Tuesday, April 22, 2008

More Fairy Tales: Climb THIS, Jack...

Americans share pretty much the same fairy tales as the British, I think. Or at least they used to, anyway. I am finding some juicy "British-isms" in some of them too, during my re-discovery research. Some are not so much for children, I think, now that I'm reading them after I'm older. Some are downright SCARY indeed! Why did my mom read this to me as a child, I wonder? Was I THAT bad of a little kid?

A sad smile crosses Max's little dog face as he remembers Mom and the beanstalk story...and the multi-colored beans...and the family's milk-cow..and the soothing music of the magic harp. Now what part of Max's crowded brain did those memories come from?

"I'LL GRIND THEIR BONES TO MAKE MY BREAD...AND...???...WHAT???...MAKE THE LITTLE GIRLS TALK OUTA THEIR HEADS. I'M THE ONE..." No, that's "Seventh Son". Johnny Rivers. Not Jack. Maybe Johnny was really Jack. You think?

Max is a collector. That sounds better than "Packrat". One of his interests is early editions of fairy tale collections, especially the ones with rich illustrations. In fact, early color illustrations in general are an object of Max's collecting. Anybody out there have some old fairy tale collection books--in the original ENGLISH? I sadly find that so many which are available in America, even the really old ones, have been "translated" into Americanese. That doesn't give Max the wealth of British words and phases that he had hoped for. If you do, give me holler. (Please comment, I mean. If you truly holler, I'll not likely hear you.)


  1. It'll be interesting to see what other people will say, but I would doubt we would say milk-cow, on the assumption that's what cows are for, milk. Others are heifers if they are younger, or meat.

    If nobody has fairy-tales to hand, I'm sure I can lay my hands on some.

  2. I used to have an awful lot of the Ladybird fairytale books. They were very sweet little stories, with all the gore and sex of the originals taken out, but I loved them anyway. I also had a big book of Grimms' fairytales with gorgeous colour plates that I can still remember.

    You're right, A - I can't imagine why we would say milk-cow. Jack would just have swapped his cow for beans, no milk involved. (Possibly she'd even dried up, which would be a good reason to sell her!)

  3. I can probably lay my hands on some for you (fairytales that is).

    I had a scary fairy tale book as a child, so scary I wouldn't read it. The pictures were very dark. I am going to email my mum and see if she still has it.

    Do you know much about pantomime yet? This has been the center of many a conversation between me and the wbf.

  4. @Caroline-Pantomime? No. That's almost a lost art in America. Red Skelton used to do that. You are too young to remember his tv show. Plus you didn't grow up in America anyway, so never mind about Red.

    Sounds interesting, despite the mention of the wbf person. Tell me more. Now, please. And DO see if MUM will send you the book. In fact, just put Mum directly in contact with Max if you please. Hmmmmm? :)

  5. What is your fascination with getting in touch with my mum? Actually don't answer that.

    Pantomime in England is different from what you are proabably thinking of, and odds are I am spelling it wrong.

    Its a theatrical way of telling fairy stories, but there are certain rules to it.

    For example, the lead male character, is played by a woman. Lets use Jack and the Beanstalk as an example. Jack would be played by a woman, his mum however, would be played by a block. "Good" characters always enter the stage from one side, and the "Bad" characters from the other.

    The audience also becomes involved. Everytime the bad guy is on stage (in this case the guy who sells Jack the beans), the audience "boos". It is also common for the audience to shout out "he's behind you" when the Bad guy is hiding.

    I don't know all the rules to it, but its quite silly. They normally run around christmas time, and the cast is often made up of has been tv stars. I'll try to find out more for you, but I am sure there's people on here, who know more than I do on the subject.

  6. @Caroline-Thank you for brightening Max's day by appearing here. You are right, then--pantomime is indeed different here. Pantomime, as an American practice is the telling of a story using only moving around and using gestures; one is not allowed to speak. The game Charades comes to mind. Pantomime is old. Vaudville. ettarose may remember. [SLAP!!! CRASH!! KICK!!!!!]

    Or perhaps not.

    I am not going to discuss Mum here.

    This British version of pantomime is fascinating though. Do you know more about it you could tell me? Have you personally participated?

  7. I have never participated on stage, but it was a family tradition to go every year.

    The last one I went to, a couple of years ago, was much ranchier than I remember it being as a child. It was fully of inuendo's. Which is another reason why I think it would amuse you.

    The primary audience, is normally children, but I suppose they have to put something in there for parents.

    Oh and there's alot of singing too.

    Its always very cheesy.

    I found a bad clip on YouTube for you: Jack and the Beanstalk

    I am sure there's better ones out there, but at least you get to see the man dressed up as Jack's mum

  8. @Caroline-I watched it. Strange. Weird. Funny though. And it brings up another point--the British fascination for men dressing in drag. Benny Hill used to do that a lot. Many others of course. In America, a man by the name of Milton Berle used to do it on his TV show a lot. He would still smoke his big cigar though, as a woman.

    You are a treasure of info, Caroline. I appreciate you taking so much time for me. I will think of something to pay you back. Although you seem to already have everything.

    You remember a movie called "An American in Paris?" No? Well, anyway, I think I will call you "A Geordie in Portland". How's that?

    Also I think American Pantomime is shortened to just "mime" in Europe and is often done in white face.

  9. I am quite familiar with the American pantomime. In fact, I went to see Panic @ the Disco! and there act involved American pantomime. I love it.

    The drag in pantomime, I believe comes as a take from Shakespearian times, where women were not allowed to act. That is also I believe the reason why the male lead character is played by a woman.

    But don't quote me on that, I either heard it somewhere, or made it up.

  10. No need to repay, I like to share (information). I do like your new name for me. I guess its not really a name, but I didn't know what else to call it.

  11. @Caroline-I think you are right about the Shakespeare assumption. Catherine or Alison would know. Have your met these nice ladies, btw? Both made a rare appearance on the blog today. That hasn't happened in a long time. (Alison on another post.) Catherine is an awesome intellectual, in my opinion, although she might bash me for saying it. She is in N. Ireland now, but is, I believe, from Wales. The delightful Alison is astounding as well. Too many attributes to mention here. Among them though is being a castle guide/hostess for Castle Fraser in Scotland. Though I don't think she is Scots.

    But I WANT to repay Caroline! Truly!

    You might be surprised to hear that Max is into Shakespeare, wouldn't you? Such a variety of interests, this little doggie. :)

  12. Nothing about you really suprises me maxy boy!

    I hope they stop by again, so they can enlighten us further.

    I love castles. My mum used to take me to them a lot as a kid. I finally had a tour of the castle in my home town (Durham Castle) when I was last back. I learnt so much. I am constantly amazed at how many stories there are, even from my own home town.

  13. Milk-cow indeed, what else could it be? A beer-cow? Although if it was a beer-cow I am sure he wouldn't be selling it for beans.

  14. all this talk about cows made marmelade sad. but then you mentioned beef a couple of times, and brightened her up.

    i like pantomime too. i have some actors friends back home who are quite good of pantomime. they tapdance too. i never learned how to do that properly, unfortunately.

  15. Hello Marmelade.

    Actually I could have devoted more time to the variations of beef breeding. Still can if you like. :)

  16. Thank you Catherine and Lolly, no way in this country would we say milk-cow. You can lecture me all you like Master Max, we have calves, heifer and cows, bullocks and bulls, and meat, in this country. No milk-cows, no steers. I thought that was what you were interested in - differences in words ;)

    Perhaps someone can do you a farming story.

  17. marmelade is interested, but let's make it a private session, ok?

  18. It may have been called a dairy cow now that I think about it.



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