12 January 2010

A tale of tales

Sit back and I will tell you a tale. A tale of a woman telling a tale of a woman who told tales. With musical accompaniment.

Once upon a time in her youth, Rosa discovered classical music, and discovered that she liked it. She liked the music of Rimsky-Korsakov very much indeed, and her favourite of all was Scheherezade.

Fortunately for Rosa, many other people also liked classical music and Scheherezade, and she listened to a radio station that played it for her and all the other people that listened.

When Rosa discovered she was pregnant, she was very happy. She played classical music in her car, and in her house, and on her computer. Nobody knows how much the bump heard as it travelled around with her, but it is an undisputable fact that Son of Rosa also liked classical music, and his favourite was Scheherezade.

It came to pass that one day, Rosa and Son of Rosa were on a long drive together. As they drove along the motorway, Scheherezade came on the radio and they turned it up and listened to it together. Son of Rosa was a very curious boy much given to asking questions, which Rosa did her best to answer, for she felt that being given answers to your questions in life is a Very Good Thing. And so Rosa and Son of Rosa found themselves discussing the tale of Scheherezade, and from there the tales of Sinbad the Sailor, and Aladdin, and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, for these were tales she remembered from her youth.

Just like Rosa, Son of Rosa loved reading and tales even more than classical music, and he begged his mother to read to him the tale of Scheherezade, and from there the tales of Sinbad, and of Aladdin, and of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Rosa remembered that she had read the Tales from One Thousand Nights in her youth and promised that she would.

In fact, Rosa still even had the book from her youth, and when Son of Rosa asked, she found it and opened it to read to him at bedtime.

But the book was old, and things were not as Rosa remembered from her youth. She feared that she had made a terrible mistake when Son of Rosa asked what it meant that the Queen was found in the arms of a Negro slave, but she tried. She explained about the Bad Things that are slavery and racism, and why he should never use That Word. She explained that the Queen had been found kissing someone that was not her husband, and that this too was a Bad Thing. She feared that worse was to come, but she loved Son of Rosa very much and she had promised, so she continued with the story.

She read, and she read, until she came to the next page. When the next Queen and her slaves all took their clothes off and the Queen prepared to be unfaithful to her husband, Rosa closed the book with a snap and would read no more.

Son of Rosa was sad and asked why he might not hear the rest of the tale, and Rosa did confess to her son that the tale was Too Naughty For Children, and picked up the tale of the Fantastic Mr Fox instead, and Son of Rosa was happy.

Rosa suspects that, some day soon, Son of Rosa will find the Tales from One Thousand and One Nights in the bookcase and read it for himself. She knows that this is the way of children everywhere, and that it is as inevitable as Son of Rosa one day playing the collection of rap CDs with naughty words belonging to Husband of Rosa. She feels that, while Son of Rosa's life will be improved by contact with classic literature, her own life will be much improved by not knowing. And so she has returned it to the bookcase and not hidden it.



  1. Lol! I'm wondering if, as a child, you read the tale on your own and the *cough* subtle nuances went over your head. The Boy is too smart for words and you're a good mum for answering all his questions.

    I encouraged my 8 year old daughter to read A Wrinkle in Time a few months ago, but alas, our little daddy's girl found herself too depressed with the thought that the girl's father was 'gone'. Guess she's not a fan of angst.

    But a less impressive example is that we thought the kids were old enough to watch and enjoy the Movie 'Grease'. I saw it with my mother when I was 8 after all! OMG! Smut, filth and more smut! I only remember the singing!

    I told my mother that I 'misremembered' how smarmy the movie was, the nuances must have gone over my head. She replied, "I guess they went over *my* head too, because I only remember the singing!"


  2. LOL, I'm sure you're right! I remember Grease being harmless, and the only things I remembered about 1001 nights were the adventure bits like Sinbad being carried away by the Roc, and me thinking that honey cakes sounded pretty darned tasty.

    He was on the dodgy stuff like a flash:

    "What does it mean, 'In the arms of'?"
    "What's a slave?"


  3. Wonderful story, well told. I love your writing. And have I mentioned, I'm glad you're posting again? Cuz I am.


  4. Thanks :-)

    Does this mean you're picking up the pen again? Poor Emma has been kicking her heels on the island for a very long time now. If she doesn't make a move soon, the hot man in the store is going to find someone else.


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