Brian Rose

A grim fairy story

Michael Gouda

Once upon a time long, long ago when people believed in witches and curses and such, and magic really worked, there lived a rich and powerful couple called Mr and Mrs Rose. They had money (lots of it) and influence (as rich people always do) and were reasonably contented with their lives (it's easier to be rich and unhappy than poor and unhappy) with one exception – they had no children.

That is not to say they hadn't tried. They had tried over and over again – in various positions – doing the 'two-backed beast'; they had even tried IVF (in vitro fertilisation) which in those days was very experimental so it wasn't particularly strange that it didn't work; they had tried all sorts of alternative medicine: homeopathy, and acupuncture, and Yoga, and Chinese herbs, but all to no avail (except that Mrs Rose felt rather strange from the last and Mr Rose got a bad back from attempting a Half Lord of the Fishes Pose – Ardha Matsyendrasana).

So, at last they resigned themselves to being childless when (and this you're going to find really hard to believe) something strange happened. While Mrs Rose (Perdita – her mother was a Shakespeare fan) 'was bathing (I quote from the original), a frog crept out of the water on to the land, and said to her, "Your wish shall be fulfilled; before a year has gone by, you shall have a' son." (Now why Perdita was bathing in the open – apparently in a pond – perhaps she was under the influence or some sort of Chinese drug, how the frog was able to talk, and apparently talk in perfect English, I do not know. I am merely the narrator and tell what happened. I do not explain the inconsistencies. You'll just have to take those for granted or provide your own explanations.)

Anyway, what was foretold came true, before the year was over (though how the frog knew was never explained), Perdita was (as they say) delivered of a boy. Right from the start he was a beautiful baby. He even slipped out without too much pain for the mother, nor did he cry, just lay there breathing quietly and making soft bubbly sounds. Mr Rose (Percy – unknown provenance – though apparently means 'piercing the valley' – Is that sexual? Possibly just my dirty mind.) was overjoyed in so far anyone called Percy could be.

"We'll call him Brian," he said, "and have a grand christening party to which we'll invite everyone who is anyone."

Perdita, who was feeling just that little bit exhausted, agreed. "Don't forget to ask 'the aunts'," she said.

Ah, the aunts! Percy had seven of them and Perdita six, making a total of thirteen – a witches' coven if ever there was one. Occasionally one or other of them would 'visit', usually unannounced and point out everything that was wrong with the household, the servants, the grounds, the animals, the business, the tout ensemble! This was bad enough but if they found everything wrong with the Rose household, it was even worse if two arrived at the same time – for they loathed each other with a strong and abiding hatred which knew no bounds.

What, wondered Perdita and Percy would they be like when they all arrived for the christening. Yet they could not be left out for certainly they would find out and then the merde would really hit the ventilateur. But what could be done? Finally Percy hit on a solution. They must all sit at a single table, away from the rest. Certainly they would squabble but perhaps they would keep the rowing to themselves and not spoil the atmosphere for the rest of the guests. But then Perdita found a snag. Tables were for a dozen guests only. An extra chair 'shoved in' would provide that particular aunt with grounds for a hissy fit of gigantic proportions with who knew what consequences.

Clearly one of the aunts would have to be excluded from the guest list. Percy and Perdita pondered and worried and considered and agonised and eventually decided that the most quarrelsome, the most cantankerous aunt, Emelda, who also by happy chance lived furthest away, would be the one who was 'left out'. Cleverly Perdita decided that – to cover themselves – the invitation would be sent, but so late that it would never arrive in time for Emelda to attend.

And so it happened. Brian's christening day arrived, bright and clear – as all good days of celebration must be. Guests appeared in their best or most outlandish gear. Everyone smiled, especially at baby Brian, who lay in his cot, alternately gurgling and bubbling.

"Ah that's sweet."

"What a beautiful girl."

"It's a boy," said Perdita.

"What a handsome boy."

"Who's an ickly lickly googy woogy."

"Ugh!" (narrator).

After the food (I won't describe it because it was hugely unhealthy and made with quantities of frowned-on ingredients, like cream, and sugar and fat, and lots of carbohydrates - though mouth-wateringly delicious) The aunts lined up to give their gifts. They still squabbled but the gentle appearance of the young boy seemed to bring out some element of humanity in them. One by one they offered their presents:

He shall be handsome.

May he be tall.

I give him strength.

Wisdom and intelligence.

He will charm the birds from the trees. (What's the use of that, thought Percy)

Everyone will fall in love with him. (My little boy, thought Perdita)

He will be a great leader

I give him bravery and courage.

He is kind and generous. (He'd better not give too much of my fortune away, thought Percy)

And a stupendous lover.

He will have a huge prick. (Ah, now we're talking, thought Percy.)

There was a pause and Perdita, who had been counting, waited for the twelfth aunt but what then happened shocked everyone. There was a wild, eldritch shriek (what other sorts are there?), the huge wooden doors at the end of the hall burst open and the thirteenth aunt, the one who shouldn't have received her invitation until the following day, rushed in, waving her arms and shouting imprecations at anyone who stood in her way. She looked a strange, rather frightening sight. Her hair stood up from her head in spirals and spikes and her eyes were wide and staring. She wore a long robe that was muddy round the hem as if she'd waded through mud to get here. She looked like a cross between the Wicked Witch of the North and the first Mrs Rochester – not an edifying sight!

Alarmed, the crowd drew back and Emelda rushed to the cradle where the baby lay. For a moment people feared she was about to attack the child and a security man stepped forward but she stopped and stared at the child. Then she looked around.

"You didn't want me to come," she said to Perdita and Percy, "but I did, bringing my gift." She made a strange movement with her hand as if she was dropping something onto the child. "When he's fifteen," she said, "he will get a prick and die." And she ran cackling to the door and disappeared.

Immediately the celebration turned to lamentations. Perdita let out a cry of horror and Percy cursed his aunt. The crowd, sensing a real drama, began to prepare statements for the press for they knew reporters would be round as soon as they caught wind of it.

Then a little old woman pushed her way towards the baby, now cradled in his mother's arms. It was the twelfth aunt. Now I expect you've lost count, what with all the kerfuffle and drama but if you look back, you'll see that there were only eleven 'gifts' and Emelda had burst in before the twelfth one had offered hers. Now she paused over the baby and everyone grew quiet.

"I can't cancel my sister's evil curse," she said, "because that's not what happens in fairy stories, but I can alter it a bit. The boy won't die but will fall asleep for a hundred years."

She looked around, waiting for congratulations but by then the spirit had gone out of the party and the guests sloped off, some slightly embarrassed, leaving Percy, Perdita and Brian and the aunts alone. Immediately they began to quarrel about who had given the greatest gift so the twelfth witch, grumbling to herself, left, closely followed by all the others.

Now, we have a gap in the story while Brian grows up. With all the benefits given to him by the aunts, together with his own innate good nature, he grew into a lovely youngster and, even when puberty struck him, his adolescent nature was unmarked by any tantrums or rebellions. He was blond and handsome and altogether a delightful child and young man.

Percy and Perdita though worried about Emelda's curse. What sharp object would give their beloved Brian a prick that would cause him to fall asleep for a hundred years? The worried parents consulted various experts and authorities, seers and clairvoyants. Of course they realised that there were numerous things that could inflict such a wound on Brian, all sharp things, knives, pins, needles, hypodermic syringes, swords, cutlasses, scimitars, splinters, shattered glass – the list seemed endless. One so-called archivist researching into antiquity, even suggested a spinning wheel which was clearly nonsensical. How could all these dangerous implements be somehow excluded from the Rose mansion? They tried plastic cutlery but even a plastic fork could, with sufficient force, inflict a nasty flesh wound.

Still they did their best and worried, and kept him away from sharp things and worried while Brian grew and became more handsome and strong and wise and intelligent, just as his aunts had promised.

Now let's resume the actual story. It is Brian's fifteenth birthday and he doesn't feel much excitement. There were gifts, though of course none with any sharp points on them. So it wasn't a very exciting day. His parents had made a list which ran as follows:

Gifts for a 15 year old
(as suggested by the aunts)
Buy him some new outfits, shirts,jeans,sneakers...

Go-cart. (That was interesting but because his father insisted that he be accompanied by a servant who was attached to the cart by a rope, it wasn't very exciting)

A fifteen year old girl. (Perdita put her foot down with a firm hand at this suggestion)

Gift card - condoms (No, said Perdita firmly, though Percy wondered) – start a saving account with some cash in it

Nowadays teenagers love jewellery. (Not normal ones, thought Percy)

A book! to encourage teenagers to read. You can give him a sports novel or sports history or something related to sports. Take advantage of what he likes and find something he's gonna enjoy reading. (Sensible, but bloody dull – narrator)

Perhaps give him a watch.

Tickets to a big game.....autographed item from his favourite player....jersey of his favourite team..... (Yeah, yeah, yeah)

Get him a gift card to ... umm.. like Dick's Sporting goods or something... where he can choose whatever HE wants. Or if you know he has a FAVOURITE place... fave place to eat? shop? whatever... get him a gift card there...

Remote controlled car, project that you make a rocket or model car, movie passes, gift certificates for fast food, play station games, 3 tickets to a concert. one for friend one for him and one for chaperon....

MP3 players are good

electric guitar. What kind of music is he into? Does he like NickelBack, Creed, KidRock, Greenday? Get him a few CD's of his favourite bands. Or get him a new Cd player and include a CD or two of his favourite bands.
By him an iTunes gift card, that way he can download songs.

Buy him a matching pair of lacy satin panties and bra; he will love them forever. ("Who's that from?" demanded Perdita. "Guess," said Percy heavily.)

The day wound to its conclusion and, slightly bored, Brian wanders around the house, looking for something to make his birthday special. He climbs the stairs to the first floor (what you Americans would call the second), then to the second (third) and finally to the attics. (I told you that the house was a mansion).

Up here there's dusty shapes of unwanted furniture, covered in even more dusty drapes. Dust, and dust and dust. Finally he finds a small room and is somewhat startled to see (You've guessed it. Wasn't so hard was it?) a little, shrunken old woman sitting at a strange sort of machine which consists of a large wheel, a treadle and yarn whizzing round ending up wound on a sort of bobbin expertly handled by the crone.

Brian is surprised rather than startled. Presumably this is a servant doing one of her jobs, though certainly one that he's never seen before.

"What are you doing, madam?" he asks. (I told you he was a polite young man.)

"Do you want a go?" she asks.

At this moment something should have told Brian that he was treading on dangerous ground, that his fate was about to take a leap into the darkness, but of course it didn't.

Blithely he walks to the odd machine, sits on the stool, places his foot on the treadle, whirls the wheel, attempts to catch the thread on the spindle and – well, do I need to tell you? – pricks his finger.

"Ouch," he says, banally, "I've pricked my finger."

On which Emelda, for of course it is she, cackles and disappears, and everything in the house drops off to sleep, and by everything I mean everything. Even the spiders in the webs doze off and a bluebottle panicking gets an intermission before its fate eventually takes hold.

Now there's a bit of a problem here. The article in Wikipedia explains it well so I will use its exact words, hoping that I'm not infringing copyright:

"In the story of Sleeping Beauty, Princess Briar Rose is cursed to prick her finger on a spinning wheel, thus causing her to fall into a deathlike sleep. The origins of this folk tale are sometimes debated by spinners, as most spinning wheels themselves lack a point upon which pricking a finger is possible. One suggested explanation is that Rose pricked her finger on the point of a distaff. Another theory, proposed by master spinner Alden Amos suggests that Rose caught a bit of mouldy flax (called boon) under a fingernail and suffered an allergic reaction."

Make up your own mind as to what happened to Brian.

* * * * * *

A hundred years pass.

* * * * * *

And lots of things happened during that time. There were wars and rumours of wars as both St Matthew and St Mark have it. Governments stumbled and fell, and new ones arose to take their place. Men and women made love in whatever ways they wanted and also with whom they fancied, and were respectively reviled and praised by fundamentalists and liberals. In short, life carried on as usual – except that in the Rose mansion, nothing stirred and after a while, even the postmen and milkmen (sorry post/milk-persons) stopped calling.

The gardens around the house though seemed not to be affected by the curse for everywhere brambles, thorny shrubs and weeds grew, and thicker and thicker became the undergrowth so that, after a while, it was impossible to get through.

And a story arose of the great prize that existed there in the middle of the waste ground and various people tried to get through but, as the story has it,
'from time to time kings' sons came and tried to get through the thorny hedge into the castle. But they found it impossible, for the thorns held fast together, as if they had hands, and the youths were caught in them, could not get loose again, and died a miserable death'. (Ah!)

At last, though, when a hundred years were up, a young Prince, dark as the Devil, with a face and body so handsome that even the straightest of guys felt attracted to him, arrived in the locality, heard the story and wanted to claim the prize.

"Don't try it," advised an old man, who might (or might not have been Emelda's son, but doesn't appear again so don't worry about it). But the Prince would not be dissuaded and approached the fearsome place, full of briars and thorns and brambles, above which only the highest part of the mansion showed.

Around it grew a thick tangle of noisome plants with sharp thorns which seemed about to tear the flesh from the Prince's pliant young body yet at his approach they drew back turning aside their spiky points as if they did not wish to desecrate so perfect a skin. (I told you there was magic from time to time in this story.)

He found the house. its door standing open and inside, people, animals and everything lying around apparently asleep. But something drew him upstairs to the top of the house where in the attic he saw a young man, blond and lissom (whatever that means) lying on a bed.

The Prince approached, fancied what he saw, bent over, fearing that the young man was dead. But the chest rose and fell and the Prince could feel the sweet breath on his cheek as he bent over him. The lips were seductive and demanded (and got) a gentle kiss which became fiercer and fiercer as the Prince felt a response.

Brian's eyelids fluttered and he stared up unto the dark, bottomless eyes of his rescuer. "A prick, a prick," said Brian waking.

The Prince looked at him in a calculating way. "Of course I have," he said, and then fumbling with Brian's nether garments, "and so have you. And what a monster!" (this was one of the aunts' gifts.) The Prince clasped it and it grew and grew in his hands (remember Brian hasn't had any sexual relief for one hundred years. (Wow)

So the Prince stripped himself and then did the same for Brian who was still slightly sleepy and not sure what was going on. Soon though they woke fully (I think I mean they were fully aroused) and the Prince, who was quite well-versed in the ways of the (gay) world, showed Brian the 69 position, and the 70, and the 71 etc. For those who are not sure what 70 is, just imagine 69 plus one, digit or tongue in a suitable aperture. Add finger numbers as you count up.

Then the prince introduced Brian to yet another custom which Brian had never tried before (he after all had only had solitary sex up until then) but which, after a bit of discomfort, he decided he liked, and the Prince, (who was ambisextrous) let him do it to him, which was just as exciting, though in a different way.

Now, hang on a minute. Someone is bound to say that this is illegal. Brian is fifteen and below the age of consent, even in the liberal European Union, but – and you lawyers get this – in years Brian is actually 115 years old, even though he may look like a young adolescent – so get out of that!

Finally in a tumultuous embrace, they both came and the Prince marvelled at the amount of squidge that Brian produced (but then, he'd been saving it up for some time.)

And, at that moment everyone awoke, and Brian took the Prince down to introduce him to Percy and Perdita, as his boyfriend. And Percy wondered whether the birthday gift of a matching pair of lacy satin panties and bra had been a good idea after all. But, seeing Brian's obvious happiness, they got used to it.

Sadly the affair didn't last; the Prince wasn't looking for a long-term relationship, being himself a bit of a 'wanderer'. He liked the baths and cottaging and casual sex which, in the end, did for him – another story.

But Brian, freed from the curse which had hung over him for so long, blossomed and came out (decloseted) and soon found someone nearer his own rank and station (middle class though rich) with whom he settled down – and of whom even Percy and Perdita, after a while, approved. So, in spite of various domestic tiffs, they lived happily ever after – which is how a fairy story ought to end.


Adapted from the story 'Briar Rose' by the Brothers Grimm (English Version as you'll know is entitled 'The Sleeping Beauty')

If you'd like to comment, please email michael@tanyardbank/

Date started: Sunday, October 22, 2006
Date Finished: Sunday, October 29, 2006 11:03
Words: 3,445


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