Friday 19 April 2024

A fairytale that has nothing to do with Scotland. Part 23

Part 22

Once upon a time Penelope Queen of Ithaca was writing her memoirs, only because this was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away she wrote her memoirs by means of a tapestry.

Unfortunately, her husband Odysseus King of Ithaca had been away from home for the past twenty years.

It was rather like in the Railway Children. Daddy was away somewhere, but no one said where as it was a long time ago too and English people kept a stiff upper lip about daddy being somewhere unmentionable until daddy returned at the end.

While Odysseus was away someone in the bar with the barmaid called Lynne or to her close friends Lynnie or else depending on self-identification in the valley of the ton of corn which was harvested each year, Penelope had to ward off each day suitors who wanted to be the next King of Ithaca.

If you only pick me to be your husband Ithaca will be free from Attica, but don’t worry when we cross on the bridge, I will build to Attica all we will have to do is show our wax tablet and they will let us across no bother at all.

But Penelope didn’t much care for the duties that would go with becoming the third wife of the present First Suitor of the Ithacans, nor did she like the idea of any of the other plausible candidates so each night after she had sewn her memoirs, she found herself unpicking the stiches.

Next year I will marry you she said to the man who hummed so loudly you just wanted to be safely away from hearing him, but I have to finish my tapestry first.

So, Penelope would work all day on her memoirs, and she remembered all of the time when she had been Queen of Ithaca and all her triumphs.

But then she remembered how closely she had been involved with Odysseus and his methods of obtaining drachmas with which to fight the battle against Attica.

No, it wasn’t just that the First Suitor couldn’t see the tapestry, it wasn’t just the Second Suitor that couldn’t see the tapestry, above all it was the Head Loo that must never ever see the tapestry, otherwise she too would depending on how she identified end up in Lynnie’s bar or else the valley of the ton of corn.

Fortunately, this being Ithaca the head of the Head Loo had given Penelope warning not merely about the suitors but also about the immanence of the arrival of a tented city outside the palace.

It had been embarrassing of course that Penelope’s favourite sedan chair which acted as her mobile home when she travelled round Ithaca had been discovered at the home of Anticlea but thank goodness she had put everything else down the Head Loo.

But what to do about the tapestry given that Penelope had been paid 75,000 drachmas by the god Pan and there were supposed to be three more instalments after that.

She thought of having two tapestries one that she would unpick every night to keep the Hummer’s lusts at bay and one to give to the god Pan, but every time she sewed something she realised that she couldn’t keep it at all lest she need to write a fifth amendment before any of the previous four.

But poor Penelope then not only had taken the 600,000 drachmas to fight a battle against the Atticans that had never taken place, she had also taken signed up to get 300,000 drachmas from the god Pan for a tapestry she could not deliver.

Meanwhile she watched each day as the useless Hummer, hummed and hawed and kept making a mess of everything in Ithica so that each day the chances of freedom from Attica became less and less.

Penelope needed a new strategy

Then Penelope shall lay both her hands on the head of the live Odysseus and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Ithaca, and all their transgressions, all their sins, putting them on the head of Odysseus, and sending him away into the bar of Lynnie by means of someone designated for the task. Odysseus shall bear on himself all their iniquities to the bar of Lynnie; and Odysseus shall be left in the bar of Lynnie.

Penelope next announced that she was going to divorce Odysseus as she could not bear the shame of his iniquity to the people of Ithaca and his failure to build either a bridge to Attica or a ferry that might demonstrate how easy it was to travel between the two while having different currencies.

Penelope was now free to publish her memories which she dedicated to Thomas Bowlder.

She then began her own Odyssey which took her from Ithaca to the island of Lesbos where she spent lazy afternoons listening to Sapho’s lyre and thought not one little bit of Odysseus who had justly been punished for being a liar.

Part 24

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