Gawain & the Green Knight
(LWG Jan 2019 – Prompt:
“Choose a favourite animal or character from one of your favourite fairytales as a child and write a story about their home life”.)
Tales of the Fairy folk, or ‘Faerie. Tales’ , are the stuff of dreams. When I look back upon my childhood readings of such stories; I am surprised to find that I am still, today, drawn to the mysterious tales; especially the one of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; although not a real faerie story as such, it has all the elements that are required to make it so.
Sir Gawain as a lowly night of King Arthur’s Round Table, is the only Knight at the feast that deigns to take up the challenge of the eerie Green Knight.
Well, we all know that story – or, we can Google it – and so I shall elaborate upon it no more; but, we know little of Sir Gawain’s childhood, where he was surrounded by chivalric values and Merlin-inspired magic.
This is that tale.
Gawain was also surrounded by half-brothers, brothers and ne’er a sister in sight – so Gawain was treated as the ‘girly’ of the gang.
Agravain, Gaheris, Gareth, and Mordred all lorded it over Gawain (up until the Green Night Incident, that is) and being brought up as the youngest and the least thought of made Gawain the man that became the knight that became the legend.
Anyway, it didn’t help his confidence at the time; but, they do say that strength is born through adversity; and, so, by jousting against some pretty daunting opponents (and beating increasingly more of them) a boy became a man.
A typical day for the squire version of Gawain (or Gwalchmai in the original tongue) was to do a series of chores for his siblings, in the manner of cleaning out the steeds, checking and repairing any reins, saddles, general horse tack; polishing the armour that his brothers so unerringly left in an awful state (we shall not mention the blood spatters here), honing knives, swords and all manner of strange weapons for inflicting hurt and death upon the foe ( or defenceless dragons- always remembering that a large dragon is rarely defenceless). As well as those chores, Gawain had to set fresh bedding, empty and clean the gozundas (not a nice job) and ensure that the rooms of his supposed peers were clean and tidy in readiness for their return from another day of play-fighting, fighting, and apres-fighting (which involved much feasting and drinking… and often some more fighting, but only of the playfully inebriated kind – people rarely got hurt at these after-show get-togethers).
Gawain was not unhappy with his lot. Insert joke here about Lancelot or Lot’s Wife – ‘Much Ado About Edith’ could have been William Shakespeare’s play on these words – but, that was for the future.
Moving on, Gawain also had to fit in some schooling: reading, writing, numbers up to a hundred (learning more than a hundred made you appear a swot), manuscript studies, prayer and singing (in the chapel) and etiquette (which Gawain’s brothers seemed to have little of when it came to treating their little brother with any kind of respect – Mordred was by far the worst, he was a stinker (in many ways).
All this left Gawain little time for his hobbies of music and poetry (‘Sissy stuff!’ his brothers would say – ‘man up!’ was often their cry to him if they caught wind of his rhymes or heard his wistful tunes upon the lute). and Gawain was sad at his treatment, but resigned to his situation.
Anyway, the brothers were often away questing, never taking Gawain ‘He’s too young!’, ‘Will a poem kill a dragon or stop a Knight’s lance?’ and so many other taunts – they didn’t want to baby-sit the young Gawain.
They never really saw how Gawain was growing and learning. He would become a brave and fearless Knight one day – better in so many ways than all of his obnoxious brothers.
But that was in the distant future – for now Gawain brushed away the filth and shone the second-best armour until it gleamed.
“Ho-hum,” Said Gawain
I may be small, but I’m not dumb.”
and on it went…
… until one day Gawain met a certain Green Knight.