Strangely enough, recently a number of people have asked me to tell them the tale of Stilwater the Squid Wrestler. At one time I told it regularly, but after a short while you realise that there is a danger that too many people have heard it more than once. When they start critiquing not the tale but the way you told it ‘this time’ it’s probably a hint that you ought to broaden your repertoire.
It’s a good tale because there are all sorts of extra details you can add, depending on just how long a space has to be filled in the programme. On the other hand you can tell a somewhat bald and unremarkable version in a couple of minutes. Obviously I feel the latter lacks something. On the other hand I have ultracrepidarians telling me that I know nothing and that brevity is the soul of wit, so who am I to judge?
But back to Stilwater; he wasn’t always a squid wrestler. In his youth he was a simple farm boy, tending his father’s orids. Many a day he would spend out with his faithful dog, ensuring that no harm befell them. Yet to be honest he felt that his task lacked excitement and that life was passing him by.
He was perhaps fourteen when he decided that he needed a complete change of career and made his way to Port Naain. Apparently his original aim had been to make his fortune as a singer of sentimental ballads. He was apparently a rather handsome youth and he felt that where his voice failed him, his face would ride, as it were, to the rescue.
He arrived at the Ropewalk Playhouse for an audition. He was about to step onto the stage when he saw that a puppeteer was preparing his act in the wings opposite. Until this very moment Stilwater hadn’t realised he was a sufferer of Linonopupaphobia. Overwhelmed with terror and revulsion he fled screaming from the theatre and his singing career was over before it had begun.
As chance would have it his path was blocked by a dray. Thinking only of flight he frantically climbed onto the dray only to fall into the large open topped vat the dray was carrying. Now a lesser, or indeed a more rational person, would have been terrified at falling into a vat of squid, but to Stilwater these creatures were far less terrifying than the marionettes he was running from. He was found by Buffwangle, the owner of the squid, cowering among them, regarding their questing tentacles with supreme disinterest. Buffwangle surveyed the young man in front of him. He took in at a glance the good physique and handsome face. This, combined with a total lack of fear of squid, convinced him to offer Stilwater a job as a trainee squid wrestler.
Continue reading here: Tallis Steelyard