28 November, 2006

Homer's long-lost Epic Poem, the "Thaksiad", compressed into a blog

A recently discovered Greek statue, featuring an uncharacteristically square face,
was recently discovered in the Antiques Dept of Harrods, London.

(Thank you hugely to S Tsow, Nation Multimedia group for the loan of this spoof)

Readers may remember the Celtic bard Fonning Toaddy, who was writing an epic poem in the classical Greek style immortalising former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. I ran into Fonning recently in the beer garden of the Happy New Squalor Guesthouse in Banglampoo, Bangkok. He was looking very glum...

Me: Well, Fonning, what ever happened to the Thaksiad? Did you finish it?

Fonning: Och, lad, dinna remind me. Me hero buggered off to America and got oosted in a coup. Now he’s gone shoppin’ in London. How heroic is that, I ask ye? Me epic poem has fallen on dismal days. I canna finish it.

Me: Why, it’s ended in the classical Greek way: the hero, having reached the heights of fame and power, has been brought down by hubris. This is a modern version of the Oedipus myth, or the Iliad. Just as Oedipus ended as a blind beggar, just as Achilles was killed by an arrow in the heel, so Thaksin has gone shopping at Harrod’s. It’s a modern morality tale. You have to finish it.

Fonning: Hoot, mon, who’s gonna publish an epic poem in this day an’ age? I dinna have the stomach for it.

Me: Listen, Fonning, the other night I got inspired and dashed off a few lines for it myself. (Taking a manuscript out of my nerd bag) Listen to this:


Then winsome Pojaman spoke up,
Addressing her keen-witted lord:
“My liege,” quoth she,
“I do desire a shopping spree at Harrod’s.
Whilst thou dost tarry in New York,
Busy with affairs of state,
Let me fly to England’s shores,
And shop my sweet self silly.
If the devil wears Prada,
So must I.
For I am The prime minister’s wife.
It is my sacred duty
To enhance our nation’s status;
And when it comes to designer clothes,
I must outshine the devil.
Mayhap, whilst I do spend and spend
Thou canst lobby at the UN
To make our Surakiart Sec’y-Gen.”

Fonning: That’s awful. Ooo, it’s truly terrible.

Wait, it gets better. Here’s the part where Thaksin gets word of the coup:

The horrid news smote Thaksin pale.
He, ashen-faced, began to wail:
“Alas, alack, alackadoo!
I’m all undone by this foul coup!
I’m jobless now. What shall I do?”
Brave Surakiart, staunchly standing by,
Raised his spirits with a ringing cry:
“Fear not, my lord! ‘Tis bad, no doubt,
But at least you got your assets out.”

That isna poetry, lad, that’s bloody doggerel. Ye’ve reduced me epic poem to a monkey’s jingle.

Me: Okay, here’s a section where we drop the rhyme. But it’s still in a heroic vein:

The hero hugged his loyal spouse. “My lady fair,
My clever dame, most cunning Pojaman!
Thou hast saved the day,” he cried,
Face flushed with joy. “Five thousand suitcases
Thou didst smuggle out! That was, I see,
A ruse to thwart the generals.
For I assume they’re filled with cash,
And stocks, and bonds, and jewelry.”
Then Pojaman, all sorrowful,
Drew back, and faced her beaming lord.
“Why, no, my liege,” quoth she, dismayed.
“Thinkst thou I am so devious?
All empty were they, all five thousand,
Sent to Harrod’s doors to be
Receptacles for my shopping.”

Fonning: Still not up to snuff, lad. Ye’ve got to fix the line aboot his clever dame. An’ ye’re takin’ a mass o’ liberties wi’ the historical facts. Still, I like the line aboot her not bein’ devious.

Me: Fonning, together we can finish this epic. Think of the movie version, man! Kevin Spacey as Thaksin! Geena Davis as Pojaman! Jay Leno as Surakiart! Sidney Poitier as Kofi Annan! John Lone as General Sonthi!

Fonning: How are ye gonna end it, then?

Me: Why, with Thaksin and Pojaman happily settled in London, going shopping every day. Their son Panthongtae had a Thai company called How Come? Now he and his sisters will start a new company in England called What, Me Worry? With the entrepreneurial skills their father taught them, they’ll soon become millionaires, and their parents will be able to shop in their usual uninhibited and profligate manner. Thailand meanwhile will flourish under new leadership, and everybody will live happily ever after.

Thus all wrapped up, our epic’s done,
With a happy end for everyone.
Farewell, farewell! No need to cheer—
Just throw some coins to buy us beer.

To get a potted history (and more of my links) on ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's corrupt career and Icarus-like downfall in the military coup, click here or on the link 'Thailand politics' just below. Then you can decide for yourself whether it's all a tragedy or a comedy.

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