Champion: Angel and the changing definition of a hero

What Ho Wee Readers, for anyone who subscribes to my Wee Mailing List, you will remember that come last update I talked about the various shows that I binged watch during this apocalypse, we’re all currently living through. And if you remember well, one of those shows was the Buffy spin-off, Angel staring David Boreanaz as the titular hero.

For anyone not in the know, Angel ran from 1999-2004 and centered round Buffy Summers’ former flame: Angel, most notable for being a vampire with a soul. It was originally envisioned as a kind of supernatural detective show, being more focused on case-by-case episodes and less on overarching soap-opera-esc storylines that had become Buffy’s bread and butter by that point. And for, roughly a season and a half it did that – and I’d say it did it really well. For while Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a show confined to its allegories – confusing as they became in season six – Angel could let itself be more flexible with the monsters and ideas it wanted to try out. Girl who electrocutes people, sure go ahead! Psychic demon who can read your destiny when you sing Karaoke? Hell, why not make him a recurring character.

Of course, anyone even remotely familiar with it will know that this notion of Angel as a case-by-case show didn’t last very long. And by around let’s say half-way through season 2, with the resurrection of (spoilers!!) Angel’s sire Darla, the show’s plot very quickly became just as soap-operay if not more so as Buffy before it. And I’m not even saying that as a bad thing, a lot of these plots were really interesting and unique – my personal favorite is the mystical pregnancy storyline in season 3 (the show did have several over the course of its five season long run, but this was by far the best). I’m just trying to give you a clear idea on what the show was and what it became: a paranormal detective show, to a supernatural soap-opera to, whatever they were trying to do with season 5. But throughout all that change the one constant in the show remains the focus on Angel; just like it’s parent show, while all the characters are given some form of development and plotlines of their own, ultimately, it’s our title hero that keeps the main share of the focus.

And that’s fine, in fact given the ever-shifting nature of both these shows, having the focus on a main central character is probably a good grounding factor. That being said if I did have one complaint it’s that, and I realised this at the beginning of season 4, I actually find Angel really annoying as a character.  

I know, I know liking characters is completely objective, and it’s not like Buffy Summers doesn’t have her share of people that find her annoying – I’ve never been one of them, but I do acknowledge their existence. And me finding Angel annoying (at least in the later seasons) really shouldn’t be enough of a topic to make a whole blogpost about. After all I found Cordelia unlikable and annoying right up to the end of season 3, when the last shot of her actual character was shown, and I’m not going to rant about that for over a thousand words. And yet what I found interesting about this revolution is when it happened: Angel is describing what he believes makes a champion.

Angel: Nothing in the world is the way it ought to be. It’s harsh, and cruel. But that’s why there’s us – champions. Doesn’t matter where we come from, what we’ve done or suffered, or even if we make difference. We live as though the world is as it should be, to show it what it can be. You’re not a part of that yet. I hope you will be.

As the main character, and a main character that is heavily favored by the writers to come out on top in any moral argument (except for season 5 for some strange reason, he was arguably doing a lot better than previous seasons) – Angel’s views on what makes a champion a champion holds a lot more wait then the other supporting cast. And come season four Angel’s definition of a champion is someone who lives morally, regardless of whether he succeeds at actually helping people. The methods matter more than the outcome.

It’s an interesting take on the concept of a champion, and strangely one that seems at least partially opposed to the definition that was laid out in Angel’s very first episode by the character of Doyle. Namely that a champion is someone who helps the helpless. And that was it, no disqualifiers, no strangely specific moral hoops, just be of use to people that need you. Under this definition absolutely anyone could be a champion, and you didn’t necessarily have to kick vampire butt to do it. We can see this in characters like Anne (a character who started in Buffy, but who comes back in Angel) who runs a home for homeless teens. She is literally helping the helpless, thus by Doyle’s definition of the word she is a champion even though we never see her handle a stake once.   It’s also notable that in her first episode we’re shown her grappling with a presumably morally dubious action, of accepting money for her children’s home even though it comes from Wolfram & Heart (the main bad guy of the series). While the episode does give a sort of work around, where she can get the money and not take it from Wolfram & Hart (Angel steals it for her) it’s interesting that the money still ends up splatted in blood (it’s a long story) that she quite literally has to wipe off. But in the end, she takes it because that ill-gotten money will do more for her kids, then her clean conscious ever could.

I’m not saying that being a completely morally upstanding person, who doesn’t compromise on their principles should be in anyway excluded from someone who saves innocents (particularly in fiction). I’m a big fan of characters like Captain America in that regard (both Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson). And if that had been how Angel had started off characterizing what it means to be a champion, that would be fine, but it didn’t and that’s what strange.      

But I know what you’re thinking right about now; Wee Lassie, this has all been very well written and clearly well thought out, but why does it matter?   So, the show Angel plays fast and loose with some of the dictionary, it’s not like the enjoyment of the entire show was predicated on it. And I’ll follow you to that peer, no there are large sections of Angel that are not ruined at all by this, fun characters, good episodes all throughout even the shakiest of seasons. You could in fact go several episodes in a row where this flip flopping on meaning bears no ill effect on the likability of their stories at all. But then, you go back and try and binge watch all five seasons and cracks begin to show.

The idea of being a champion, or at least of Angel being a champion is baked into the very core of the show. In much the same way that Buffy being a Slayer was baked into the very core of her show. In fact, as Angel goes on it seems that the word is used as the show’s version of a slayer, thematically speaking. But the difference is ‘a slayer’ was created by Joss Whedon and his merry team of writers to be its own specific thing. And a specific thing that is very well explained in the show itself. However, a Champion by contrast is not only a pre-existing concept, but it’s one that with its flip flopping on meaning, the show makes accidentally nebulous. It’s fine to tell us Angel is a champion, or so and so was a champion, but when the show’s own narrative can’t seem to keep the meaning of the word consistent, how are we supposed to interrupt that? Do they mean Angel helps, the helpless? Or that he is entirely good and virtuous? Perhaps it only means that he intends to do good? And as such when characters state with utter certainty that he is a champion or he is the real the champion, it comes off as false. Or at the very least, as a character not speaking as themselves but rather as a puppet for the writers to shill their pet.

So, I think the only question that remains is why change the definition at all? Well to answer that I could just tell you the conclusion I’ve come to, but I’d think it would be far more entertaining for the both of us, to show you instead.

So cast your eyes below, as I review several of the characters (both hero and antagonist) and see by the strictures of both definitions of the word, if they are champions.

Holtz

One of the most successful, non-superpowered vampire hunters in the Buffyverse. After Angel raped and killed his wife, snapped his infant son’s neck, and turned his daughter into a vampire, Holtz spent the rest of his life seeking vengeance. Ending in him making a deal with a demon, showing up in the 21st century and making all sorts of trouble for the main characters.

Definition 1: Helps the Helpless

Yes, both before Angelus destroys his family and afterwards. Even at his most antagonistic Holts helps the helpless because he’s still killing Vampires. In one of his first scenes with his acolyte Justine he kills a vampire right in front of her; we’re meant to take this as a dark reflection of a slayer and watcher relationship. Holtz is manipulating her, and yet I’ve never been able to get all the people; the people that had he been allowed to continue living, that vampire would have murdered, out of my head. The action may have been done for less than pure reasons, and yet it is still helping the helpless.

Judges say:

A Champion

Definition 2: Lives an entirely Moral Life

Before Angelus kills his family, it’s impossible to say for sure but given everything we’re shown of his family’s deaths, it seems likely that he did live an entirely good, moral life. Between their deaths and him making a pact with that demon, while he is consumed with vengeance, it seems likely he still lived a virtuous life beyond that. After the demon, no, his every waking breath is dedicated to vengeance on Angel; leading an idolised virtuous life is not a priority at all.

Judges Say:

No Longer a Champion

Gunn

 A good man, and a truly skilled Vampire Hunter whose been hunting the nasty things since he was twelve.

Definition 1: Helps the Helpless

Like most of the Angel investigation team, Gunn is a difficult one to pin down in this regard. When he first arrives on the scene, he is defending his neighbourhood from a nest of vampires, and putting himself in considerable danger to do so. So that seems pretty cut and dry, and yet when he joins the AI team officially in season two things become a little murkier. They all ‘help the helpless’ but much like the rest of the AI team, Gunn becomes much too reliant on Cordelia’s visions to tell him where he should help, and therefore when she is not there to give them, he does nothing. That’s not even me being unkind, that’s stated in the show itself. And then there’s season three and four’s whole debacle but I’ll get into that more later.

And then we have Season 5, which I was very complementary to in my last newsletter – but then again that was before I saw the disastrous end of it all and realised, they had absolutely no idea where they were going with it at all. But regardless, Charles Gunn has one of the more interesting storylines, with him fully embracing the power the AI team now wields as the leaders of Wolfram & Heart. With that kind of money, they can do more than just save individual victims from the things that go bump in the night. They can help with the aftermath, set up funds and homes for children that lost their parents to vampires; and really start to make a change in how the fight against evil is won. In other words help the helpless at the most fundamental level.

Judges say:

Season 2 – Champion

Season 3-4 – Not a Champion

Season 5 – A Champion, though of a different kind than before.

Definition 2: Lives an entirely Moral Life

Well, that’s the hard thing about this definition, because it’s so vague it’s difficult to attribute it to anyone. If it means living life by your own moral standards, then we could say that baring a brief time in season 4 Gunn is a champion throughout Angel. Even in season five before (spoilers) Fred’s death. The same could be said if it means living a moral life as seen by wider society, since in season 2 he is protecting his neighborhood and helping out at a homeless center; while in season 3-4 he’s still fighting the good fight, just getting paid for it. And season 5, well season five was a mess for everybody. However, if the definition only refers to what Angel sees as a moral life, then we can only assume his oppion holds the narrative weight for what defines a champion. And his oppion on Gunn is problematic, he seems to view him as a stupid if well-meaning kid when they first meet; nothing but extra muscle when he’s working for Angel Incorporated, and a moral traitor in season 5 when they’re working for Wolfram and Heart.

Judges say

Inconclusive

Connor

Angel’s son, born from two vampires (Angel and Darla) and raised in a hell dimension by Holtz. Honestly it makes less sense in context.

Definition 1: Helps the Helpless

Connor helps a lot of people in season 3 and early season 4 (arguably more than Angel). So, for a time he is a champion; however, than the main arch of season 4 happened and well…everything shot downhill from there.

Judges Say

Only for a short time.

Definition 2: Lives an entirely Moral Life

By all forms of this definition that I laid out in Gunn’s section no, it’s sad but no. It’s clear if you really look at it that Connor only views himself as a moral individual when he first returns from Hell seeking to kill Angel. If we look at it from a wider society perspective, he once again falls short, since his rescues come off as more wanting to hunt things than actually saving people. And then we have Angel, and since that petulant speech up nearer the beginning of this post was directed at Connor, we don’t need to dig that hard to find what the soulful blood sucker thinks of his offspring.

Judges Say:

Not a Champion

Angel

A Vampire who has a soul.

Definition 1: Helps the Helpless

In seasons 1 to 2, I would say yes without a drop of hesitation in my voice. But then everything changed when the Darla storyline attacked. But all joking aside, when Darla (Angel’s sire and former lover) was resurrected, Angel’s obsession with first her and then getting revenge for her turned him from a bland if inoffensive heroic character to a raging douche bag who hurt everyone and everything around him. And while this change was clearly intentional, and something that the plot encouraged Angel to move beyond, it revealed a nastiness to Angel’s character that he never really did.

But a mildly unpleasant hero is a still a hero, and then we got season three, and with the introduction of the miraculous birth of Darla and Angel’s son, Angel as someone who must continually prove that he is a champion is almost forgotten. While the ‘helping the helpless’ doesn’t completely stop, as this is still at least pretending to be a monster of the week show, it’s notable that that’s no longer the focus of the show. In fact, as I mentioned in Gunn’s section without the visions or some kind of monetary insensitive, neither Angel or his team seem very interested in helping anyone.

And then we have season 5, where Angel is counterintuitively at his most passive in regards to his ability to do heroic deeds, and his most desperate to be a champion. I found it very hard to ignore while watching Angel whine about being in charge of Wolfram &Heart (the LA branch anyway) that his main complaint was often that he no longer felt like a hero. This was even despite the fact that he’d been given proof that not only were they still helping people, but on a much larger scale than they ever could have in their previous location.

Judges Say:

To begin with, but lost his motivation for the fight along the way.

Definition 2: Lives an entirely Moral Life

Given the speech up there he clearly thinks he does, but honestly given some of his decisions particularly at the end of season 5 – I won’t give anything away just in case this mainly negative post has for some reason made someone want to check out the show, but his actions are truly disgusting – it would be hard to argue that this view of himself lined up in anyway with reality.

In seasons 1-4 we could claim that he is living a somewhat moral life in regards to how society at large sees it. He isn’t hurting anyone – which as a vampire, even a vampire with a soul, he is quite capable of doing – and he’s for the most part fighting the forces of evil. This only changes is season 5 when Angel is arguable at his most morally dubious (or at least a moral dubiousness that the writers will admit to); though strangely this is a moral failing that comes not from within Angel himself, but is rather forced upon him. By Wolfram & Heart, by the Black Circle, even by the more human members of his team. Angel is passive in his fall from grace; even the choice to join Wolfram & Heart didn’t come about from a character flaw as it arguably did for the rest of AI, but from the truly noble desire to save his child.

It’s almost as if the world bends around Angel, so that in his own standards at least, he can continue to call himself a champion

Judges say

I’ll leave this up to the reader.

So, if you’ve been following my tangent this far, you may have guessed where I’m going with this. That is, if you follow the series of events throughout series 3-4 it is clear that with the arrival of his son and all the plot-threads that came with that, Angel’s main focus turned inward rather than outward. All the energy that would have in the past been dedicated to helping as many of the helpless as he could, now stayed focused on protecting his son, providing for his son, and later in the season (spoilers) reclaiming his son. None bad priorities by any account, but all focused on the good of the few (and in particular the few that Angel considers his) rather than the good of the many. I’m not criticizing this, merely noting it as a fact in the show’s change of direction. Because in truth for the story this shouldn’t have necessarily be an issue. After all, unlike say Buffy herself Angel is not locked into his role as a hero, he is not a slayer. In the past he has chosen to fight evil in part to redeem himself, but often just because he felt it was the right thing to do – but he could stop, he could walk away or choose to turn his back on the world and the fight to preserve it. And yet to do so would be to give up being a champion; because being a champion on those early episodes was an active concept you had to keep performing. Help the helpless, or you weren’t a champion. Now they could have done this, made Angel have to decide what mattered more to him, the ones he loved, or he’s supposed great destiny. That would actually be a very interesting storyline, one that not even its parent show managed to tackle.

Except…as I noted before, the writers seemed really married to the idea of a “champion” being the Angel equivalent of Buffy’s “slayer”. Angel was the star of the show; therefore, he must be a champion. So, if the definition of “champion” as someone who helps the helpless no longer fit him, then the definition must be changed. Because in the end, that’s all Angel had. Unlike characters like Buffy or Spike, or heck even Xander there wasn’t really much to Angel. He could be blandly heroic, or mysterious, but once you got past that to what should have been the character that lay beyond, there wasn’t really much of anything. While Spike could flip flop from enemy to ally like he was having some kind of spasm, and still remain entertaining through his well-defined personality; and Buffy could confront the realities of life alongside her destiny as the Slayer, because of her innately heroic and loving nature; with Angel, you really had to take the writers word for it that he was interesting beyond the notion that he was a champion.

But the reality is just because you keep telling us someone is a champion, doesn’t make us belive it.

If you’ve enjoyed this terribly delayed rant of mine, remember to follow the wee blog if you haven’t already and don’t forget to check me out on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Goodreads for all that good stuff. And click the button at the bottom of the post to buy me a wee cup of coffee on Kofi. Also don’t forget to sign up for the Wee Mailing List by the 27th of September to find out which three Angel characters would have done better in Buffy (hint the last one will surprise you). So, until next time Wee Readers, don’t forget to stay safe, stay awake and have a very bonny day.

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The Devil’s in the Barnacle – the deceptive power of the narrative voice in How I met your Mother

What Ho Wee Readers – well it’s been a rough couple of years hasn’t it, but I feel like we’re reach end of the tunnel. Soon the only mask any of us will be forced to look at is that stupid one we wear each Halloween.  But until that day, I think it’s important to focus on the positive – and while the lockdowns across the world have had many, many downsides – one of the upsides for those of us whose situation wasn’t threatened by it, was the extra time the lockdown offered to go on a streaming binge.  To finally watch through all those shows you’d liked in passing, but never had the time to fully commit to before. Well, you’re stuck in your house trying not to dwell on the apocalypse we’re all currently living through – what else you gonna do? Wow, that was a long and rather bitter way to introduce our current topic; I apologies wee readers, I don’t know where that came from.

Anyway, long story short – this lockdown I binged watched ‘How I Met your Mother’. For those of you not in the know, ‘How I met your mother’ was a sitcom that ran from 2005 to 2014, staring Josh Radnor as Main Character Ted Mosby and Bob Saget as Ted’s older self as he narrates the story of how he met their mother to his two kids. Alongside Ted on his journey to meet the love of his life – which spans a full nine seasons – is Ted’s best friend from college Marshall Eriksen played by Jason Segel; Marshall’s fiancé Lily Aldrin play by Alyson Hannigan (from Buffy fame); new girl Robin Scherbatsky played by Cobie Smulders (before the Avengers) and finally my favorite character (yes, I’m a giant cliché) playboy Barney Stinson played by Neil Patrick Harris.

It is a show that has been accused of being a rip-off of Friends, a criticism that while I think is a little harsh and not quite seeing the whole scope of either show, is at least somewhat correct in some of the minor details. For instance, while I don’t actually think either Lily or Marshall has any similarities to Monica and Chandler, other than being a married couple – which if you’ll stay with me isn’t a similarity, so much as a common form of relationship ; on the other hand, the other three main characters do have some noticeable similarities to the cast of Friends.  Take Ted Mosby our protagonist, who is so similar to Ross Gellar that he might as well have been cloned. Hey look at that, they’re both teachers at a university, and they even have the exact same hairstyle – I smell foul play.  Then we have Robin, who while being slightly more of an original person than Ted, does have some strong shared traits with Rachel – being the newest member of the gang, dating the nerdy sensitive professor, and being career goal oriented – and Monica – her difficult relationship with her parents, her tom boyish nature and her hair colour. At last, and most bizarrely of all we have our boy Barney Stinson who seems to be a weird amalgamation of Chandler’s unknowable corporate life, Joey’s womanizing, and Phoebe’s wild mood swings, hair colour, and abandonment by her father, and reconnection with his second family years later. I made that last one sound a lot similar that it appeared on screen, but I just find it weird that two such different characters like Barney Stinson and Phoebe Buffay have so much in common.

But strange similarities aside what I find the biggest difference between these two sitcoms is the narrative voice. 

What I mean is that when we watch an episode of Friends, no matter how ridiculous the characters may be acting, that is what actually happened in their lives. There’s no hint to the audience that anything we’re being shown is a lie to the characters, or that there’s some stronger narrative force pulling them forward beyond their own dumb decisions. Ross and Rachel sleep together and Rachel becomes pregnant; yes, the people watching might think that that was done to get a good story, or heighten the drama between the on-and-off-again-couple, but to the characters that was just something that happened in their lives. The same cannot be said about ‘How I met your Mother’. Because in the end ‘How I met your mother’ is not actually show about a group of friends figuring their lives out in New York, it’s the show about Ted Mosby telling his kids how he figured his life out.

It’s such a simple plot device, and yet it changes the way we view everything about this show. It transforms what would have been a still decently funny show, with suspiciously strong similarities to Friends, into something much more interesting, and indeed memorable. For that framing device, that ever present narrative voice, provides a second barrier between the realty of the audience and the reality of the characters. To take a famous example, just because we see one of the characters get high from a sandwich instead of weed; doesn’t mean that in the universe of How I met your Mother, sandwiches are a narcotic.  It’s not like Friends where when we look at the screen all we see is the reality of that fictional universe. There are two realities of the Himym universe: the one the audience sees (the memories of older Ted); and the one the characters actually experienced (the true reality of the Himym universe).

Of course, this observation is nothing particularly new – the narrative voice of older Ted often admits when he changes things, or outright forgets facts and even the names of the women he dated. One of my favorite instances of this was the episode ‘Bagpipes’; where the sound of the aforementioned pipes replaces the actual sex noises Ted’s upstairs neighbors were making in the true reality. It’s interesting to note that in one episode of Friends Monica and Rachel have a similar problem with their upstairs neighbor, but there’s no hint of the show trying to hide what those noises actually are.  Honestly, I think the bagpipes make it funnier. But regardless, all this leads us to the conclusion that the narrative voice cannot be trusted.

And I know what your gonna say, well gee Wee Lassie, that’s a lot words for Ted is an unreliable narrator; whose okay with telling his kids about all the women he slept with over the years, but somehow thinks they need to be shielded from the reality that their father used to smoke pot. I say to that, wow, that was a specific thing to say that I entirely agree with. But beyond that, my actual point is that Ted as the unreliable narrator goes beyond the parts of the story where he obviously slips up or forgets something. It goes beyond what the audience can clearly recognize as the lie. Yes, for those of you in the deep know, I am going – very briefly – into that theory.

I refer of course to the fan theory started on Reddit that Older Ted portrays Barney as a serial womanize, and let’s face it, a bit of a douche – so that when he reveals that he wants to pursue his friend’s ex-wife romantically, his kids will be all on bored. There is some legitimacy to this theory – beyond viewers wanting to enjoy a problematic character with a morally clean conscience. In fact, Neil Patrick Harris (Barney’s actor) subscribes to it himself; citing episodes like “The Bad Patch” – where Barney and Robin are unhappy in their relationship and so let themselves go. This includes Robin losing large chunks of her hair and teeth and Barney gain 75lb. However, voiceover Ted admits to his kids that while Barney and Robin only let themselves go a little bit, this is what it felt like to him. Thus, Harris concludes, there is evidence for Ted’s revisions to his friends lives (I paraphrase of course). I thought my sandwich example was funnier, but you do you Harris, you do you.

However here in 2021 on The Wee Writing Lassie Blog, I would like to make an amendment to this theory. Oh, not that it’s not happening – giving all the evidence, and support from some of the creative talent behind Barney Stinson, it clearly is. But rather why it’s happening. That is, in the theory Ted is deliberately portraying Barney as a jerk, because he wants his kids to support Ted and Robin’s relationship. And yet in that pre-recorded ending, it is the kids themselves who reach this conclusion, and Ted who is shocked by it. Of course, he could just be lying, but giving the romantic framing of the final shot of Ted with the blue French horn – it is unlikely the writers intended for Ted to be quite so intentionally manipulative of his own children. Thus, the reality the audience must accept, is that Ted did intend to tell his kids how he met their mother – as the title suggests – but unconsciously revealed how he’s actually always loved Aunt Robin.

So thus, Ted portraying one of his close friends as such a terrible person, with the intention of pursuing Robin, is simply not plausible in the show’s reality. And yet, you can’t exactly argue that some of the things Ted says about Barney aren’t deliberately intended to make his kids think less of their surrogate uncle. I mean the Playbook alone is horrific if you look past the humour of the series. But that leaves the hanging question, why is Ted doing this, if it indeed has nothing to do with Robin?

Well to that I say, it may have nothing to do with Ted’s feelings for Robin, but it absolutely has everything to do with Ted’s feelings for himself. That is as the kind of man Ted wants both himself and his kids to see him as. A good guy, a terrific friend, a gifted intellectual, whose only flaw if you could really call it a flaw was that in his younger years he always went after the wrong woman. But really that’s a side effect of him being a hopeless romantic, something he himself has to bear, and nothing he dumps on other people time and time again. For any of you even vaguely familiar with the various plots and episodes of How I met your Mother, you may recognize this as complete horseshit. Ted has indeed many flaws – not least among which is that his absurdly specific list of requirements for his perfect woman, makes him treat the many real women he dates through the course of the nine seasons of Himym, terribly. Even managing to dump the same girl twice, both times on her birthday. But I’m not going to focus on the terrible way he treats women – not because there isn’t enough to talk about (there very much is) but because others have done so more thoroughly and better than I’d ever have the time to.

Check out The Take’s video on the subject here.

No, instead as the title might suggest, today we’re going to look at the way he treats his friends – and in particular, Barney Stinson. Ted treats Barney like shit, I mean don’t get me wrong Ted treats most people in his life like complete shit, but unlike the others the narrative passively implies that the audience should see Ted’s mistreatment of Barney as commendable. Or at the very least something that we shouldn’t condemn Ted for.

After all Barney is awful, so why shouldn’t he constantly be put down by the man he views as his best friend? Why shouldn’t he be actively excluded from the friend group when Ted no longer has need of his wingman services (s02e10: Single Stamina – where after four fifths of the group end up paired together, they no longer want to go out [even to get a beer], with the unsubtle implication they only needed to do that because they were single before, actively excluding Barney who is still single from the group. And if this sounds like it goes completely against the previous characterisation of Lilly and Marshall, who have been in a relationship from the beginning and never acted like this before, and Robin who has always enjoyed her independence and excitement in her life even when she’s in a relationship, then you’d be right. This was only a plot device to get Barney [now desperate for someone to hang out with] to invite his gay brother James over and start the real plot but I digress.) Why shouldn’t Ted think of Barney dying as sad only because of all the enjoyment he (Ted) might miss out on watching his wild antics? (s06e18: A Change of Heart – an episode in which Ted also compares Barney to an animal, again after talking about the possibility of his dying).

Of course, – we could make the same argument of all the characters. Besides a few general sweet moments, they do treat and speak to each other rather awfully. It could just be how their dynamic has grown up. Thus, to fully make the argument that Ted treats Barney badly enough, for him to cast his close friend as the cad in his stories to make himself look somewhat more heroic – I would like to highlight three separate occurrences were there were no such excuse. This wasn’t just friends ribbing on each other, this wasn’t just the swing of the conversation or a plot contrivance – at least not completely – these were three instances where Ted treats Barney like complete dogshite.

3. The Exile

In the sixteenth episode of season three, Barney and Robin sleep together. That is, it, Ted and Robin have been broken up for about a year by this time, in fact Ted is deep into a relationship with Stella (the woman who would later leave him at the alter); and Barney and Robin are both single at the time. There’s none of Barney’s usual trickery involved, they were just two people who grew close, and ended up in bed together. And yet the following episode (The Goat: S03e17) treats the action like it was some great crime committed against Ted, with both Barney and Robin consumed with guilt, and later individually confessing to Ted what they did.

Ted of course forgives…Robin, Barney however, yeah not so much. Now before anyone says anything, I don’t actually think Ted deciding that he can no longer be friends with Barney is the bad in this situation. Sure, it was hurtful to Barney, and the reason it happened was both incredibly stupid and more than a little sexist; however, cutting off a friend who you find toxic, or just unpleasant, is not a bad thing by any accounts. Sometimes friendships just don’t work and forcing them could do more harm to both parties involved, than a clean break ever could. But that’s just my oppion. No, my actual issue with this plot point is the execution and the fall out – namely the way Ted ends the friendship comes off remarkably cold and almost cruel. He tells Barney that earlier that day he was packing a box away labelled ‘things I no longer need’, and that maybe Barney belongs in that box. It’s dehumanizing and degrading, to be compared to a thing, particularly a thing that only has value so long as it earns its keep.

Sure, things can be said in anger that we don’t really mean – but the point is Ted isn’t a real person that can hide behind that excuse. He’s a fictional character, more importantly he’s a fictional character that his writers expect the audience to like and sympathize with.  There were other ways to phrase Ted ending his friendship with Barney: ‘I don’t trust you anymore’; ‘I can’t do this anymore’, ‘we’re done’. All still upsetting to Barney, but all ending with a Ted that is still somewhat sympathetic. I say somewhat because the reason for his anger and hurt, is very nebulous considering what a shift in the group dynamic it’s going to cause. Why is Ted so angry? Is he still in love with Robin, then why is he still leading Stella on? And if he’s not in love with Robin, then is it really Barney? Is it him going a step too far in Ted’s eyes? It’s never made entirely clear, which I find very irritating especially considering this nebulous anger has just banished Barney from the group.

Because, in reality that’s what I particularly hate about this storyline – because when Ted drops Barney seemingly everyone else does too.  Ted is not, nor should he ever be the thing that holds the five friends together. And yet Marshall makes note of how he’s losing the high-five calluses in his hands, and misses Barney – implying that without Ted’s approval Barney is no longer allowed to be friends with Marshall, Lily or even newcomer Robin. With the only time (Robin) being seen hanging out with Barney during his separation with Ted is when he explicitly blackmails her to do so.

If ‘How I met your Mother’ were a straight narrative to audience experience like Friends or the Big Bang Theory, then the only thing we could chalk this up to is bad writing. After all, all three of the other members of the group have had plenty of opportunities to grow closer with Barney independent of their shared connection with Ted. Marshall with his work, Robin with her similar interests to the playboy; and while I can’t think of a particularly instance Barney and Lily grew closer before the split, in season 4 she is the first one he confessed his love for Robin to. So, it’s not a leap to presume that their connection was already pretty strong. Therefore, it doesn’t completely make sense for these three characters to drop Barney, just because Ted has. However, it completely makes sense for Ted to presume they have. Ah narrative voice, you’ve saved yet another chunkily written arch – sort of, it’s still a poorly explored idea, that ends with my favorite character getting run over by a bus. (Oh spoilers, just in case that wasn’t obvious). But at least everyone’s in character now.

2. The Locket

I was slightly reluctant to include this one in my ‘Barney-been-done-wrong List’ because Robin is also hurt by this action – but in the end I decided to go through with it, because considering just how much its implied Barney loves Robin, this would probably hurt him twice as much.

First though a little background on one of the character foibles of Ms. Robin Charles Scherbatsky Jr. (Yes, that is her full name). She subconsciously sabotages her relationships. She and her partner will be going along just fine for a while, then she gets spooked (usually about the increase level of intimacy in the relationship) and she will fixate on something she doesn’t like about said partner, and start pulling away. This is spelled out by the characters explicitly during a relationship in a one-off episode; but we actually see a much subtler version of this phenomenon happening over the course of the series. Most noticeably both times she ends up with Barney.

I won’t go into the first time, as that ends for different reasons that don’t feed into my argument at all. So, for simplicity’s sake we’ll jump straight into the second time Robin has a bit of a wobble in regards to her relationship to Barney. She’s decided that she needs to find her grandmother’s locket, that she buried in central park during a visit to New York when she was fourteen – so that it can be her something old on her wedding day. Long rambling story short, she can’t find it; and so, must continue on with the wedding without the presence of her grandma’s locket. Hoping for some strange reason that this doesn’t mean that the universe is telling her not to get married to Barney. Which if that sounds like an excuse to cut and run without examining the deeper reasons behind that impulse, congratulations, you’ve read my mind.

In the end, after a lot of hoo-ha, Ted ends up with the locket – I’d try to explain how, but honestly it doesn’t really make sense. But the important thing is that Ted ends up with the locket and decides to give it to Robin on her Wedding Day, to one of his best friends. The locket that he knows Robin had decided was some kind of arbitrary sign on whether or not she should marry Barney; that for some reason she’s decided the man who finds that locket should be the one she marries. That same locket whose search was the instigator to Ted and Robin’s weird moment the previous season – when they held hands in the rain.  Ted decides to give this locket as a wedding present for Robin, or thinly veiled reason to leave Barney at the alter and run away with Ted, you pick. What I’m saying is that this is Ted trying to break up the wedding.

And that’s not just my own conspiracy, that’s stated in the show itself. Lily tells him time and again, not to give Robin the locket as it will ruin the wedding – going so far as to tackle Ted to the ground. I like Lily, she’s kind of awesome like that. Even Ted’s narrative voice implies that he will ruin the wedding, and possibly everything else, if he gives Robin that locket. And what happens, he gives Robin that locket and she tries it run away from the wedding. And if she hadn’t bumped into ‘the mother’ and received some good solid advice, she might have even gone through with it. Thanks Ted, thanks for all your wonderful help.

1.    The GNB Building

Look everything before this you could explain away through Robin and Ted’s feelings for each other – which do seem to be there in one form or other for most of the nine season long run of the show. Maybe Ted was just so in love with Robin – without knowing it – that he was just too angry when she slept with Barney to think rationally; causing him to lash out and say those terrible, terrible things. And maybe he was just so overwhelmed with his unresolved feelings for Robin, that he ended up bringing the physical embodiment of her relationship insecurities to her wedding to his best friend. It doesn’t mean he’s a bad man, just one that’s kind of stupid when it comes to relationships which is…yeah, kind of in character.

But this…no, there is no excuse for this next one.

Okay, backstory time, let’s take a long breath and say this as quickly as possible so that we can get into the ripping Ted Mosby a new one. Everyone with me, deep breath, and here we go:

So, Barney got Ted a job at GNB as the architect for the bank’s new headquarters; but when the building was cancelled Ted got fired by Barney’s hire ups and found a job teaching instead. However, to make his friend’s dream come true, when the project started back up again, Barney put his own job on the line to make sure they would hire Ted as the architect.

After some chicanery, Ted agreed to come on to the project, realising after all that it was his dream to build a building in New York. However, the plot thickens when Ted meets Zoey, an apparently attractive protester – the only snag in the new love story is that the thing Zoey is protesting now is the destruction of the historical Arcadian hotel, which is being blown up to make way for Ted’s new building. Oh dear, oh and she’s married but never fear Wee Readers, this is How I met your Mother – I’m sure the writers will fix that for Ted soon enough. And what’ll you know, that’s exactly what happens – Zoey breaks up with husband, her and Ted get together, but there’s till the tension of the looming GNB building between them.

However, after a night spent at the fairly horrible Arcadian Hotel, where Zoey opens up to why she’s really trying to save it – I won’t ruin the reason here, you’ll just have to watch the show yourself – Ted decides to take her side in the whole matter. Planning to declare that he thinks the hotel should be a historic landmark to a community that is going to decide whether of not it should be.

So, all ends happy right?

Wait, I hear you say…didn’t Barney put his job on the line so Ted could get this position? And to that I say, thank you wee Reader; you’ve made my segway into the next part so much easier now.

 It’s made clear both to the audience and the friend group that if the GNB building is not built, Barney will be fired. And considering what we know of the company he works for, ‘being fired’ seems likely to be another way of saying ‘being murdered’. Now, of course, I’m not saying that Ted’s actions – if such an outcome had happened – would have been directly responsible for Barney’s death. Of course, that blame would lie at the feet of his actual murderer. But it is interesting to note his reaction when he hears that Barney might lose his job. Unlike say someone like Marshall – who had also been going after the GNB project due to the cruel way he was treated by the company – Ted shows no guilt whatsoever, or even an acknowledgement of the consequences of his actions. Being more annoyed at Barney, and strangely smug in his relationship with Zoey.

He’s putting his best friend’s carrier, livelihood and future physical well-being on the line, not only seemingly on a whim, but for a girl he clearly doesn’t actually love, or for that matter even like most of the time. And yet he does it all with a smile on his face.

It could be easy to blame Zoey for the friction within the group, and indeed the narrative of Ted’s story goes out of its way to place more of the blame for what happens on her shoulders and away from Ted’s. Positioning Zoey and Barney almost like two opposing forces fighting over, if not Ted’s soul, then the chance to achieve his love and affection completely. For him to choose them over everyone else. But as with Barney, it’s important for the viewer to remember whose side of the story we’re hearing. Ted might seem like a great guy, motivated by a desire for love, friendship and the need to do the right thing but that’s simply not true. Because in the end what motivates Ted to choose Barney’s side is not concern for a person who by now could be considered a very close friend, or any perceived flaw in Zoey as a romantic partner, but rather in a desire to see his own dream – that of designing a building in New York city – come true.  That is, when given the chance to choose between the welfare of his friends, or the welfare of a woman he supposedly loves, Ted will always priorities himself above all others.

But of course, that’s nothing new when it comes to sitcom protagonists – thus what I find actually interesting about Ted Mosby is not that he is in fact a terrible person. But rather that on some level he is aware that he is a terrible person. Or at the very least that his actions were not the conduct of the likable guy, bleeding heart romantic, and all around lovable doof that he wants his kids to see him as. But what is he to do then? He can’t have his kids hating him just because of mistakes he made in the past. And he has a purpose with this tale – both intentionally and unintentionally – so he can’t leave too much out either. Thus, Ted does the only thing he can do, given the circumstances, he creates a contrasting jerk. A character in his story that his kids will look at and think, okay so my dad ran away with Victoria on her wedding day, and then dumped her several months later – but at least he’s not Barney Stinson. It’s not about Robin consciously, not really, it was just that someone had to fill the role of the jerk in the group, and it might as well be Barney Stinson. And who cares if he’s probably ruined his kid’s relationship with their surrogate uncle, the important thing here is Ted comes out looking good. Because in the end Ted’s feelings come before all.

If you’ve enjoyed this very long and detailed post on a passing thought, then remember to follow the wee blog if you haven’t already. Also check me out on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Goodreads for all that good stuff. And make sure to sign up for the Wee Mailing List by the 11th of August, to find out the top seven shows I binged watched during the apocalypse (and yes How I Met your Mother is certainly one of them, but what are the other six?). And help support this blog by clicking the button down below and buying me a wee cup of coffee on Ko-fi. So, until next time Wee Readers remember to stay safe, stay awake, and have a very bonny day.

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A Published Story and the Lockdown that inspired it

Only a couple days now to Halloween, that day of Ghosts and Goblins when we embrace the dark and macabre aspects of our society more than…well… we already do. A day in which society says it is not only okay to be scared, it is down right expected of us.

And honestly, who doesn’t love a good scary story?

Really any kind of horror story does it for me.

A ghost story? Yeah, that’s fun – ghosts can be pretty scary, and yet because the majority of mainstream society tells us that they simply cannot be real, it’s safe to be sacred of them. There’s a degree of separation from our societal reality and the ghouls on the screen or page. Same goes for Vampires, or Werewolves or any of the other monsters we see children dress up as this time of year.

We might even count the slightly less fantastical horror creatures of serial killers like Hannibal Lector or….I’m sure there are others, but he’d the only fictional one I know off the top of my head. Not to mention the masked killers of the slasher genre. After all, although serial killers do exist and have probably killed a lot of people just like the viewer, the statistic likelihood of you ever meeting one is probably very low indeed. So once again, they’re something scary but separate enough that they don’t seem real for us anymore.

But what happens when the scary thing not only absolutely exists, but is now a daily factor in most people’s realities? That’s right…I’m talking about Lockdown. Which before anyone rips my arms off – not that I think any Wee Reader would, but this is the internet and Trolls abound – I’m not discussing the need or otherwise of Lockdown. Honestly when we’re talking about fodder for fiction, I actually think fear of a pandemic and the fear of isolation and loss of autonomy that can come from Lockdowns, are two different fears entirely. It’s really only happenstance that they often go hand in hand.

However getting back to the actual topic, Lockdown is a thing that has affected and is continuing to affect a lot of people all over the world. People have lost their jobs over it, they’ve been trapped inside their houses – no hope of escape. Psychologically this is really messing with our collective heads. So, when we take all of this into account what we have to ask ourselves is – is this actually a topic we should be making fiction about?

And the answer would have to be, a resounding – of course we should. Not only is fiction a great vehicle to work out and express underlying fears of our realities, but the notion of being trapped somewhere – either by yourself, or with people you’re quickly loosing your patience with, is a fascinating start for really any kind of story. Scary not least among them.

So where am I going with this? Well, stand back in shock because…I’ve just had a new story published! It’s called the Rabbit Hutch and it is a Speculative Fiction about a man that has been trapped in lockdown for thirty years. Ah fiction and reality, how blurred your line has become.

If you’ve enjoyed this advertisement for my new short story – The Rabbit Hutch, please follow the wee blog if you haven’t already and check out my Short Story page, where you should find all my other published stories. Also check me out on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Goodreads and Facebook. Enjoy my story, and until next time Wee Readers have a Happy Halloween and a very bonny day.

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Small Restbites of Relief – or thank god, I don’t have to think for a minute.

Relax

Hi there, I’m the Wee Writing Lassie – you may remember me from such blog posts like ‘The Ultimate Lockdown Reading List’ or ‘The Great Star Wars Lockdown Binge’ and many more titles, sometimes not even involving the word Lockdown at all. I’m here today to ask you, the Wee Reader, a question. Actually, it’s a bunch of questions, and they’re all rhetorical so don’t feel pressed to answer them in the comments down below. Seriously, this is just part of the bit I’m doing.

Have you been locked in your house for an extended period of time, in what can only be called some kind of illegal imprisonment? Terrified you might catch the 21st equivalent of the plague? Your favorite celebrities no longer watchable after some very distressing allegations? Fighting off the slow creep of depression laced boredom and apathy that comes from being unable to go farther than five miles from your house for nearly three months? Well, then you need Small Restbites of Relief – the guaranteed way that you, yes you can forget your troubles and all the troubles of the world for even the smallest measure of time.

Warning: Restbites are not a cure for actual depression, and should really not be treated like they are.  Also, not all Restbites will work for everyone, Restbites of Relief are a personal thing and really should be judged on a case by case basis. Honestly, the only reason the Wee Lassie is doing this blog like this, rather than in a top ten list like a sane person, is because she thought it would be funny and we all really need a good laugh right now. May cause bloating and dry mouth.

Six

Do you feel physically bogged down under the weight of the corruption in your government? Are politicians you once liked suddenly seeming no longer so brash and shiny? Well take a step back in time with me, Wee Readers, into a land where everyone was pretty much just as bad, but with the proviso that they’re now all long dead – so they can’t ruin your life.

The Musical Six is a retelling of the lives of Henry VIII’s six wives, as if they were a girl band. And not just any kind of girl band either, no, a Spice Girls like band. Complete with terrible cockney accents and all. There’s something so relaxing about not having to worry if the political figures being sung about are up and about doing evil today for, like I said before, they’re all dead.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Does the madness of the world feel like it’s about to break you? Has just going out to the shops become a walk through that book with the title you don’t want to say, because you’ll sound like a crazy person? Well join me in the sweet escape of life told from the point of view of an actual crazy person. No, Rachel Bloom is not crazy but her character certainly is – and as you watch the total complete mess she makes of her life, before they put her on meds, you can feel relaxed in knowing that at least no one has ever stalked you across the country in a futile attempt to fix their own fractured psyche. I mean, that you know of.

Community

Getting frustrated about the giant hole in your tooth that should have been fixed weeks ago and is now filling your mouth with a terrible taste? No, just me?  Well that’s probably for the best, seeing as how the show Community has absolutely nothing to do with that. I just needed an outlet for my frustration at the current lack of any Dentists open! Anyway, unlike the world today, Community is an enjoyably insane show.

The show Community tells the tale of a group of roughly seven students at a community college, and their wacky teachers and the hi-jinks that follow. While characters often change, with new ones brought to the forefront to the replace the old ones after their actor either left, or in the case of Chevy Chase, asked to leave – the roles these characters played, stayed somewhat consistent.

They have:

The sarcastic leading man – Supplied by the character of Jeff, a lawyer who faked his law degree and now has to go back to college. 

The dippy freedom fighter – supplied by the character of Britta, an activist who has never once voted.

The Meta One – Abed, who I particularly enjoy not only because he’s a very likable character, and his meta humour is hilarious, but because he’s a depiction of an autistic character who isn’t also a complete dick.

The Cool Geek – Troy, a former football star who lost his scholarship when he injured himself takes this role for the first five seasons, and then kind of no one does after Donald Glover left to focus on his music.

The Motherly one – this role is filled by the character of Shirley, a mother of three who first joined the college after her husband ran off with a stripper, for the first five seasons and then sort of left empty for the sixth.

The Control freak – Annie, a recovering drug addict with a penchant for dramatics, and selling out the school at the earliest opportunity. A fact that she rarely gets called out on.

The Oldest member– A role filled by the character of Pierce in the first four seasons before Chevy Chase was fired. After which the character of Hickey – played by Johnathan Banks from Breaking Bad – took up the mantle as the oldest member of the group. Although unlike Pierce, Hickey was a teacher instead of a student. After Johnathan Banks left to go star in Better Call Saul, the role was taken up by the character of Elroy played by Keith David.

Now you might say, this is all well and good Wee Lassie, but you’ve not really said much about the show itself. Well, in answer I could say that Community is such an ever changing and wacky show that it’s hard to summarize it without either giving the game away or, focusing too much on an element that won’t be prevalent throughout the whole series. Yes, I could say that, but instead I’ll make the far more logical point and ask you if you were thinking about the depressing state of the world through that whole spiel? No? Well then, I think I’ve proven my point now haven’t I?

Coco

Not all Pixar films age well, in fact some of them are probably going to become practically unwatchable, if those allocations we’ve all heard about turn out to be in anyway factual. However, I advise not to focus on how depressing potentially losing the Toy Stories or Finding Nemo is, and start giving some attention to the properties that Pixar and Disney have not given unnecessary sequels to. And there are many such films, most not even needing big names to help tell their story – films like Ratatouille, Up, Brave, Wall.e, Inside Out, A Bug’s Life (god I haven’t seen that one in yonks) but my favorite of all of them is the film Coco. I mean for god’s sake, Coco’s aged so well you’d almost think it was written by time travelers from 2020. And no, I won’t explain what I mean by that, you’re just going to have to watch the film for yourself and try to figure it out.

Coco is set on Día de los Muertos, or The Mexican Day of the Dead to us Westerners. A festival taking place at the beginning of November that celebrates the dead, and their connection to the living.  If I’m getting any of this wrong, I apologise, this film is literally my only exposure to this festival, as I live in rural Scotland and never saw the Book of Life.

It’s difficult to describe what I love about this movie without giving away the several turns and twists  the story takes but suffice to say this film may leave you in tears, but isn’t it nice to be crying about something other than the complete collapse of our society for a change?  If you watch anything today, let it be this film – seriously it’s just the best.

Eating take out that didn’t come from those big chains

Lost faith in those big corporations that seem inexplicably to be open despite the fact that more pressing and needed services – like libraries and dentists and hospitals, remain closed or severely limited? Yet despite that, still missing the ease of a takeout dinner? Then why not try your more local takeout restaurants– which thanks to this awful, awful situation is now practically all of them. Although I say this coming from a place of previous distrust with the big chains – particularly McDonald’s – because apparently for the first twenty odd years of my vegan life, that meat fat was just so important to the taste of their chips. Chips, you have to go out of your way to make them not vegan. Ehem, anyway – try something local, you’ll be helping out a smaller business and taking money away from the big chains without missing out on having takeout.

Walks on the Beach

Exercise is extremely important to our health. This has always been a known fact, since the beginning of time humans have known that after a run, you generally feel better than you did before.  Of course, that could just have been from not getting eaten by whatever giant creature you just so happened to have pissed off that day, but you know the same thought applies. Whatever the case you’ll feel better after a nice run in the fresh air, and what’s better than then fresh air – fresh sea air, my Wee Readers! Sea air, salt water and general excise have all been found on the beach. So, take yourself and any loved ones you haven’t been forcibly separated from yet, down to the beach today – and improve your immune system and subsequent mental health.

Or at least you could, if they hadn’t shut all the beaches. I mean I don’t think they’ve done that in Scotland yet, but that’s only because our weather is so bad…IT DOES IT FOR THEM.

Sun

The Sun is a beautiful thing and you should get as much of it as you can during this pandemic – not only because of its benefits to your overall health, but also specifically your mental health. Sunlight increases the release of the hormone serotonin, which boosts your mood and helps a person feel calm and focused. Which is probably why the majority of the really fun, gift giving holidays are held at the darkest times of year when we get less sun.

So, until that one obviously evil billionaire who we’ve all collectively just chosen to trust with our health for some unknown and never specified reason, succeeds in his plan to dim the sun with poisonous levels of dust in the air  – you should get as much sun as you can.

Corona Buffy

 And now we have the final Restbite, coming in last because technically speaking it’s not a full Restbite at all. However, I mention it now because I feel it emphasizes the point that this very strange blog post is trying to make; that is, that staying up to date with world events should go hand in hand with, keeping yourself sane with moments of brevity. Which this small twitter account does perfectly, as it couples articles on deep subject matter with the ever-lovable, and often sarcastic Buffy Gifs, to make their point. Seriously go check it out here and follow this thing – they don’t post often, but it’s always interesting when they do.

If you’ve enjoyed these Brief Restbites of Relief, don’t forget to check me out on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, Tumblr and Instagram. Remember, while it’s important to stay up to date with the goings on in the world right now – disturbing as they are – it is equally important to take care of your own mental health. It’s easy to get bogged down with the weight of everything these days, and anything you can do to relieve that, even if it’s just laughing at a stupid YouTube video, is not wrong. You’re not stupid or small for getting excited for the next episode of your soap, or the next installment of your favorite book series. Wow…that got kind of overly deep for a second…well, I suppose that’s what comes from blogging during a pandemic. Until next time my Wee Readers, get plenty of sunshine, have a bonny day and…let’s hope this is all over by Christmas.

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The Ultimate Lockdown Reading List

What Ho, Wee Readers – well it’s been a very long – what’s it been? Three Months of Lockdown here in the United Kingdom – and while some of us have used that time to better themselves with online courses or learning a new skill, I personally have set my sights on getting through my Goodreads Reading Challenge. All one hundred books. I’d been planning to write this post at the end of the year after I’d completed the whole challenge, but since we are more or less still locked in our homes, I thought it would be an interesting task to note down what I’ve been reading. Below you will find a list of all the books I’ve read and the reviews I’ve given them during Lockdown, or at least most of them. I didn’t include any I didn’t give a review to or whose reviews consisted of less than two words since…well, that wouldn’t be very interesting to read. There’s no worst to best, the numbers in the list simply note in what order they were read in – with 18 being the most recent, and 1 being the least. With that said, Wee Readers, onto the list.

18. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

By Jonas Jonasson

Finished on: June 21st

A very entertaining, funny and fascinating story – I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s feeling a bit depressed during the Lockdown.

17. Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Wild Card

By Jim Butcher

Finished on: June 17th

The story wasn’t great, the art wasn’t good at all (Marcone’s eyes weren’t even green) and there wasn’t nearly enough John Marcone in it. I know that last thing wouldn’t really be an issue for everyone – but it was an issue for me.

16. Bring Up the Bodies

By Hilary Mantel
Finished on: June 11th

This is even better than the first book, and I loved that. With, and I must say this, a far better title.

15. The Mirror & the Light

By Hilary Mantel

Finished on : June 12th

An excellent book, with a very sad ending.

14. The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel

By Renee Nault

Finished on: June 6th

I loved this, a must read for anyone who liked the show or the original book. The art style was a little off putting – but giving the subject matter that was properly the point.

13. Wolf Hall

By Hilary Mantel

Finsihed on: June 9th

I’d enjoyed the BBC version when it came out a while back, and I was pleased to find that the book not only meets it in quality but surpasses it.

12. The Man With the Golden Gun

By Ian Fleming

Finished on: June 2nd

This is depressing

11. Thrawn: Alliances

By Timothy Zahn

Finished on: June 3rd

Is this book making me like the blue space Nazi? This feels slightly self defeating on the part of Star Wars – having said that, I can’t wait till Thrawn gets his first live action appearance, if its anything like this book it is going to be awesome.

10. The Neanderthals Rediscovered: How Modern Science is Rewriting

By Dimitra Papagianni

Finished on: May 30th

A fascinating look through the study and findings of research into the Neanderthals. And although they clearly don’t mean to, when they get to the bit describing Neanderthals in popular culture, they give a good list of novels to read next. I would recommend this book to anyone who is even the least bit interested in history or culture. Although I will say that it left me feeling rather sad, but then most things do in Lockdown, so I wouldn’t blame the book for that.

9. Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold

By Stephen Fry

Finished on: May 27th

A very well done stitching together of the sometimes contradictory myths of ancient Greece. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who has even the most passing of interest in that fascinating realm of mythology.

8. Joss Whedon’s Names: The Deeper Meanings behind Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Cabin in the Woods, The Avengers, Doctor Horrible, In Your Eyes, Comics and More

By Vallerie Estelle Franked

Finished on: May 11th

A fantastic look into the names of the works of Joss Whedon. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in writing, mythology, history, or like myself – all of the above.

7. The Woman who Stole My Life

By Marian Keyes

Finished on: May 9th

This is a very well written book, which is why I’m giving it such a high mark – however, it was just too depressing for me, I couldn’t finish it.

6. Fool Moon

By Jim Butcher

Finished on: April 30th

An excellent addition to a series with a very flawed hero.

5. Bloodline

By Claudia Gray

Finished on: April 20th

This is an excellent book – I would recommend this not just to anyone who felt a little lost during the Force Awakens, or to avid Star Wars fans (like myself) eager to see the next Chapter of Princess Lea’s life; but to anyone who loves a good political thriller/ mystery.

4. This Charming Man

By Marian Keyes

Finsihed on: April 9th

Just a fantastic book – but I’ll be honest I really hope this isn’t representative of real Irish politicians behavior 😁

3. From a Certain Point of View

By Elizabeth Schaefer (Editor),

Finished on: April 1st

This book was fantastic, I would read it over and over again if I could…which seeing as I bought the audio-book, I guess I can. A must-read for anyone even a little interested in the star wars franchise, just brilliant 🙂

2. The Mystery Knight

By George RR Martin

Finished on: March 30th

** spoiler alert ** “I begin to understand why your father was so willing to be rid of you.” – I don’t care if he’s creepy as all seven hells, Blood-raven is the best 😁

1. The Iron Heel

By Jack London

Finished on: March 18th – not actually in the Lockdown, but a relevant enough book that I decided to count it anyway.

So…apparently Jack London was a witch who could see into the future. A well written and thoughtful book, who’s anti capitalist message is really needed in our times of terribleness. But I’ll be honest, it was so close to reality I found it a little depressing.

Well, that’s the last of them. So if you’ve enjoyed this reading list of the basically imprisoned autistic writer / editor in training why not follow the Wee Blog if you haven’t already. Also don’t forget to check me out on Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, Tumblr, Facebook and of course, my Goodreads account. Where I am 59 books into my 100 book reading challenge. Also take a look at the Wee Mailing List for – eventual – brand new content. I am going to get it to it eventually, I promise. If you want check out the complete list of books in my Goodreads Reading challenge, click on the link and have a look. Until next time Wee Readers, get plenty of sunshine, and have a bonny day.

Just a brief note before we leave, if you’ve enjoyed this and other posts like it on the Wee Writing Lassie, why not buy me a Wee Cup of Coffee, or drop me a tip over on Ko-fi. Which is linked to the image below.

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The Great Star Wars Lockdown Binge

What ho Wee Readers, and welcome to The Great Star Wars Lockdown Binge. I know, I know, sometimes it feels like this Lockdown is going on forever. And I won’t lie, two months is a ridiculously long time to be stuck in your house – I mean if it wasn’t for streaming services like Disney Plus or Amazon Prime, I’d have snapped along time ago. Turning to more positive subjects…surprise, I’ve got a Disney Plus account now, and of course the only thing to do when one forks over the nearly sixty quid for a subscription, is to force her family to join her in the Great Star Wars Binge. Knowing of course that because they are locked in the house with her, they can’t say no forever.

‘The Great Star Wars Binge’, as I have so coined it, consists of all eleven canonical films – that is, the prequels, the originals, the sequels and both anthology films – along with the two canon series I can in anyway justified making my family watch: The Mandalorian and The Clone Wars. I did plan to watch Rebels as well, but it just never happened. We also did not watch Resistance, because I don’t care how long they keep us locked in here like we’e prisoners. Nothing will make me watch that willingly.

The scoring for each film shall go as follows:

0 – Could Not Be made to Watch

1 – Crap

2 – Just Barely Above Crap

3 – Technically not a bad film, but did not grab me at all

4 – A Good film, but nothing more than that

5 – Absolutely excellent – would watch again

Anything higher than 5 – best film on earth, I am going to binge watch this for the rest of my life. This is what I will be watching on my deathbed.

Right, on with the show.

Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace

The first installment of the groundbreaking prequel trilogy – telling the story of the fall and corruption of the Jedi knight Anakin Skywalker into the sinister Sith Lord Darth Vader. This is a highly under-rated film full of political intrigue, and questions of the true culpability of the republic and the Jedi in the continuation of the practice of Slavery within the Galaxy. Yes, the republic has less influence in the outer rim planets – but you’d still think the Jedi would make some attempt to free one of their new members mothers from a life of slavery.

Mum’s Rating: 6 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 5 / 5

Final Rating: 14

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

Jump forward a couple of years and now our young Vader is played by Hayden Christensen. Half love story, half spy thriller – revealing the first sinister steps of Senator Palpatine’s plan to control the galaxy through fear. Creating a fake war, with both sides basically under his control, a plan so dastardly and ingenious that not even the Jedi can see what they are walking into. Palpatine is awesome…I mean evil, completely evil, not cool, or one of my favorite characters…completely evil.

Mum’s Rating: 4 /5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 4/5

Final Rating: 11

Star Wars: Episode III – The Revenge of the Sith

The culminating episode of the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker, this is my favorite Star Wars film. Everything set up in the last two films comes to beautiful fruition in this tragic film in which a man tormented with dreams of his wife dying in labor – the same kind of dreams that preceded his own mother’s death – seeks the dark arts for a way, anyway, to prevent her death. In the end he ends up betraying his colleges, his friends, his family – all in the name of the power to save the woman he loves. Who dies anyway, from a broken heart. God I love this movie!

Mum’s Rating: 3.5 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 7 / 5

Final Rating: 13.5

The Clone Wars – The Seige of Mandalore

Set between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith – the Clone Wars tells a fascinating story of the war that ultimately destroyed not only the Republic but the Jedi as well. However for this Star Wars Lockdown Binge, we only watched the four last episodes – covering the siege of Mandalore and Order 66 – because it’s ‘unreasonable’ to expect people to wait the length of a seven season cartoon, before the next star wars film.

Mum’s Rating: 4 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 0 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 4 / 5

Final Rating: 8

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Or as I like to call it, Star Wars : Episode 3.5 – Solo Eleven. Yes, ultimately at it’s heart Solo is is a heist film, coincidentally set in the Star Wars Universe. And I’m not saying that as a bad thing either, the Star Wars franchise needs to grow and expand if it’s to stay relevant, and trying out new forms of story and film is how you do that. The fact that it tells the backstory of one of science fiction’s most iconic characters, is really just the cherry on top of an excellent adrenaline filled heist flick. The reason it lost a point for me was that it was so adrenaline filled that watching it made me feel like I was having a panic attack – which does somewhat take away my enjoyment of the film.

Mum’s Rating: 3 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 5 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 4 / 5

Final Rating: 12

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

While Solo is the Heist film of the Star Wars franchise, Rogue One is the war movie. I know, I know – technically all the Star Wars films are war movies, but you know what I mean. While the numbered films are grand and epic, with bright flashing laser swords and high crashing drama – this film is hard and gritty. While the other nine are flying up in their ex-wings trying to be the hero who blows up the deathstar – the people of this film are down on the ground sacrificing their lives so that those ex-wings even have the chance to play the hero.

Mum’s Rating: 5 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 4 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 5 / 5

Final Rating: 14

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

I’ll just say this now, to get it out of the way, I truly believe that the blowing up the Death Star scene is the worst part of not just this Star Wars film, but the entire franchise. It goes on much too long, and the only interesting development happens right at the end – Han’s arrival and Luke’s success. That being said, this isn’t a bad film, in fact I very much enjoyed the rest of it – just not enough to give it a 5.

Mum’s Rating: 4 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 3 / 5

Final Rating: 10

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

This is a good film, undoubtedly but I would hesitate to say that this is where Star Wars peaked. Although to be fair, Star Wars is such a large franchise – both in the legend and canon sense – that to say it peaks at any one place, no matter it’s individual merit – is the height of absurdity. Although, having said that, they never have quite topped the shock of the plot twist of Luke’s true Father, though goodness knows they’ve certainly tried.

Mum’s Rating: 4 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 5 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 4 / 5

Final Rating: 13

Star Wars: Episode VI – The Return of the Jedi

This is my favorite of the three original films, and I’m not too proud to admit that the Ewoks play a large part of that. In fact I’m even going to be so bold as to say that they are the best part of the film overall. Or at least the parts that they occupy – the ground battle on the moon of Endor – are much better than some of the parts in which they did not – that is, Luke’s confrontation with the Emperor. I don’t mean to throw shade at something that so many people – including myself – enjoy, but when you’ve just come from Prequel Palpatine’s careful manipulations of not only his future student, but the entire Galaxy, Original Palpatine’s expectation for Luke to turn and join him because he hurt his friends, is almost ludicrous in its stupidity. That’s not how motivation works, Emperor, you used to know that.

Mum’s Rating: 4 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 5 / 5

Final Rating: 12

The Mandalorian

Baby Yoda. Baby Yoda. Baby YODA. BABY YODA! Oh yeah and there’s something about a Mandalorian but be honest…that’s not why we’re tuning in.

Mum’s Rating: 5 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 5 / 5

Final Rating: 13

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Look down at those scores, now look back at me, now down at the scores again. I swear I did not go into The Force Awakens intending to give it such a high score. I still hold fast to the view that its plot is just a tad too similar to A New Hope’s to be coincidental. However having now watched both films very close together in a short amount of time, I have now amended this theory somewhat. While both films follow the same story beats, to an almost religious level – young hero/heroine from a backwards sand covered planet finds a droid with important information that she/he has to deliver to the Rebellion/Resistance so they can stop the Empire /First Order – the Force Awakens plot seems to stand as a superior version. Things that still don’t exactly make a great deal of sense to me in a New Hope – like why were the plans for the death star being sent to Obi Wan Kenobi specifically – seemed to go far more smoothly in this new version of the story. In the Force Awakens, Rey finds the droid by accident and then bumps into Finn determined to finish Poe Dameron’s last mission, again by chance. The resistance itself doesn’t give the call to adventure for these two heroes, unlike Luke and Kenobi. I mean I know you could say that Lea was under attack and she had to think fast – but Rouge One reveals that it was always the plan to give Kenobi the plans, so I’m not sure what the endgame was for that idea.

Mum’s Rating: 5 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 8 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 5 / 5

Final Rating: 18

Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

I will stand on my pedestal and say that this is absolutely the worst of the three sequel films. Of course, saying that is less of a condemnation than you’d think. I genially think that taken out of context, all three films are well made, good films that anyone would enjoy. However in the context of the Star Wars franchise, I don’t think it adds much – I did like the emphasis on the force being something that belongs to everyone rather than just the Jedi, but that was completely disregarded in the next film so it didn’t really matter .

Mum’s Rating: 4.5 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 4 / 5

Final Rating: 11.5

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker

I liked this film. It was a good fun film, its story was exciting and it didn’t rely on just copying the plot from the originals like the first two sequel films did. Also – and I know many people may disagree with me on this – but I liked where the characters ended up in their respective arcs. That being said, I’d be lying if I claimed the addition of Palpatine in this film didn’t feel a bit tacked on to the overall sequel trilogy’s story.

Mum’s Rating: 5 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 4 / 5

Final Rating: 12

In the Race for which is the superior Star Wars property – that I was able to make the others watch – we have:

In the rear The Clone Wars, limping along with an 8, from two people that enjoyed it but didn’t love it.

Barely two points ahead we can spot Episode IV: A New Hope, lagging with a 10.

Just a step beyond that you can see Attack of the Clones with a proudly won 11, and the only interesting love story in all of new canon. With the Last Jedi, only a hair’s breath in front with an 11.5.

Next up we have the shocking trio of Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker and Solo: A Star wars Story, each sporting a shinny new 12 to their name.

Baby Yoda and his Mandalorian guardian are making good time; alongside Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back with their ratings of 13. Revenge of the Sith, not too far in front with it’s hard fought for 13.5.

In joint second place, Rouge One: A Star Wars Story and Episode I: The Phantom Menace prove that the sacrifices have all been worth it with their solid ratings of 14.

And finally leading the way, in a shocking twist of fate to most Star Wars fans – Episode VII: The Force Awakens is winning this race, with an astounding rating of 18.

Do you agree with my parents and I’s ratings, would you have chosen differently? If so, drop me line down in the comments – Star Wars opinions are as varied as its fans and each deserves a voice. If you’ve enjoyed this look into the deep sense of obsessive fandom and boredom that provoked this binge during Lockdown, remember to follow the Wee Blog if you haven’t already. Also check me out on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook and Goodreads. And sign up for The Wee Mailing List to receive all new content. Until next time Wee Readers, have a bonny day and may the force be with you.

Just a brief note before we leave, if you’ve enjoyed this and other posts like it on the Wee Writing Lassie, why not buy me a Wee Cup of Coffee, or drop me a tip over on Ko-fi. Which is linked to the image below.

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The Wee Writing Lassie and the Folklore of the Nine Sacred Woods

Into the Cauldron

The Sacred Woods Go

Burn them fast

And burn them slow.

Is it a poem? Is it a limerick? No, Wee Readers, it is a spell. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you should remember that I am a vegan, in fact I was raised vegan from the age of two. How is this relevant to the current post, well, it’s not really – it’s just to remind you that I come from a slightly none traditional family. Which is why it should be less surprising when I say that we celebrated this May Day by performing a bit of magic. That is burning the nine sacred woods in the Beltane Bonfire. Well, what we did wasn’t really a bonfire per say, more like a small fire in a cauldron – but the intent still remains the same. We set fire to sticks from the nine sacred woods – in theory, they’re very difficult to find and some of them are toxic, so mostly we burned sticks that we were drawn to pick up – saying a blessing on to the world with each one we set a flame. Because it really felt like it needed it. The sacred woods consist of the first nine woods of the Celtic Tree Calendar, they are listed below in no particular order – along with some of the folklore associated with them.

9. Ash

Myth in its fibre, wood made word, the fissured bark

of Yggdrasil, world-tree, tree of Ask – the first man

tree of manna, foe feller, child healer, known by eye & fingertip

Excerpt from Ash Tree by Chris Poundwhite

Traditionally the Ash Tree represents the mother of the world. In ancient Norse Mythology the world tree Yggdrasil – that great holy tree that connected all the realms both mortal and otherwise was a an ash tree. In fact mortal Norse warriors would sometimes make their spears from ash, and they were referred to as Aescling or ‘Men of Ash’.

8. Willow

Know ye the willow tree

Whose gray leaves quiver,

Whispering gloomily

To yon pale river,

Lady, at even tide

Wander not near it,

They say its branches hide

A sad, lost Spirit?

Excerpt from The Willow-Tree by William Makepeace Thackeray

In the ancient druid stories the universe, mankind and everything was hatched from two scarlet eggs hidden within the willow tree. One egg formed the sun and from the other came the Earth – which begs the question where was the Willow Tree. This was recreated in the seasonal festival of Beltane using painted eggs. This would later be hijacked by Christians, for the holiday Easter. So just remember, that come Easter Weekend when you’re rolling your brightly colored chicken fetus down a hill, you’re performing an ancient Druid ritual.

7. Hawthorn

My palms rest

Upon the blackened trunk

Of a melancholy hawthorn

It’s choked wood crumbling

Into dust

Falling between my fingers

Extract of Burning Hawthorn by Lotus

In Ireland the Hawthorn tree is known as the fairy tree, although take care to call it something else as it is disrespectful to mention the fairies by name. Because of this connection to the little folk it is considered extremely bad luck to cut down a hawthorn tree. So much so that in 1999 work on the main road from Limerick to Galaway was interrupted because a Hawthorn stood in the way. Wish the owners of the woods near my house shared such beliefs – sometimes I feel there won’t be a forest left by the time this lock-down ends.

6. Birch

When I see birches bend to left and right

Across the lines of straighter darker trees,

I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.

But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay

As ice-storms do.

Extract from Birches by Robert Frost

In Celtic mythology Birch represented renewal and purification – and it was celebrated on Samhain (the holiday that would later become Halloween) which was the beginning of the Celtic New year. It also, as you might have guessed is connected to Beltane – a festival known in more modern times as May Day. Ritual fires were made of birch and oak, and Birch Trees were often made into living May poles.

5. Rowan

rowan tree with berries in summer sunny day

Oh rowan tree, oh rowan tree,

Thou’lt aye be dear to me,

Entwined thou art wi many ties,

O’hame and infancy.

Thy leaves were aye the first o’spring,

Thy flow’rs the simmer’s pride;

There was nae sic a bonny tree

In a’ the countrieside

Oh rowan tree!

Extract from The Rowan Tree by Lady Nairne

In Greek mythology it was said that the Rowan trees sprung from the fallen feathers of the eagle that had been sent to recover the cup of the Goddess Hebe. However it was attacked by demons before it could manage. Thus the Rowan Tree’s leaves are shaped like feathers and their berries are as red as blood. We can see great significance in Norse Mythology as well, where we see a rowan was transformed into the first woman – the first man having come from an Ash. As well as in British Folklore, where the Rowan is meant to protect against witchcraft and enchantment.

4. Holly

But the Hue of his every feture.

Stunned them as could be seen,

Not only was this creature

Colossal, he was bright Green

No spear to thrust, no shield against the shock of battle,

But in one hand a solitary branch of Holly

That shows greenest when all the groves are leafless.

Extract from ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Night’, author unknown

In Celtic legend the Holly King would battle the Oak King at the changing of the seasons. During Winter Solstice, the Oak King would arise triumphed – there after he reigns upon the earth, until the Summer Solstice where upon the two battle again. And this time it is the Holly King who defeats his opponent. And on and on, the cycle of the seasons go.

3. Alder

Are you weary, alder tree,

in this, the age of rain?

From your branches

droop clots of lichen

like fairy lungs. All week,

Squalls, tattered mists:

alder, who unfolded

before the receding glaciers

Extract from Alder by Kathleen Jamie

In Irish Folklore it is generally considered bad luck to pass an alder tree on your journey. The Alder tree was the tree of the God Bran – who you will remember if you’ve been following me, that I mentioned in this earlier post – along with Odin, Apollo and King Arthur. It was also associated with the Goddess of spinning, because it was a source for strong colored dye. In Magical belief Alder reminds us of the need to blend strength and courage with generosity of spirit and compassion.

2. Oak

A mighty wind blew night and day

It stole the oak tree’s leaves away

Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark

Until the oak was tired and stark.

But still the oak tree held its ground.

While other trees fell all around

The Weary Wind gave up and spoke.

How can you still be standing oak?

Excerpt from The Oak Tree by Johnny Ray Ryder Jr.

Throughout the world’s cultures the Oak tree has been venerated, often as the symbol of the greatest god in the pantheon. Gods such as Zeus, Jupiter, Dagda, Perun and Thor – called the Oak tree their own. Many Ancient kings would imply they were personifications of these gods by wearing crowns of oak leaf during times of victory – and even today, the oak leaf remains a symbol of military prowess.

1. Hazel

In the Beginning Love satisfies us.

When Love first spoke to me of love –

How I laughed at her in return!

But then she made me like the hazel trees,

Which blossom early season of darkness,

And bear fruit slowly.

The Hazel Trees by Hadewijch of Antwerp

The Hazel Tree has been venerated since the days of the Druids’ power, maybe even longer than that. There is an old ancient tale – repeated in varying forms across ancient Britain, of nine sacred hazel trees that grew around a pool. In the pool swam Salmon (who were honored by Druids), when the nuts fell from the trees, the Salmon would leap up and eat them – and from those nuts the salmon would absorbed the tree’s wisdom. I’ve mentioned the hazel nut before, in my previous post – because not only does it provide you with great wisdom, but a good boost to your immune system as well.

If you’ve enjoyed this foray into the folklore of the nine sacred woods, don’t forget to follow the wee blog if you haven’t already. Also check me out on Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads, Tumblr, Pinterest and Facebook. And follow The Wee Mailing List, for all new content. Also check out Trees for Life – where most of this folklore information came from, it’s a fascinating site for anyone interested in the folklore of trees. Remember if come next May Day you decide to burn the nine sacred woods in your own Beltane celebration, make sure to exercise proper fire safety – you will be working with open (if not very large) flames. I also advise eating something afterwards, I always feel light and giddily shaky after burning the wood and food in the belly is a good way to ground yourself, or so I’ve been told. If you found any inaccuracies in what I’ve said here today, don’t hesitate to mention them down below in the comments. I love to be corrected, it’s how we grow. Until next time Wee Readers, make sure to get plenty of Sunshine, stay safe and have a bonny day.

Just a brief note before we leave, if you’ve enjoyed this and other posts like it on the Wee Writing Lassie, why not buy me a Wee Cup of Coffee, or drop me a tip over on Ko-fi. Which is linked to the image below.

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