Daisy And The Dragon, a Pantomime © December 2010 Elizabeth Mills
There is a school of thought that contends that the legend of Saint George was usurped by his followers from a much earlier account. The tale of Daisy And The Dragon was rooted in popular folklore long before the English Patron Saint Committee met to choose someone to symbolise the nation's strength and bravery. In that previous version, the dragon was a hideously deformed creature owned by a particularly unsavoury tax collector from Surrey, and the slayer's name was Daisy. Sadly, after much discussion over many brown ales at the King's Head, the committee felt that the name Daisy was just too, well, girly, so they made up a story that involved damsels and swords and a frankly ridiculous reptile.
To set the record straight, here is the true account of Daisy and the Dragon.
Daisy was a lad of fourteen, who lived in an age when poor people had to work to survive, even if they suffered from, like, stress and nerves and stuff like that, you know? His parents, bless them, were uneducated, and knew not what they did when they chose the name Daisy for him.
He was a simple serf; he owned no land, and made his meagre living from labouring day and night for his master, Baron Roast of Ruislip. The noble lord had become very rich and fat by falsifying the accounts of the taxes he raised for the King, and pocketing a sizeable chunk for himself. He accrued a huge estate, and ruled over his workers with sadistic greed, aided by his servant, Split.
Some information about Split would be beneficial at this point. Opinions vary as to whether or not he was human or animal, or both. He was huge, and incredibly ugly, and though he walked upon his hind legs, he did so with a stoop and a sliding motion, like he was dragging something along behind him. Whenever Lord Roast set him upon some unfortunate soul, that person fled in terror, with Split lolloping in lazy pursuit. Though the creature always returned, his victims were never seen again, and no trace of them was ever found. The people called him The Dragon, on account of his strength and bad breath.
Daisy had a heavy responsibility. As well as supporting himself, he also had to look after his little sister, Bruce, and keep her hidden from the evil lord, who had ordered all girl babies to be drowned at birth. Daisy's parents had disappeared a year earlier, following a visit from Split, and he was left alone to care for her.
One day, bad Baron Roast was patrolling his lands, riding on Stephen, one of his magnificent stallions, with Split at his side, when he came upon the field where Daisy lived and worked.
Daisy was busy, tilling the land or whatever it is serfs do. He looked up when his master arrived and saw with dismay that Bruce was playing outside their mud hut, smiling at the funny man on his horsey horsey.
He threw down his serfing stick thing and ran to his sister's side, courageously confronting the lord and his monstrous henchman, who both glared at him.
“You have been hiding a girl-child from me,” accused the Baron, his podgy, brown face contorted with anger. “She has been eating food you should have given to me. For that you will both die.”
(At this point the audience hiss and boo, and the Baron turns to face them.)
“You'll be next, if you don't behave.”
(Derisive laughter and more booing)
“You will have to catch us first,” shouted Daisy, snatching up the frail body of his tiny sibling and running into the woods.
The Baron turned to Split and nodded, and the creature loped off towards the woods where Daisy and Bruce had disappeared.
In the darkness under the canopy of trees, the children ran, panting, trying to get as far away as possible. They knew these woods well, and made good progress, but they soon heard the sounds of Split smashing his way through the thick undergrowth behind them.
Daisy knew they would stand no chance against the brutal strength of the mutant, and only his wits and knowledge could save them. Quickly, he circled the swamp, then stopped on the far side, waiting for Split to appear. He did not have to wait long before the ugly brute burst out of the thicket, only fifty feet away. Split skidded to a stop when he saw the children, and let out a great blood-curdling roar.
“Well,” shouted Daisy, sounding braver than he felt. “What are you waiting for? Come and get us!”
Split lurched towards them, splashing through the shallow waters at the edge of the swamp. By the time he realised he was sinking deeper into thick mud it was too late. He was stuck. He could not move forwards or back and, as his head sank beneath the black, bubbling waters, he gave a great bellow of rage, which was suddenly cut off by the sludge into which he vanished forever.
Daisy and Bruce hugged each other with joy, then set off to walk to London to tell the king about the evil Baron, but that's another story.