Louise Bates has worked as a radio and television reporter/producer in news and current affairs for the BBC, ITN and Channel 4 News. She series edited and presented a strand for Bloomberg TV’s personnel finance programming on arts and antiques. She was a scriptwriter and voice of APTN, writing and recording news and features for all major international broadcasters. She is freelancing again and pursuing work as a writer-producer/narrator/reporter-presenter. Most recently she conducted research for BBC Radio 4’s ‘Archive Hour’. Here she turns her hand to creative writing in ‘A Eurozone Fairytale’. It is based loosely on Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ and inspired by musings in print, on television and radio on the Eurozone crisis. She is looking for a broadcaster to develop the idea with her.
A EUROZONE FAIRYTALE
Once upon a time there was an Emperor who lived in a far off golden land, bathed in sunshine and surrounded by deep blue seas. It was a place everyone wanted to go to – especially those whose lands were dark and grey most of the year. When it was time to holiday they spent lots of golden nuggets in the sunny, beach-strewn Land of Yoghurt and Honey which made the Emperor and his people very happy. Theirs was a life of complete delight and beauty and the Emperor got very lazy – playing board-games and sitting in the hot sun for most of the day – while the women, like women everywhere, cooked and cleaned and looked after the children without battering them, and slaved. Occasionally a man went off to sea to catch a fish.
The people in the dark and grey lands were very clever people and worked extremely hard. The sun rarely shone on their faces and the only holiday they were allowed, apart from Christmas and a couple of weeks in the summer, was spent in the Autumn in big tents with girls who had great big muscles in their arms from carrying big mugs. The people mostly though, strove all day, all year-long, making loads of toys which children all over the world bought, and they became very successful, making lots and lots of golden nuggets.
They had so many golden nuggets they didn’t know what to do with them. In fact it was getting to be a bit of a problem because, for one reason or another, their nuggets became very valuable and no-one could afford to buy their toys anymore.
So one day they decided they needed to form a really good club and swapped all their golden nuggets for millions and millions of silver ones which they gave to all the members when they joined.
But the club was a very exclusive club and only let in people who were really well dressed. The rules and regulations were very strict indeed.
The Emperor wanted to join the club very much because the idea of having lots of silver nuggets – literally growing on trees instead of the sour little green fruity things that were just everywhere – was awfully appealing.
He thought and thought about how he could get into the club. He didn’t have much of a wardrobe.
But then he met a nice man from the Land of Tall Buildings and ‘Wilderness’ who said he would help him.
The Land of Tall Buildings and ‘Wilderness’ man said he’d weave the Emperor a robe in gold and he’d make a crown of platinum, encrusted with diamonds. The Emperor was ever so pleased but when it came to putting them on so he could travel to the land of grey clouds and wind and rain, he said, ‘but all these things aren’t gold, or platinum or diamonds, they’re nylon and cheap base metal and glass’. The Land of Tall Buildings and ‘Wilderness’ man said that it didn’t matter.
Nevertheless the Emperor looked absolutely splendid and his dream came true. He became a member of the very special club.
Things were so good and his people were so happy, there was much delight – for suddenly all the Emperor’s children could buy lots and lots of toys that they’d never had before. It was truly wonderful.
But as time went by the Emperor’s robe started looking a bit ropey. The golden thread frayed really badly. His crown melted in the sun and all the glass stones fell out.
The club owners weren’t at all happy. But just imagine their dismay when one day the Emperor turned up at a very important meeting in the Land of…Land of…Not Very Much Except Snowy – stark bollocks naked! All his beautiful clothes had just dropped off him. It was just terribly embarrassing and the people of the cold land were very cross indeed.
But, however embarrassing it was, all the club’s terribly strict rules and regulations went out of the window and very reluctantly – for the sake of the toys (and the silver nuggets) – the Emperor was allowed to stay on. But he was told in no uncertain terms that because he’d been so naughty as to dress up in clothes that were just tat, all his people had to take their clothes off too and spend a lot of time naked like him.
Not surprisingly the Emperor ran back to find the man from the Land of Tall Buildings and ‘Wilderness’ to tell him of his plight – but he’d buggered off to the Land of Chocolate Cows That Went Ding-a-Ling-a-Ling.
Some club members held secret talks and whispered among themselves that they thought the Emperor should be thrown out of the club.
The Emperor’s people meanwhile, who were very slowly and reluctantly removing their clothes as per their punishment, had no more thoughts of toys. They didn’t even want to go out. There’s no blinking point in toys if you can’t show them off to your friends, is there?
Those sour little green fruits were no longer in abundance either and people started to miss them….a bit.
But even worse - no-one came on holiday anymore, spending nuggets golden, silver or whatever – it was a crying shame. The sun still shone, the sea was still blue but the bestest and most beautiful land of all was not even a pin-prick of vacational possibility on the minds of all the sun-free, pale-skin peoples of the windy, rainy places – not even in the Land of Strong Liquor, near the Land of the Mad Dogs. Everyone just started going on holiday next door, to the Land Which Bought Toys With Tinsy Winsy Coins That Decorate The Bellies Of Ladies Who Dance With Pointy Shoes That Turn Upwards.
The Land of the Mad Dogs, who were also pale and pretty miserable in the main -except when they got lobster-red in the sun and splashed about in the sea on a banana for two weeks a year – stopped coming too. They were just too busy congratulating themselves on not even wanting to join the club. They always knew they were badly dressed and they much preferred buying toys with slivers of tissue paper with an old but very nice Lady printed on them. They couldn’t swap their tissue paper for many silver nuggets anyway.
Things got worse and worse and worse….
To start with the Emperor managed to cover his unmentionables with a bit of cloth the club-owners lent him. But as time went on his nakedness and the nakedness of his people became a very big problem indeed. So big, their nakedness ceased to embarrass the club members and they just got used to it.
There they were turning up time and time again in the Land of….Snowy – naked from head to toe – and all the other club members thought – well, if a man like the Emperor can be naked, then we might as well go naked too. The people in the Land of the Little Green Man, for example – reigned over by a midget who was always slobbering over this useless bit of stone – got so willingly naked, the club management gave them a rousing round of applause and lots of silver nuggets to say thank you. And soon everyone in the club realized that getting naked wasn’t such a bad thing afterall. So long as the silver nuggets were there, somewhere – anywhere – then everything was fine.
But it wasn’t. It wasn’t at all….
All the people who were not in the club got very worried. They still wanted to see people in the world with clothes on. And they especially didn’t like to think these club members in the cold Lands of Beer Tents and Mad Dogs and the warm, passionate Fiery Land of Clappy Hands and Knock on Wood (Ole!!) and even the Land of Nutella With the Odd Tomato: they didn’t like to think they were all happy with the situation. And that’s not mentioning the Land of the Great Onions for God’s sake!! These club-members had been leading the way for ages – they’d even invented things like the guillotine for crying out loud!
They knew if they didn’t do something about this pretty quick it could get contagious and everyone would start going around completely starko – even them. They knew better than anyone what it was like being cold with no clothes on and it wasn’t fun at all.
They started putting a lot of pressure on the club managers and saying things like ‘this isn’t a game of futbal for goodness sake, this is about the children of the world, and toys, and making toys, and selling toys – everywhere’.
No-one knew what to do. No-one. People talked about it on the telly and on the radio incessantly. Even really, really big-brained people like Paul Mason on BBC Newsnight and Robert Peston on the News were at a complete loss.
But one day a really beautiful Fairy called Hazel flew down and said ‘I know what you can do’. ‘No’, they said, ‘you don’t’. ‘But’, she said, ‘I do know. I was Harold Laski’s star pupil at the LSE!
‘Tell the Emperor to give you back the nuggets and give him double the amount of’ (wait for it) ‘Nugget-inis. Give him time to make some new clothes and when he’s got some socks and shoes on, swap his Nuggetinis for loads of Nuggettins and then when he’s got some pants and a vest on, swap them for some Nuggettis and when he’s fully dressed give him back his silver Nuggets. It may take time and several monetary and fiscal phases’, she said, ‘but – way to go!’
And that’s what happened. The Emperor saw that the little sour green fruit trees had leaves on and they were brittle and very opaque once sewn together – no sneaky previews of his unmentionables with this fabric! He and his people wove a few garments here, a few garments there and gradually, bit by bit, slowly but surely, they covered themselves from head to foot in a lovely home-grown fashion – almost in the Grecian style.
But the best bit of all was the miserable, pale-faced, puny, white-skinned club members from the Bloody Freezing Lands started taking their families on holiday again – to the beautiful sunny coastlands that belonged to the Emperor – because they could swap their silver nuggets (and even the Mad Dogs, their tissue paper) for lots of Nuggettinis and spend them, not on toys, but on what the Land of Nutella And The Odd Tomato knew better how to do than all the Lands put together – a bit of dollchy veety.
‘A Eurozone Fairytale’ is dedicated to Hazel Everett, BSc (LSE), JP whose tutor was the economist, Harold Laski.
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