses’. Of course, this would have been terribly expensive to initiate, so they decided to look for someone cheap who could magically colour all of Far Far Away But Not Far Enough and the lands beyond. They placed an ad in ‘Far Away and Out of It’ news and received several applicants, with the successful one being a little boy. To be honest, despite his insistence he was a real boy, he was nothing more than a puppet. His name was Spinochio. He would become Wee Shreek’s new best friend.
Spinochio was a wild child, always getting himself tied up in knots as he tried to pull everyone else’s strings along with his own. He was also prone to an unsightly disfigurement. This matter was only noticeable after he had secured the job working for the gang. If Spinochio didn’t tell the truth (and the gang were not particularly fond of the truth), his nose grew. He could, of course, retract this disfigurement if he told the truth, which is why the gang never noticed Spinochio’s disfigurement when they interviewed him. During the interview he had flaunted his life’s misdemeanours, bragging about the lies he told his parents and the pennies he stole from his friends. Wee Shreek insisted Spinochio had nothing to be ashamed of! He was now employed to make sure the residents of Far Far Away But Not Far Enough and surrounding lands believed everything the gang said, no matter how outlandish. From that day forward, Spinochio’s nose couldn’t stop growing. For should the gang’s true intentions have been known, everyone in Far Far Away But Not Far Enough and the surrounding lands would have racked the four. Before he knew it, his nose stretched from the farthest shores of Far Far Away But Not Far Enough to the Land Where the Bong Tree Grows to Never (never!) Land. It blocked roads and railway lines. It crushed crops and damned rivers. His nose knocked over ancient forests and destroyed homes, sometimes killing people and animals who could not move out its path of growth fast enough. The weight of Spinochio’s nose became so heavy that he could no longer move. He had to give up the job or die. He chose death.
The death of Spinochio was, of course, very bad publicity for Wee Shreek and friends. The death of Spinochio meant the death of the lies and the lies were the only thing giving Wee Shreek and his gang any power in Far Far Away But Not Far Enough and all the surrounding lands. In an effort to save his green with envy skin, Wee Shreek tried to pass the buck onto Poops Bear the Antique Dealer and his friend, Clegglit – the rulers of the nearby kingdom of Engleberryland – by blaming the whole dirty mess on them. Spinochio’s nose, which stretched from ocean to ocean, crossing mountains and rivers, and running through villages, farmland, and forests, was now contaminating everything it touched. It was rotting and seeping into the ground, destroying all that was once so special about the lands around Far Far Away But Not Far Enough. Wee Shreek and his gang sat in Mud Sticks and pondered a way out of this mess. They couldn’t continue to try to rule the lands if there were no people to support them. And no one wanted to live with Spinochio’s nose all over the place. Once again, they found themselves wallowing in the mud, but this time Groundhog was there, showing his support by giving them each a shovel and teaching them to do what he always did in times of trouble – dig a hole and crawl into it. With four deep holes and the swamp’s goo swiftly seeping in, they soon found themselves up to their eyeballs in, literally, the sh*t Wee Shreek had created. There was no escaping and the many eyewitnesses who happen to be passing by that day said it was a terrible sight, but there was no saving them from the goo of Mud Sticks. It was too thick and heavy. When Swhinny’s forelock, the final strand of evidence of their existence submerged, the people and animals everywhere smiled brightly, for those of Far Far Away But Not Far Enough and all the lands around knew the greatest evil to have ever darkened their lands was no more and they all endeavoured to live happily ever after.