This tale was told me once by the reincarnation of Errol Flynn in a ward in which I was not a patient.
Errol: Don’t slouch, Problem, Boadicea would never have slouched.
Me: Look, I don’t think I’m Boudica, OK? And don’t use the language of the Oppressor. She’s Boudica, got it? Not that sissy Romanized appellate. Besides, that whole warrior queen thing was only for a day, like – not even a whole day. As soon as I had impaled Nurse Seezer on the drip stand with the blood-curdling yell of freedon for the Iceni, I came right to! I was able to calmly assess the difference between right and wrong and, as the filthy Roman, Nurse Seezer melodically bubbled blood from her windpipe, I also had the capacity to realize that maybe this was one of these non-right times. I calmed right down after that and thus it was with noble resignation and a defiant chin that I raised my vein for the swimmy swimmy shot I knew must come. History is against me and my tribe, after all. I know my part.
Errol: Anyway, you couldn’t be Boudica, your breasts aren’t big enough. Her’s were mighty and pointy*, almost like Madonna’s.
Me: Sputter! That’s an inappropriately personal remark, Errol! Another of these and I’m telling the doc. and
that’ll set back your release another week at least. Anyway, you call that scrappy little line of polarized iron filings a Flynnian moustache? It looks like your top lip is perforated for easy detachment or something. Like a teabag. How come you’re back in here anyway, Errol?
Errol (eyes narrowing in recollection) : It was a snowy day just after Christmas and I had nowhere I had to be. Inside its sheath, my bendy fencing sword shivered, imploring me to use him in the cause of Justice. I walked and walked and then I took to lurking. Outside a large house on the hill, I lurked in the shadows, buckles clanking against my epee, swashes moist with anticipation. I twirled my moustache as I lowered the brim of my black Spanish hat over my keen eyes and sneered as I surveyed the pleasant scene inside the room. What I saw enraged me. Men in new Pringle sweaters were standing pleasantly with their also pleasant wives, all dressed in the bright colours of the season. But I knew the cost of all that smart-casual. High in the hills of Pakistan, thousands of cashmere goats were shivering their way through a brutal winter just so richos like this could stand around and laugh as they spilt sherry on their stolen fleeces, dyed and criminally knitted out of all recognition.
Me: That’s terrible, Errol! I know your fondness for the goat. I bet your blood was boiling! What happened
Errol: There was a blur, and that blur was me as I flew through the air at the patio windows expecting to crash through in a glorious hail of glass and wood trim.
Errol: Wait Problem, wait. I’m not finished. Although, yes, I was very cool indeed, the upper-middle class bastards had only gone and gotten reinforced non-scratch perspex for their windows, hadn’t they? Picking myself up off the patio bricks I heard the crunch of my elbow, and the bitter tinkle of silver plate and laughter continuing uninterrupted from inside, made me taste bitter gall and shattered mercury amalgam in my mouth.
Me: Bloody window fixtures to fit your lifestyle!
Errol: Then I saw all too clearly what I must do. Clutching my useless elbow and whimpering manfully, I mounted the slippery roof of the house, via their wheelie-bins. Scaling the slippery roof to the chimney, the orchestra, my orchestra, started up, urging me on and on with Excitement Music. In non-jarring backing-tracks I could hear the far off plaintive bleating of the cold and terrified goats. Jeeringly unconcerned about soot on my clothing because heroes don’t worry about things like that and besides i was all in black anyway, I didn’t hesitate as I leapt down the chimney in a single panther-like bound.
Me: You sure are brave Errol. People might criticize your hammy acting and your questionable personal life, but nobody could say you’re not one brave s.o.b.
Errol: Well the cashmere-sweatered party were sure surprised to see me land in their fireplace, I can tell you. Many of them said some of the more polite swear words like “Damn!” or “What the hell…?” It was only the vicar who screamed “Holy fucking shite!” over and over, before sucking his thumb and pressing his head to the hostess’s bosom for maternal comfort and some light stroking.
“Who are you? What do you mean by leaping down our chimney like this?” said a man with a crap moustache, which rather pathetically affected that of Tom Selleck, I thought. Well, as you know, Problem, I am a hero of few words. I prefer to let my actions speak. Therefore I trusted my audience to know that when I slashed furiously and Zorro-like at their sweaters I did not mean to hurt them! I was just making a timely political point about goat-cruelty. In my passion I might have blurted out “How could you, you beasts?” a few times, it’s true; and yes, I expect a few tears did fall down my sooty cheeks. All the work I’ve been doing with the doctor, has left me no longer afraid to express my emotions. I know now that crying doesn’t make me less of a man.
Me: Errol…I don’t know what to say…
Errol: Suddenly I noticed the orchestra music had stopped. Why? I looked up from the floor where I was now lying curled-up; hugging my knees and a fragment of slashed jumper; softly yodelling the high, lonely Song Of The Goatherd. I wondered who all these people were and why were they staring at me? Confusion, cursed, poisoning confusion rushed my senses and it was at that point that the cowardly vicar hit me from behind with the candlestick.
Who knows how long I was out. As I came to, a small child dressed all in white was crouched beside me looking at me. “I guess I messed up the party pretty bad, didn’t I, little girl?” “Yes.” she said softly. “Yes you did“. “I expect you think I’m a bad man, don’t you?” I said. “Well, you did eat the head off my teddy-bear,” she said. “That was a mistake, little girl,” I said shaking my head sadly. “That was a terrible mistake. but I am Errol Flynn, Hero, and I always admit my mistakes. Remember this night always, child. Remember the dark stranger with the fantastic moustache who taught you always to admit when you’ve done wrong.”
And then the ambulance and police and the firemen arrived to put out the fire I’d set under the arrangement of snow-globes.
Me: You know, Errol. You’re not so bad. I bet that little girl won’t forget the lessons of that night. Oh wouldn’t be great if every breed of sheep and goat bred not for their personalities, but only for their fleeces and cruel men’s gain, had a champion like you? A true legend on their side?
Errol: Well to be fair, Robin Hood over there by Calligula, has Angoras covered but you’re right. Wrongs need to be righted and we each need to pick our wrongs-that-need-to-be-righted carefully and according to our own passions. We can’t go at it all half-assed and 50p-in-the-collecting-tin about it. The world’s a crazy place after all.
And with that, Errol lapsed back into his habitual silence, twirled his moustache and sucked his big toe thoughtfully.
*Contemporary accounts prove that Boudica’s breasts were only apocryphally pointy. The popular but mistaken belief resulted from the mosaicist-of-record at the time only having triangular tiles left when he came to do her boobs, which, because he’d been away from his wife on campaign for the previous three years, he’d left ’til last to tesselate.