Saturday 22 July 2023

A fairytale that has nothing to do with Scotland. Part 16

Part 15

Once upon a time there was an island called Sgarba and on this island lived a little girl called Nancy and when she was five she was writing

Dear Father Christmas, I don't want a doll, and I don't want a big red ball. What I want is a pair of silk stockings, and I mean silk, not artificial.

I know where I’m going (1945)

Time passed on this rather solitary island.

At 18, she's a working girl and still knows what she wants. A boy wants to take her to the movies, twice a week, if she'll let him. She would rather dine at the best hotel in town, even if it's only once a month.

Perhaps it is for this reason that she set her heart on marrying a prince. Sgarba may not have been a large island. The Norse called it pointed because it looked all jagged, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t be a kingdom all on its own ruled by Nancy and her prince, or at least it could join Norway.

It is true that the island was once called Skarpoe, which no doubt has the same linguistic root as sharp, but that didn’t make it at all English even if Nancy couldn’t speak a word of any Scandinavian language and no one else on the island could either. The mere fact that it had once been called something by a Viking was enough to separate it from anything that spoke English, not including her of course.

Besides when she married Prince Pål the Scandinavianess of Sgarba would be reestablished even if only Pål spoke Norwegian and everyone else eat Pedigree Chum.

But Nancy’s father set a condition for Prince Pål. He had to anchor his ship in The Corryvreckan Whirlpool for three nights running. But Nancy told Pål how to pass the test. He needed three ropes, one of hemp, one of wool and one from a maiden’s hair. Nancy would be the maiden.

On the first night the hempen rope broke, but Pål was just able to survive the night. On the second night the woollen rope broke but again Pål’s whirlpoolmanship was enough to save his ship. On the third night the rope made from Nancy’s virgin hair held firm. Not a single hair broke and next day they were married.

As well as being King and Queen of Sgarba Pål and Nancy were in charge of the Sgarba Norse Party and every year the people of the island dressed up as Vikings with wings on their helmets even if the Vikings never wore wings or indeed any other feminine sanitary products. Each winter evening, they tried to learn Norwegian, but Pål was a terrible teacher and all of that grammar and vocabulary was so dull. Anyway no one wanted to speak Norwegian, they just wanted a share in the oil fund. It’s Sgarba’s oil was the party slogan.

But unfortunately, when a council meeting of the Sgarba Norse Party voted to become a crown dependency or otherwise to join Norway, it was told that there was no mechanism for its leaving and anyway Norway wasn’t interested in annexing bits of other countries as it reminded it of some of the darker aspects of its own past when it had been annexed.

Nancy was furious. Sgarba was a country. She was Sgarbian, but Pål calmed her down. “My dear” he told her. “We are never going to become a Crown dependency nor are we going to achieve independence, nor are we going to join Norway, but the surfs of Sgarba love you. They worship you as a saint. They will do anything for you. We needn’t tell them that their cause is hopeless. We can just take advantage of it.”

“But my father fought for independence within Norway” said Nancy and he nearly won it.

“And look at him now, a bitter old fundamentalist who has achieved nothing. I can provide you with all the things you dreamed of when you were a child”.

There was no one else in the Sgarba Norse Party that knew anything about the two who ruled it. The money from the surfs kept hitting the beach and spraying onto the jagged rocks. And round those rugged rocks the ragged rascals ran, picking up all the coins.

Nancy realised that it was important to keep the surfs excited. So, each year she promised that next year they would be joining Norway. It wouldn’t be on rugged rocks that the surfs would wash up but on fjords with tall mountains on either side.

Each year just a little bit more of the coins dropped by the surfs on the steep sides of Sgarba fell into the pockets of Pål and were buried in the back garden of the palace they shared at the top of the island’s highest point.

“Don’t worry” said Pål “Poileas Sgarba” has now been centralised and won’t notice that the Sgarba Norse Party has become the Sgarba Nancy Party for the benefit thereof. If there is anything you want don’t worry, you won’t have to spend any money for it. I have a new Sgarba Norse Party credit card and whatever you order will arrive the next day. Of course, larger items like an ocean liner, an executive jet or any other large means of transport may take a little longer. We might have to hide them too at my mother’s just in case someone gets suspicious, but don’t worry, you are loved, you are respected, you are trusted, even by those you want us to separate from. We have free money for life.

But there was one man on Sgarba who didn’t trust anything about Nancy, not since the virgin’s hair rope had held all night long with Pål's ship in the middle of Corryvrecken.

This man Alan was the former leader of the Sgarba Norse Party, and he knew for certain that a fraud had taken place right from the beginning. You see he had inside information. Right inside.

Nancy and Pål thought that they would be King and Queen for ever. There was no need to join Norway. That would just mean being ruled by someone else. But suddenly Nancy abdicated.

Nancy told everyone that she wanted to read more books, that she was tired of the tensions of being Queen and how she looked forward to fostering, keeping pets with Pål or else Pedigree Chum and having an important job with the Partitioned Nations.

Soon after Pål too resigned because he didn’t know how many people had joined the Sgarba Norse Party and how much they had been charged for doing so nor where the money had been spent or indeed where it was. Better not to tell them it was in the back garden.

The accounts were a mess, and someone had recorded Nancy telling everyone not to go on about the accounts because they were fine. They were fine alright. They had paid for the gold bathtub, the silver toilet and the platinum bidet.

It might have been Alan that caused the original abdication. It might have been Jake who harried Nancy, because Nancy thought you could be Arthur or Martha with only three months’ notice between and no need to cut off the ball cocks from the silver toilet and no need to add fake ones either. It could even have been the modern incarnation of Varina Davis who so believed in secession as long as it allowed her to keep her slaves that she was willing to fight a war about it with her husband Jefferson as president. But who could imagine slavery in Sgarba? Let alone that Agnes Grey was importing them. No surely that was the worst lie of all. No wonder Agnes wanted to bring Nancy down.

But whoever caused the resignation was also involved in the investigation. There might only have been a single help ma Boabby on Sgaba, but he knew he had a boab and it wasn’t a matter of waiting three months to demonstrate how to use it.

Poileas Sgarba turned out to be rather outwith Pål’s control, rather like a particularly bad storm or Act of Nancy, whose path to saintliness she hoped would lead to deification.  Perhaps the sole member of Poileas Sgarba had never been a member of the Sgarba Norse Party or perhaps he had been enthusiastic about the Sgarba Nancy Party but saw his duty to truth as being more important than his duty to either Sgarbaian nationalism or Nancy, but first he erected a yurt in front of Nancy’s palace, then he dug in Nancy’s back garden and then he arrested Pål.

Arresting in Sgarba meant that Poileas Sgarba thought that they had evidence that Pål may have committed a crime and that it was reasonable to suspect this. You cannot just arrest anyone in Sgarba. You have to have evidence that a crime was committed and that it was committed by this person rather than that person. So, when Nancy too was arrested, her continual reiteration of her innocence was in a way reasonable, after all everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but also unreasonable, because if she really were innocent there ought not to have been any evidence that would lead a reasonable member of Poileas Sgarba to think that she might even possibly be guilty.

Being charged is different again. If being arrested is a step on the way to being convicted, being charged is a still greater step, because Poileas Sgarba wouldn’t charge either Nancy or Pål unless they thought there was sufficient evidence to convict them. The investigation needed embellishment. It needed to be properly embedded. The embers of evidence needed to be embarrassingly evident. What was the word the procurer fiscal was looking for?

Yes, that would be naughty. That would be enough.

But who first suspected the dishonesty of Nancy when all around were telling about her purity and her saintliness?

Well, there was one who knew that the rope that held Pål’s ship should have broken on the third night in Corryvrecken. There was one that knew that Nancy was no maiden, and her hair should have broken one strand after another as the storm blew round the whirlpool.

How did Alan know? He knew by direct experience. He saw through the plastic saint with its eyes moving from side to side with the viewer. He knew that she neither cared about Sgarbian independence nor rejoining Norway. He knew because even if Pål had been willing to endure three nights in the whirlpool it had little to do with desire for Nancy and rather more for how he might use her to gain platinum bidets. And just as the platinum bidet was for one hole, Alan knew that he had been first into another and that is why the rope should have broken.

Alan discovered that the rope of virgin’s hair had a steel core made from the finest strongest wires that Sheffield had to offer. From then on, he knew that Nancy was in an agent of Sasainn (a toruidhe or toruighe) and that everything about her was fake. He knew that the cause of Sgarbian independence or even rejoining Norway was hopeless. It was as lost a cause as that of Varina Davis, but he also knew enough to bring down Nancy and Pål as they had tried to bring down him. He was 5 times MIffed by their treachery and betrayal of Sgarba.

And it occurred to Alan that Nancy might be singing this song.

I know where I'm going,
And I know who's going with me.

You’re going to jail Nancy, perhaps for 5 years, perhaps for more and Pål is going with you.

I have stockings of silk,
And shoes of bright green leather,
Combs to buckle my hair,
And a ring for every finger.

Was it worth it for the silk stockings rather than the woollen? What did you need of combs when you gave all your hair to make a fake virgin’s rope to trick your fake husband? What did you need for rings on all of your fingers when the only one that mattered was dishonest? We have all had enough of your greens, including your green leather.

It is hard to think of a greater deception in all of human history. Nancy had reached the heights of Anna Anderson in her pretence that she was the Grand Duchess Anastasia. Her scheme would not merely have had Ponzi cheering it would have had Fonzie giving two thumbs up on his motorbike as he made Marion Cunningham swoon with 1950s fantasies of infidelity.

What would the Jura say when the case went to trial? Well Jura was on the other side of the Corryvrecken whirlpool, so it knew all about the deception.

I know where you’re going,
And I know who's going with you.

The deil knows when you’ll get out.

Part 17