I was back at Bordon and Oakhanger Sports Club (BOSC) last Friday for another of my Murder Mystery Quiz Evenings, based on the tales of Blake Hetherington. This time it was for ‘The Visitor’s Book’.
In ‘The Visitors Book’, Delilah hosts an evening of murder, mystery and intrigue, with another case from the journal of her friend and amateur sleuth, Blake Hetherington. Whilst visiting his family in Devon, Blake is supposed to be relaxing, but murder just seems to follow him. He discovers the local mayor has died in a fishing accident. The mayors’ wife is a family friend and is convinced her husband has been murdered.
My Murder Mystery Quiz evenings are based on The Blake Hetherington Mysteries, my murder mystery series, written under the name of D S Nelson. The Blake Hetherington Mysteries are all modern stories with a golden age feel and the evenings use the format of a quiz in order to allow participants to collect clues and evidence that will help them decide who dunnit.
Quiz evenings are designed for six teams of eight and have four rounds. The winner is the team that has an eye for detail. There is plenty of opportunity for those with theatrical flair to join in as we meet the characters, the drama unfolds and the teams get to test their detective skills.
We had a fabulous time on Friday night, listening the different characters give their take on the events and then gathering the evidence. The murderer did not escape justice and the case was solved so that our good friend Blake could return home once more.
I’ll be back at BOSC in the summer with another case so watch my events page for more info. You can also subscribe to my newsletter for details on events and a free monthly digital zine: ‘Fairytale, Folk & Fable.’
Three-hundred and ninety years ago a story collector was born. Charles Perrault was born on the 12th January 1628 and became one of the most famous collectors of fairytale. His versions of Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Hop O’ My Thumb preceded those of the Grimm Brothers and he is responsible for the first recording of some very famous tales. Bluebeard, Puss In Boots and Donkey-Skin are all included in his collection of fairytales and his poetic summaries with moral lessons are well known.
One of my favourites is Little Red Riding Hood and it is thought that the tale is 2000 years old. Charles Perrault first wrote down the European version of the tale in the seventeenth century. This was not, however, Perrault’s own tale and the earliest recording of the girl with the red cloak is thought to have been by an 11th century priest in Belgium, (Tehrani, 2013).
For those of you who have not met her before, Little Red Riding Hood is a young girl who is much loved by her grandmother and is given a red cloak to wear on her trips through the forest to visit her. This is how she acquires her name. On one of these trips she meets a wolf and she makes the mistake of telling him where she is going. Thinking Red Riding Hood looks like a tasty meal, the wolf runs on ahead to grandmother’s house, eats Little Red’s grandmother, climbs into bed wearing the grandmother’s nightdress and waits for his quarry.
Whether or not the innocent red caped child makes it home depends on the version of the tale you read. In some the woodcutter comes to her rescue, crashing through the door and putting a stop to the wolf’s murderous intent. In the Brothers Grimm version, Red Riding Hood and her grandmother lure the wolf to his death with the smell of sausages. For some the story is told so that she is both eaten and rescued, the huntsman arriving just a little too late cuts open the wolf to retrieve her. In the Perrault version there is no hope for the little girl who has strayed and she is eaten, just like her grandmother.
As with all the stories with oral origins there are many many different tellings and in some countries the story is told with different characters, for example Red Riding Hood is a goat or the wolf is a tiger (Bohannon, 2013)
The ending has often been changed in modern versions and in Angela Carter’s version, ‘A Company of Wolves,’ in her compilation ‘The Bloody Chamber,’ she tells the tale from a very different point of view. In the end it is Red Riding Hood who seduces the wolf, not the other way around. There is even a contemporary children’s version of this tale where the wolf does not meet with violent retribution and instead is sent to a retreat where he is taught mindfulness in order to rehabilitate him.
Then of course there are the famous lines leading up to Little Red’s impending doom, which whilst they may change slightly in each telling, the rhythm remains the same:
"Oh grandmamma, what big ears you have!" "All the better to hear with, my dear." " Oh grandmamma, what big eyes you have!" "All the better to see with, my child." " Oh grandmamma, what big teeth you have!" "And they are all the better to eat you with." (Perrault, Translated by Betts, 2009)
Whatever version you are reading or listening to, the message is clear: beware, little girls, of the smooth talking wolf who lives in the forest. In fact, Perrault in his commentary accompanying his tales, states:
‘I call them wolves, but you will find That some are not the savage kind Not howling, ravening or raging; Their manners seem, instead, engaging,’ (Perrault, Translated by Betts, 2009)
Despite its gruesome themes, the appeal of Little Red Riding Hood has endured and in the true tradition of storytelling the tale will continue to be told with slight differences. A tweak here a tweak there, perhaps a cheerier ending for those audiences who need a gentler tale.
In my Kamishibai version of this tale, I stick to the Perrault version and it never ceases to amaze me the delight in the eyes of the children in the audience as the wolf gobbles up Red Riding Hood. In their opinion, in ignoring her mother’s advice to stay on the path and not to talk to strangers, she is the author of her own fate. They are further delighted by the gruesome scene of the woodcutter freeing Red Riding Hood and her grandmother from the belly of the wolf, again seeing the wolf as the curator of his own demise.
We have Perrault to thank for the recording of this tale and many others and so today, take a moment to read one of his fairytales and remember the stories of our childhood. I’d love to hear what your favourite fairytale recorded by Perrault is, so don’t forget to let me know in the comments below.
Happy Birthday Charles!
Toodle Pip one and all, until next time …
Faerytale, Folk & Fable I am running a workshop on 18th May 2019 at Butser Ancient Farm, Hampshire, UK. Join me for a workshop that explores Faerytale, Folk and Fable, the stories of our childhood and the oral storytelling tradition. For more information, click here.
References Betts Christopher, 2009, Charles Perrault, The Complete Fairy Tales, Oxford World Classic, Oxford University Press. Bohannon, John, (2013) The Evolution of Little Red Riding Hood, [online]http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2013/11/evolution-little-red-riding-hood Tehrani, Jamshid, 2013, The Phylogeny of Little Red Riding Hood, [online] http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0078871
There have always been tales of the little people about the house, helping out or even hindering. Piskies, fairies, bwbach, nisse, borrowers and brownies, whatever you call them, there is so much folklore surrounding them, they must exist, right?
The Romans certainly thought so and they called their household helpers Lares and Penates. The Lares were guardians of the household and the Penates spirits of ancestors past.
Records show that the Romans celebrated these deities on the 4th of January, or there about, in the festival named the Compitalia. Small poppets were made to represent Lares and the goddess of the underworld, Mania. These were hung around the front door and by doing this it was hoped that the spirits would be appeased and the household would be blessed with good luck for the following year.
This festival is an ancient celebration that is said to have existed before the building of Rome and when the festival of Compitalia was re-introduced by an Etruscan King, it was said that the oracle suggested children should be sacrificed to the gods. You will be pleased to know that this was not considered palatable, even to the Romans, and so they used a loophole in the oracle. As it did not say specifically what sort of heads should be sacrificed, they instead made offerings of garlic bulbs and poppy seed heads to the gods instead.
So if you live in a house where occasionally the cloves and cinnamon go missing, the flour just wasn’t where you last left it and the hearth is clean even though you’re sure you hadn’t swept the ash yet, then this evening, as you sit down to dinner, spare a thought for your household helpers. Perhaps you could offer them a garlic crouton from your soup or a poppy seed roll or just light a candle and remember the old ways; a time when we took a moment out to observe the magic in life.
There are many deities that are representative of the house and the hearth and if you enjoyed this post, then I may explore the goddesses of the household and their stories in later posts. I’d love to hear what you call your household spirits, so please let me know in the comments below.
Often a time for resolutions, the new year can feel like a lot of pressure and significance placed, all on one day. So many things we could do, so many things we would do if and so many things we should do. So I try to simplify things with a sigil for the year. I spend December thinking about how I’m going to create it and gathering ideas and then New Year’s Eve creating it.
There are many ways to create a sigil but this year I’ve decided to make a pact with the faeries.
I’m using Ian Daniels Faery Enchantment Cards, which contain magical illustrations of, and many facts about the Celtic faeries. You can create your own enchantments by taking one of the three words from a faery card and working them into a sentence.
This year I have chosen Penarddun, Math and Pwyll to help me ‘Attract, established Success.’ I then created a sigil by combining the faery runes on the cards. Next up was painting a composition with symbols based the words on the card, around the sigil.
The broom, seeds and fountain, represent Penarddun, the peacock feathers are for Math and the full moon, juniper bushes and iron are for Pwyll. I also placed the picture facing south-east in line with totems on Math’s card.
There are many stories of pacts with magical beings. In the Grimm Brother’s collection of fairy tales, the most famous ones are of course Rapunzel and Rumplestiltskin. Others include King Of The Golden Mountain and The Blue Light; both tales of the dangers of making pacts with faeries and dwarves.
Closer to home in Hampshire, there are many tales of Old Winchester Hill and the magical people that appear from beneath the hill late at night. It is thought that the Romans wished to build a fort on top of the hill but that each night ghostly figures would appear and take down any walls the Romans had started to build. In Michael O’Leary’s book of Hampshire Folktales, he tells the tale of Herla a king taken beneath the mound by the wee folk and on his eventual return he discovers he has been gone many centuries – a familiar tale.
Lisa Schneidau’s wonderful book of Botanical Folktales tells of a girl called Jenny who is abducted by a fairy king in order for her to look after the King’s son as a nanny. She too is returned but not before she has fallen in love with the King and no other will do in the human world.
With all these stories of warning, making a pact with the faeries is a dangerous business but, as with many fairytales, with proper reverence and respect these supernatural beings may just be the difference between success and failure. Here’s hoping the Celtic faeries will guide me through 2019 and I won’t end up dancing in the forests until I can no longer stand or falling asleep for a hundred years. Actually with a 4 year old in the house that sounds rather inviting …
Hi, I’m Dawn Nelson, also known as DD Storyteller. I have had a passion for stories all my life and love tales from the epic Saxon Saga to the anecdote told between friends at the dinner table.
After a three year hiatus from the blogosphere, I discovered I missed blogging. Writing to share experiences and learn from others and so I have returned with this blog to share the everyday story, the fairytale that may be found in the garden and the adventure around the corner.
Posts You Will Find Here:
Fairytale, Folk and Fable is what this blog will contain and I plan to create various posts on this theme.
Italo Calvino is said to have used tarot cards to structure his stories and I hope to post short stories based on tarot pulls in ‘Tarot Tales’. Posts about my hobbies will include baking, gardening, painting, crafting and my life-style which is based on the wheel of the year. You will also find ‘Fairytale Focus’ where I will look at different fairytales, their history and the messages they teach us.
I may not post regularly but I hope you will enjoy following this blog. As always I would love to hear your fairytales as life is all about the stories you create. I hope to see some old friends return and I look forward to making many new ones. Here’s to 2019’s stories.