“Good morning students. This morning we are going to discuss Metaphor. I’ll illustrate metaphor with my story of the little people of Halfworthy. I’ve drawn a sketch of them, showing their yellow hair, vivid blue eyes, and purple skin…
“- Yes, Calum?…
“You’re quite right. A few of them had different coloured hair, eyes and skin. These were people whose parents had moved there from other villages many years ago, or whose grandparents had been taken there by force, and purchased for slavery, before such abominations were outlawed. Although they were different colours, they were just the same as all the other villagers.
“…Halfworthians lived beneath rocks. The rich enjoyed spacious accommodation under big rocks and the poor made do with tiny, cramped rocks. The edge of the Road More Travelled was to the East, while directly to the West, beyond a sheer drop of over three feet (a considerable height for someone only four inches tall)…
“- Yes Calum, four inches is very little, now please take your feet off the desk.
“… As I was saying, there was a fast-flowing river to the West of the village. Other villages were dotted along the riverbank, and each village had its own language and customs, but these neighbours were a friendly bunch, and many years before, they had decided to start a club. All of the villages were invited to be members of this club – which was called the New Inclusive Club of Everyland, or NICE – but about half of the Halfworthy folk were of a standoffish nature, thinking themselves better than others, so they didn’t join at first.
“- Ashleigh, would you like to tell me what you’re whispering about?… Oh, for goodness sake, take this pamphlet and waft it around a little. The, um, odour will soon disperse. Perhaps Caitlin would like to go to the toilet? Go ahead Caitlin. Don’t run in the corridor, but don’t dawdle.
“…Whenever the NICE met, Halfworthy sent someone to spy through the clubhouse window, and every time, the spy returned to his village, discribing the multicultural splendour of the scene; the richness of accent; the wide variety of hair, skin and eye colours, and declaring that were they having loads of fun in there, particularly as each village placed wonderful local delicacies on the table for everyone present to enjoy.
“- Yes, Calum? … I don’t know if they had burgers… Yes, Kendal, I expect some of them brought vegetarian food… No Dan, I very much doubt that any of them were cannabals, and even if they were, it’s extremely bad form to take sweet-and-sour human to a multi-cultural function. Now could everybody stop being childish and I’ll continue.
“… In addition, between meetings, the members all helped each other out. For example, the micro-climate in Berryham was perfect for soft fruit, while the natives of Whizzbury built safe, sturdy clockwork vehicles. While club members were scratching each others backs, swapping products and services and having cosy coffee mornings, the Halfworthians were hanging around on street corners, disconsolately complaining about the price of blackcurrants and strawberries, which didn’t grow in their locality. Most of them walked everywhere, unable to afford cars, and were unwilling to to use the odiferous public transport system, which involved sitting on the back of a rat…
“- No, neither would I. Now would you all please stop interrupting… Ugh; Zavier, don’t wipe that on Dan’s sleeve.
“… Eventually, the village wrote to the club secretary and asked if Halfworthy could join. The Everyleans were delighted, and welcomed their new member-village with enthusiasm.
“At first the villagers were very happy, but, owing to the combination of greed, selfishness and stupidity of about half of the Halfworthians, some quickly became dissatisfied. They thought that Halfworthy was giving more than it was receiving. They didn’t like the rules, although those rules were agreed by democratic votes. What’s more, they were offended by the influx of people whose hair wasn’t yellow, whose eyes weren’ blue, and whose skin wasn’t purple. Anyone lacking just one of these attributes was considerd to be an enemy.
“Years passed. The rich got richer. They bulldozed the rocks of the poor to make space for extensions to their rocks. At night, those who whad been evicted sought shelter wherever they could. They were bitter and angry, but they didn’t know what to do about it. Even those whose rocks had not been taken were dissatisfied with life. They looked at the palacial rocks of the rich, and resented the meagreness of their own lives.
“- Welcome back, Caitlin… You used the boys toilet? Why?… Well, the next time you find the girl’s toilet blocked, could you please use the one beside the headmaster’s office… I’m sure you know you should have done that. Yes, you’re quite right, I did tell you not to dawdle, but… Just sit down, please, and I’ll continue.
“… People began grumbling, and the grumbles grew louder. Posters began appearing in windows. These posters declared that the people with different coloured hair, eyes and skin were to blame for everything that was wrong in the village. An unpleasant, sly faced man became their ringleader. Wherever he went, a self-appointed army of shaven haired thugs followed, aggressively displaying Nazi Swasticas, proudly brandishing Halfworthy flags, and declaring that they should throw all of the immigrants into the river.
“Now, students, you’d think that this would alarm the populance, wouldn’t you? But instead, about half the villagers agreed.
“- Yes, Billy?… no, I’m sure you wouldn’t have. I can see you don’t need this lesson as much as some, but please try to keep your thoughts to yourself, and would the rest of you all please stop acting as if you’re eight years old, rather than twelve. I’ve been patient, but it’s not funny any more. Dan and Xavier! Stop smirking, and put whatever it is you’re playing with under the desk. I don’t like your attitude.
“… The village was divided – about half the people thought the immigrants should go, while the other half considered the majority to be useful citizens, and useful to the local economy.
“Time passed. The nasty, sly man and his cohorts thought that Halfworthy should leave the NICE club, so it was agreed that all the villagers should put it to a vote. For weeks representatives of the two opposing viewpoints campaigned to win as many votes as possible. The campaign, which was unfriendly from the start, became positively nasty, and then viscious. I will not assail your delicate senses with the details, children, but instead go stright to the point.
“Polling day came and went. The next morning the 51.9% of people who wanted to leave the club were celebrating a victory, while the 49.1% wept for the future – of their village, and of their immigrants.
“Soon, as agreed, Halfworthy – which, in my opinion, should have changed it’s name to Underhalfworthy- left the NICE club. In no time at all, villagers were complaining about the price of blackcurrants and strawberries. Almost everybody was unhappy because they couldn’t afford the things they needed, and nobody would do them any favours. Just over half of the villagers agreed that the people with different coloured hair, skin and eyes were to blame for all their misfortunes, and even if they weren’t, they had no right to live in the village because they hadn’t been born there, except for those whose parents and grandparents had moved there many years before, but they didn’t like to show favouritism, so early one morning they captured everyone who had different coloured hair, skin and eyes, tied them up, filled their pockets with stones, and threw them into the river, where they drowned. Unfortunately their bodies piled up, leaving a slipstream which affected the flow of water, wearing away the bank, making a hollow beneath the village, and one night during a particularly heavy storm, the ground collapsed under the weight of the rich people’s rocks, and everyone was drowned, not only the 51.9% of villagers who caused it to happen, but also the 48.1% of innocent people who wanted to continue to embrace the wider world…
“This story is a metaphor. Who wants to tell me wh…
“Dan! Xavier! Put down the knife! Leave Deepak al…
“All this blood… Billy… get my phone… my bag… Phone 999… Deepak… I can’t… somebody… help Deepak…”
©Jane Paterson Basil