Once Upon A Time – that’s how stories are supposed to start, right?
The fairy stories of my childhood started like this. Disney still subscribes to this kind of thing. And then, to end it all, there’s always:
And They All Lived Happily Ever After.
Except that’s not how the stories started out. When the Brothers Grimm got their hands on the stories of old, they squeezed all the horrible bits from the stories.
They took them, wrung-out the bad, the horrible, the downright nasty and they Disneyfied them – before Walt Disney was even a glint in his Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather’s eye.
You want to know how the stories really looked? For that, you’d have to pick up a copy of Charles Perrault’s Mother Goose Tales.
Or, you could read my version. Based on the original version, I’ve brought them up to date and injected the horror back into the story. Less sanitized, less nice, there’s often a moral to the stories.
Once upon a time, there lived in a certain village, a little country girl, the prettiest creature was ever seen. Her mother was excessively fond of her; and her grand-mother doated on her much more. This good woman got made for her a little red riding-hood; which became the girl so extremely well, that every body called her Little Red Riding-Hood.
Oh give me a break!
Once upon a time, in a remote village, off the beaten track and surrounded by woodlands, there lived a little girl. Of course, she was pretty and her family thought she was the prettiest little girl ever and they spoiled her as much as they could. They had high hopes for her that she’d one day marry into one of the families in the village that had skilled tradesmen. Better for her than having to labor all day in the fields. In order to enhance their child’s chances of getting a better match, they made sure she was polite and hard-working. Everyone doted on the little girl and her grandmother, especially.
The old lady had a cape with a hood made for the little girl so she would be warm and cozy. The cape and hood were made of the best wool, and dyed a brilliant scarlet so the little girl could be seen when she wandered between the village and her house.
The little girl loved that cape and she hardly took it off and for that reason, she started to become known as Little Red Riding-Hood.
One day, her mother, having made some girdle-cakes, said to her:
"Go, my dear, and see how thy grand-mamma does, for I hear she has been very ill, carry her a girdle-cake, and this little pot of butter."
Little Red Riding-Hood set out immediately to go to her grand-mother, who lived in another village.
Yeah, they really did talk like that in those days.
So the old dear was ill and the daughter, Little Red Riding-Hood’s mom, said, “Here, go and visit Grandma. Take her this loaf I baked and a little pot of butter. She’s been ill and she’d love to see you.”
Little Red took the basket and off she skipped on her way through the woods, to her Grandma’s house.
I’m not sure whether people weren’t aware of the dangers of sending a little kid off into the woods alone – after all, there was no news service back then, no internet and no Facebook to send a message: Mom, Little Red’s on her way to Urs. Watch 4 her and make sure she’s not bk 2 l8
As she was going thro' the wood, she met with Gaffer Wolf, who had a very great mind to eat her up, but he durst not, because of some faggot-makers hard by in the forest.
So the little girl, all alone is skipping along the path, bright as a button, not a care in the world and she meets a wolf.
Never mind that wolves are wary creatures and you’d not see one unless it wanted you to see it, apparently this one could also use reason. It doesn’t attack because it’s worried that forestry workers would hear her screams.
By the way, faggot-makers are not what you think. I know what instantly springs to mind, trust me, it’s not that.
He asked her whither she was going. The poor child, who did not know that it was dangerous to stay and hear a Wolf talk, said to him:
"I am going to see my grand-mamma, and carry her a girdle-cake, and a little pot of butter, from my mamma."
This little girl, doted upon by her parents and grandparents and known to everyone in the village hasn’t been told about STRANGER DANGER? I find it hard to believe, but this is a fairy story, so we’ll let that one slip.
The wolf asked her… the wolf can talk? Think about it. Even back in those days, if you claimed a wolf had spoken to you, you’d be thought of as nuts. I’m thinking this wolf may have been something else altogether… let’s move on.
OK, but she doesn’t know it’s unusual and weird. They obviously didn’t have animals in the village where she lived… or could they talk?
“I’m off to Granny’s to take her some home-baked bread and some butter. She’s been ill and I’ve not seen her for a while.”
"Does she live far off?" said the Wolf.
"Oh! ay," answered Little Red Riding-Hood, "it is beyond that mill you see there, at the first house in the village."
"Well," said the Wolf, "and I'll go and see her too: I'll go this way, and you go that, and we shall see who will be there soonest."
You see? This is why you teach your kids NOT to talk to strangers! They get your life’s story out of you without you realizing and then, before you know it, they’ve stolen your identity, taken out a line of credit in your name, run up debt and destroyed your credit rating.
Not to mention that wolf fella is now on his way to your vulnerable old granny’s so he can con her out of her life-savings and rob her blind – or worse!
The Wolf began to run as fast as he could, taking the nearest way; and the little girl went by that farthest about, diverting herself in gathering nuts, running after butterflies, and making nosegays of such little flowers as she met with. The Wolf was not long before he got to the old woman's house: he knocked at the door, tap, tap.
Sneaky wolf. The wolf ran, even though he was taking the shortest way and he’d tricked Little Red into taking the longer way around. Plus, she’s a child of the forest, she likes foraging for nuts, picking flowers, chasing butterflies. It’s a wonder she didn’t get lost.
The wolf arrived at Granny’s and knocked on the door.
"Your grand-child, Little Red Riding-Hood," replied the Wolf, counterfeiting her voice, "who has brought you a girdle-cake, and a little pot of butter, sent you by mamma."
Right. We have a serious plot hole here. The wolf never asked Little Red what her name was. Go on, check, I’ll wait.
Checked? He didn’t, did he?
So, at best, we can assume he said something along the lines of, “Let me in, Granny.”
That would work, wouldn’t it.
The good grand-mother, who was in bed, because she found herself somewhat ill, cry'd out:
"Pull the peg, and the bolt will fall."
It looks like no one had any common sense. STRANGER DANGER! Keep the chain on the door when you answer it. Ask for identification and don’t let anyone in that you’re not sure about. If Granny had made it to the door, she’d never have let him in.
The Wolf pull'd the peg, and the door opened, and then presently he fell upon the good woman, and ate her up in a moment; for it was above three days that he had not touched a bit. He then shut the door, and went into the grand-mother's bed, expecting Little Red Riding-Hood, who came some time afterwards, and knock'd at the door, tap, tap.
Instead, she was fooled by the wolf and in he came.
The poor woman didn’t stand a chance. The wolf, ravenous from not eating for three days, attacked her and devoured her. Then he waited because of course, there’s not much good eating on an old woman, all skin and bone, leathery skin at that. He quite fancied some tender, juicy meat.
The wolf set the house to rights and closed the door, preparing for his victim to happen along. He went to the grandmother’s bed and waited.
Little Red Riding-Hood, hearing the big voice of the Wolf, was at first afraid; but believing her grand-mother had got a cold, and was hoarse, answered:
"'Tis your grand-child, Little Red Riding-Hood, who has brought you a girdle-cake, and a little pot of butter, mamma sends you."
The wolf forgot his deception of a few moments ago and didn’t alter his voice to fool Little Red.
She was frightened at first but no one wants to think the worst, that Granny has been devoured by the same wolf they’ve been talking to in the woods, less than an hour since. Of course not, so she allows herself to be fooled and she persuades herself that Granny’s cold is making her voice sound deep and hoarse, like a wild creature of the woods’.
It’s not me, is it?
The Wolf cried out to her, softening his voice as much as he could, "Pull the peg, and the bolt will fall."
I’m not sure how the wolf managed to re-set the peg and bolt, he must have been dexterous with those paws, not having an opposable thumb and all.
Little Red Riding-Hood pulled the peg, and the door opened. The Wolf seeing her come in, said to her, hiding himself under the bedclothes:
"Put the cake, and the little pot of butter upon the bread-bin, and come and lye down with me."
Little Red went in. The wolf snuggled down in the bedclothes to hide.
“Put the cake down and come and get in bed with me,” says the wolf.
Is this what normally happens at Granny’s house? Did the child have to get into bed with her grandmother on every visit? If so, what on earth was the mother thinking, allowing her to go there alone? If it wasn’t the norm, what on earth was Little red thinking?
Little Red Riding-Hood undressed herself, and went into bed; where, being greatly amazed to see how her grand-mother looked in her night-cloaths, she said to her:
"Grand-mamma, what great arms you have got!"
She got undressed? Why would she do that?
And then, Granny’s appearance has altered somewhat since the child last saw her and the girl isn’t alarmed, she goes into a bizarre 20 questions thing.
“What big arms you have, Granny. Have you been working out?”
"That is the better to hug thee, my dear."
“All the better to hug you with, my dear.”
"Grand-mamma, what great legs you have got!"
“Granny, your legs! You’ve really been hammering the gym, but wow, you could do with shaving them!”
"That is to run the better, my child."
OK, this doesn’t make sense at all. A granny that runs? None of mine ever did.
"Grand-mamma, what great ears you have got!"
“Granny, why are your ears all sticking up on the top of your head like that, when the last time I saw you, they were pink, wrinkled things stuck to either side of your head.”
I’m beginning to think this kid is a bit dim.
"That is to hear the better, my child."
“All the better to hear you with, my child.”
I’m telling you now, my grandmothers could hear me sneaking a biscuit out of the wrapper through three closed doors! They didn’t need bigger ears to catch me out!
"Grand-mamma, what great eyes you have got!"
“Granny, you don’t look the same as when I last saw you, a couple of weeks ago, max. I’m starting to think you’re not actually who you claim to be.”
Sorry… back to the story. “Granny, what big eyes you have. You really should put down the iPad and go to sleep earlier.”
"It is to see the better, my child."
Again, my grandmothers knew what I was up to, it’s like they had x-ray vision or could see around corners.
"Grand-mamma, what great teeth you have got!"
"That is to eat thee up."
And who didn’t see that coming? Seriously.
And, saying these words, this wicked Wolf fell upon poor Little Red Riding-Hood, and ate her all up.
The Disneyfied, Brothers Grimm version had a woodcutter come along in time to save Little Red and to chop the wolf open to allow the old woman out, in some versions. It was a wolf, not a boa constrictor!