It’s custom to bow when in the presence of the Fane family. Sorry, hold on just a second…the Fane family came from an illustrious royal lineage of kings, queens, emperors and caciques in fact no longer than that if you could just close your eyes and wander further…yes that’s better. Do you see that family huddled so peacefully, serenely immersed in the sounds of their surroundings? Okay stop you’re going to trip and get us caught, come back now before they see us and please try not to stare so much.
We’ll just blow those thoughts away and focus on the family tree before us. Right where was I?!! Yes, the Fane family still ruled the land of Jicotea as the borders changed, the landscape transformed and new developments emerged. Picture a civilisation quite similar to yours but slightly more rural and spiritual; fortunate with the smells of moist earth, sweet ripening produce and the echoes of sheep between the mountains. I kid you not, apologies that’s a goat joke but you know what I mean. Herds and herds of livestock…no just sheep. Noisy, bleating puffs of mischief. Why sheep you ask? Well, what else would you supply to kingdom built on its experimentation and reputation for turning out the warmest winter wears: home, sport and arctic fashions. Jicotea also churned out the most succulent lamb stew, the meat just falls off the bone ever so delicately like a leaf caught in a gentle breeze. You have to be quick with every bite to—OUCH!!! Clive hates it when I talk about meat…it’s probably because he’s a turtle.
Okay back to the story and yes I will make haste, by the looks of it you don’t have time for any other distractions. I present to you the Fanes…Queen Gloria Fane so quiet, so sweet, so smiley and so stealthily neat. Her attributes balanced by that of King George Fane, historians what do you say a nice solid name eh? Hmm…never mind, George wasn’t always angry and nor was he that messy but we could be proud he was a fair leader just… EXTREMELY LOUD! Insert a few more exclamation marks and then times that by ten or perhaps alternatively you could envision how you would sound talking into a megaphone every time you spoke. He bellowed but interestingly he’s wasn’t burly. Now if you could quickly cast your eyes to the centre of the picture follow my pointer…yes there you can see quite a handsome young chap between them. I agree he does look quite miserable but I promise it’s nothing to do with his parents, unlike the children on a planet we know. Don’t say anything just wink if you got it.
Sorry, I’ll just get back to the story now. Omar Fane. Though he was talented, intelligent and somewhat pleasant to look at (if you like human faces that is) he had lost his smile. Alas, every royally commissioned portrait was plagued with his devastating array of embarrassing expressions and abandoned to this library by aggrieved artists promising to never paint for the royal family again. I can still hear the terror of the many snapped easels, torn canvases and wasted paint pots the solid paints were cut like cheese and discarded so local children could make stilt shoes out of the materials in preparation for the seasonal festivals.
With his thirteenth birthday passing Omar, still had not smiled since his fourth birthday. Yes, rustle I have proof hold on…bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang! Have a look, closer see here’s Omar at four years old. I agree, he looks…cute for a human and what I have laid before you are the nine portraits after his fourth birthday. What do we have here? Let’s peruse further: snot, something like a wolf howl, apparent fury, tears, frown, a frightening scowl, embarrassment, distracted stare and this year’s indifference, forlorn or maybe despair for all that is obvious he wasn’t a happy bunny. Although, I must admit I have never been able to tell by their expression alone whether a bunny was indeed happy. For his thirteenth birthday his parents sort to rectify this hiccup in historical art, by throwing Omar a party. They invited esteemed guests and subjects from kingdoms both awkwardly near (we won’t get into politics) as well as those from kingdoms excessively far (yes possibly in need of a medic and nourishment upon arrival).
Now picture the fancy royal celebration, marking Omar’s new year of existence and the joyous procession of glad attendees presenting their best offerings to the prince. All hoping to be the one to coax a smile to the prince’s mouth. The lesser known painters of Jicotea were all at the ready paint brushes or charcoal in hand, canvases propped or held and ready for action but no smile came. Just to elaborate on the seriousness of their predicament let’s run through the gifts that Omar received but hardly even blinked. Silence. Followed by a polite ‘Thank you’ from the prince, as the royal band repeatedly cut the music so that his every royal ‘Thank you’ could be heard. I have to say that it was quite humorous at the beginning of the routine but by the twentieth gift there were doubles, triples and quadruples of presents already witnessed so I grew bored and sampled the food instead. Omar received: one gold carrying elephant, two diamond earrings, three silk robes, four positivity potions, five marriage proposals, six pyramids (that he would have to visit to ensure his faced was carved in likeness), seven private planes each with a new pilot, eight warrior horses, nine get out of war free cards, ten tigers for his land borders, eleven private submarines, twelve rockstar penguins, thirteen gold woven royal suits and fourteen blue doves for good luck. Did I say twenty, maybe I might have missed a few but c’mon I was pretty close considering that was all from memory. Hey! It’s not about us pay attention to the story…George and Gloria were concerned when no sooner had the enormously extravagant birthday cake been cut Omar slipped away from his own party. George shouted…okay called to his son….
Copyright Teherah Wheeler (©) 2017
Art by Julian Caldow
If you want more there’s part 2
All the best