Romancing The Crone..
Images conjured by contrasting light and dark, frivolity and danger (underlying or overt), romance and betrayal, innocence and trickery..are experiences at the heart of all writing and art. Bewitched by Shakespeare’s “Macbeth’ early on – I was astonished to find in later life that when Scotland and I finally met – it didn’t disappoint. Far from it. I remain forever entranced by Scotland’s magical myths and majestic landscapes.
Written by Robert Burns in 1790, ‘Tam O’Shanter’ recounts the experience of a drunken farmer returning to his home late at night, on his pony. Passing a kirk , he witnesses a satanical ceremony in progress. Delighted by the sight of one comely young witch, he shouts out, and alerts the gathering to his presence. His pony gives up her tail to the witch in the ensuing pursuit.. and Tam eventually escapes. Some say that Burns was inspired by a Galloway tale set around Dalry, in Kirkcudbrightshire – rather than in Alloway as the poem recounts.
No doubt the story, or stories, have mutated with the telling. As will the stories of today for future generations. Humans will always have contrasting opinions, different interpretations of events to add to those of others. Today gossip and bullying are more dangerous with the capability of social media to spread words like literal ‘wildfire’. No-one is guaranteed of being ‘safe’from the flames.
Developing a ‘thick skin’ where possible; and using the experience to nurture personal creativity has historically provided the rich body of art, literature and song that continue to inspire. After all – it would be a boring existence without the stuff of human drama around which to hang a tale. I’m currently relishing the research involved in designing future artwork; and, newly for me, writing a first piece of fiction.
Central to this research (providing rich material around which to write/draw some great characters) are my recent first-hand experiences of the unsettling effects of gossip – along with the accompanying sense of temporary ‘paranoia’. The effects on the young, and therefore vulnerable, can be devastating – as seen in recent widely reported cases. Let’s do everything in our power to support and develop confidence in young people. Luckily I’m old enough, and robust enough to know ‘better’ than to let it get to me. I’m able to process the ongoing gossip rationally .. and to distinguish what actually happened from what others have made it mean. It becomes rapidly clear where to place your trust (not always where you originally thought you should) …and when to run like hell, catch your breath – and laugh out loud at your lucky escape.
It has been said that gossip is the product of an idle mind. So – gossips – listen up .. make yourselves useful. Elsewhere. The rest of us are busy.
Postscript:- Dear Macbeth.. It wasn’t a good idea to “get into bed with” the Old Witches. They made mincemeat of you. But what a wonderful story it made.