a reworking of a Shakespearean comic woodland tale from the mental health perspective

Brownie Promise Badge 1930-1967

Brownie promise badge

I woke up this morning thinking of when I was in the Brownies as a girl and a member of the Pixies or the Elves (can’t remember which).  Working for badges to sew on my shirt like sewing and knitting, nature study and collecting.  I enjoyed the Brownies but found the Guides too serious and restrictive.

This led to thoughts of hobgoblins and Shakespeare’s comedy in a woodland setting which had undercurrents of mischief and malevolence, not unlike the hierarchical shenanigans in Scotland’s mental health world settings. Where the powerful play at games, favouring the few who bow the knee and leading others on a merry dance that isn’t very merry when you’re on the receiving end of it.

Here’s my own short story introduction based on a scene in the woods where Bottom becomes an ass, Puck is outed, Quince has his say and Hippolyta gets her own back.


Puck (Robin Goodfellow), a hobgoblin, prankster, wise knave

Bottom (Nick), representing a troop called The Mechanicals

Quince (Peter), an author surrogate, representing William Shakespeare, comically

Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, who possessed a magical girdle she was given by her father Ares, the god of war

Once upon a time in the forest there was a meeting of minds and justice was done.  What led up to it was a series of pranks perpetrated by Puck involving Bottom and the Mechanicals which impacted on Quince and therefore caused irritation to Hippolyta who was a strong woman used to standing up to men and getting her own way.

It was the donkey’s head that did it.  Making an ass of Bottom had a negative effect on Quince who was both writing and directing the play.  He wasn’t a perfect writer but then who is.  Hippolyta had the benefit of the magic belt which was a protection.  Puck was no goodfellow when it came to making a fool of The Mechanicals.

Something had to give.  Someone had to go.  And the donkey’s head had to be prized loose off Bottom so that reason could prevail and the troop become more or less Mechanical.  It made sense for Hippolyta to get meaningfully involved and the girdle gave her the strength to do so …

more anon ….


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