Legend, or The Tale of Tommy Tattle, as it’s subtitled is currently, at 20k words, a long, short story.
I’m hoping that it will morph at least into a Novella though I’m afraid the storyline doesn’t have the legs to make it as far as a novel, much as I’d wish.
It’s something of an Alice in Wonderland type tale for adults, in as much as the narrator falls asleep in a cemetery and has an imaginary conversation with several of the interred, including the now legendry Tommy Tattle himself.
Tommy Tattle, a local legend in the vicinity of Poleryn, a Cornish coastal community, was, and is a philanderer though death, he has had to accept has imposed limitations to his physical activity even if still not to his mouth.
Hopefully, the story’s lyrical qualities are its saving grace!
Here’s an extract from it:
The Only Chapter
Much as might be expected, it’s all serenely quiet in this little coastal cemetery that lies, some will assert, half-way up, whilst others insist half-way down, a Cornish hillside. It’s all dependent on which way you’re approaching it, I guess. I’ve never taken a view myself; the argument appears entirely academic. It is where it is, somewhere in the middle of the hill, whichever way you look at it.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t seem to be a subject worth getting overly excited about. As places go it’s nowhere special, not as such, not to anyone outside of the local community anyway. To them, of course, it’s the final resting place of their ancestors; to anyone else it’s just a village cemetery. It’s only the locals that are buried here after all. There are none of the great and the good of history most certainly since the little village of Poleryn has never boasted any, not even after all the long years of its existence.
The nearest this village has ever come to boasting anyone even remotely near to being an historical figure is one, Thomas Tattle esquire, formerly of this parish and since deceased these good few years. He’s become something of a legend, though only in these local parts and I can’t help but wonder if the stories have grown to be greater than the man actually ever was. It’s possible, as history has shown on other occasions. Tom’s buried somewhere over towards the top of the old part, near the wall that separates it from the addition that had to be added thirty years or so ago in readiness to accommodate the increasing traffic.
I always find the cemetery to be the perfect point, myself, to pause and take a ten-minute break, midway, as it is, more-or-less, on my walk for even the bees keep their silence here, out of respect, and the clock set into the wooden portico, arching over the entrance gate, makes no noise as its fingers slice through the noon position. It was never given a chime to avoid it ever disturbing the eternal peace that pervades the little place.
I normally find that a few minutes spent on the wooden bench that sits alongside the portico, the one recently re-varnished and dedicated, according to the brass plaque screwed to its back, to Arnold, brackets ‘Arnie’, Oliver, can be a great reviver. This afternoon, mind, given the combination of a midday sun and some strenuous exercise, it’s best I’m wary against falling asleep. It has been known I must confess, and a ten-minute break here has turned into itself, no matter how unwittingly, into half an hour. It’s something I definitely need to guard against today for this weather combined with exercise, can prove a strong adversary. Still, it is a treat to sit just a few minutes and stretch my legs.
Having only now said how I always find this a serenely quiet place , its main attraction to me, I must say, it’s annoying to have the tranquillity suddenly and, seemingly, deliberately to being broken by the intrusion of a female voice.
It’s reciting, in soft, low tones, a verse that’s become familiar to most in the community over the years, and not just in the school yard either.
“Tommy Tattle, full of rattle,
A wizard with the girls.
Soft as butter, he would utter,
Words that fell like pearls.”
So, the voice goes.
It’s a rhyme that remains popular with the local ladies long after their school days, recollecting, as they do, tales their mothers have told them, particularly when their fathers weren’t around. It’s a tale I’ve heard only in snippets, of course, being a man though, I understand, as a tale it still continues to be passed down female lines. I can only wonder if my grandmother ever told my mother and, more to the point, if she was ever an active participant in the story. It has to be wondered; so many of the local ladies were, it seems.