Nonsense at its very best. I hope I have done Milligan and Dahl proud.
The Ballad of August Grey.
Part of the Gowal Fables series.
August Grey was a miserable girl.
Her only friends, the dull clouds that followed her. The only chorus in her life, the steady patter of drizzle that accompanied her footsteps where ever she went. Even indoors she squelched where ever she trudged and brought gloom and despair to all and sundry. Chat to her and you will immediately discover she hasn’t a pleasant thing to say about anyone or anything.
Now you have to understand, August Grey has had a pretty normal and technically pleasant existence. Both her parents are alive and well and still living together. She has wanted for nothing and nothing drastic or terribly negative has ever befallen her or her kin.
However, no matter what day it was, whether rain or shine, Christmas or New Year, birthdays or weddings, August Grey cast a damp shadow over the proceedings and the people.
‘I never get the presents I want. And why do I always get coal for Christmas?’ she would whine.
‘This dress makes me look like a cake.’ she would infer.
‘The astrologers lied to me’ she would moan.
‘How come I never win the lottery?’ and etcetera.
One fateful day a tall, handsome, curiously generous and dashing young prince randomly happened by and cut her head off with his magic sword. August Grey immediately turned into a beautiful princess, complete with a beautiful new head and exquisite features. The dowdy young gentlemen with the great physique immediately whisked her up in his brawny arms and begged her to marry him. He promised they would live together, forever and happily ever after (as is the convention) and that she would want for nothing.
Although August Grey begrudgingly accepted she was still morbid and morose, even with her new grandiose Disneyesque looks. Before the engagement could even get off the ground August Grey had deflated the whole happy scenario with her drab outlook and miserable moaning despite her luxuriant new persona and lifestyle.
‘My ring finger is sore’
‘This new Giorgio Armani dress is itchy.’
‘My ear wax smells funny’
‘These swan ribs are too tough.’
‘The Paparazzi always get my bad-side.’
The handsome young prince couldn’t understand it and it wasn’t long before he couldn’t bear to be around her moodiness. As he was quite foppish and well-to-do he immediately jumped ship and went off to look for a more suitable bride; one that resembled the equine countenance which he was expected to marry.
“Cheerio, what! Whaa, whaa, whaa!” He said as he disappeared into the distance in his chauffeured Bentley.
So August Grey was left to her own devices, and although she had a lovely shiny new face, nothing changed…Apart from, within the week her large, twinkly-eyed, pouty, porcelain features reverted to their predecessor’s usual guise. A face farce if you will.
Nothing could excite her, nothing could cheer her. Everything was a pain and a chore. There were no silver linings to her horizons. It was as if August Grey was determined to be damned miserable and try and drag everyone else down with her. It appeared she was only ever truly happy when everyone around her was as grey as she. A mood hoover if you will.
Time passed, events befell the world. Some tragic, like that Earth Quake in the lesser known Little China District of Old Cambridge Town. Some happenstances were amaze-balls, like that homeless gentlemen winning the Euro Millions Jackpot. But August Grey, now a fully grown woman, was unfazed. She revelled in her own misery.
‘I’m entirely certain that the starving Ethiopians are no less miserable than I. I bet they don’t have a huge credit card bill to pay off’ she would often say.
‘I’m far more unhappy than that child who has just lost their entire family to a zombie apocalypse. At least they don’t have to write so many Christmas cards this year’ she would whinge.
It was as if she craved to be the unhappiest person alive.
Later on in life, a few years down the lane a Buddhist monk happened by intent on changing middle aged August Greys’ life view. In order, of course, to help her see things more positively and live a worthwhile life. After just three days of trying to teach her the finer points of his spirituality he threw in the towel, or toga, and was seriously considering rejecting Buddhahood altogether on account of being made to feel so miserable.
Then on a later and entirely different and brand new fateful day The Gowal happened by unannounced. The Gowal is half owl, half goat and point-three percent recurring parts Honey Badger. And he was more than a match for anyone at Masters Tiddlywinks. He had heard of August Grey and her miserable ways and took pity on her.
He offered to take August on a mystical voyage across space, time and reality; show her the wonders of this world and others in the hope she would see the true beauty and benefit of life and nature.
‘Won’t you change your mood for the good of humanity?’ Said he. ‘See, there is a bright and beautiful world out there. And true too, tis’ a bright and beautiful life! Lo, you have been blessed with life!’
However, after being sat with the miserable git for some considerable time, the Gowal soon realised how sad she was and not about to change her ways.
‘My face feels all furry,’ she would moan.
‘My teeth are too pointy and they aren’t white enough’ she would whinge.
‘Sod this you miserable thing,’ said the Gowal at last. ‘I’m off. You’re never going to change and you’re bringing me down with you. I’m the happiest most delightful fantastical fictional character around. I can’t work with this!’
And so the Gowal flew away in his favourite rocket ship perhaps never to return again, his soul and heart tarnished forever by merciless mardiness.
And so it came to pass that crooked old August Grey lived to a ripe-ish age of sixty five and three twelfths. When she finally died no one came to her funeral. No-one wept. And no one missed her. Therefore it would have been right and just that the name, August Grey, vanished into the mists of time never to be mentioned ever again.
But wait. Harken!
T’was only after a month or so of her departing this mortal coil that strange things started to occur in the graveyard wherein August Grey was interned.
Flowers had taken over the whole sanctified scene.
There were blooms of all colours, species and fragrance. Every time the wheezy, knackered, old gardener hacked them back, in order to respect the other head stones and their occupants, the very next morning the whole garden of death was alive and blooming again. The source, seeming to stem from the stone marked, August Grey.
The resident vicar, whom had just returned from the Costa Del Sol, couldn’t believe it. The prolific plants were taking over the whole hallowed haven. Overnight, August Greys’ grave became a world phenomenon and people gathered from all around the globe to see it.
The greying, former Buddhist monk was in awe. The dashing and now distinguished, V shaped prince was aghast. August Greys’ former work colleagues and neighbours all gathered round to see the impressive, if not unruly, paradise garden spawning from her tomb.
Even the chairpersons of the Royal Horticultural Society and the Royal Botanic Gardens both agreed that this was madness and a slight against God and science.
The bewildered congregation all looked to one another for an explanation as to what was occurring.
Then the familiar and all too lovable Gowal returned on his steam-powered hovercraft and said with a grin, ‘I get it now! I finally worked it out!’
Everybody stared at him with either mistrust or conjunctivitis in their eyes.
‘Do you not see?’ chuckled he to everyone assembled. ‘It’s your outlook that should have changed, not the outlook of this late moody wretch?’ proffered the Gowal, indicating Augusts’ grave with a florid wave of his arms.
Now even more perplexed, the crowd elected to ignore him. There was a rowdy jeer from the back, possible from the sangria-soaked vicar.
The wise Gowal was unperturbed and took centre stage next to August Greys’, now quite remarkable, headstone. ‘She was a morose magnet! She absorbed the negativity out of the world so we semi-normal people didn’t have to deal with it.’
The odd pair of earnest and curious eyes met the Gowals’. A few ineloquent murmurs rolled around the congregation.
‘Rubbish!’ jibbed the vicar, through a mouthful kebab, then added ‘Hairy bottoms!’ for good measure.
The Gowal rolled his eyes and carried on unabashed ‘She wasn’t bringing you down with her, she was trying to extract your negativity! The negativity that was already there. Or at least she was trying to distract you from it by shouldering it herself.’
The crowd shuffled their feet uncomfortably.
The Gowal turned to a cluster of ex-office workers. ‘I’ll wager that every time she said, “I hate Mondays”, you fellows felt a whole lot better for it. Or at least decided to be more jovial for the rest of the day rather than be glum like her?’
August Greys’ former co-workers and employers, exchanged glances then reluctantly nodded their heads.
‘Every place she had ever been employed now works in peace and harmony. I’m willing to wager that prior to her employment the general feel in the office was typically moody and dire, just given voice by August.’
As the general feel and sound of acceptance and agreement washed over the crowd the Gowal began to caper around the head stone excitedly as he continued.
‘Every wedding she ever attended, the couples are still together happily married as if they were still on their honey moon.’
Tin wedding anniversary-ists Mr and Mrs Babysmith reluctantly nodded their heads, then shared a mischievous, surreptitious, twinkly-eyed glance.
The crowd was silenced as they pondered this for a long, awkward moment.
‘This venerable late August Grey had been extracting your unhappiness all her life. Only now that she has been laid to rest has that negative energy been turned into something pure and hopeful and beautiful.’
More embarrassed murmurs. More embarrassed feet shuffling.
‘…Every birthday party she’d ever crashed she couldn’t help but voice the rude truth in the back of the birthday-ees head: ‘Why the hell did they buy me this? What am I supposed to do with it? Don’t they know me at all?’
A gentlemen at the back of the group with a birthday helium balloon piped up, ‘yeah! And why is it I always get pants every year? What are you people trying to tell me about my underwear and hygiene habits?’ The gathering grumbled a concurrence. The birthday balloon choose that moment to fly way with a rather comical, albeit puerile, rasping sound.
‘When my dog died I was mortified.’ Piped up a person petting a new-born pup. ‘August said something completely inappropriate about taxidermy which made me very angry. But now I realise her intervention made me stop feeling sad about losing, Bono. ’
The congregation gave pause and stared down at their toes in silence. A gentle breeze lifted across the graveyard as playful birds and insects danced amongst August’s quivering, bountiful bouquet…
Without warning the former Buddha leapt forth from the mob. He whipped out a cordless beard trimmer then set about shaving his funky facial hair and scalp. He then donned an orange robe found somewhere about his person and began to chant in the lotus position.
The dashing Prince immediately got down on one knee and proposed to the ugliest, Neanderthal female pauper he could find (ever the classical romantic he often kept a selection of expensive shiny rings about his person for just such an incident).
Seeing that he had made his point, the jubilant Gowal snatched up the nearest, differently abled, starving, orphaned child and whisked him or her away to have a fantastical adventure across time, space and reality on his magical flying supermarket trolley.
From that day forth August Greys’ grave became a focal point of pilgrimage for anyone and everyone in need of an uplift and to pay homage to such a martyr. She is a symbol of optimism and hope. Every miserable person who stands before her grave feels relieved as if a great burden of negativity is lifted. And for each and every new visitor, a fresh, beautiful flower would immediately pop up and instantly bloom…
…And everyone and anyone who ever spent any time with August Grey or her flowery tomb lived truly, remarkably, unfeasibly happily ever after.
The Very Actual End.