The efficacy of nonsense

Each summer, we would go to the Stade Dauger in Bayonne to watch Aviron Bayonnais, the local rugby club, play a match. Not once did we manage to find the way to the ground without getting lost. Each time we got lost, I would say it was because the stadium had moved.

Of course, the stadium had not moved. Rugby grounds do not take to the air at a whim and land elsewhere in a city. However, in the nonsensical assertion there was humour that dissipated the annoyance at yet again taking twice as long to reach the ground as the SatNav had suggested.

Myths have always been helpful in dealing with things that would otherwise be an aggravation.

Growing up in sight of Glastonbury Tor, we grew up with the tales of King Arthur (and lots of other far more absurd fabrications). Merlin the wizard became a friendly figure whom we might conjure in our imaginations. (Over indulgence in cider had led to some local gentlemen claiming to have met him)

Decades after we first heard those stories, my middle sister and I still seek the assistance of the wily magician. Intractable problems might prompt the suggestion that Merlin would have a solution and an inquiry as to whether he had been seen recently in the neighbourhood. A recent appeal from my sister prompted me to reply that he had been seen wandering around Turn Hill, smoking a pipe and looking for spring flowers.

Of course, it was nonsense, but it was useful nonsense. We could smile at the grey robed, long-bearded, wonder-worker walking the roads around High Ham. It distracted us from the aggravation that had prompted the request.

In childhood days, the myths had a more powerful hold. I remember believing that Arthur and the knights of the Round Table were buried beneath Cadbury Castle and being very disappointed when an archaeological dig that was taking place on the ancient site did not reveal any evidence of the heroes of legend.

Of course, had the archaeologists excavating an Iron Age site discovered the remains of Arthur and his men, their legendary power would have been destroyed. Dead men could not ride forth in England’s hour of need.

Imaginary figures have far more power than corporeal ones. Merlin in imagination can always be summoned. The irritations of daily life can be attributed to the evil Morgan Le Fay and the wizard can be called upon to overcome them.

Of course, it is a piece of fantasy, but it is efficacious in lifting the spirits.

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