You are all getting copies of Damsel! Please email me at email@example.com to collect your fabulous prize.
Also happy Easter to everyone else! I know you like movie parodies, so I wrote you one. This parody requires a slight preliminary explanation, however.
Shockingly enough, it was a grey and rainy day in Dublin when it happened. Chiara, Jennet Wilde and I were not our usual chipper girlish selves, as we had been up late at a house party in the Cherry Bomb, and had then been Cinderelling away traces of the resulting catastrophe all morning. We were recovering with cups of tea and asking each other ‘No, but seriously, who invited the aliens bent on world destruction, and why did they bring confetti?’ when it occurred to us that we should go for savoury pancakes and see a movie. We collected Caitriona, a partner in crime, and went for pancakes and then to the movie.
The movie Chiara wanted to see was sold out. I saw a poster with a unicorn and Horatio Hornblower (or the actor who played him, good enough, good enough) on it.
‘This one,’ I said urgently. ‘This one, this one, this one please!’
… To this day, they have not quite forgiven me.
The movie was The Secret of Moonacre, based (I understand very loosely) on the book The Little White Horse. I loved the movie, mostly because of how entirely bizarre it was.
Let me tell you all about it!
OUR SCENE: opens very traditionally, with a prim governess called Miss Heliotrope in pince-nez, 1800s London and our heroine, Little Miss Lyra
LAWYER: Ah yes, Little Miss Lyra. Sorry to tell you that you have no inheritance.
LYRA: What why how?
LAWYER: First there was the gambling. And then there were the women. Mostly, it was the gambling.
LYRA: That’s hideous news.
LAWYER: Don’t worry, little orphan girl. According to your father’s will and literary conventions everywhere, you now get to go live with your eccentric relative in a crumbling manor in the depths of the wild woods.
LYRA: Oh thanks. Now I feel loads better.
LAWYER: Oh, your father did leave you one thing! This book.
LYRA: Not a hidden cache of jewels.
LAWYER: ’Fraid not. You see, he had this thing about gambling…
LYRA: So I hear.
LYRA: I can’t believe I have to go live with Uncle Hornblower!
MISS HELIOTROPE: Don’t worry, Lyra! I will come with you to live with Uncle Hornblower!
SARAH: Good call, Miss Heliotrope! I would be perfectly happy to live in a mansion with Uncle Hornblower.
STORY: So far seems totally traditional and unsurprising, aside from Lyra’s fashion sense.
CARRIAGE: *bears Lyra and Miss Heliotrope towards the plot*
MISS HELIOTROPE: Well, that was a narrow escape. Seems like we might be living in 1700s England instead, eh Lyra?
LYRA: I think I saw that sinister masked highwayman at my father’s funeral!
MISS HELIOTROPE: Someone tried to rob you at your father’s funeral? That is so ungenteel!
UNCLE HORNBLOWER: Welcome to my home.
AUDIENCE: Yowza. Hello, Uncle Hornblower!
UNCLE HORNBLOWER: I like to keep things like a library, very qui-
MISS HELIOTROPE: Hello there what a charming crumbling mansion you have don’t the draughts bother you your butler is a fine figure of a man!
UNCLE HORNBLOWER: You know what’s golden? Si-
MISS HELIOTROPE: We had a very pleasant journey aside from being waylayed by highwaymen. The roads are in need of repair however, thankfully, the weather continues fine!
UNCLE HORNBLOWER: *drinks*
UNCLE HORNBLOWER: So Lyra, I’m going to take you up this creepy flight of stairs, far away from your governess-
UNCLE HORNBLOWER: To your magical princess tower room!
MAGICAL PRINCESS TOWER ROOM: *provides biscuits in the morning*
LYRA: Mmm, tasty magic biscuit. Perhaps now is the time to do some reading.
BOOK: Legends tell us of a magic necklace and two families greedy for its power, and a valley doomed unless the True Moon Princess comes!
LYRA: Nice story. I am sure it in no way applies to me.
UNCLE HORNBLOWER: Sooo, let’s go riding so I can show you the woods where dwell our eternal enemies.
LYRA: Uh, so did you guys feud about a magical necklace?
UNCLE HORNBLOWER: Don’t be ridiculous! And promise me you will never, never go into the forbidden woods.
LYRA: I promise!
LATER, IN THE FORBIDDEN WOODS
LYRA: Who was the naughty person who put Mr Bunny into a trap! Come, Mr Bunny,
MR BUNNY: Don’t go that way, you idiot! Oh dear.
LYRA: Huh, I see in the forest they have a… medieval castle, full of men wearing… entirely black leather.
AUDIENCE: What? Black leather what? What?
LYRA: *is so distracted by the black leather she allows herself to be captured*
VILLAIN: Hahaha, I am Coeur de Noir!
AUDIENCE: Nice villain nickname. I wonder what his real name is-
VILLAIN: And this is my son, Robin de Noir.
AUDIENCE: Ahahaha, so his mother Mrs de Noir was seriously like ‘Coeur’s a pretty name.’ Also, seriously? Robin, the heir to the evil fortress? Seriously, Robin?
ROBIN (SERIOUSLY) DE NOIR: Hi. You may remember me from such cinematic moments as your waylaying on the highway, and your father’s funeral.
LYRA: I did not know that you were wearing so much eyeliner under your mask!
ROBIN: It goes nicely with my bowler hat.
LYRA: You do realise that you and your gang look like the Clockwork Orange boys decided to dress up in the orc costumes from the Lord of the Rings!
ROBIN: ALL RIGHT, TO THE DUNGEONS WITH YOU.
THE DUNGEONS: have a heart-shaped window carved in the door.
JENNET WILDE: I’m seriously starting to wonder if there was something in our pancakes earlier.
LYRA: I am a prisoner of dark forces! Time to take off all my clothes.
CHIARA: … Definitely something in the pancakes.
GUARD: *goes in to investigate Lyra’s skirt fluttering in the window grate*
LYRA: *escapes out the door in her underwear*
COEUR: After her, Robin!
ROBIN AND HIS GANG: pursue Lyra.
AUDIENCE: We did not think we were bringing our kids to a movie where… Clockwork Orange types… ran after girls in their underwear through forests. That was not something we thought.
LYRA: Here is my uncle’s dog, come to savage you! It is possible he is secretly a magical black lion.
ROBIN: OH YES, THAT’S FAIR.
COEUR: Robin, you and your gang of boys can’t catch one little tiny girl?
ROBIN: There was the small matter OF THE LION.
COEUR: I guess that’s why I don’t really love you. You’re such a disappointment to me.
COEUR: And you wear too much eyeliner!
MISS HELIOTROPE: Dear God Lyra where were you all night and why are you in your underthings and why are you all dirty and possibly most distressing of all, what are you doing with that rabbit? Were there young men involved?
LYRA: Several. In leather.
UNCLE HORNBLOWER: *drinks*
LYRA: Uncle Hornblower, I think that this valley may be cursed, and I may be the One True Moon Princess.
UNCLE HORNBLOWER: Don’t be ridiculous, magic doesn’t exist. Except for our cook, who is an elf.
LYRA: … What?
AUDIENCE: Lyra, we concur.
UNCLE HORNBLOWER: The elf wears a pink hat.
LYRA: Yeah… so I’m going to go over here now.
UNCLE HORNBLOWER: Just don’t go near the forbidden woods ever again!
LATER, IN THE FORBIDDEN WOODS (AGAIN)
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN: Come visit with me in my lair under a tree.
LYRA: Um, okay.
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN: I have lived here under a tree with my snake friends and my badger friends and my rat friends and no hair products for many a year!
LYRA: And I see you are not wearing any shoes. If I lived in a hovel with a thousand animals, I would consider that poor planning.
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN: My name is Loveday. Let us be great friends!
LYRA: I can be your friend who does not make doo-doo on the floor.
MAGICAL ELF CHEF IN THE PINK HAT: Hi Lyra! Want a magical sandwich?
LYRA: … Sure.
ELF IN PINK: I think the valley will be destroyed in two days’ time without your help, Moon Princess!
ELF IN PINK: Do you want mustard on this?
LYRA: Okay, okay, Loveday, I worked out from a picture in my room and a dream and, and, anyway, I think the magical pearl necklace is buried at the foot of a tree!
LOVEDAY: Uh, Lyra. Don’t we live by the edge of an enormous forest?
LYRA: That will make the quest problematic.
LOVEDAY: Do you know who knows this forest really well?
LYRA: Well, you, since you live in it…
LOVEDAY: No, seriously, knows the woods like the back of his hand! Grew up in them! Renowned hunter! Most excellent tracker of cool! Robin de Noir.
LYRA: Seriously, Robin?
LOVEDAY: A lot of people call him that, yes.
LYRA: What was he tracking, a door to door cosmetics salesman?
BUNNY: Why am I in this trap? Why are human beings so treacherous?
ROBIN (oddly without his leather-clad gang): Mmm, rabbit stew.
LYRA: Aha! Now I have you in a snare!
ROBIN: OW OW ROPES CHAFE OW OW OW!
LYRA: Miss Heliotrope told me when you wish for people to do what you want, you have to say a special word.
ROBIN: And that special word is ‘bondage’?
LYRA: Please will you listen to me, Robin?
ROBIN: ABSOLUTELY NOT.
LYRA: Because I won’t untie you unless you do.
LYRA: So in summary, I am a Moon Princess, and I want to ride on a unicorn, and first we have to find a magic necklace at the bottom of a tree so that the curse can be lifted from our valley. Following me so far?
ROBIN: …. No.
LYRA: That’s odd. I thought I made a very convincing argument.
ROBIN: … No.
LYRA: Oh well. Fair’s fair. If you don’t want to help me find the magic necklace, I guess you can go.
ROBIN: Wait wait wait.
LYRA: Er, yes?
ROBIN: Where’d you… learn to tie those knots so well? That was cool.
LYRA: Er, what?
ROBIN (shyly): I’ve never been tied up by a girl before.
LYRA: I’m starting to believe I made a miscalculation here somewhere.
ROBIN: You’d look good in leather and eyeliner, you know.
LYRA: I gotta go. Valleys to save. Unicorns to ride. Necklaces to find. You know how it is.
ROBIN: I can help you find your necklace! That sounds like fun!
LYRA: Oh… great…
ROBIN: So what did you want me to call you, again? The Moon Princess? Very masterful.
ROBIN: I like it.
LYRA: had no idea what she was getting into
UNCLE HORNBLOWER: So Lyra’s been gone a while. I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about, considering the fact that last time she stumbled in wearing nothing but her skivvies babbling about leather-clad men.
MISS HELIOTROPE: …
UNCLE HORNBLOWER: Okay, possibly we need a search party. I should round up the butler and the elf in the pink hat.
MISS HELIOTROPE: *drinks*
ROBIN: So you enjoy long quests in the woods on a summer afternoon. Me too! Hey, we have a lot in common.
LYRA: Less talking, more questing, eyeliner boy.
ROBIN: Let me just tie this hair ribbon of yours to a tree branch so we lead my father’s men wrong.
LYRA: Uh, where did you get my hair ribbon?
ROBIN: Remember our first date, when I was tracking you through a forest in your underclothes?
LYRA: Yeah… that was very romantic.
ROBIN: So here we are at the tree you described.
LYRA: Let’s go under the tree to find a - oh my God, is this a tomb?
ROBIN: Yeah, I think it is. So baby, come here often?
LYRA: Look, I found the magic pearl necklace! Wow, Robin, it corrupts the minds of men and fills our hearts with irresistible longing for it, so let’s be careful.
ROBIN: Yeah, it looks nice and all.
LYRA: … I don’t think you’re taking this situation entirely seriously.
ROBIN: Your hair is shiny!
COEUR DE NOIR’S MEN: *pursue*
LYRA: It’s okay, Robin, we’ll be protected by my uncle’s dog!
ROBIN: Nice lion. Good kitty.
LYRA: But really, I have to destroy this necklace in the ancestral spot of the Moon Princess, so I gotta jet. Later!
ROBIN: What, where, why – okay. Call me!
COEUR DE NOIR: Robin, why were you helping that wench?
ROBIN: I’m not sure! To save our valley! She tied me up and it was awesome! She told me to call her a princess! I’m feeling very confused!
COEUR: Son, you shame me! I KNOCK OFF YOUR ANCESTRAL BOWLER HAT.
COEUR DE NOIR’S MEN (hushed tones): Do you think Master Robin… likes a girl?
LYRA: Well, here we all are at the ancestral meeting point. Uncle Hornblower. Coeur de Noir. Loveday. Assorted minions. My governess. The elf chef in the pink hat. And…
ROBIN: Hey, baby.
LYRA: And you.
UNCLE HORNBLOWER: Loveday, my lost love!
COEUR DE NOIR: Loveday, my lost daughter!
LOVEDAY: It’s true I may have been keeping a few things from you, Lyra.
SARAH: This is almost Shakespearean!
CHIARA: NO. NO IT IS NOT.
LYRA: Well, Uncle Hornblower, Coeur de Noir, feel like joining hands in friendship and throwing away the necklace in a beautiful moment of-
UNCLE HORNBLOWER: My necklace, you thieving dog-
COEUR DE NOIR: Get your grabby hands off my-
MISS HELIOTROPE: *randomly starts beating up Coeur de Noir’s minions with her parasol*
LYRA: Oh FINE. I will do it MYSELF.
LYRA: *throws necklace into the ocean.*
LYRA: *breaks necklace into pearls and throws them into the ocean*
PEARLS: *stick onto Lyra’s dress*
ROBIN: I realise this must be very aggravating, but you’ve never looked shinier!
LYRA: Oh FINE. I will do it MYSELF.
LYRA: *throws herself into the ocean*
ROBIN: *goes to throw himself after her*
COEUR DE NOIR: ROBIN! Your eyeliner isn’t water-proof.
UNCLE HORNBLOWER: Wow, it sucks that Lyra is dead. Um, is that a lion?
LOVEDAY: Yes, your dog was always secretly a mystical black lion.
UNCLE HORNBLOWER: Holy cats!
UNCLE HORNBLOWER: … I am not getting paid enough to have actually said that line.
LOVEDAY: Yep, Lyra was a good kid.
OCEAN: *turns into a herd of unicorns.*
OCEAN: *Seriously. Unicorns.*
SARAH: ‘Seriously Unicorns’ would be a good name for a band.
UNICORN: *has Lyra on his back*
LYRA: I did it I did it I AM the true Moon Princess!
COEUR DE NOIR: Hooray! I love you, Loveday my daughter! I see the error of my ways!
UNCLE HORNBLOWER: I love you too, Loveday! Let us be married.
BUTLER: I love you, Miss Heliotrope!
ELF IN PINK: I love sandwiches!
SARAH: This reminds me of Oscar Wilde.
JENNET: NO. NO IT DOES NOT.
LYRA: So I see you were weeping over me, Robin.
ROBIN: … In a manly way. I didn’t smudge my eyeliner, did I? Also, can I call you?
LYRA: It’s possible I may not be washing my hair in unicorn-scented ocean water every night.
JENNET: It’s possible they put acid in our pancakes, and that whole dark experience was a trip.
SARAH: It’s possible that that is my favourite movie of ALL TIME.
CHIARA: Well, she’s definitely high.