Thursday, 13 February 2014

Welsh Dragon

Dragon, William de Morgan
I scratched my brain. What was that name? What was that name? Why couldn't I remember? There was Tammy, Barker, and Toby, the sailor bear... There was Fred-bear, an old gentleman bear originally owned by the girl's mother; Alligator with his orange collar; Lamb in her knitted red hoodie; and Scampi, a scruffy toy dog, but the name of the pink rabbit with its blind eyes continued to elude me. A female rabbit with a polka dot skirt, who had turned blind through time and love. She wasn't the most attractive of creatures but the girl wouldn't sleep without her. She hugged her fiercely to her chest and in the night almost smothered her.
Where was that rabbit now I wondered. Perhaps she had retired to a different home, a different pair of hands. Why don't I remember the day she left or the day I arrived? How come I can so easily call up her face, but not her name? Despite her faded looks, she was missed, but the girl had grown, as girls must do, and turned her out of her single bed. The rabbit had been relieved of her night-time duties and had not been replaced by another companion. A fact she had been proud of.
The girl gave us all names, and although she tried hard not to, she had her favourites. I know I was, for a long time, one of them. Christened Darlene, I'm a purple Welsh dragon. I didn't know when I was bought I was waving goodbye to the hills and valleys and the lilts of my mother-tongue. There was no explanation, my maker just sold me from her stall at an aircraft show and handed me to my cooing new owner. I was tempted to escape and hitch a ride in a military truck, but the word 'Home' bewitched me.
Home turned out to be Surrey and West Sussex, both of which I discovered had their own natural beauty. Unlike my other animal friends, 'Home' was never one place for me as I accompanied my owner on many day trips and holidays. I lived a luxurious life and was well looked after by the girl and the adults raising her. I was particularly charmed by the seaside and the girl's grandmother who lovingly fed me chunks of apple and cheese. The girl was instinctively tuned into me: she knew as a dragon that I had an unnatural hunger which had to be regularly tempered. And how I enjoyed those morsels, especially if it was cake or broken biscuits. Afterwards, the girl would have to wipe my mouth and pat the crumbs from my soft yellow belly.
I'm told I betrayed my own kind by being so contented. I should have been playful and fiery like my Chinese cousins, but where I come from dragons are placid. We don't energetically dance or breathe fire; in the valleys we hum hymns and conceal the hills with our misty breaths. Chinese dragons are like fireworks: they spit bright sparks of colour, whereas my Welsh kin lightly fizz like the bubbles in champagne or lit sparklers.
I led an unusual life, but if you want my advice: Never disturb a sleeping Welsh dragon.