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St. George & the Dragon (the alternative legend)

by Keith Miller
Initially I intended this to be a straight-forward re-telling of the legend of St. George in rhyme but somehow, after the first couple of verses, it seemed to go off in a completely unexpected direction. In case my mother should read this, I feel that I should apologise in advance for the bad language about half way through. In my defence, however, I would like to point out that this is a direct quote (albeit taken somewhat out of context) from the script of our last play, performed just 2 weeks ago, so I was clearly inspired (or corrupted) by my part in that play.

In old Silene, that quaint old town
Where nice folks chose to settle down
The neighbours helped each other out
And no-one was in any doubt
That this was quite the nicest place
Discovered by the human race

Outside the town of old Silene
There stood two hills, and in-between
A lake so beautiful and clear
That folks would come from far and near
To take the water which, they say
Will wash all nastiness away

As Silene’s reputation spread
It went to certain people’s heads
A trade sprung up in souvenirs
– A course that always ends in tears
As tourists came in greater number
They woke a monster from its slumber

The legend of a fearsome beast
Had been around the town at least
A hundred years, but very few
Had got a plan in case it’s true
Just one old man claimed a solution
And he was in an institution

Back at the lake, and most of us
Have never seen a dragon, thus
The rules of dragon etiquette
Are new to many folks, and yet
If one rule’s obvious, it’s surely
Don’t wake a dragon prematurely

The dragon roared and raised its head
The merchants grabbed their stock and fled
Parents grabbed their kids and ran
Which seemed, by far, the wisest plan
The dragon said “That’s odd, they’ve vanished
That’s such a shame – I’m feeling famished”

A dragon, after hibernating
Is not a beast to be kept waiting
To placate a dragon in a mood
You need a large amount of food
And passing, by a stroke of luck
There was a big red Tesco truck

The dragon smiled and said “Good-ee,
They’re doing home delivery
At last I’ll get to eat my fill
I could eat a horse, and likely will”
So he ate the truck and then the driver
And he didn’t stop to say “grace” neither

The news of anything this large
Gets quickly back to those in charge
The Leader of the Council, he
Convened a meeting hastily
And acting like a first-class twit, he
Said “Let’s form a sub-committee”

The Mayor wisely said “You prat,
There isn’t any time for that
This problem won’t just go away
We need an answer yesterday
We need someone to tell us how
To fell this beast, and fell it now!”

The Council members gasped in awe
They’d not heard him like this before
A group not known for forward vision
They’ll have to make a real decision
But cometh the hour, cometh the man
A young chap meekly raised his hand

“I appreciate I’m fairly new
To Council matters, unlike you
But one thing’s very clear to me
We need a holding strategy
Something to buy a little time
Can I suggest we go online?

Let’s order food from Sainsbury
They’ll do next day delivery
The next day we’ll use Morrison
Then Asda, Waitrose, and so on
It should be days before they click
That this is just a one-way trip

Meantime we can devise a plan
And I’d like to suggest a man
His name is George – and I’ll admit
He might be more than just a bit
Eccentric, so he’s locked away
For his own good, the doctors say

In his more lucid moments, though
You’ll be surprised at what he knows
He’s made a detailed enquiry
Of dragons throughout history
He knows their ways, he knows their habits
That, given a chance, they’ll breed like rabbits
If any man alive could do
The deed that we all need him to
George is the man, in all essentials
He has the very best credentials

The Mayor said “Let’s give George a shot
It looks like he is all we’ve got.”
So early on the following day
A small contingent made its way
Along the street and up the hill
And round the bend and on until
They found George with a great wide grin
He’d been told that they needed him
This was his chance to prove that he
Was not what he was said to be
But hid behind those crazy eyes
There lurked a genius in disguise

_______________________

“Come in” said George “and make a note
Of what I’ll need” and so they wrote
A list of all the things he listed
They looked confused, but he insisted ...

“A bottle and some paraffin
Some tar or pitch, some flannel (thin)
A cork of any type you choose
A lighter to ignite the fuse”
The Mayor responded “What? P*s* off
You’ve just described a Molatov.”

____________________

“Your perception does you credit, sir
But the choice of tools, you will concur
Is as a tiny mustard seed
Against the expertise you’ll need
To outwit a dragon – that is my
Real skill – or would you like to try?

Surprise is absolutely key
He musn’t get a whiff of me
Downwind, when the sun is in the west
And after he has eaten’s best
If all goes well he’ll be sedate
He won’t wake up ‘til it’s too late

But maybe, just in case he should
Protective clothing might be good
A flameproof vest, and trousers too
Or a piece of sacking, that’ll do
A helmet to protect my head
A bucket – that’ll do instead”
Their Health and safety rules were not
As stringent as the ones we’ve got

The date was April 23
Complete with dodgy armoury
George headed down towards the lake
Convinced the dragon’s not awake
Though George had pleaded with them not to
A crowd had gathered on the spot to
Watch the spectacle unfold
Some folks just won’t do what they’re told

Alas for George, his plan contained
A tiny flaw – the firm retained
To send the van containing food
To put the beast in docile mood
Had heard that drivers sent this way
Did not come back, and quickly they
Re-wrote the contract and put in it
A dragon-free exclusion bit

So, far from being fully fed
A hungry dragon waits instead
Still looking out for meals-on-wheels
He hears the sound of shouts and squeals
And thinks “There’s something going on
I must get back where I came from”

He lumbered back, like dragons do
And as the lake came into view
He spotted what he wanted most
Some raw material to toast
Patriotic in his white and red
A token bucket on his head
George stood distinct from all the rest
And as Sir David (Attenborough) will attest
The one who wanders from the pack
Will very rarely make it back

Poor George was quite oblivious
To what the crowd could see was just
About to happen before their eyes
But George could hear none of their cries
His makeshift helmet was too tight
And though he was prepared to light
His Molatov, that confounded bucket
Had made him deaf to cries of “Chuck it!”

The dragon licked his lips and said
“He’ll do for me, the one in red
It won’t be a substantial lunch
But that on his head will add some crunch”

At this point, George became aware
Someone or something else was there
He wasn’t sure, but thought he’d check
This hot sensation on his neck
He turned, and was alarmed to find
Two dragon nostrils close behind

George smiled a nervous smile and tried
To cover what he felt inside
With coolness and great fortitude
He addressed the assembled multitude
“The next bit might be slightly gory
But if I’m going, I’ll go in glory!”

He lit the fuse and gave a shout
The wind got up and blew it out
Poor George had played his final hand
All he could do was bravely stand
And wait for death with dignity
And wonder what his epitaph would be

The dragon reared its head once more
And, letting out a fearsome roar
He threw at George a fiery blast,
Ironically, his very last
The fuse which blew out previously
Was reignited instantly

He swallowed George plus Molatov
Then “Bang!” the dragon’s head blew off
The sky was filled with sticky rain
Of bits of George and dragon’s brain
The townspeople were quite delighted
And George was posthumously knighted

So since then, on this special date
This old buffoon we celebrate
Who legend has made out a Saint
And p’raps he is, or p’raps he ain’t
But one thing must be said, it’s clear
That most of the accounts you’ll hear
Of princesses and wealthy kings
And magic swords and other things
Are just a little too far-fetched
The facts are mercilessly stretched
The truth is rather more succinct
The mighty dragon’s now extinct

There’s one more thing I’d like to say
Don’t lock all strange old men away
It might appear they’ve lost the plot
But maybe we need what they’ve got
I’ll leave that for your contemplation
It’s time now for my medication

Keith Miller

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