Right now is the height of the pantomime season and I’m looking forward to seeing The Chameleons’ production of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves soon. It should be great fun (as Robin Hood was before). One common element to pantomimes is the use of magic. It comes in somewhere to make the character change directions or to rescue them from what seems an inescapable problem.
So let’s pretend the fairy godmother has turned up for us and, being the kindly soul she is, offered us three wishes. What would you go for? Firstly, the ground rules (you knew there would be some, bureaucracy gets everywhere!).
Ground rules are:-
1. No wishing for eternal life or everlasting wealth.
2. No wishing for more wishes!
3. If you wish for something where equipment is needed, or special measures are needed to make it happen, then that counts as part of the wish. For example, if you wanted to walk in space, the rocket, your spacesuit, helmet etc would automatically be provided.
4. Wish wisely. Wishes can rebound. Now is not the time to be thinking of asking the fairy godmother to help you get your own back on that Audi driver who has cut you up on the Asda roundabout yet again. She has other clients on her list and one of them may want vengeance on you (especially if they are the Audi driver who has noticed your one and two fingered signals to them over the years).
5. Keep politics out of it. She doesn’t know what to do about Brexit either.
6. Keep religion out of it. She believes in freedom to believe and not to believe. She respects the agnostics.
7. If you do wish for something that would be to your personal gain, you’ve got to have a good reason for it. This is your chance to go for something different and ideally life enhancing. That’s what she’s hoping you’ll take advantage of.
1. The wish for no more suffering is an honourable one and would indeed save so much misery but, and it is a huge but, the fairy godmother would rightly point out so much pain etc is caused directly by us to our fellow man. Her view is that is for us to put right and the sooner we get on and do so the better. Difficult to argue that one I think.
2. That more inexplicable suffering is being dealt with in some form – often via science as better forms of pain relief and treatments for disease come along. The fairy godmother’s view is support the cancer research and Alzheimer’s research people etc and keep on supporting them whether it is by financial support or by being open to the idea of taking part in research projects etc.
Mankind is at its best when it strives to improve and it is this area where we should be concentrating our efforts. No magic needed. (Probably undesirable anyway. It would draw attention to magic being a possibility and the fairy godmother doesn’t trust humanity not to try to (a) steal it and (b) misuse it if we succeed with (a). She cites what we’ve done to this planet for her cause for concern here).
Another way it is being dealt with is the growing realisation no one solution fits every crisis. There has to be a holistic approach. Christian Aid are very good here with their projects which encourage and help people to develop a small business of their own to take them out of poverty that way and to help meet the needs of their own communities at the same time.
Send a Cow does similarly with their projects. And right here in the UK, there is the growing recognition of the need to treat mental health issues in the right way and for the stigma associated with such things to go. (With that gone, more people come forward. More people have their lives turned around for the better. The cost of mental health issues in terms of the toll it takes out of people as well as out of society should reduce).
And what can be done to improve the climate and provide as much stability as is possible for countries affected by volcanoes, earthquakes etc to be done by us. Science and technology have major roles to play here.
Okay, I’ll start the ball rolling. What would my wishes be?
1. To extend what the Hubble Telescope can do.
What is already does is fantastic (see the link) but it does not travel to other galaxies etc. Can you imagine what it would come back with if it could?
I love the images that have come back from Hubble as it is – I see them very much as a triumph of science and, in particular, photography. I would love to be able to see far more.
The whole idea of peering into the very “corners” of the universe appeals. The ability, if it ever came about, for the telescope to travel to other galaxies is mind boggling. Okay, all of that, if it happened, may scupper Doctor Who. (We would finally know what was out there!). It would probably scupper Star Trek as well (no more final frontier either!). But I’m sure our heroes can still get on and have adventures despite my nosiness being rewarded here!
One reason I’ve gone for this is, as I’ve got older, I’ve come to appreciate the wonders of the human eye in being able to process colour, information etc., and that colour photography is such a brilliant invention. The images from the Hubble, to me, celebrate all of that. Who hasn’t had their breath taken away briefly by the magnificence of these? So yes to more and even better please.
2. For inspiration to come in the right way to the right people at the right time.
What exactly do I mean by that and who would this wish cover? Quite a few! One thing that has always struck me is what did make Alexander Fleming look at that bit of mouldy bread and spot the possibilities of the bacteria in it? The logical and rational thing to do would be to just throw out the mouldy bread! Something gave him pause for thought and it is that lightning spark of inspiration I’d love to see doled out generously to those working to make lives better for other people. Yes, I’d love to see writers and the other creative arts benefit from this too.
I always wonder what Isambard Kingdom Brunel would have gone on to achieve had the technology available to him been closer to what we have now. You have to admire people like this who achieved so much with what we would consider “basic” equipment. I also think it encouraging that he had to use his imagination to see possibilities and then his skills to make them happen. It is a relatively rare thing when those wonderful things combine.
3. That the joy of books including non-fiction could and would be shared by all.
My fairy godmother might tell me off for this one given she would feel it is something we should be doing and that, being a writer, I am bound to be biased here. I’d put up my hands to that last charge but I would argue a bit of a helping hand here would not be a bad thing and it is life enhancing. It would literally spread the word quicker too!
I, like many writers, feel disheartened when we hear things such as “I’ve got no time to read books” and I’ve heard this at book signings, fairs etc. Books can be devalued and that to me is just wrong. Books have so much to offer whether you like fiction or you just want “the facts, Ma’am, nothing but the facts, Ma’am”.
I’d like to see greater confidence in reading and people to wake up to the fact that books are a relatively cheap form of entertainment and education. And the cost element reduces further if you support your local library! Books are to be treasured whether you adore Shakespeare or Enid Blyton! (I’m a fan of both).
So it is time for my fairy godmother to wave her wand in your direction. What would you wish for and why?
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.