Friday, September 12, 2008

A Duck, a Snail, and a Bear

A few weeks ago, I recounted part of a rather unforgettable day in Málaga where my bipedal & god-bipedal attendants and I enjoyed the city's fabulous fiesta. Odds are they don't remember too much of the day, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention that before indulging in several bottles of cartojal, we had visited the city's Alcazaba and Roman theatre, and even hiked up the hill to Gibralfaro Castle (my attendants complained the whole way) - just so that no one thinks that we (or more accurately they) are complete degenerates

That morning (pre-cartojal), I stumbled across a statue of Hans Christian Anderson. It turns out that Mr. HCA had spent some time in Spain but was most fond of Málaga. In fact, his favourite spot in the city was the English Cemetery. I think that Mr. HCA may have had some "issues" - I mean, someone capable of writing "The Little Match Girl" would probably feel comfortable in a cemetery, right?

Fortunately, there are no frozen dead little girls on this statue but, on his satchel sits the Ugly Duckling. And me on his knee.

I was quite surprised last week, after dodging autograph hounds, to come across Mr. HCA here in Bratislava. When he visited the city in 1841 he said, "If you want a fairy tale, your city is a fairy tale itself." I'll have to think about that one. It has even been suggested that a fire which had broken out in the nearby town of Devín served as an inspiration for "The Little Match Girl". He was apparently moved by the "sadness and misery there". I mean, really!

Of course, I didn't actually meet Mr. HCA but rather another statue of him: no Ugly Duckling here (or frozen dead little girls), but a snail which may
refer to the snail in "The Snail and the Rose-Tree" - another thoroughly depressing tale if you like snails. And I like snails. As a freelance Goodwill Ambassador, I like everyone and I must confess that I want to like Mr. HCA too but all these stories about death and evil queens and star-crossed lovers are a little too much for me. And he didn't make any bears heroes in his stories either. In fact, in one story he even penned the line “Why, it's hot enough here to roast a bear." Roast a bear????

In any case, Mr. HCA - or at least statues of him - have provided me with a nice transition from Spain to Slovakia. Maybe a better expression would be that I feel "bookended" by him - or at least statues of him - which, as a writer, might have made him smile.
Assuming he ever did smile.

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